When I travel by plane, I do not pay all that much attention to the part of the safety briefing about a water landing. Frankly, I’ve always assumed that if a plane went down in the water, it would simply sink — it’s a big, heavy, metal object and it has never seemed to me that it could possibly displace enough water to keep afloat. So if the plane goes down in the water, I figured, your chances of surviving are effectively zero.
Well, it seems I’m wrong. A US Airways flight from New York to Charlotte went down in the Hudson River today after apparently taking two bird strikes on takeoff. (Um, no, the birds did not survive.) The pilots, displaying remarkable coolness in a tense situation, basically landed the plane on the river, bringing it slowly in contact with the water and keeping it up as long as possible so the plane wouldn’t get caught and flip or submerge. It didn’t. The picture on CNN shows the nose and the top half of the fuselage floating above the surface of the water.
All 148 passengers and the entire crew escaped with only minor injuries and a few cases of hypothermia (it was 20 degrees today in New York and the river water had to have been seriously cold.) And a Big Brass Ones Award to the pilots and crew for guiding their passengers to safety in an extraordinary and difficult situation.