Right guy in the right place at the right time
It couldn't have happened to a better guy.
Not that Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III, 57, deserved misfortune, we mean that a better guy couldn't have been at the controls when his Airbus A320 apparently hit a flock of birds and lost power in both engines shortly after taking off from LaGuardia Airport en route to Charlotte, N.C.
It's not just that he has more than 40 years of flying experience, and is a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot used to dealing with tense situations.
It's not even that he has been an instructor or an Airline Pilots Association safety chairman. Or that he's taken part in several Air Force and National Transportation Safety Board accident investigations, or operates his own safety consulting business.
Those are all important, but perhaps not as important as one minor detail as he guided his powerless airliner earthward over New York.
Besides all of his other qualifications, Sullenberger is a certified glider pilot, according to the New York Times.
Whatever the determining factor, somehow, "Sully" found the wisdom and skill to bring his passengers and crew safely down in the Hudson River, rather than fighting a losing struggle to return to LaGuardia or try to make another airport in the distance.
After the water landing, which one passenger described as no worse than a rear-end automobile collision, Sully repeatedly walked the aisle of the airliner to make sure everyone was safely outside.
Sullenberger certainly deserves his new moniker: Hero of the Hudson.
Until a little more than a year ago, Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger would be facing forced retirement at the mandatory age of 60 in only three years.
Keeping step with other countries, the United States recently revised those rules to allow fit airline pilots to stay on the job until 65.
If it keeps more pilots like "Sully" in command, that's a good thing.