Tom Hanks as Sully
8 min read

A New York airline pilot and a Miracle on the Hudson passenger offer their perspectives on the hit film

Let’s cut right to the chase – Sully is a movie that any pilot, and especially an airline pilot, can watch without being mortified by technical and artistic errors on the part of the filmmakers. The portions of the movie that depict the flight and the water landing are done to near perfection. Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart not only play the role of airline pilots superbly, but they even manage to look a good deal like the originals. The cockpit banter before the takeoff is completely believable, as is their depiction of the reaction of Sully and Skiles to the event itself. The in-flight dialogue is all from the CVR, but these fine actors bring it to life in a manner that fully evokes the triumph of discipline and training over the fear that must have existed during those three minutes, to say nothing of the pilots’ reaction to being alive when the airplane came to a floating stop in the icy river.

Tom Hanks as Sully

“Brace for impact.” It could apply to the movie too.

An A-320 pilot will feel right at home in the “cockpit” depicted here — the up-front scenes are the most realistic depictions of an airliner flight deck I’ve ever seen in a Hollywood movie. The cabin shots, both in the air and on the water, are also spot-on. The external visuals are excellent, and you can see how far CGI has come in believably depicting an airplane in flight. Of course, in this movie it’s mostly obvious which scenes are CGI – after all, no one had a camera in a chase plane that day following the Airbus down the Hudson River! But there is one scene, the takeoff roll, that I’m unsure about, and the fact that it is a tossup for me is a good indication of the state of the computer graphic arts today.

But the depictions of the actual flight, although they take up considerably more on-screen time than the 200 and some odd seconds of the real event, are by no means the whole movie; much of the screen time is devoted to the investigation that followed. It is here that the groaning may begin, at least on the part of real NTSB personnel.

As you undoubtedly know by now, the investigation is portrayed as a somewhat antagonistic affair, and it apparently borders on being unflattering to real investigators, if some accounts in the press are to be believed. And there are significant elements of creative license in evidence; for example, the simulation studies and the CVR analysis would surely have been done before the public hearing, which is a recap for the benefit of the press and public, and typically is just about the last event of the investigation prior to the development of the report. The actual NTSB report bears no hint of any insinuation of error on the part of the crew, nor does the video, available on YouTube, of the so-called Sunshine Meeting held at the NTSB. The issues raised in the movie depiction are indeed raised in investigations, but more to learn the lessons and discover better ways of doing things than to “hang” the crew — especially in this case.

Miracle on the Hudson

Was the river the only option?

What does come through clearly, in the depiction of the aftermath of the flight, is the post-event soul searching and surrealism that affects anyone responsible for the lives of others. One thought I was left with, after the movie, was… if this is how it felt to have done everything right, what on earth must it feel like to actually err and survive?

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this movie, for me as a pilot, was the fact that the filmmakers have, in essence, raised the question of a return to the airport as a desirable and viable alternative in a situation like Sully and Skiles faced. Turning back to the departure airport following a loss of engine power immediately after takeoff is often referred to as “the impossible turn” due to the poor probability of completing the maneuver from a low altitude. The urge to return to the takeoff runway can be overwhelming, particularly in a single-engine airplane, and many pilots have, over the years, succumbed to that urge, often with deadly results. All student pilots are taught the dangers of the impossible turn, and the prevailing wisdom is to land more or less straight ahead with no more turning than would be needed to avoid something really solid on the ground.

Although the nearly 3,000 feet of altitude they achieved prior to the bird strikes would be more than enough to turn back to a nearby airport in a small plane, the flight dynamics of a large transport category jet placed Sully and Skiles in a marginal position. Only with foreknowledge of the bird event could they have had any safe chance of making it to an airport, and no guarantee that ATC could actually have a clear runway waiting for them if they did. With no real chance of a landing on an airport runway, they had only one alternative.

It would be safe to say that every pilot who has flown even once in the greater New York area has given some thought to the issue of where to put the airplane down if all thrust was lost. A quick glance at Google Earth will confirm that there is simply no acceptable real estate, other than the several New York airports, upon which to safely land an airplane. Of course a small plane could be landed on Jones Beach or some other beach, or maybe on a highway if traffic was not too bad (guess again!); and even if the pilot rolled it up into something of a ball in the attempt, the low speeds achievable by small planes might make such an event survivable. But large passenger jets do not fare well on anything other than a paved runway. Except water.

Sully had apparently considered this question well in advance of January 2009, as had I. I had long ago come to the conclusion that if some circumstance rendered any airliner that I was in command of without power at low altitude around New York, absent a slam-dunk glide to a runway it would be into the drink and trust that the pictures in the operating manual depicting the airplane floating serenely on the surface bore some resemblance to the actual outcome. The jet age had offered little assurance that this might be so, but looking farther back things were a bit different.

Few people today recall the name of Captain Richard Ogg. On October 16, 1956, he was in command of Pan American flight 943 from Honolulu to San Francisco. The Boeing Stratocruiser lost two of its four engines just about at the so-called “point of no return,” midway between Honolulu and San Francisco. With insufficient fuel to reach land, Ogg was faced with the need to ditch. Fortunately there was a Coast Guard cutter in the area, stationed along the route to serve as a radio communications relay and a search and rescue platform. Ogg circled the cutter until dawn, at which time he executed the most successful ditching ever accomplished at that time. All 31 people on board were rescued by the cutter Ponchartrain.

Eastwood and Hanks

Clint Eastwood seems to have focused on realism over Hollywood drama.

Sully probably knew of this event, and also that history shows that ditchings are, in fact, often survivable. In what is, to me, his greatest achievement in this entire event, he moved quickly and decisively to embrace and execute his only viable option. He turned his back on the Impossible Turn. Had he dithered, perhaps out of an urge to find some dry land to make use of, even the Hudson River alternative might have been lost.

A pilot I flew with when I was a pilot at American Airlines, Susan O’Donnell, was a jumpseat rider (seated in First Class) on flight 1549. After seeing the movie, she offered these comments from one who was there:

“I thought the movie was very well done. Other than the obvious necessity to compress the timeline of the investigation to fit a dramatic movie story structure, I believe the high points were well depicted. The depiction of the water landing itself and the ensuing rescue was well done. Although there was a little dramatic license used in some of the details, the filmmakers did a good job of capturing the essence of the landing and rescue. I can say that (it was) more chilling to watch than I had anticipated. Captain Vincent Lombardi played himself as the first ferry boat captain to reach the scene; this was an excellent choice and added realism. Tom Hanks’ Sully was focused and confident, without being soulless and mechanical; Aaron Eckhart’s Jeff was professional and supportive. I have no trouble believing that was a fairly accurate characterization of the atmosphere in the cockpit during the event. Hearing Tom Hanks deliver the ‘brace for impact’ line was eerie. The simulator scenes showing pilots recreating the flight’s profile in an attempt to return to an airport were performed by actual active pilots qualified in the airplane, and thus the scenes were presented in a realistic manner. Overall, I thought it was an excellent film, free from the eye-rolling moments from which so many films about aviation suffer.”

So there you have it. Clint Eastwood has delivered a film that puts you right on board the airplane in a remarkably realistic way. They may well use this film in airline crew training for some time to come. The only thing I can think of to make this experience more realistic would be to partially flood the theater with ice water at the appropriate moment. It is probably fitting that everyone involved in this incident personified one of Clint’s best movie lines: “Improvise! Adapt! Overcome!”

Tony Vallillo
47 replies
  1. Chris Papageorgiou
    Chris Papageorgiou says:

    Happy ending.
    The result of professional pilot training in the airline industry. The goal was set for zero accidents and the training pays off. Sterile cockpit below 10.000 ft and only mission essential conversation.
    GA pilots shall follow the same high safety standards US airlines practice, it pays to invest in Safety Culture.
    We can learn a lot from a good crew.
    Thankfully a very happy ending !!!!

    • Garth Elliot
      Garth Elliot says:

      Kudos to Clint Eastwood and the actors for a wonderful movie. It might be argued the film was possibly unfair in the portrayal of Sully’s wife and one suspects that in real life she was immediately more understanding of his predicament – but lets admit that would be less dramatic than the film portrayal. I think it wise that Sully is portrayed as giving praise to his co-pilot and crew and wish he had done so earlier in the film -but perhaps we should be kind and say it was possibly because in real life he would be still “hyper” after what they had been through.
      I have experienced total engine failure with forced landing and will forever be grateful to my chief flying instructor who stressed “Don’t stall the aeroplane and don’t do anything stupid!” I swear that a miniaturized version of that man was sitting on my shoulder when I had to put it down…and he was saying that same thing over and over again -along with the admonition that it is better to “land” (or “crash-land”) under control than to land out-of-control. These two pilots did it under control and in so-doing saved lives both on the aeroplane, and on the ground.
      In summary, the generously good dose of realism promotes this movie as a real winner.
      One hopes that both Sully and Stiles are invited to the Oscars!

      • Garth Handlon
        Garth Handlon says:

        I fly an Aviomania enclosed Autogyro. I can take off and land 5 times on a 5000 foot runway. I cruise at 80 knots and have a 200 mile range. In an engine out I can set the machine down with zero roll. Because of the safety this implies, five times as many gyros are sold in Europe then fixed wing airplanes. I wish more pilots would consider Autogyros over fixed wing in the U.S. It would make flying much safer for everyone.

  2. Harry Ronald Kempka
    Harry Ronald Kempka says:

    I am a Super Connie/C-130 FEFX with 12,000 hours and a private Pilot. I saw Sully Sept.10 and I completely agree with this evaluation of the film. But I must inform you that I survived loosing power on my Beech Musketeer at 400 foot over the fence. I did a 27 0,90 and landed with no problem on the runway.

  3. Cary ALBURN
    Cary ALBURN says:

    I think the “impossible turn” should be called the “improbable turn”, because that seems to be what most pilots really consider it to be. I don’t think it’s something to count on, but given the right circumstances, it works. Given the wrong circumstances, it’s deadly.

    I’ve practiced the turn in my airplane, and at the weight at the time (just me, my dog in the back seat, and the usual stuff I carry in the airplane, and half tanks), the density altitude at the time (about 7000′), an approximate 230/50 turn worked with a 680′ altitude loss after I’d counted to 5 to simulate the “gosh what’s happening?” feeling. I did it as if the runway was 1000′ AGL, to provide a cushion in case I screwed up, and I used a country road instead of a runway. Consequently, if I had 800′ AGL altitude (a 120′ cushion), I wouldn’t hesitate to turn around.

    But rarely is that the case. At the density altitudes I routinely fly, it’s not unusual for me to still be climbing to the local 800′ TPA after I’ve turned downwind in the pattern.

    So I guess what I’m saying is that there’s no one size that fits all. What might have worked for other pilots given other circumstances might not have worked had Sully and Jeff chosen to attempt a return to the airport. What worked for Harry in his Musketeer might not work for another pilot, even one with equal skills, in other circumstances. There have been too many NTSB reports which chronicle the unsuccessful efforts of pilots to make the turn.

    As for whether the NTSB was inaccurately portrayed, I think the intent of the movie is to show the perceptions of the pilots, that they were in the hotseat. All of us from time to time have perceptions that aren’t necessarily reality to an objective viewer, but they are still our perceptions. If indeed that is the intent, then I’d say the movie succeeded.

  4. Wayne B White, MD
    Wayne B White, MD says:

    Nice article Tony! I saw the movie and totally agree with your critique!
    Only the pilot in command pilot can make the right decision during an in flight emergency based on his or her training and experience. I was fortunate to have you as in the back seat of our Cessna 182 at NESA (National Emergency Services Academy) in 2009. You may recall we lost power when a cylinder head cracked and you calmly advised me to “climb and don’t touch the throttle” we worked as a team to decide the best course of action. Always having a landing site in mind we made it back to Columbus with a high and fast approach. The engine died on the taxi way!
    Crew resource management, your excellent instruction, and great training resulted in a happy outcome! The movie got it all right!

    LARRY BAUM says:


    Very well done! Totally agree with your observations.

    Saw the movie at about 17:30ET today 9/11 and can’t stop thinking about it. I walked out of the theater initially thinking that the movie was made for non-pilots with so much focus on the dramatization of the NTSB hearings which were, as you mentioned, actually far different than what really happened.

    After answering questions from my wife at dinner about why it took Sully and Skiles 35 seconds to figure out what to do, I realized that in those 35 seconds and then what was done once Sully made the decision to land in the river is all about pilots and piloting.

    Whether you’re just a GA pilot like me or an airline captain, we train and practice for what might happen using plausible scenarios. For Sully and Skiles who were faced with a scenario they had never experienced or ever practiced, they made the best decision available to them at the time and then executed it to the best of their ability.

    One last thought regarding the NTSB scenes – in a way, it dramatized the “second guessing” that Sully and Skiles went through themselves. They have both commented on it in various articles and in Sully’s book. And we’ve all done it.

  6. Dave Sandidge
    Dave Sandidge says:

    I’ve heard several of my peers say unflattering things about the crew’s decision to land the airplane in the river. Some say they should have simply run the thrust levers up to TOGA as a last-ditch effort to keep flying. (Monday-morning quarterbacks?) Okay, I listened to them; they each have much time and experience. And I thoughtfully considered what they had to say. (We’ve all flown the “Hudson Taxi” and all of her sister ships…) But those engines were never designed to take the impact forces they received during the event – at least two large (eight pounds or more) birds in each – and continue operating. If the crew had not moved the Engine Master Switches to off, but instead, had decided to “go for broke” with the thrust levers, perhaps the engine(s) would have given them enough thrust to make some airport. Perhaps. And they would have been heralded as heroes for making it back to the field. But I say the gamble (and that’s what it would have been), would have been too great. As you stated, there’s nowhere to land in that area except an airport. No, I say the crew made the right choice and did the only prudent thing possible; they stayed over a safe landing area and did not gamble with their (and more importantly), others’ lives. I will not speculate, nor will I look for faults in their judgment. I have yet to see the film, but I look forward to doing so. Thanks for the positive film review. With your resume I can believe it is worth seeing.

  7. Biton Liad
    Biton Liad says:

    Saw the movie last night. Tom hanks kills it every time. Great casting. if nothing else, the general public now understands that even big (and not only small) airplanes can crash, they now understand that most of these forced landings are survivable, and most importantly, they realize that airplanes can glide for a long while withou an engine. This movie is good for us.

  8. Duane Truitt
    Duane Truitt says:

    Of course any emergency action can be second guessed, and it is likely that it was not “impossible” for the flight crew to return to LaGuardia or cross the Hudson River to Teterboro. But to go either of those two destinations would have required a fairly flat final approach angle right over a lot of buildings in northern Manhattan and the lower Bronx. Perhaps the alternative pathways that were plotted by the investigators did not overfly the tallest of tall towers in lower Manhattan, but still … any collision with obstacles on that last bit of descent to landing would have endangered not only the passengers and crew on board the aircraft, but would also have threatened hundreds of persons on the ground.

    At the very least, the water landing limited human casualties to the souls on board and/or at most a handful of unlucky boaters. Ditchings performed on relatively smooth protected waters are on the whole relatively safe if performed nearshore on flat water with adequate rescue forces available nearby, and if the pilot uses good flying technique as Sully obviously did.

    The results obviously were great. I believe that the relatively high survivability of ditchings as compared to off-airport landings on land was decisive in helping Captain Sullivan make the correct decision.

  9. Steve Green
    Steve Green says:

    A few thoughts. First, I have not seen the movie. Second, I have almost zero doubt that Sullenberger made the right decision. Third, dropping the thing in the water next to midtown Manhattan is guaranteed to generate enormous publicity simply by virtue of the number of news cameras and talking heads stationed in the vicinity. For reference, compare TWA 800 with Air India 182. One has to wonder what the media judgment would have been had there been fatalities, as there almost assuredly should have been.

    But Sullenberger and Skiles belong to a wider cast of characters, and they all merit recognition for their airmanship. Pilots such as Capt. Stefan Rasmussen and First Officer Ulf Cedermark of SAS 751, who executed a similar maneuver after losing both engines departing Stockholm. In their case, they were IMC with nowhere to go; thanks to the assistance of a third pilot, they managed a deadstick landing on a frozen lake after breaking out of the cloud at less than a thousand feet…also with no fatalities. Capt. Carlos Dardano and First Officer Dionisio Lopez of TACA 110, whose problem was significantly more complicated because they did effect restarts but could get no power out of either engine and shut them down again, ultimately landing on a grass levee…with no fatalities. Then there is Capt. Robert Piche and First Officer Dirk de Jager of Air Transat 236, who, admittedly, walked themselves into a duel flameout by mismanaging a fuel leak but then managed the rather incredible feat of deadsticking an A330 into Lajes in the Azores. If your haven’t been there, look at some pictures of the airfield for more perspective. Finally, there is our own Capt. Mike Farb of Air Virginia, who, after managing to flame out both engines due to ice ingestion on a Metro II, with gear and flaps down while approaching Dulles runway 1R at night, then deadsticked the ship into a farm field, also without fatalities. When the stall warning blipped at about 100 feet, Mike pushed the yoke forward, broke the incipient stall and the pulled it back into his gut, landing diagonally and using literally all of the field.

    All of these gentlemen, including Sullenberger and Skiles, do our profession great credit.

    One last thought. There has been some press regarding the approach taken by Eastwood, in which the Board is portrayed as indulging in a bit of a witch hunt. I wasn’t involved, and as I said, I haven’t seen the movie. But I do know Bob Benzon, now retired from the NTSB, pretty well. He is about as straight a shooter as that body ever employed. Were this ever to happen to me, there is no one I’d rather have running the inquiry. We could make a list of the real witch hunts the Board has run, starting with Hoot Gibson and TWA 841. But I cannot imagine Benzon being anything but objective and professional. He’s a down to earth guy, and he doesn’t deserve to have his reputation slighted in the least.

    • Brent Butler
      Brent Butler says:

      Fantastic comment, but I do have one bone to pick. If Gibson and crew weren’t using the 2% trick, he didn’t do himself any good by erasing the tape. Once you start to get into multiple levels of “I didn’t do that” when other explanations don’t exist, you’re going to be in trouble. That’s not a witch hunt.

  10. Keith
    Keith says:

    I am a student pilot when I do fly a Cessna 150 or 172. There is much multitasking going on at the same time when you are flying. I am learning another skill that only a handful of people can do; it is an awesome experience. I have also visited the Carolinas Aviation Museum located in Charlotte NC. The US Airways plane that pilot Chester Sullenberger landed in the Hudson River in New York City is located there. After seeing the damages done to this aircraft, and no loss of life happened the pilot and crew of this airplane were talented and needed to be commended for their actions.

  11. Dave V
    Dave V says:

    During a post ditching interview one of the first class passengers said he was directed to jump into the water and swim for the wing by a flight attendant standing beside one of the open forward doors. He did so and was one of the very few pax who got wet. The forward emergency exit slides were eventually deployed, allowing the rest of the other pax to exit the aircraft and remain fairly dry. Was this almost fatal misdirection by the flight attendant depicted in the movie? I also understand that one of the flight attendants had PTSD so bad she retired and will not get into an airplane to this day. She had been in the rear of the aircraft and had to be restrained by other flight attendants from trying to open the rear exit doors which were underwater after the ditching!
    Fortunately calmer, more professional heads prevailed. Had they not, Sully’s excellent landing would have been largely in vain and post landing fatalities may have happened.

  12. Paul Wisgerhof
    Paul Wisgerhof says:

    GA pilots might want to try the following: 1) climb to about 5000 AGL, pull the throttle to zero and hold the wings level; as soon as you hit the stall break, drop the nose and hold it down until you achieve best glide speed, and see how much altitude you have lost. That is the time and altitude you will have to complete the improbable turn. 2) again climb to about 5000 AGL, slow to take-off speed, accelerate and hold the nose up at Vy or Vx; cut the throttle, count to five, drop the nose to achieve best glide speed, and do a 270/50 turn. How much altitude did you loose? Did you spin before you got to the turn or completed it? Good flying.

  13. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    I seen the movie, thought it was very well done. Sully and Skiles in real life performed flawlessly! Everyone survived. They did what they were trained to do. They are true professional pilots. As a private pilot, I am proud to be associated with them. The human factor,,, how you react in a in flight emergency is the difference between life and death. My wife and I walked away from a totaled Cessna without a scratch after in flight engine failure. Proper training prevailed!

  14. Jon Sharkey
    Jon Sharkey says:

    For those who don’t know the story, Eastwood himself survived a water landing off the California coast during his time in the military.

  15. Jack Thompson
    Jack Thompson says:

    I saw Sully yesterday evening. I have to commend the screenwriters, producers, editors and directors for a surprisingly gaff-free and honest depiction of the event. I can’t speak from experience to the fidelity of the NTSB depiction, but a movie has to have a human struggle to be a movie.
    Within the confines of time and medium I have to say that this may be the best movie portrayal of flight and Pilot’s doing what they do I have ever seen.
    After all, in comparison, we have all suffered through the butchery inflicted by the movie industry on aviation, airplanes, pilots and communications with ATC that “Airplane!” satirizes with such success.
    Bravo! Maybe we can hope for more in the future.

    My only suggestion would have been that the public be let in on how a pilot would decide he can’t gamble on trying to return make an airport: namely the location of the potential destination relative to the horizon. Experience ingrains the “cone of possibility” and observation of the objective moving up or down in the visual field (after achieving best glide conditions) confirms or condemns the plan. You don’t have to be superhuman, but you must be cool, objective and bring your experience to bear.

  16. Aslan Balaru
    Aslan Balaru says:

    Kudos to Sully for a ditching well managed, and to Eastwood for portraying it well in film.

    The Impossible Turn has well earned its name, having claimed many talented pilot. The one that always comes to my mind is Dick Bong – America’s highest scoring ace, test flying the P-80, flaming out after take off, trying to turn back to the runway, and not making it.
    I would think with how high the sink rate can be on some aircraft, finding something that takes little turning as a choice would be trained as the best choice.

  17. Will Anderson
    Will Anderson says:

    A couple things to consider:

    1. the A-320 has a much better glide ratio than a light aircraft,

    2. glider pilots like Sully are familiar with return to airport maneuvers,

    3. runway 14 was clearly within reach and they would have had to use flaps, gear and spoilers to keep from going off the far end,

    4. reaching RW14 would have required a quick response to the loss of thrust, approximately 10 seconds rather than the actual 35 seconds,

    5. because the response took 35 seconds the only alternative to flying into a building was landing is the water, i.e. a no-brainer,

    6. a hero is someone who voluntarily assumes a risk in order to save a life, someone who pulls a person out of a burning car is a hero, a soldier that braves enemy fire to bring back a wounded buddy is a hero, a destroyer captain that turns to engage an overwhelmingly superior force to protect troop transports is a hero, a pilot that does what most ten hour student pilots would have done is not incompetent but he is not a hero in any true sense of the term.

    • Duane Truitt
      Duane Truitt says:

      I’m fairly certain that the only party that was disappointed in Capt. Sullenberger’s performance that day might have been US Airway’s insurance carrier … no, I take that back, the airlines liability for 155 dead passengers and crew would have been a multiple of many times the $100M value of a new A-320, so the insurer was probably ecstatic at the outcome of this particular accident.

      Whether Sully is a hero or not is a subjective judgement. He was just doing his job, and he has said that many times.

      But to claim that his performance that was the equal of what most 10-hour student pilots would do is one of the most ridiculous statements ever made on Senior ATP Captains on major airlines are members of a very elite merit-based group of pilots. Very few of those pilots have ever faced a complete and sustained loss of engine power on climb immediately after takeoff at low altitude with a full load of passengers and managed not to lose a single one of them.

      In fact, I am not aware that such an accident with the same outcome has ever before happened with a modern turbofan passenger transport aircraft … can anyone here cite the same type of accident with a similar outcome of zero fatalities?

    • Bob Bell
      Bob Bell says:

      Reference your item 6, you are obviously not very smart. Why don’t YOU do what Sullenberger and Skiles did and then come back here to spew your blather.

  18. Jim Macklin CFIIASME and A&P
    Jim Macklin CFIIASME and A&P says:

    I have not seen the movie but I plan to see it soon. From the clips I’ve seen on television Tom Hanks is as believable as he was in APOLLO 13 and SAVING Private Ryan. This movie will save lives if airline passengers will pay attention to the pre-takeoff announcements and read the emergency card in the seat pocket.
    The clips have the line, “Nobody trains” for such a low altitude emergency. Now they will.
    I can think of only one error that Captain Sullenberger made and that was following the order of the Emergency Checklist. A checklist that presumed thirty minutes for a planned ditching.
    At such low altitude, should have closed the vents and then followed the rest of the checklist.
    But nobody died, nobody drowned, the only damage was the airplane.
    When I saw the news coverage when this happened I assumed that he was a seaplane pilot able to read the water. He was not, maybe he’ll add the rating. Water is a lot of fun. But being a glider pilot let him feel the airplane with probably more alertness than just watching the airspeed and vertical speed.

  19. Will Anderson
    Will Anderson says:

    So which do you think most 10 hour student pilots would do, fly into a building or land in the water? For your comments to make any sense you would have to believe the former. What I was saying is that once the return option was not available, landing in the water was an obvious course of action that most 10 hour student pilots would have taken. I’ve noticed that when someone doesn’t have reason and logic on their side they often resort to the juvenile insult.

    • Duane Truitt
      Duane Truitt says:

      Mr. Anderson – the juvenile insult and disrespect your comment revealed was all yours. Nothing more need be said, unless you care to disavow your own needlessly insulting comment.

  20. Chris Papageorgiou
    Chris Papageorgiou says:

    Someone at erased my comment, aimed to make trigger happy pens sit back, study/practice the 3-P Model.

    Looks like there is a preferential treatment prevailing here.
    I see over time ” experts” writing articles about aviation only to degrade what the original airfactsjournal was and worst off they entertain the notion that anyone can be an aviation writer, just because they are invited so they can bring in traffic and profits.
    I came to the above conclusion after reading some of those articles here, then seeing what those ” experts” write when they comment and how they perceive and process other opinions.
    When someone is not synchronized with their own beliefs and or phantasies the “ experts” show their true colors.
    Sully does not consider himself a hero, if we accept that and study his behavior, personal/ professional as it is very well documented by the media after the event, we can benefit personally and professionally.
    My observation excludes the author of this article whose writing I respect.
    Thank you Tony Vallillo for being a CAP volunteer !!!!!

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      Chris, I think it’s time to relax a little bit. First, we have not erased any comments (and never do unless they are obscene or spam). Second, while we love a spirited debate at Air Facts and we welcome participation from everyone, when the comments devolve into name calling and mean-spirited criticism, it serves no purpose for our readers.

      Maybe some readers simply agree to disagree here.

  21. Chris Papageorgiou
    Chris Papageorgiou says:

    Thanks for the assurance, but my message was there yesterday and not today.
    It was in reference to 3-P Model. I was inviting fellow pilots to reflect on it before commenting with ill- conceived messages. In fact asking them politely to perceive process and then perform (comment) without using the word ” relax”.
    Someone might have administrative rights to erase messages and you can chose to look into it if you like.
    A productive dialogue is a win- win scenario for all of us, particularly the beginners in aviation.
    Sometimes is evident that the mishaps I mentioned earlier have a negative effect on future aviators.
    Thank you !!!!

  22. Bittsel
    Bittsel says:

    I agree – the movie was a very realistic representation of flight 1549’s short flight and water landing. I would not have pushed the drama with the NTSB as much as Eastwood did. I think I would have chosen to go into Sully’s depiction of the Airbus flight systems, (which if you recall, Airbus wanted him to retract at the NTSB hearing), basically, Sully’s fear that the system would not be his most cooperative assistant when doing an approach and landing on water.

    Also wrt the ‘impossible/improbable” turn – let’s not forget about the shock time involved in an engine failure, (as depicted in the movie), where you’re confused, distracted and in disbelief while quickly losing airspeed and then altitude…

  23. H. Gilly Smith
    H. Gilly Smith says:

    I am a 3000 hr glider pilot. Sully is also a glider pilot and it was obvious he knew the dynamics of engineless flight. That phase of Sully’s experience was missing in this film.

    • Bob W.
      Bob W. says:

      Late to the conversation, yes, but something perhaps worth mentioning for future readers…

      2600 hr, “routinely-cross-country” glider pilot here, and IMO (then and still today) arguably THE best decision taken by Sully – regardless of the fact everyone survived! – was to reject trying to “reach a real airport.” This despite being explicitly offered Teterboro by ATC. Failing to make a similar decision in the face of actual impossibility continues to kill “average power pilots” every year…and that’s in small/slower-landing/likely-more-crash-survivable general aviation lightplanes, not heavy/fuel-laden/runway-eating commercial airlines whose pilots would NEVER seriously consider (or even routinely train for) truly dead-stick landings.

      Point being, it almost certainly required a HUGE mental leap to come to the decision Sully did, a leap I suspect many in our wonderfully professional/well-trained/dedicated airline pilot community would NOT have made under similar circumstances. That statement is not meant disrespectfully, but rather by way of emphasizing how utterly remarkable was Sully’s decision. I conclude this from the perspective of many cadged/shared powered, GA-flights with fellow GA pilots (including some glider-also-rated ones); landing off-airport simply isn’t something many of power-only pilots consider “normally acceptable” despite (presumably) 100% of them having actively trained for engine-out emergencies. There simply is a fundamental difference in fundamental thinking between “your average power pilot” and “your average XC glider pilot.”

      Kinda-sorta related, until I read Sully’s “Highest Duty – My Search for What Really Matters” (an excellent book…even more so upon a subsequent/years-later re-read), the glider pilot in me also wondered if/how-much Sully’s USAFA glider (instructor) experience may have influenced this particular decision of his. Per the book, “not at all” is his answer…at least not insofar as his conscious decision-making was concerned. Subconscious? Who can tell?

  24. Dave Sandidge
    Dave Sandidge says:

    I saw the movie yesterday, and one pressing question I had been harboring was answered – if the film was entirely accurate – technically speaking… I believe it was. I had wondered to myself when and under what circumstances did the RAT (ram air turbine) deploy? I watched and waited keenly for one particular thing to happen. It did. The film never specifically stated so, but it depicted the lights in the cabin – as well as much of the background ambient noise – extinguishing early on in the incident sequence before the emergency lights came on (floor lights and exit signs…), which in itself signified that the RAT was out and working (emergency power). That automatic occurrence of lights changing over signifies that both engine-driven generators were off line shortly after the bird strikes. Since the IDGs (integrated drive gears), and both generators were located beyond the reach of any birds – protected from collision damage – that means that both engines had to have either flamed out altogether or spooled down to somewhat less than 50% N2. The crews’ action of turning the Engine Master Switches (EMSs) to ‘OFF’ would have had no effect on the engines at that point – they were already “dead.” Resetting the EMSs would simply reset some computers for the next start attempt. This is a much-simplified explanation, but, nevertheless, it satisfies a burning question I had in my mind: “Did the crew do anything wrong so far as engine and power maintenance?” The answer is an emphatic no.

  25. Hunter Heath
    Hunter Heath says:

    I have never before seen an aviation-focused movie for which there was almost nothing to complain about. Understanding that the NTSB sequences– painful to watch– were there for dramatic tension, I had to read that Sully said that’s how the investigation *felt* to him before that section felt acceptable. Surely, though, we can understand NTSB’s unease with their portrayal, and hope that the moviegoing public does not assume this is how investigations are usually done. As for the rest of the film, it is a masterwork of moviemaking. And Clint Eastwood is a mere eighty-six (86!) years old! Imagine what kind of movies he’ll make in his maturity.

  26. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    My friend, who is a private pilot and former instructor, saw the film and said that there was the sound of jet engines in the scene after the engines are shut off. I have not seen it again to check, but do any of you remember any engine sounds in the cockpit during the glide to the water landing?

  27. Brent Butler
    Brent Butler says:

    It’s irrelevant whether Captain Sullenberger considers himself to be a hero. That determination is made by others with a more objective view of an event. And in any case, a self-proclaimed hero is likely no hero. You don’t save lives (even your own) to brag — you do it to assist the goal of survival.

    Yes, anyone who approaches an event that has a high probability of disaster, keeps his cool, plans a solution, executes the solution — is a hero.

    It’s sad to have a foolish naysayer in the crowd, but isn’t there always one of them?

    I lived in Charlotte at the time, and there were a lot of Charlotte folks coming home on that flight. Not a family among them considers Sullenberger ANYTHING but a hero that he got their loved ones down safely.

  28. David Ward Sandidge
    David Ward Sandidge says:

    I’ve read the article again and I have seen the movie twice. I have also read all the comments – some very astute… I have only one question that has been nagging at me for some time now: How in the HECK did a jumpseat rider manage to get a first-class seat out of New York in the afternoon?

  29. Dan Philgreen
    Dan Philgreen says:

    I did not read every single comment so if this has been addressed already I apologize in advance. One thing I noticed was that in the CGI depiction the slats and flaps were never extended. I thought this was probably an error because I couldn’t imagine not extending them to get the stall speed as low as possible before touchdown on the water. But perhaps this was correct and having stuff hanging out was considered more of a liability than the higher stall speed. I would imagine the manual indicates which configuration is preferable. Does anyone know the answer to this? I’ve never seen it discussed anywhere.

  30. Dan Philgreen
    Dan Philgreen says:

    Upon thinking about this more, I’m guessing the answer has to do with the high drag trumping any lower stall speed normally attainable with a lot of thrust available. The physics of a transport category aircraft are obviously a good bit different than a Cessna.

  31. ReyDeLosCielo
    ReyDeLosCielo says:

    It was a gr8t movie 4 sure, one thing i never hear discussed, is why neither pilot saw the damn geese & steered the plane behind them, a V of geese is visible for better than a mile, especially against a cloudy background. & I know the answer, most of us are doing everything except looking out the windscreen on T/O … fiddling w/ radios, entering squawks, sending txts… there stuff out there in the air folks … wads of balloons, birds, etc. ADS-B & operating in controlled AS is no excuse for not “looking to see”.

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