January 15th, 2009
10:53 PM ET

On the Radar: When birds take down planes

Cate Vojdik
AC360° Writer

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.

Filed under: Cate Vojdik
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Brent

    Why don't they use titanium, conical-shaped, wire mesh over the jet engine intakes similar to those used over the intakes of jet engines used in drag racing vehicles?

    January 16, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  2. Tom

    As always, CNN is there when we need it. But there is one point I think CNN has not emphasized enough; the flight attendants. Those members of the flight crew are every bit as responsible for this fantastic outcome as the pilot. Indeed one of them broke a leg in the process.

    The news coverage rightfully focuses on the incredible skill of Captain "Scully", but I get the impression that the Flight Attendants are unfairly omitted from the conversation.

    January 16, 2009 at 8:40 am |
  3. Megan Dresslar - Shoreline, WA

    That is so miracle!!!! I like to say thank you Pilot Chesley B. Sully Sullenberger to save their lives!!!! The captain of US Airways Flight #1549 for the HERO of year of 2009!!!!! I hope that he will get heroes award the year of 2009!!!!! I am so proud of him what he have to do something to save their lives on the plane!!!! The captain is my hero!!!! Congrats to Chesley B. Sullenberger!!!!! 🙂 I have to share with you and bloggers!!!!

    January 16, 2009 at 1:35 am |
  4. Caleb

    I'd like to know why a screen or something can't be used to prevent birds from flying into the engines, or being sucked in. It seems like a relatively simple solution. Perhaps too simple. Can someone ask a pilot or engineer why this issue, which appears to be a common threat to commercial aircraft, cannot be solved?

    January 15, 2009 at 11:52 pm |
  5. Sharon

    Yes, I am very aware of the threat birds pose to airline safety.

    Our brother died in plane crash on March 4, 2008 in Oklahoma City, OK . According to witnesses, the plane flew through a flock of white birds at approximately 3000 feet as they were ascending on takeoff from Wiley Post. The witnesses, from their various perspectives, reported that smoke was trailing from both engines. It was a catastrophic failure and 5 people perished that day. According to the Smithsonian Institute, the birds involved were North American Pelicans, which are very large birds. We are currently awaiting the NTSB final report.

    I don't know what the answer is to this bird issue, but I am SO THANKFUL that 155 people didn't die today. The outcome could have been much different. Hopefully they are all home giving thanks with their familes.

    January 15, 2009 at 11:35 pm |
  6. Kim Gaudet

    Don't forget that after the pilots made that heroic landing – the flight attendants got 150 people off that airplane! When you watch the coverage you will see the passengers in life vests... that was the FAs who ensured people had lifevests on in the water – please remember – the pilots ARE heros... but so are the Flight Attendants!

    January 15, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  7. Sara Misenheimer

    The pilot apparently was very blessed to get that plane on the ground as safely as he did. But don't forget the flight attendants who got those passengers off the plane in such an efficient manner. It is indeed a miracle that no one was seriously hurt and that no one was left behind as the plane filled with water.

    January 15, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  8. Ian W

    This situation demonstrates why we have human pilots. I'm not an airline pilot, and I don't know any airline pilots, but to all you turkeys who say the planes just fly themselves, here is where you're wrong. Ask any aviation expert whether a computer could have brought that off.

    January 15, 2009 at 11:22 pm |
  9. Annie Kate

    This story gets better and better – what are the chances of this happening while you have a well seasoned pilot on board who is also a certified glider instructor – that skill seemingly being one of the big pluses he had on his side. The people on this plane and everyone associated with the recovery – flight crew, pilots, boat crews, etc. – must be so thankful for their survival tonight. After weeks of horrible news this is one story that just lifts your spirits.

    January 15, 2009 at 11:11 pm |
  10. EJ (USA)

    My heart is beating fast just thinking about it. I wonder if this episode gives faith to a few survivors who had lost it. It will be so interesting to hear from the passengers now and months down the road.

    January 15, 2009 at 11:11 pm |