January 16th, 2009
06:35 PM ET

Go ahead, geese, make my day

Jack Gray
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.

soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Wilma Berry

    Sully and his crew are the heroes as well as the passengers and the Emergency Personnel who was there to get them all on safe ground.
    What an amazing landing and a great ending to what could of been very sad taken into consideration that there was an infant on that plane.
    Definitely was" Angels" all around that plane. God Bless you Sully.

    January 16, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  2. Don, WA

    Can I give Capt. "Make My Day" Sulley a cyber-salute. He is what you call a "natural stick and rudder man." And will probably never have to buy himself another beer at a bar in this country again.

    January 16, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  3. Rikki, Fargo, ND

    Jack! You are a funny guy! Capt Sully did do an amazing job! I don't want to discount that at all! He is a hero but let us not forget that he had a co-pilot as well as a flight crew that was there too and contributed to the safety of the passengers on that plane!

    And I too tend to fly on the 'cheap' airlines....I'm not even sure that Hector International Airport has a US Airways service. I live in the middle of nowhere!

    Have a great weekend all!

    January 16, 2009 at 10:05 pm |
  4. Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    And a whiskey before takeoff.

    Not only before.....but during.....and after!

    Jack, If we are going to typecast Captain Sully to be in a movie, I'd much rather picture him in a superhero's outfit, flying through the air holding the plane up in one hand and waving the geese by with the other!

    But then again, I always had a thing for Superman so what can I say...

    Hope you have a great weekend!

    January 16, 2009 at 10:00 pm |
  5. Avril James

    Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger and his crew are great unsung heroes.Congratulations to them, and thanks to God for
    helping them in the crisis situation.Will there be a Service of Thanksgiving to God for the MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON?

    January 16, 2009 at 9:49 pm |
  6. Jacqueline, NY

    @ EJ,

    You're right. We should petition Jack to write the script... seems that he's already started to in his head. LOL!

    January 16, 2009 at 9:20 pm |
  7. Jacqueline, NY


    YOU ARE TOO HYSTERICAL! You watch too many movies. You ever considered writing for the Hollywood?... Uh, wait a minute – Jack Black. Jack Gray. Aye, I think me might be on to something. Maybe it's something to do with names of color.

    But on the serious side, please give a shout out to the entire flight crew. It truly had to be a joint effort to be so successful.

    January 16, 2009 at 9:17 pm |
  8. Dave Eisley from Aurora IL

    Good ol Sully.

    January 16, 2009 at 8:33 pm |
  9. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Juan~"Save a life eat a goose!'???
    You are risking radical suicide geese throwing their flippers at ya! 😉

    January 16, 2009 at 8:19 pm |
  10. Megan Dresslar - Shoreline, WA

    Hellooo Jack!!!!
    LOL!!!!! very funny blog!!!!! 🙂 I love your joke blog, But I was going to write share with my blog. I want to say thank you Chesley Sullenberger was doing right thing to do save their lives!!!! I was turn on my tv CNN and it was breaking news from work..... He is our hero!!! That is so miracle!!! I think you are right Jack!!!! I hope you enjoy joke about him!!! LOL! Have a great weekend Jack and Sammy!!! 😉

    January 16, 2009 at 7:39 pm |
  11. Juan Gascon

    Save a Life...Eat a Goose! :^)

    January 16, 2009 at 7:26 pm |
  12. Annie Kate


    Great post as always. I love the image of the pilot as Clint Eastwood – when he realized the birds were flying straight towards his engines he probably gritted his teeth and growled to the birds – "Go ahead. Make my day". Unfortunately the birds being dumb as dirt and not knowing who they were dealing with proceeded to do just that. But the pilot prevailed in the end, relying on his great experience as a pilot and the remarkable coincidence that he just happened to be a certified glider instructor – and well, with his engines out he was basically flying an overlarge, overweight glider. What a man. This is the stuff movies are made of.

    I saw Bush and his speech last night but you know after the high of the airplane being landed in the Hudson Bush just seemed so insignificant. I'll take the pilot hero any day over GW Bush.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    January 16, 2009 at 6:54 pm |
  13. Tracey - Boston

    I won't be surprised if Sully did all those things!!!

    He deserves a medal!!!!

    January 16, 2009 at 6:53 pm |
  14. Don, WA

    Here's to calm old pilots and calm old rivers. "(And a whiskey before take off)."

    January 16, 2009 at 6:04 pm |
  15. Tammy, Berwick. LA

    Last night I couldn't help but think of the crash out of La Guardia in 1992 and pray for those who lost and survived. Yesterday's news was so great for those on board and those who love them. It's a reminder of how fragile life can be and how we have to live our dreams today. Mostly it's a reminder that God works miracles in us everyday if we let Him no matter how good or bad the initial outcome seems. Cheers to a happy story to start a weekend that will hopefully be the beginning of even more amazing things for our nation in the next four years!

    January 16, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  16. EJ (USA)

    You should send Sully a copy of this one in a frame – I’m sure he’d love a copy!

    Agreed! I think he & his family would love it.

    January 16, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  17. Isabel, RJ, Brazil

    Chesley, if the heaven to exist, you have a VIP seat guaranteed.
    Congratulations on your province and professionalism!
    In a tense days, we can draw the lesson that good things (! Very good) still happen in this life: a pilot who can save all their passengers in an accident so serious, and none lives lost.

    PS – Jack, you need not fear their next trip!
    My husband works for U.S. Airways, in TI (laughing. ..)

    January 16, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  18. EJ (USA)

    I hope the actions of this crew sends a message to the public that the men and women flying these planes are true professionals, and not just “bus drivers”, or waitresses-in-the-sky.”

    Now all of America's waitresses and bus drivers are weeping.

    January 16, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  19. Sammem

    Lol good blog!

    January 16, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  20. Miranda

    Mr. Jack-

    To cool for school that is sooo funny you write and think very much like me!

    The captain not only deserves an award but also his crew no one can do that alone! I am praying for those who survived as they settle back into their lives and move on after the media is gone.

    warm regards,


    January 16, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  21. Joe G.

    Last time I got off a plane ( Seven days before 9/11) I thanked God. Since then I have grown and learned to thank him much more often. I’m not saying that all those people whose lives have being spared should not be appreciative for the skills of that seasoned pilot.. But would it hurt to hear someone say thank God..? What’s done is done, but since the media is making a big story out of this and some young kid might be listening, I thought I say a few words myself. Thanks

    January 16, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  22. Ratna, New York, NY

    Hi Jack,

    I could have had a good shot at the landing, when the plane passed the Trump Residence at 70 street onthe Husdon river around 3:30-ish pm. But instead at 3:25 pm, I decided to use my $2 Starbucks tea-time coupon instead. Darn, I could have viewed this on the 20th floor with river view. Can't believe I missed it. I was sipping London Fog CHai Latte on B'way at that time instead.

    January 16, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  23. Bev C.

    That pilot did do an excellent job – however, I'm sure his cockpit crew did their fair share too.

    January 16, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  24. Suzy - Edmonton, AB

    Jack, I come to this blog every MWF just to read your post. You crack me up! You should send Sully a copy of this one in a frame – I'm sure he'd love a copy!

    January 16, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  25. texas

    Jack Gray, you have an awesome way with words. I love your article...
    I love Clint Eastwood too (Classy man)... and, I especially love the idea of "Cheney at the front of the plane with his elephant gun"... thanks for "the laugh"... .

    More importantly, from all accounts, I think Sully & Company, Co-Pilot, Jeffery Skiles (lets not forget him)... demonstrated incredible calm, and professionalism manning the aircraft. I haven't flown anywhere recently, however "U.S. Airways" will be my first choice when I do- with a request for these two at the helm. I'll pay the higher rate for "safety" anyday!! –These two deserve higher salaries, and I for one would be willing to contribute to it!!

    To the families and friends of these two awesome men- Now the country knows, what you've always known... Unfortunately, sometimes it takes an accident or a tragedy for humans "to not take Life for granted"... .

    By the way- Cheney may be a "good/decent man"; I can't say–Never saw/heard much of/about him during the last 8 years! I do give him credit for defending his lesbian daughter (You go girl)... But, as far as VPs go... it's time for Joe Biden!!!

    ...And, as an animal lover– PLEASE NEW YORK CITY....find a "safe solution" to the geese population... they just want to breathe the air!


    January 16, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  26. Lilibeth

    Jack, your genius never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for always making me laugh. The airplane story was amazing. My husband and I picked the wrong day to have a date night (last night), so I missed the evening news coverage, but I had read about it on CNN.com in the afternoon. Glad everyone was OK. Have a great weekend, Jack.

    Edmonds, Washington

    January 16, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  27. Jenn/Monrovia, CA

    I think this just killed me for the day, thank you!

    January 16, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  28. Pamina

    Hi Jack,
    Awesome as usual! I think I'll book my next flight on US Air also. What cool commando training they must give there. Who would have thought the "weapons of mass destruction" we need to watch out for as Bush leaves office is a flock of birds!

    January 16, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  29. Marilyn Samet

    Has anyone recognized that this hero pilot(landing in the river) would have been prevented from being a commercial pilot if the age limits for airline pilots had been in force as they were years ago!?
    What more proof do we need about the values of experience and superior judgment which sometimes come only with age?***
    *** as long as health is good

    January 16, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  30. Ms. Lee's 2nd Grade Class

    It was a good idea to land in the water because the people were safe. The pilot was a talented pilot. We are very happy that everyone is safe.

    January 16, 2009 at 12:32 pm |
  31. Sebastian

    What's the higest civilian honor? It should be awarded the entire crew of 1549. As well, the golden parachute the US Air CEO has should be given to each of them. Billions to Wall St. scam execs when here we have real heros. America the beautiful.

    January 16, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  32. John Fosterling

    I know everyone will agree that the pilot did a truley amazing thing that he put the plane down in such a way there was little damage that would have sped up the sinking process. But given the mechanical damage to the engines, if the pilot had not made that last turn, how far would this plane glide with no power and if water had not been an option where else could he have put the plane down? This might have been another 9 11 type of disaster.

    January 16, 2009 at 12:14 pm |
  33. Rick

    I hope the actions of this crew sends a message to the public that the men and women flying these planes are true professionals, and not just "bus drivers", or waitresses-in-the-sky."

    January 16, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  34. Heather,ca

    Oh Jack. Love it.

    Yeah I just see it now the pilot and Darth Cheney locked and loaded and Sammy. Darth Cheney insisting on taking out birds and Sammy saving the day.

    January 16, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  35. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    @Lori Ann, Julliet, Jack, et all bloggers: You guys are grrrreat! (That's how Sammy says it)! Have a grrrrreat week-end!
    I love all ya'll!
    XO's and tail wags

    January 16, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  36. TS

    mmmmm goose with corn bread stuffing....sliced goose 😛

    January 16, 2009 at 12:02 pm |
  37. julliet

    Betty, maybe the geese was actually trying to get on that flight headed to SC. But seriously that pilot is the real deal. The heros that the world could use in these bleak financial times.
    Jack, maybe you should go geese chasing with Dick Cheney, that could save our airplanes from running into them and you could keep an eye on him, ha.

    January 16, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  38. Pati Mc

    Hey Jack,

    Thankfully we had some good news for a change.(Not the Howdy Doody leaving office is not good news!).

    Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger, III is a shining example of the pilot gene. What an amazing gentleman. Deserving hero, indeed.

    Not sure about your idea of him Jack, although it was funny as hell, I see the good Captain as a calm influence in a crisis. More like a fatherly figure, quietly tending his flock of passengers. JMHO.

    It must be said however, that your picture of him as the "Clint Eastwood of the Skies" is admittedly more marketable and tons more amusing. Rather funny to picture Cheney strapped to the nose of the plane as well. I vote for that!

    TGIF Jack. Guess you will be busy this weekend assisting Anderson in DC. Stay warm and try to keep Sammy away from the booze at the Inagural Ball. That should really keep you busy!

    January 16, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  39. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Good Friday to you, Jack. It's great news that everyone was safe. It's a nice way to end the week.
    However, I have heard that Donald Ducks distant cousins were the unnamed victims of the accident. They are having a small service to be held at Snow White's Castle..

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    January 16, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  40. Michelle

    Captain Sully sounds like one hip dude. I like the movie

    January 16, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  41. Renee

    Congratulations to Sulley and the co-pilot and crew. I think all of these employees should win Employees of the Year vs. Employee of the Year. I am sure Sulley know it takes a village. So nice to hear about a man of intregity and loyalty to be the last man standing on the plane. Time for a Lifetime Movie. Jack, can we count on you to write the script?

    When you have a chance, go to the Daily Show webcast from yesterday. Jon Stewart did a funny segment on "Sloppy Joes" with tapes from Joe Biden on CSPAN grandstanding and puffing in Congress recently. It was Joe's good bye to Congress. Hopefully Obama can get Joe to stop talking and get focused by next week.

    Another weekend so that means movie time for you right Jack? So what's on the movie selection for you? Any new recommendations?

    January 16, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  42. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hot Tamales Jack!
    Geez,those radical suicide geese! Bush is right we can't let them win. The next thing you know they will be throwing shoes at you and Sammy in central park.
    Geese are suppose to fly south for the winter but you can't trust them. They don't call them "honkers" for nothing. Shoot no ya'll.
    Speaking of shooting. You trust Dick Cheeny with an elephant gun? To the VP, national security IS shooting birds or perhaps marlboro men who resemble them.
    How about that pilot though, huh? What a feat! Chelsey B. Sullenberger is truly a hero and we could have used him here at the Alamo. Remember?
    Whatever the case, the safe landing of a jet in the Hudson River is truly a miraculous event. Maybe, just maybe this is the beginning of a new era of miraculous events.
    Let's savor that for a while. It is much needed.
    Ok~I finished my breakfast tamale now.
    You're the funniest~ Thanks for the giggles~
    Betty Ann, Texas

    January 16, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  43. xtina, chicago IL

    Im thinking the same thing you are- that Capt. Sullenberger is a hero, the kind of American our kids should look up to. Politicians, especially those who haven't proven anything, or haven't faced any challenges yet, are not heroes, but this former Air Force pilot is a real American.

    January 16, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  44. Jennifer - Michigan

    Hi Jack,
    Happy Friday! What a story ey? It's amazing that he could land that plane without it coming apart or breaking in half. Man! So glad that everyone made it out OK. That pilot is a real hero! People are counting their blessings today for sure.
    How about this cold weather? All the schools are closed around here due to the cold. My temperature gauge in the car read -11 (I've never seen it that low). Stay warm Jack, have a great weekend.

    January 16, 2009 at 10:43 am |
  45. Carol B., Virginia

    Why must you sully and make cracks about Joe-The-Plumber? 🙂
    If there ever was a movie made, perhaps it could be a dramedy somewhere between "Airport" and "Airplane." However, if you're lucky enough to get a cameo, the wiseguy usually gets taken out first.

    January 16, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  46. Roxy

    Where is Dick Cheney when you need him?

    The pilot of that plane deserves a Medal.

    Have you and Sammy watched The Birds, Jack?

    January 16, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  47. Brandi - bottom of the boot


    you watch entirely too many movies. lol

    you make the pilot sound like John McClain of Die Hard.

    again, i adore thee. 🙂

    January 16, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  48. 6ftRabbit

    I'm sure that PETA will now want to eliminate ariplanes to save the "
    Sky Kittens".

    January 16, 2009 at 10:13 am |
  49. Cindy

    Now you know Burris totally missed the whole plane down in the Hudson thing! After all he was too busy looking at the seat that he paid for...err...got put into by hook or crook. He was probably busy shining Blago's shoes or what ever else he promised him...umm..or maybe he was out buying Blago a comb for that mop, cause he sure needs it!

    And Sully, well he's just your ordinary, every day guy that flies like a butterfly, stings like a bee and brought "em down easy like Mohamed Ali! LOL He should get an award...or a belt..for coming up on the winning end of that fight!

    Please Jack...you do not want Cheney strapped to the front of your plane...are you crazy!? With his aim he'd probably shoot the pilot! LOL


    January 16, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  50. EJ (USA)

    Very funny stuff Jack!

    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.”


    I also totally love his name. Once I heard the entire name yesterday, I could not forget it. Perhaps a movie will be in the works for Captain Sullenberger's miraculous landing. (The movie would be even better if they added some of the effects that you mentioned. : )

    January 16, 2009 at 9:59 am |
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