The plane floated past my apartment – I live about two blocks off the Hudson in the West Village – and when I first saw it I didn't realize what i was looking at, the tugs must be pulling it down the river, it's moving so fast, surrounded by a flotilla of ferries, tugs and police boats, the latter still zipping in circles with their blue lights flashing.
At the pier, people pressed three deep against the railing, cell phones held up to take photos, those with good lenses jumping up on planters and benches. I wasn't the only person to just dump my bike and run, although I couldn't help thinking that today would be a good opportunity to steal a bike, but when I glanced back, everyone had eyes for just one thing, the few lines of the plane that still jut out of the water, the big news story that at this point is probably floating by Battery City as I type.
They closed down the southbound lanes of the West Side Highway and unmarked police cars were on the bike paths and buzzing down the pier. People are so happy that crew and passengers survived, and were shouting the good news into their phones – unless, of course, like me, they were trying to hold them up and take pictures. The man next to me commiserated: he wasn't very good at it either.
My first stop had been the roof and when I ran through our lobby to the elevator bank, one of our porters, Edwin, said I was crazy to go up there in the cold. I threw him a look of Minnesota-bred disdain – you call this cold? – and in a minute, he was by my side. From a distance – just like Julie Gold's song, one of my neighbors – the boats and their lights floated on the water around the plane the way a circle of flowers would if you threw them out on the river.
When I was a young reporter, I used to keep a notebook in the glove compartment of my car, just in case a plane crashed as I was driving around. It's hard to fight that impulse, and i'm so happy that this particular story has a happy ending.
For me, this is such a New York story, the way all the little villages here add up to a big city.I was in a little shop in my neighborhood when a delivery boy walked in and said in perfect Brooklynese "Yo, my ma just called, a plane from JFK just went into the water and everyone's dead." I hurried home, just stricken, and when I saw the dogwalker for my building (a true NY story has a dogwalker), I couldn't believe that he was laughing and joking with the doorman. "Oh," I thought, "he must not know" and so I went to tell him.
"Oh, the plane," he said,"isn't it great?"
No, no, I protested, people are dead and that's when he took my hand and said gently "Katherine, whatever someone told you is wrong. It's LaGuardia, everyone lived and it's going to float right by here."
And THAT's when I ran inside and went to the roof. I've written about the view from my apartment before – whenever I look out those windows, no matter my actual economic status, I feel rich. Now I look out at the Hudson and the lights of the Lackawanna Ferry terminal and I feel . . . grateful.
Editor's note: Katherine Lanpher is the author of the memoir "Leap Days." She is a contributing editor for More magazine and a substitute host on public radio's The Takeaway (www.thetakeaway.org). A former host of "The Al Franken Show" on Air America, she moved to New York five years ago after many years in Minnesota.
Today’s drama in the Hudson River sent our newsroom into overdrive. There are still many questions and facts to tease out.
Tomorrow we’ll have follow-up reports on the incredible emergency landing that the pilot pulled off. Everyone’s calling it “Miracle on the Hudson” and it’s actually not an overstatement. Landing a commercial jet in a relatively narrow river flanked by densely populated neighborhoods and skyscrapers is no small feat.
The fact that everyone on board survived despite the frigid waters they landed in – well, that’s nothing short of astounding. We’re eager to hear from the pilot who by all accounts performed heroically under great pressure. We’re working that angle and many others.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the story. Have you ever had a close call while flying? Were you aware that birds are a major threat to airline safety?
See you tomorrow at 10 pm ET.
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What a day its been here in the AC360° newsroom! Around 3:30pm, I was sitting at my desk, about to eat a late lunch, when all of a sudden on the local news stations here in New York I saw the live pictures of the U.S. Airways plane in the middle of the Hudson River.
I'm used to seeing boats in the river, but not a plane. I live across the river in New Jersey and from time to time I take a ferry on the river to Manhattan. The passengers on Flight 1549 were terrified, and I bet so were the people on ferry boats and other vessels in the river. After all, planes are built to land on runaways; not rivers.
The 155 passengers and crew members rescued today are alive due to the brave actions by the pilot and co-pilot. And, we can't forget the ferries that came to the site to help get everyone to dry land. It was strangers helping strangers. At a news conference this evening, the governor of New York called it the "Miracle on the Hudson."
Tonight the plane is tied up along the river in Lower Manhattan.
The other remarkable twist to this story are the reports that small birds brought down this big plane. We'll dig into that angle and have all the latest developments.
We'll also play part of President Bush's farewell speech tonight to the American people and look at the drama unfolding in Washington ahead of President-elect Obama's inauguration on Tuesday.
All those stories and more starting at 10pm E.T.
Hope you can join us.
Editor's Note: Tune in to hear more from Dr. Saltz on today's plane crash tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.
Dr. Gail Saltz
Psychiatrist and AC360° Contributor
Most people have some apprehension about flying. Despite the fact that many more people die in car crashes, people are far more afraid of flying…which is related to heights, something we are almost hardwired to fear.
This means that people involved in the US Air crash as well as others who are learning of or viewing the crash are potentially going to have psychological aftermath. There will be those who fare well, who feel in fact elated to have come out of such a tragedy and won’t be afraid to fly. There will however, be those who felt terrified, thought they may die and they are going to need attention and follow up because they are more likely to develop post traumatic stress disorder.
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Producer Richard Davis spoke to the wife of pilot C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger on the phone. Here’s her brief statement:
CNN: How is he?
Lori Sullenberger: “He’s ok”
CNN: How did you hear about the incident? What are you feeling?
Lori Sullenberger: “I was stunned. I hadn’t been watching the news. I’ve heard “Sully” say to people ‘it’s rare for an airline pilot to have an incident in their career’. When he called me he said ‘there’s been an accident. At first I thought it was something minor, but then he told me the circumstances and my body started shaking and I rushed to get our daughters out of school.”
CNN Medical News Producer
I just spoke with Dr. Charles Raison, Director of the Mind/Body Institute at Emory University, and a Psychiatrist. Here are some quick notes from our conversation:
Dr. Raison said that the psychological impact of an event like this is likely to be overwhelming. He added that humans have an inherent fear of heights, and this is their worst fear come true. He also said that more people die in cars than in planes, but most of us don’t fear driving. Everyone has a healthy dose of apprehension about flying.
Dr. Raison said data show that the people who are “hysterical” now, are likely to the ones with long-term psychological complications. It'ss largely a myth that the ones who are taking it in stride now will “feel it later.”
He said some people will walk away from this experience feeling like heroes, regaining faith in the human condition. Others will look back at how they acted – pushing and shoving – and feel guilty for not helping others. Others will be a complete psychological mess.
See full notes below:
These photographs were taken from the west side of Manhattan.
Taken from an office window on the 11th floor of 601 West 26th Street in Manhattan.
Taken from the inside of a car sitting in traffic on Manhattan's West Side Highway as the plane was going down.
A photograph taken from a terrace overlooking the Hudson River.
Another view of the plane from a terrace on the west side of Manhattan.
Click here to see more photos from iReporters.