Thursday, February 12, 2009

Airline Pilot Gordon Beachy on Emergency Landings

Here is a letter I recieved form Airline Pilot Gordon Beachy that I want to share with you. Gordon has been flying for many years and shares his thoughts about emergency landings. Enjoy, Glen editor of this site.

How would any of us handle an emergency? A house fire, an auto accident, a heart attack, a choking (heimlich manuever), etc. We never really know until we are tested. I just hope to never be tested in such a way. I can say that my first instinct is self-preservation. And if I'm successful in that, chances are that all those behind me in that aluminum tube will be preserved as well.
(In reference to the recent emergency landing in the Hudson River) As far as I know, this is the first example of a successfull ditching. Ditchings are VERY rare and the few that occur tend to be tragedies. In training we are shown DRAWINGS of how they think the aircraft will look floating in the water after a ditching, but there's never been a successful example to take pictures of, it's always been drawings that we were shown. I guess now we will have a picture for training.
We hit birds now and then, but it's typically no big deal. For a bird to take out an engine is very rare. For both engines to be taken out is almost unthinkable! Thankfully this occured in daylight, on a clear day, in a location that had immediate rescue response. The conditions were right for the "miracle" to unfold.
As soldiers might say, "Pray to God, but pass the ammunition." There's an element of fortune (Providence) in these events, but there's also the pilot making the best decision available to him in light of the few options present. We do our part and hope (pray) for the best.
Thankfully all survived this event. I hope to never encounter similar circumstances. If I do, you can bet I'll do all I can to live to fly another day. In doing so, my crew and passengers will have the same chance as I.