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November 18th, 2009
09:46 AM ET

Was it really a 'Miracle on the Hudson'?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/06/24/us.airways.1549.claims/art.flight1549.gi.jpg]

CNN

When US Airways Flight 1549 ditched in the Hudson River and all of its 150 passengers and five crew members were safely rescued in January, the landing of the airplane by pilot Chesley Sullenberger was quickly proclaimed the "Miracle on the Hudson" and dominated national news for days.

A pilot who virtually grew up in airplane cockpits, writer William Langewiesche set out to analyze what happened in the five-minute flight of US Airways 1549, which lost power in both engines when it collided with a flock of Canada geese. His conclusion after writing a new book "Fly by Wire" - there was no miracle.

"I'm sure Mr. Sullenberger himself wouldn't have used that word," Langewiesche said in an interview with CNN. "There was no miracle. There was extremely skillful flying going on and skillful engineering in the background. You can include the flight attendants and the passengers. ... There was a lot of altruism, kind of a bravery, soberness. They were not hysterical, and there was no stampeding.

"Many good things happened, but they all related to the individual strength of the people involved. That includes [Bernard] Ziegler [the designer of the aircraft], Sullenberger, [co-pilot Jeffrey] Skiles and Patrick Harten, the air traffic controller - he was as good as it gets, offering alternatives, the backing off of alternatives, staying cool."

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