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Exceptional Men and Women

EWR_FO

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 6, 2005
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415
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EXCEPTIONAL MEN (AND WOMEN)
By Ralph Kinney Bennett (bio)

Press and public are all agog about Chesley B. Sullenberger III, the pilot who so adroitly set that crippled airliner down in the Hudson River, Friday afternoon.

And rightly so.

But there is something slightly disconcerting about our adulation, our branding him a "national hero." Even allowing for our insatiable thirst for "real" heroes, there seems to be an aura of amazement around this event that should be tempered with some perspective.

Mr. Sullenberger is an exceptional man, to be sure. But we expect him to be exceptional.

Indeed we expect all the men and women who sit in the cockpits of our airliners to be exceptional. Many of them are products of the most demanding flight school in the world, the U.S. military. And even then, we select them, we screen them, we train them, we monitor their performance, and we count on them to keep their "edge" through thousands of hours and millions of miles of routine "bus driving."

As it is, these men and women are one of the hidden wonders of our civilization. Thousands of us daily place our lives in their hands with hardly a thought. And as the billions of air travel miles pile up without incident we think less and less about them.

Everyone of them has thought at one time or another about what they would do, how they would react when the buzzers sound and the lights flash and hell breaks loose above the earth. Most of them never have and never will face what Chesley Sullenberger faced — that moment when all his training, all his reading, all his instincts — all that framed and formed him since his youth — was called up instantly from the files hidden deep within him.

It is likely that we would never have heard about Mr. Sullenberger, but for that flock of birds near La Guardia. He would have been like thousands of other commercial pilots — exceptional men and women who go about their demanding, boring, tiring, unsung duty, hoping and indeed praying that what makes them exceptional will not be called to the fore. Most of them have memories of cockpit moments when their instincts, their training, and luck, yes, luck, got them past the shadow of death. These are the damp-brow, dry-mouth, frozen seconds they keep to themselves.

Make no mistake, Mr. Sullenberger deserves every accolade. But I imagine that when we are able to hear from him we will hear the words of a man who was doing what his profession demands of him. The word "hero" doesn't appear in his job description but its most exquisite definition is implied in every paragraph. Chesley Sullenberger did his job. Now tell me, do you think airline pilots are paid too much?
 

xdays

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And make no mistake, CRM was at work in a huge way during this incredible event. When was the last time any of us did a simulated ditching in training? Sure, we talk about it in ground school, we role play and think that we will be ready if the moment ever comes. But this crew had 2 minutes and 58 seconds from the time of the bird strike until they were feet wet (literally). What an amazing job by every crew member on this flight. 155 people survived what could have been catastrophic and owe there lives to these well trained professionals. I am in awe of there accomplishments.
 

NuGuy

Ex-Commuter
Joined
May 30, 2003
Posts
2,375
Total Time
10000
Kudo's to the crew. No doubt.

But the press and public is fickle in the extreme. When contract time comes around again, you can bet it will be the same old "damn overpaid pilots ruining my $69 ticket to Vegas again".

But hey, a win is a win. Take 'em where you can get'em.

Nu
 

Bringupthebird

Grumpy? Who-Me?
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
Posts
2,182
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When a flight is delayed for crew rest, the same yahoos will be clapping as the crew boards with heckles of, "are you rested now?"
 

Voice Of Reason

Reading Is Fundamental !
Joined
Sep 21, 2004
Posts
1,369
Total Time
15 min
EXCEPTIONAL MEN (AND WOMEN)
By Ralph Kinney Bennett (bio)

Press and public are all agog about Chesley B. Sullenberger III, the pilot who so adroitly set that crippled airliner down in the Hudson River, Friday afternoon.

And rightly so.

But there is something slightly disconcerting about our adulation, our branding him a "national hero." Even allowing for our insatiable thirst for "real" heroes, there seems to be an aura of amazement around this event that should be tempered with some perspective.

Mr. Sullenberger is an exceptional man, to be sure. But we expect him to be exceptional.

Indeed we expect all the men and women who sit in the cockpits of our airliners to be exceptional. Many of them are products of the most demanding flight school in the world, the U.S. military. And even then, we select them, we screen them, we train them, we monitor their performance, and we count on them to keep their "edge" through thousands of hours and millions of miles of routine "bus driving."

As it is, these men and women are one of the hidden wonders of our civilization. Thousands of us daily place our lives in their hands with hardly a thought. And as the billions of air travel miles pile up without incident we think less and less about them.

Everyone of them has thought at one time or another about what they would do, how they would react when the buzzers sound and the lights flash and hell breaks loose above the earth. Most of them never have and never will face what Chesley Sullenberger faced — that moment when all his training, all his reading, all his instincts — all that framed and formed him since his youth — was called up instantly from the files hidden deep within him.

It is likely that we would never have heard about Mr. Sullenberger, but for that flock of birds near La Guardia. He would have been like thousands of other commercial pilots — exceptional men and women who go about their demanding, boring, tiring, unsung duty, hoping and indeed praying that what makes them exceptional will not be called to the fore. Most of them have memories of cockpit moments when their instincts, their training, and luck, yes, luck, got them past the shadow of death. These are the damp-brow, dry-mouth, frozen seconds they keep to themselves.

Make no mistake, Mr. Sullenberger deserves every accolade. But I imagine that when we are able to hear from him we will hear the words of a man who was doing what his profession demands of him. The word "hero" doesn't appear in his job description but its most exquisite definition is implied in every paragraph. Chesley Sullenberger did his job. Now tell me, do you think airline pilots are paid too much?

Wonderful post...where did this originate? Hopefully it will go "viral."
 

dispatchguy

Dad is my favorite title
Joined
Nov 30, 2001
Posts
1,569
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NIL
Truer words were never spoken. When Cap Al Haynes was finally interviewed after UAL232 into SUX, he said the heroes were the other guys in the flight deck with him, and the deadheading crewmember who came up front to help. He never considered himself a hero.
 

PowerCurve

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Joined
Mar 30, 2003
Posts
60
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from wikipedia.org

Owing to the skill of the crew and a DC-10 instructor pilot, 175 passengers and 10 crew members survived the crash. The disaster is famous within the aviation community as a textbook example of successful Crew Resource Management, due to the effective use of all the resources available aboard the plane for help during the emergency
 

Redmeat

People Mover
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Aug 12, 2005
Posts
641
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Ubecha
Let's not forget the unusual circumstances of this particular crew.

This being US AIR (east) it was a VERY experienced pairing of CA an FO.

The First Officer is a 23 year veteran of US AIR. He could have and should have been holding a Captain slot long ago...

Essentially two very experienced Captains were on board that day, one with Air Force fighter pilot training and a glider rating.

Now on the other hand had this been an inexperienced Captain pairing with an inexperienced FO we are looking at a totally different outcome.

If you don't think so...let's look at the Pinnacle power loss accident.
 
Last edited:

seefive

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 19, 2004
Posts
200
Total Time
3500
Let's not forget the unusual circumstances of this particular crew.

This being US AIR (east) it was a VERY experienced pairing of CA an FO.

The First Officer is a 23 year veteran of US AIR. He could have and should have been holding a Captain slot long ago...

Essentially two very experienced Captains were on board that day, one with Air Force fighter pilot training and a glider rating.

Now on the other hand had this been an inexperienced Captain pairing with an inexperienced FO we are looking at a totally different outcome.

If you don't think so...let's look at the Pinnacle power loss accident.

Sorry......I disagree. I believe most crews would use their training and do a relatively good job in this circumstance. i take nothing away from the exceptional performance of this flight crew, but it's not like other pilots would have rolled over and pulled.
 

Amish RakeFight

Registered Loser
Joined
Dec 28, 2005
Posts
8,006
Total Time
.
Sorry......I disagree. I believe most crews would use their training and do a relatively good job in this circumstance. i take nothing away from the exceptional performance of this flight crew, but it's not like other pilots would have rolled over and pulled.


WRONG.

The PCL crew was not professional by ANY measure. THAT is what led to their demise and a company hull loss, not to mention the ill reputation presented of pilots. After both engines core-locked, they had plenty of options but all of them quickly dried up due to their unprofessionalism in handling that royal blunder of theirs. The safe outcome of their flight was possible had it been handled honestly. Most of all though, they shouldn't have been there in the first place. Sad they took that young FO with him too. He clearly didn't know any better.

Aside from all of this, the PCL crew and especially the Captain, had a very poor training history. Multiple failures for the basic FAA certifications as well as SIC/PIC/TYPE failures at multiple carriers.
 

Motive Flow

Member FDIC
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Jan 12, 2006
Posts
183
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Sorry......I disagree. I believe most crews would use their training and do a relatively good job in this circumstance. i take nothing away from the exceptional performance of this flight crew, but it's not like other pilots would have rolled over and pulled.

I agree with this. The crew did a fantastic job, but I believe (maybe too optimistically) that most professional flight crews would have done a good job.

I remember hearing a commentator say that the Captain's glider experience saved the day. I know glider training is a great tool to have in the toolbox but c'mon. Now if the crew had caught a thermal and extended the glide 50 miles, that would be a different story.:D
 
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