THE HUMAN SIDE OF GREATNESS
Last afternoon, my wife and I watched the English movie (Produced and directed by legendary Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks in lead role as Captain ‘Sully’). As we came out of the theatre, we saw a very elderly couple who seemed to have walking problem. My wife and I offered our help to lead them till the lift.
“Did you like the film?” I asked them.
“Oh, yes, yes… Very much,” said the elderly man.
“Our daughter from America called up and said we should watch it,” beamed the elderly woman.
I instinctively looked at my wife and she had a broad smile on her face.
“The same thing happened with us,” I told the elderly couple, “Our son called up and said we should watch the film.”
A few movies have left me moved and inspired as ‘Sully’ has done. Most of us had read the news or watched it on TV when it had happened on Jan 15, 2009. But, none of us have a clue about the trauma and nightmare Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and his co-pilot Jeffrey Zaslow had to endure even after being hailed by the whole world as ‘Heroes’. The movie is based on the autobiography, ‘Highest Duty’ written by the two pilots.
To me, the movie is about the human side of greatness… What the courage of conviction is all about… It is about being honest and steadfast in performing one’s duty… It is about taking full responsibility for one’s actions… It is about how, despite all the great work you have done all your life, you can be annihilated by one single ‘flight’…. How lonely and scared you can be in your soul… How family and a few friends can keep your sanity… and, above all, how the divine justice comes to guard you if you stay true to your heart.
There is this one scene, which inspired me the most… Everyone from the ill-fated aircraft has been evacuated… everyone including the co-pilot and the air-hostesses… Captain Sully is alone… he goes along the length and breath of the aircraft to see if anyone is left behind… We hear the desperate cry, “Capitan Sully, please come out’… But, Sully does it only after every one of those 155 passengers and crew are safely out… He is the last one to be evacuated…. Yes, to him, that was the highest duty’!
If you have not yet watched the film, please do… You may smile when you come out of the theatre telling someone, “A friend of mine said I should watch the film!”
PS: PLEASE READ THIS. Credits: Wikipedia
On January 15, 2009, veteran US Airways pilots Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffery Skiles board US Airways Flight 1549 departing from LaGuardia Airport en route to Charlotte Douglas International Airport and take off. Barely three minutes into the flight at an altitude of approximately 2,800 feet (850 m), disaster strikes as the Airbus A320 hits a flock of Canada geese, which disables both engines. Without engine power and with no airports within a safe distance (the closest being Teterboro Airport in New Jersey), Sully decides to ditch his ill-fated airliner in the frigid waters of the Hudson River. Despite seemingly impossible odds, Sullenberger is able to land the aircraft in the Hudson, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew aboard. The press and public immediately hail him as a hero, but the experience left him seeing visions of the plane crashing into a building had he tried to return to LaGuardia.
Hours later, however, Sullenberger learns that tests conducted for the National Transportation Safety Board suggest that the left engine simply idled when the birds were sucked in. On paper, this would have left Sullenberger with enough power to return to LaGuardia or land at Teterboro. Furthermore, the NTSB board of inquiry claims that several flight simulations created from all available data of the incident conclude that the plane could have been able to safely land at an airport even with both engines disabled. Sullenberger, however, maintains that he lost both engines, which left him without nearly enough time, speed or altitude to guide the plane to a safe landing at an airport.
Sullenberger realizes that the NTSB is angling to have the accident deemed to be pilot error--which would effectively end his career. In a bid to save his reputation, he arranges to have the simulator pilots available for a live recreation at the public hearing on the accident. When both simulations end with successful landings, Sullenberger counters that simulations are unrealistic without believable accounting for preliminary protocols happening before any emergency maneuvers or basic human reactions to the incident. When pressed on this, the inquiry board admits that the simulation pilots were allowed several practice sessions before the formal recorded simulation for this unprecedented emergency situation.
Conceding the point, the inquiry board orders the simulation redone, but with a 35-second pause after the bird strike before any emergency maneuvers are attempted--roughly matching the time Sullenberger had to react. The simulation for a landing at LaGuardia ends with the plane plowing through a pier before crashing into the Hudson, while the simulation for a landing at Teterboro ends with the plane colliding with a building. Both would have resulted in non-survivable crashes. After a short recess, the board of inquiry announces that it just learned that the left engine had been recovered from the Hudson. The engine shows indisputable signs that it was completely destroyed by the bird strike.
With this evidence, the board concludes, with Skiles firmly confirming, that Flight 1549 was an unavoidable accident, and that Sullenberger did the best he could under the circumstances to save lives.