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.
February 6, 2009
Water Landing for Australian Plane
Remember that pitiful attempt to be bold that I told you about yesterday? Thought it couldn't get much worse didn't you? Earlier today some Australian hotshot used "some loss of power in one of the engines" as an excuse to ditch into Darwin's harbor. I'm telling you, before long planes are going to be dropping like flies.
This guy had a bad case of Sully Syndrome. The lengths to which he went to create the conditions that justify a water landing defy rational explanation. First the guy has "some loss of power" in an engine. Hey, he's still got the other one, right? That's why they give ya two. But does he nurse the sick one along and try to get the most out of the good engine? Nope. According to his manager he shut the engine down and decided to ditch.
Fortunately nobody was injured, but his passengers did suffer the indignity of having to wade ashore in two feet of water. Could have been a tragedy if not for the Sullyesque behavior of their captain, one Steve Bolle.
Captain Bolle basked in the glory of his heroic dive. "He was very cool about it ... they've certainly trained for these things," Mr McKenzie, one of the passengers, said to BBC News. A cop said he did a "remarkable job." It is not known whether the cop was referring to Captain Bolle's piloting skills or his knack for manufacturing an artificial crisis. Some cops are crafty at that too, so there may be professional cred to pass around.
Having so little to be proud about, the folks down under are naturally bragging about their new hero. You can't rightly blame the poor Aussies. The last real hero they've had is Mad Max.
In an indication that not everybody in Australia is so impressed with Captain Bolle's exploits the BBC closed on this ominous note: "An investigation is now under way." I can't wait.
Back-to-back exhibitions of Sully Syndrome cause me to go in search of possible excuses for this playful condition. Here are some things that come to mind:
Sunglare: I'm told that the sun shines a little brighter above the clouds. It's probably blinding in the cockpit. Nothing that pilots haven't worked around for nearly a century now, but the desire to keep up with the Sullies may cause the sun to shine brighter still. Perhaps to the point of blinding, migraine-inducing agony. "Cockpit to tower . . ."
Boredom: I suppose it does get boring on those long transoceanic flights. Sure, there are books to read and in-flight movies to enjoy. But books can induce drowsiness and in-flight movies don't change more than once a month. This is borderline whining, but a well-versed mayday call can make any pilot a hero, regardless of the trouble
Chatty Copilot: What's worse than boredom? Having to spend hours accompanied by a companion who keeps insisting on sharing pictures of the family vacation to the Outer Banks and drones on endlessly about dietary fiber and how long flights make him flatulent. Very unpleasant indeed. Turn that nose down and ditch!