Miracle on the Hudson

Swept up in what the city and country witnessed on a biting cold January day—a pilot landing a 50-ton airliner in a freezing river as smoothly as he might have put a Cessna down in a cornfield, with no loss of life or serious injury—Governor David Paterson echoed the gratitude felt around the world when he called it the “miracle on the Hudson.” The waves of good feeling that surged across the airwaves as people called, texted and e-mailed friends and family about this singular moment of grace only increased as America got to know the plane’s humble pilot, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III, whose tremendous skill and grace under pressure saved 155 lives and served as a reminder of that breed of American hero who doesn’t rush before the TV cameras but rather chooses to let virtuous and brave deeds speak for themselves. 

The miracle on the Hudson was helped along by the lightning response and skill of New York’s police and fire departments, as well as local ferry boat captains who helped pluck the terrified passengers and crew from the plane’s wing as the roiling Hudson’s 35-degree water tugged at their shoes. Just as Captain Sully was just doing his job, the capacity of the FDNY and NYPD to mobilize helicopters, divers and rescue boats within minutes of the plane’s impact must not be overlooked as an example of stupendous training and world-class professionalism.

Indeed, as New Yorkers go about their daily lives, they rarely notice they are protected by an invisible safety net of firefighters, cops, paramedics, ambulance drivers and, at the other end, the best trained medical staffs one can find. Startling and happy events like the Hudson plane landing serve to remind us that miracles are almost always helped along by selfless people just doing their jobs. Miracle on the Hudson