George W. Bush: the unluckiest president

Suppose that you had been president for eight years and had spent weeks preparing your farewell address to the American people.  You want everyone to be tuned in and paying attention.  What news story could possibly be big enough to distract hundreds of millions of people?  How about a jet airliner losing both engines and making a forced landing in the frigid Hudson River?  What are the odds of that?  No U.S. jet airliner has ever had to land in the water.  Of course it would make an even more improbable and therefore compelling story if all the passengers and crew simply walked out of the floating airplane onto the Circle Line cruise boat.

Maybe God hates George W.

6 Comments

  1. Edith Frederick

    January 16, 2009 @ 3:50 am

    1

    Or, maybe God loves George W.

    C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger’s walking-on-water landing will take the edge off media analysis of George W.’s retrospective for at least a week, at which point Inauguration Day frenzy will predominate. George W. got to go relatively gently, I think …

    God certainly blessed those 154 passengers and crew with their luck-of-the-draw pilot. From the Huffington Post:

    “Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, III is a captain for a major U.S. airline with over 40 years of flying experience. A former U.S. Air Force (USAF) fighter pilot, he has served as an instructor and Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) safety chairman, accident investigator and national technical committee member. He has participated in several USAF and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident investigations. His ALPA safety work led to the development of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular. Working with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists, he coauthored a paper on error inducing contexts in aviation. He was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Crew Resource Management (CRM) course used at his airline and has taught the course to hundreds of his colleagues. Sully is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy (B.S.), Purdue University (M.S.) and the University of Northern Colorado (M.A.). He was a speaker on two panels at the High Reliability Organizations (HRO) 2007 International Conference in Deauville, France May 29-31, 2007. He has just been named a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Mr. Sullenberger’s silver hairs should give cheer to all pilots who love aviation.

    Mr. Sullenberger’s company website, with a really nice portrait:
    http://safetyreliability.com/about_us

  2. David Wihl

    January 16, 2009 @ 9:48 am

    2

    This was an amazing feat of airmanship – certainly best of the decade if not longer. It certainly one ups the 100 mi dead stick landing on the Azores, especially since the Captain walked the aisle twice to ensure everyone was off the plane before him. Having flown the Hudson River VFR corridor in a 172, it’s scary narrow – I can’t imagine in a big jet.

    As to George W. – adieu. It’s a sad of fact of human nature and news reporting that it would have been an even more compelling news story had there been an unfortunate loss of life. Mercifully, everyone was spared. Bravo Captain!

  3. Rick S

    January 16, 2009 @ 6:21 pm

    3

    Don’t forget that Mr Sullenberger is also a glider pilot/instructor. I’d say he
    did quite a job the other day here in NY skillfully flaring that monster glider
    right down to a awesome flare before landing in the river. Having sold my 100LL
    powered airplane to to Germans before their economy crashed, my Summer 2009
    project is adding a glider rating to my ticket. No more IPC – woo-hoo!

  4. EDZ

    January 16, 2009 @ 7:27 pm

    4

    Good thing the captain has a glider rating. :-)

    I haven’t flown the corridor but I do know the Hudson pretty well. The corridor may be narrow and nerve-wracking for a VFR pilot trying to avoid traffic and stay within the lines at a low cruise altitude, but the river itself is over half a mile wide and straight for several miles: I doubt that actually lining up on the river was the difficult part. Touching down in the right attitude (and avoiding boats!) was much harder. I haven’t heard any wind reports in the news, but they were using Runway 4 at LGA, so they most likely had to touch down with a tailwind or at best a crosswind.

    Incidentally, this is a good argument for keeping airports in urban areas where rescue resources are at hand: if the plane had taken off from Islip and ditched in the Great South Bay or L.I. Sound, it would have taken an hour to get boats to the wreck and there would have been hypothermia and drownings galore.

  5. Molly

    January 16, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

    5

    My brother Jake had to play a gig in a bar where they had a lot of big screen TVs. Which isn’t a big deal unless what’s on the screen is OJ Simpson driving a white Bronco with police chasing him. Jake despaired but Sleepy LaBeef who was the main draw that night consoled him. “Try playing when President Kennedy’s just been shot,” he said. Humans do seem to find the drama more entertaining….

    When I think of George W.’s presidency, the one image that comes to mind is him patting Michael Brown on the shoulder during the Katrina fallout: “Heck of a job, Brownie.” Yep.

  6. E-Dog

    January 16, 2009 @ 9:04 pm

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