NYC Plane Crash: Hero Pilots Save All Aboard

US Air Flight 1549 had a rough (but actually smooth) landing in the Hudson. (Photo: Simon Abrams [CC by 2.0]/Flickr)

It's only because everyone survived that I can be so flippant, but yesterday was a bad day for geese.

At just past 3:30pm, US Air Flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia Airport en route to Charlotte, NC and had the misfortune of running into a flock of geese just a few minutes after takeoff. Enough geese were sucked into the engines to knock both out.

Hero pilot Chelsey Sullenberger and hero co-pilot Jeff Skiles were able to set their Airbus A320 down in the Hudson River, missing the George Washington Bridge by just 900 feet. The landing was reported to be as smooth as one executed on a proper runway. After the landing the crew was able to get the passengers out of their seats and onto the wings and onto the emergency slides/rafts. The plane was immediately surrounded by ferries, Coast Guard boats, and other ships that had been in the area and everyone was evacuated before it became fully submerged.

Some passengers have been admitted to the hospital for hypothermia, likely as a result from standing on the wings which were submerged inches under the water. It was freezing cold in New York City. There have been reports of bumps and bruises from the hard landing as well.

Mr. Sullenberger and Mr. Skiles performed the first water landing of a large airplane that resulted in zero fatalities. With the help of their heroic flight crew, they got everyone out alive. Mr. Sullenberger swept the cabin twice to make sure everyone was out before exiting himself. There was water in the plane at this point. Bad. Ass.

The apparent cause of the crash, bird strikes (or 'engine strikes' as they are known in the bird community), happens when the engine, which generates force out the end by sucking in massive amounts of air from the front, hoovers a bird or six into its whirling blades. Just one small bird can break an engine fin causing a cascade of fin failures that more or less blow up the engine.

Flight 1549 flew into a whole flock of geese, a big enough bird on its own to knock out an engine.

There's not much airplanes can do about birds once they are out of range of the airport. For the first few thousands feet of elevation planes are at the mercy of migration patterns and chance. Airports take measures to limit bird congregation within their boundries, but there is little to nothing that can prevent bird strikes once the plane takes off into the wild blue yonder.

I can't imagine how amazing today feels to all of the survivors. Thank the FSM it turned out to be a miracle story.