Monday, June 22, 2009

The Miracle That Wasn't -or- First and Second Officers DO know how to land an airplane.

Firstly, I grieve for the family of Captain Craig Lenell of Continental Airlines, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack on the flight deck of his aircraft last week.
I am amazed, however, at the dramatic treatment this story received in the media.   Words and phrases like "died at the controls," "miracle" and "landed safely" repeated themselves in endless loops.  
For Pete's sake, there were two additional pilots on the flight deck during the trans-Atlantic crossing that day, either one of whom had the experience, training and ability to land that airplane and had already done so numerous times. 
It was a non-miracle that they landed safely in New Jersey.  They were just doing their jobs. 
Isn't that exactly what Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger said after his successful ditching in the Hudson River earlier this year? 
"I was just doing my job."