My Family

"Life will knock you down. You can choose to stand up again."

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

You Never Know

Saturday was a Heidi Day. I went to the gym, then went to the movies in my gym clothes. I bought myself a large bucket of extra buttered popcorn and found my seat. I had been wanting to see "Sully," with Tom Hanks. I remember the news clips about the "Miracle on the Hudson." So, that was the movie I chose. I was completely shocked by what actually happened.
In my ignorance, I had no idea that Chesley Sullenger was accused of doing anything but saving 155 lives. I had no idea that he had to stay in New York until decisions were made on his future as a pilot, and on whether or not he would be held responsible for the airplane landing in the Hudson River. I, like many people, had always believed that he was a skilled, experienced hero - one who did everything he could to save every single life on that plane on that freezing-cold day.

I was fascinated by the interrogations of Pilot Sully. I was fascinated by the questions they asked him and the accusations that the panel made. Further, I learned some powerful lessons by listening to his responses to the questions and accusations. You see, Sully asked the panel to consider the "human factor" when making determinations. He asked the panel how many tries that pilots in the simulations had prior to making a safe landing on a freeway runway. (the answer was 17) In total, the pilots aboard that plane on that day had 208 seconds to act, react, and determine what they were going to do. That is less than four minutes to determine what to do with a fully loaded airplane in an enormously populated city that had lost both engines. Once the human factor was added in (by giving the pilots in the simulations 35 seconds less time to react), there was no where for them to go but in to several populated buildings in the city.

I thought a lot about that all weekend. The human factor. I have had several (more than I care to count) people tell me for a long time what I should have done. I have also had multiple (more than I care to count) times when I thought to myself what other people should have done different. The reality is that it is so easy for us to say what should have happened, what should have been done, what shouldn't have been done. In reality, I think that most of us do the best we can with what we have. We make the best decisions we can make in the time allotted. We do what we think is best in the moment. And, no one else has the right to make assumptions or judgments based on those choices.

Now, unfortunately our choices have the real possibility of hurting others. Mine have. Those are regrets I carry with me always. But, that was never my intention when making poor choices.

The reality of the situation on the Hudson River that day was that all 155 people aboard that plane survived and none were critically injured. Not one. Mr. Sullenger did everything in his power to ensure that would be the case. Not everyone liked the choice (mostly the insurance company), but no one can argue the fact that had he not done what he did in the way he did it on that day, lives would have been lost and damage would have been done. And that's a great story.

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