Since I work about a block from the Hudson River, I was able to see some of the rescue work taking place on the opposite bank following the crash of that US Airways jetliner. Even then it was clear that the pilot showed extraordinary presence of mind when he ran into trouble over some of the most densely populated terrain in the region. It’s easy to forget just how wide the Hudson River is along that stretch, but still . . . to have gotten there from LaGuardia without anybody getting hurt was quite a feat.
Not a miracle, mind you, but a feat — a feat of experience, training and judgment, aided by technology and prudent design. Apparently there was something on the jet called a ditch switch that seals the underbelly of the plane and adds to buoyancy following a water landing, which is why the plane kept floating so long. Considering the lethal cold of the air and the water — I could hardly stand to stay on the esplanade for more than 10 minutes or so — that was no small thing.
It’s nice — and certainly novel — to read a story about a plane crash and yet come away feeling a little reassured.