1 posts categorized "Travel"

January 16, 2009

Competence of Heroic Proportions

Author's Note: As of this writing, I am working under the assumption that the first reports regarding the US Airways Flight 1549 are more or less accurate, that the engines were knocked out by an unforeseeable and unavoidable flock of birds and the pilot did the only thing he could do to save the lives of the passengers and crew.

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to crash-land on water? Thanks to the incredible story of yesterday's near-catastrophe, you may be able to ask someone. Or 155 someones, to be exact, all who miraculously survived a crash landing on the Hudson River.

"Everybody owes their life to that pilot," said passenger Bill Zuhowski. "Period."

While this sentiment is understandable from someone who just walked away from such an incident, let's not get too punctuation-happy just yet.

First, let's remember the flight crew and rescue workers who helped ensure everyone's survival.

However, we also should not forget the industrial designers, engineers, the manufacturers and quality management personnel of every flight component who likewise did such a competent job that they collectively, without knowing it would crash-land in water, designed and built an aircraft that could withstand a water landing.

While we're at it, let's remember the janitors who cleaned up for these people -- thereby freeing up their time and attention to put to their tasks so they could perform them better, the farmers who grow foods in large quantities so they didn't have to do it themselves, the truck drivers and train engineers who moved components, food, and everything else they needed in their work and their lives, and the laborers who loaded them for transportation.

The 155 people who survived that flight owe their lives to them, as well.

Of course, well-deserved praise is given to those at the point of the crash and rescue. The pilot, the crew, the rescue workers, and the passengers who helped get everyone out all should be honored in the coming days.

And for at least 155 people and their families and their descendants-to-be, they should be honored for several lifetimes to come.

They did their jobs and behaved like compassionate human beings, and that is laudable.

We should also admire their clear and focused presence of mind.

But for all we admire in the first group of people who are getting all of the accolades in how they did their jobs when they knew without a doubt what was on the line because they saw it, let's take a moment to reflect on the virtue of basic things like a commitment to do a good job even though their lives aren't at stake at the time they're required to do it.

Maybe it's not "heroic" in the strictest sense, but it is admirable, and it will deserve our appreciation long after the rest of the world forgets about this amazing story as they continue to pursue excellence in their own lives' work.

A job well done is often its own reward, but for the 155 who survived Flight 1549, it's so much more. - Cam Beck