St John's Q&A

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Amazing grace-filled landing"?

Eucharistic Adoration, tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. Please join us!!
We should all be familiar now with the incredible story of the airplane that landed safely on the Hudson River in New York last month. Below are excerpts of a first-person account which a friend emailed me. It’s being called “Miracle on the Hudson”. I am hoping that our bloggers are astute enough to know that while the thought is correct (that something supernatural was at work in the landing of the plane), the theological language is not (I am such a stickler!). Technically speaking, miracles are changes in nature that can be picked up by the senses (e.g., water turning into wine, a blind person gaining sight).

Now, I am not smart enough to come up with the most appropriate title of this story (my leading choices would probably be: “Grace on the Hudson”, “Grace on board”, “Amazing grace-filled landing”, “Angels on the wings”). So, I leave it to our bloggers, the real theological experts of this site: what would be your title for this story?

This is from a Partner at Heidrick & Struggles, an executive recruitingfirm, who was on Flight 1549. Gerry McNamara (New York/Charlotte) was onUS Airways Flight 1549 last week. Here is his account of the event:

…I remember walking on the plane and seeing a fellow with grey hair in the cockpit and thinking "that's a good thing... I like to see grey hair in the cockpit!"

...I had started to point out items of interest to the gentleman next to me when we heard a terrible crash - a sound no one ever wants to hear while flying - and then the engines wound down to a screeching halt. 10 seconds later, there was a strong smell of jet fuel. I knew we would be landing and thought the pilot would take us down no doubt to Newark Airport .

As we began to turn south I noticed the pilot lining up on the river still -I thought - en route for Newark .Next thing we heard was "Brace for impact!" - a phrase I had heard many years before as an active duty Marine Officer but never before on a commercial air flight. Everyone looked at each other in shock. It all happened so fast we were astonished!We began to descend rapidly and it started to sink in. This is the last flight. I'm going to die today. This is it. I recited my favorite bible verse, the Lord's Prayer, and asked God to take care of my wife, children, family and friends.

When I raised my head I noticed people texting their friends and family....getting off a last message. My blackberry was turned off and in my trouser time to get at it. Our descent continued and I prayed for courage to control my fear and help if able.I quickly realized that one of two things was going to happen, neither of them good. We could hit by the nose, flip and break up, leaving few if any survivors, bodies, cold water, fuel. Or we could hit one of the wings and roll and flip with the same result. I tightened my seat belt as tight as I could possibly get it so I would remain intact.

As we came in for the landing, I looked out the windows and remember seeing the buildings in New Jersey , the cliffs in Weehawken , and then the piers. The water was dark green and sure to be freezing cold. The stewardesses were yelling in unison "Brace! Brace! Brace!"It was a violent hit - the water flew up over my window - but we bobbed up and were all amazed that we remained intact. There was some panic - people jumping over seats and running towards the doors, but we soon got everyone straightened out and calmed down. There were a lot of people that took leadership roles in little ways. Those sitting at the doors over the wing did a fantastic job...they were opened in a New York second!

Everyone worked together - teamed up and in groups to figure out how to help eachother.…We were standing in 6-8 inches of water and it was freezing. There were two women on the wing, one of whom slipped off into the water. Another passenger and I pulled her back on and had her kneel down to keep from falling off again. By that point we were totally soaked and absolutely frozen from the icy wind.…

The ferries were the first to arrive, and although they're not made for rescue, they did an incredible job…We could not stop shaking. Uncontrollable shaking…

I am struck by what was truly a miracle. Had this happened a few hours later, it would have been pitch dark and much harder to land.. Ferries would no longer have been running after rush hour and it would not have been the same uplifting story. Surely there would have been fatalities,hypothermia, an absolute disaster! I witnessed the best of humanity that day. I and everyone on that plane survived and have been given a second chance. It struck me that in our work we continuously seek excellence to solve our client's leadership problems. We talk to clients all the time about the importance of experience and the ability to execute. Experience showed up big time on Flight 1549 as our pilot was a dedicated, trained,experienced professional who executed flawlessly when he had to.…

There is a great deal to be learned including: Why has this happened to me? Why have I survived and what am I supposed to do with this gift? For me, the answers to these questions and more will come over time, but already I find myself being more patient and forgiving, less critical and judgmental.

For now I have 4 lessons I would like to share:

1. Cherish your families as never before and go to great lengths to keep your promises.
2. Be thankful and grateful for everything you have and don't worry about the things you don't have.
3. Keep in shape. You never know when you'll be called upon to save your own life, or help someone else save theirs.
4. When you fly, wear practical clothing. You never know when you'll end up in an emergency or on an icy wing in flip flops and pajamas and of absolutely no use to yourself or anyone else.And

I'd like to add: Fly with grey haired Captains.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Web Site Counter
Free Web Counter