As I watched Larry King Live on February 11, US Airways flight 1549 survivors repeated these three words: strength, training, teamwork. Both the crew and the passengers used them to describe what made the landing and the rescue miraculous successes.
Captain Sullenberger and copilot Jeffrey Skiles used every bit of their inner strength and training to use the Hudson River as runway of survival. Their efforts have been called “the most successful water landing in aviation history.” Moreover, they were part of the team that aided in the rescue; Captain ‘Sully’ was the last to evacuate his plane, but not until he had made two surveillance walks down the aisle, checking for passengers. All the while, the plane was sinking.
Copilot Skiles also aided in the rescue, giving the shirt off his back to a trembling passenger who had jumped into the frigid waters and then boarded a raft. Both he and Captain Sully retrieved life vests that the passengers had left behind and offered them to passengers without one as they hurriedly exited.
The three flight attendants efficiently, professionally, and bravely aided every passenger by helping them exit and board the life rafts. One of them was severely wounded and in pain. The first responders of New York City also displayed remarkable efficiency, strength training and teamwork.
The U. S. Airways rescue is a vivid reminder of teamwork carried out on the Andrea Doria. The Captain, the crew, and passengers of every class became both rescues and survivors. The crewmembers I interviewed refused to be called heroes; they claimed that they simply get their duty. The rescue vessels that rushed to our inclined liner also responded with a sense of duty.
I echo President Obama’s comment about the US Airways rescue: “wouldn’t it be great if everybody just did their duty?”—and did it with good conscience, I might add.