Sully’s week

sullenberger_superbowl.jpg We’re done with Michael Phelps. You’re on, Sully. We’re going to hear more about the “Hudson River heroes” this week. CBS’ “60 Minutes” is heavily promoting its interview with US Air flight 1545 pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who ditched the plane in the Hudson River a few weeks ago. It also has started promoting a segment on its suffering Early Show on Monday, also featuring Sullenberger. The network goes for the trifecta a night later when he stops by David Letterman’s show. has a nice behind-the-scenes look today at the pilot’s coming-out party. NBC had originally booked Sullenberger, who was also honored at the Super Bowl, for the Today show before he backed out on the advice of his union, prompting this unusually harsh statement from NBC.

“What Captain Sullenberger did in the cockpit on Flight 1549 was heroic and admirable. Unfortunately, people close to him have not acted nearly as admirably over the past few days. They gave us their word and then broke their commitment. We wish Captain Sullenberger the best.”

The euphoria over the Hudson River “miracle,” ended last week, when passengers started complaining that US Air wasn’t giving them enough freebies, according to the New York Post.

“You’re going to crash me into the water, and you’re going to tell me all I get is an upgrade?” asked Antonio Sales, 20, who was traveling with the University of South Carolina’s track team. “That’s more of an ‘OK, you’re not dead, I’ll give you something to hold on to.’ It’s not enough at all.”

Susan O’Donnell isn’t one of those complaining, however. She was an off-duty pilot for American, riding in first class (a courtesy extended by airlines to other airlines’ pilots) in the cockpit, and provided an account of the ditching to her union, which issued a press release about it.

The descent seemed very controlled, and the sink rate reasonably low. I believed the impact would be violent but survivable, although I did consider the alternative. The passengers remained calm and almost completely quiet. As we approached the water, I braced by folding my arms against the seat back in front of me, then putting my head against my arms. There was a brief hard jolt, a rapid decel and we were stopped. It was much milder than I had anticipated. If the jolt had been turbulence, I would have described it as moderate. Thinking about it later on, I realized it was no worse than a carrier landing.

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