It's our job...

January 17, 2009 5 Comments A+ a-

Wow! The "landing" of US Airways Flight 1549 was nothing short of amazing....awesome--in the truest sense of the word. And that 155 people are alive to talk about it, relatively injury free, is incredible! The entire crew deserves the applause-- but, really--they were just doing their job--just doing what they have been trained to do.

Pilots train for years and years to just be able to get a job at an airline. They may come from learning to fly at their local airport, or may have learned in the military. Either way, it takes many flight hours to become an airline pilot.

Once at the airline, the pilots train on the specific equipment they will be flying, learning everything they can about that plane. They know the systems and nuances of that aircraft. They train in a simulator--they know their stuff before they ever sit in the cockpit. They eat, sleep and breathe this particular plane--they probably know the plane better than they know their spouses! Most airline pilots have thousands of hours perfecting their skillset.

At least yearly, pilots go to FAA mandated Recurrent Training and keep a current Medical Certificate. At their Recurrent, they practice scenarios--over and over again. Emergency situations--some that, perhaps, seem far-fetched--are drilled into their brains. Pilots can handle most anything thrown at them at any given time, because of the training they receive.

Jim, a Captain I used to fly with, wrote these words regarding the US 1549 ditching:

The crew seems to have done their job, no more, no less. This is what we are paid to do. We are not paid these salaries because day to day flying takes extraordinary skill, it doesn't. We are paid for a few minutes every career when it matters; heroes, no...they did their jobs.

Jim is absolutely right--even given the extraordinary circumstances of the US Airways ditching, the pilots just did their jobs--made good decisions with lightning speed, a high degree of expertise, and landed the aircraft safely. Not every pilot has the experience of Captain Sullenberger, but I'd be willing to bet that, given the same set of circumstances, there aren't many flight crews out there that would not have been able to do the same--because of the training they receive.

Very little has been said about the rest of the crew--First Officer Jeffrey Skiles, Flight Attendants Donna Dent, Sheila Dail & Doreen Welsh. Each of these crewmembers contributed greatly to the successful ending of Flight 1549. While one pilot is flying the plane, the other "sets up" for what the next course of events will be. Trust me, the First Officer was not just sitting in the cockpit twiddling his thumbs--he was a busy as he could have possibly been. The Flight Attendants were responsible for getting those doors opened--and not opening the rear doors (that would caused the plane to sink.) They were the ones that fussed at the passengers to make sure their baggage was stowed all the way under the seat in front of them prior to departure (so passengers wouldn't trip over them on the way out in an evacuation....). And, they also made sure that Mr. 17B had really turned off his iPod...(can you see where listening to Beyonce singing while the Captain was making an announcement to brace for impact that he didn't hear could've caused an issue?) Flight Attendants don't make up these rules--and they do have importance, even if our passengers don't know why.

I just noticed something in this picture--do you see the man standing on the wing in the middle--sort of by himself? What does he have on his shoulder??? His computer bag!! He was getting out of an airplane to save his life, and he brought his computer bag! Okay, I'll say it--IDIOT!

But, I digress....


I am ecstatic that no one was killed or seriously hurt in that incident--and I continue to be amazed at the level of skill exhibited by the Flight Deck. Just know that this sort of competence will be found on your next commercial flight. All of your crew members are highly trained. You are in good hands with us. It's our job.

Blondie
Blondie

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Tanya
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January 17, 2009 at 1:26 PM delete

A good friend of mine is a pilot and I remember him telling me once about a passenger who had a heart attack on the plane during landing. The pilots alerted ground crew to have emergency service waiting, while the flight attendant worked to save the man's life. Unfortunately, the man died a few days later, but their efforts gave him a chance and showed what they were made of. This story about the landing in the Hudson brought tears of amazement at the crew to my eyes. You guys rock!

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January 18, 2009 at 2:49 AM delete

Hey Blondie...great blog! I just added you to my blog list: )

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DUNCAN
AUTHOR
January 18, 2009 at 6:25 AM delete

I can see myself now as one of the f/a's in the back screaming "exit blocked go forward". I hope at least the company bought out their trips for the rest of the month

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Mom in 2
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January 18, 2009 at 7:21 PM delete

I thought about the FAs when I heard the news. I know this is what you train for. Passing out beverages is just to pass the time.

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Aviatrix
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January 20, 2009 at 12:04 PM delete

Thanks for leaving your link over at Cockpit Conversation. This is exactly what I was talking about and I was remiss in not naming every crew member in my posting. You guys are like superheroes, mildly smiling and handing out packages of pretzels while half the passengers don't know your secret identities as life-savers. Shouted commands allow your wondertwin powers to activate and the next thing you know you're hurling idiots through the emergency exits.

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