AC360° Associate Producer
I didn’t think anything could possibly make the pilot who brought that engineless jetliner in for a perfect landing on the Hudson River any cooler. That was until I learned his name is Chesley B. Sullenberger III.
Unless you’re Roland Burris and you’ve spent the past 24 hours focused on recording your Senate office voicemail and wondering where all those reporters went, you know that Captain Sullenberger – “Sully” to his friends and the citizens of South Boston – is our newest national hero. A genuine national hero who deserves his time in the limelight. Unlike some people. Joe the Plumber, I’m looking in your direction.
Anyway, Captain Sullenberger is the real deal. The Clint Eastwood of commercial aviation. I picture him up in the cockpit of that US Airways plane yesterday, realizing he’s lost both engines. He takes a drag off his Marlboro and growls, “not on my watch.”
He’s the kind of pilot who I imagine, while checking the sinking aircraft for any remaining passengers, stops to wrestle a crocodile.
The kind of pilot who I imagine climbs out onto the wing, reaches into that engine turbine, pulls out that goose carcass, looks it in the eye and says “I’ll see you in Hell.”
In fact I was so impressed by the way he brought that plane down that I might even splurge on US Airways for my next trip. You see, I tend to fly on those discount airlines that go in-and-out of business; the ones where the pilots have names like Captain Skippy and the safety videos are in Slovakian.
Meanwhile, amidst this drama in the skies, the peaceful transition of power is fast approaching. President-elect Obama is busy polishing his Inaugural Address and President Bush is busy filling his suitcase with those little bottles of White House shampoo.
President Bush, as you know, made his farewell address to the nation last night. He stuck mostly to the theme of keeping American safe. And, in a nod to the day’s events in New York, he urged citizens not to be deterred from flying. How did he put it? Oh yes, “we must not let the geese win.”
Frankly, this whole thing just screams Dick Cheney. His two biggest priorities are national security and killing birds.
In fact, the next time I take a flight I want Chesley B. Sullenberger III behind the controls and Cheney strapped to the nose of the plane with his elephant gun.
And a whiskey before takeoff.
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