photo allegedly sent by rescued passenger via twitter
If what we’re hearing in preliminary reports is true, the pilot of a US Airways flight that left La Guardia bound for Charlotte this afternoon found himself in a terrifying situation: the plane ran smack into a flock of geese, which apparently knocked out one or more of the plane’s engines.
Passengers are saying that the pilot kept his cool, steered the plane over the Hudson, gave a quick warning (“Brace for impact!”) and then landed his plane on the water, keeping it in one piece.
By the time TV pictures were being streamed live, viewers were presented with the horror of a plane full of passengers sinking slowly into frigid waters.
But that was an illusion: by the time TV pictures came on, apparently, most or all of the passengers had already been taken off the aircraft.
The landing was so well done, passengers were able to keep their wits and make their way to a couple of exits. Plenty of boats — bless ’em! — were quickly on the scene, and took the passengers away.
Update: About an hour after the plane took off, US Airways’ website is still showing that the plane will land in Charlotte at 5:16 pm.
Update 2: “People were standing on the wings of the plane” waiting for rescue, says Harry Martin at My9 News. The rescue scene is alleged to be visible from the 42nd Street shore of the Hudson. The water temperature is 42 degrees. Roosevelt Hospital is alerted to receive between 25 to 50 injured passengers. Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey is also alerted, not expecting injuries so much as people who “need to be warmed.” Witness Jayme Lewis says the touchdown was smooth: “It looked like it wanted to land on the water… very gentle and very controlled.”
A rescued passenger was just shown talking on a cell phone — calmly, all things considered: “The engine blew three minutes into the flight, the engine on my side… the captain said, just brace for impact… to be honest, though you don’t ever want to be in a plane crash like this, the pilot did a hell of a job… I’m wet from my waist down, it’s pretty cold here in New York right now so it’s turning to ice… the plane started filling up with water really quick… women and children first… we got into a couple of rafts that started to sink… a couple of ferries started throwin’ out life jackets… kudos to the pilot.” FAA says everyone’s been rescued from the plane.
Update 3: If you’re driving home from work, be prepared: All southbound West Side Highway is being redirected, and Port Imperial Boulevard on the Jersey side is also messed up.
Update 4: Mayor Bloomberg just gave a conference, reiterating everything that had already been reported, adding that an infant had been aboard the flight but he or she is alright, too, and that “by the mile and maybe even by the trip,” air travel is the safest way to get around and he would be comfortable putting his daughters on a commercial flight tonight.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 15, 2009