In one of the most shameless copycat stunts ever recorded, United Airlines issued a press release when a bird whacked into the side of one of their jets.
ABC News reports that " . . . a jetliner has returned safely to the Denver airport after a bird struck one of its engines shortly after takeoff. Airline spokeswoman Megan McCarthy says the engine that was struck continued to operate and the second engine wasn't affected. None of the 151 passengers and crew was injured. . . the pilot's decision to return to the airport was a precaution."
That's it. One engine with brains on it and another purring along just fine. And a pilot screaming Mayday.
No horrific fiery crash. No suffocating loss of cabin pressure. No heroic water landing. Nothing more than a bloody cowling and an envious pilot with delusions of grandeur.
Surely this pilot was recalling the thrilling cruise down the Hudson enjoyed by passengers on that US Airways jet a week or so ago. And maybe this particular pilot has been awake nights wishing for to run up against the wayward gaggle to test his mettle on. I'll bet the guy even steered the plane into the poor animal just for an excuse to throw it in reverse and make a daringly safe landing back at Denver.
This is likely to be the first of what will become a series of shameless exploits designed to lift otherwise forgotten flyboys and girls into ten minutes of unearned fame. Allow me to be the first to call it the Sully Syndrome. That Sully guy was the personification of grace under pressure. Every pilot's model. That to which all aspire but fall short due to the whim of circumstance. After all, not all pilots get the luxury of a high-visibility crisis to navigate with calm and competence. .
Sully Syndrome has not yet found a place in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - the bible of lunacy. But it will surely earn a slot soon as pilots clamor for the limelight. More and more pilots will be finding hapless flocks of fowl to slaughter. Meanwhile the poor birds will slowly join the ranks of the endangered.