Saturday, January 15, 2011

Duly Noted: US Airways flight 1549's unusual runway

About a month ago, another Duly Noted post detailed the 50th anniversary of a nasty plane crash. Today's airliner story has a much happier ending (provided, of course, you aren't a Canada goose).

Two years ago, on January 15, 2009, a US Airways flight left LaGuardia Airport for Charlotte, North Carolina. On its way up, however, its two engines each inhaled a Canada goose*, causing both to lose power.** Unable to get the plane safely back to LaGuardia (or, for that matter, to any airport), pilot Chesley Sullenberger instead chose to land the plane on, of all things, a tidal estuary.***  The landing can only be described as successful: all 155 people aboard the plane survived, with only five serious injuries.

* There are, apparently, a lot of geese who live at and around LaGuardia, and who pose a threat to the aircraft that come and go. I found a reference to at least one other such incident on the first page of results from a quick Google search. If you'd like to read more, the same search also brought up this article from CBS News and this press release from the City, both from the middle of last year.

** I'm not sure if it would have been possible to safely limp back to a proper runway with a single working engine, but I assume as much from the fact that everything I've read or heard about the incident make a point of saying that both engines were knocked out.
*** Before you start complaining that the Hudson is a river, let me point out that lower Hudson is indeed a tidal estuary. Check out the second paragraph of this section of the Wikipedia article.

Yesterday's New York Times article.
Further coverage from the NYT's City Room.
The inevitable Wikipedia article.

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