It’s a breathtaking story of heroism, terror and prayer.
Or it is the story of a guy doing his job. And a bunch of passengers scared to death and clinging to life.
It is a story of unexpected, never before seen disaster.
Or it is the story of just another bird meeting just another aircraft in the sky — something that happens thousands of times each year.
We love drama, excitement and life and death challenges — usually if there is a happy ending and we ourselves are never at risk.
I don’t mean to demean for a second the heroics and great work of all the boat and craft crews, rescue swimmers, flight crew, pilot and everyone else — and I’ll be the first to make popcorn for the “Made for TV Movie.”
But I do find myself cautioning myself: and maybe to honor all that do their jobs day in and day out. And most never get a medal or keys to the city.
And there is still the NTSB and FAA investigation — a task that goes into every detail which often can mean reconstucting the twisted metal of a crashed aircraft.
We already know the order has been given to “find those engines” at the bottom of the Hudson.
If we get too carried away the made for TV movie will feature a FAA guy shouting, “Find that bird.”
This posted 22 January 2009:
Bird Found in Miracle Hudson River Crash-Landing
Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III, 57, became the hero of the moment and for me a lesson, and a monument, to life.
“Miracle on the Hudson” Pilot: Older Pros Sure Worth Having
In this image taken from the website of Safety Reliability Methods, Inc., US Airways pilot Chelsey B. Sullenberger III is shown. An official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still ongoing, identified Sullenberger as the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549, which crash landed in the Hudson River in New York Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009, as Chelsey B. Sullenberger III. (AP Photo/Safety Reliability Methods, Inc.)
A police officer (R) and member of the coast guard stand near the wing of the US Airways airplane which crashed in the Hudson River, where the aircraft is secured and awaiting removal, in New York, January 16, 2009.REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES)
Birds a Problem for Aircraft
By James Bernstein
Birds and airplanes may both fly, but they do not live in harmony in the skies. The bird strike believed to have been responsible for Thursday’s US Airways emergency landing is rare, aviation experts said. | Video | Photo gallery | Experts: Crashes more survivable recently | Hudson River hero is ex-Air Force pilot | Investigation begins
But when birds — even small birds in flocks — get caught in an aircraft engine, which typically runs at 10,000 revolutions per minute, the result can be disaster.
“The blades of the engines disintegrate into pieces,” said Ross Aimer, a test pilot for Boeing Co., the giant commercial airplane manufacturer.
The pilot knows immediately the plane has been struck by birds. “There’s going to be a loud bang and usually a smell” of burning birds, said Aimer, also a consultant for Aviation Experts, a consultant and media-relations company in San Clemente, Calif.
Experts estimate that about 25,000 Canada geese live in New York City and on Long Island, with about 25,000 more migrating through the area each year. Rob Bennett for The New York Times
Of course, what aviation experts refer to as “bird strikes” do not always cause crashes. But the FAA estimates that in the last two decades, bird strikes have caused more than 200 aviation fatalities worldwide. They generally occur near airports, whose large open spaces provide fowl of all types with places to rest and feed, the experts said.
Big problems for New York
Birds pose a particular problem at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports because they are near marshy areas that are home to thousands of birds, the experts said. And the airports are along the Atlantic Flyway, a migratory route that stretches from Maine to Florida, said Peggy Caraher, publicity chairwoman for the Eastern Long Island Audubon Society, Inc.
“The problem is we’re always building along the shorelines,” Caraher said. “That’s where these birds are. So they relocate to other open spaces.”
The FAA estimates that about 90 percent of all bird strikes are at or close to airports.
At LaGuardia and other airports, maintenance crews go to work at dawn, using noisemakers and flares to scare off birds, the experts said. “They’ve tried everything, from shooting cannons to bringing in birds of prey,” Aimer said.
The thunderous jet engines, though, are usually the best way to get rid of gulls, geese or sparrows.
“The key is to dissuade as many birds as possible from wanting to be in the area,” said Stuart Rossell, U.S. operations manager for Plattsburgh-based Falcon Environmental Services, which does bird control at Kennedy.
“JFK is the leader in proactive bird management,” said Rossell, of Murrieta, Calif. “Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for the aviation industry.”
Frank Ayers, chairman of the flight training department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., said that airplane engines are tested and retested for bird strikes. But, he said, jet engines are unable to survive a hit by large birds such as geese or flocks of birds.
“They can survive a small sparrow,” Ayers said. “But even that will produce some changes in the power output.”
Peter R. Leffe, an aviation accident investigator in Malibu, Calif., said when a bird hits an engine, its blades break into sharp projectiles, which rip into the cowling that covers the engine, usually tearing it apart.
“The blades are about an inch high and an inch square,” Leffe said. “They’re very brittle.”
From The New York Times
For years, airport officials have removed shrubs and trees that attract birds. They have tried to scare them away with music, pyrotechnics and cannons. They have even raided birds’ nests and culled the adults with shotguns.
Still, birds, often geese, sometimes end up in plane engines, causing inconvenience, or worse: They are a leading suspect in the nearly disastrous ditching of a US Airways jet on Thursday.
“The cause is still under investigation,” said Stephen Sigmund, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. But he said preliminary reports indicated that Flight 1549 was several miles out from La Guardia Airport, at 3,000 to 4,000 feet, when the pilot radioed that there had been a bird strike.
The proximity of the plane to Rikers Island, home to a large colony of noisy, prolific and seemingly indefatigable Canada geese, suggests that the birds could have been involved. “Certainly if they were geese, the birds would have been large enough to do considerable damage,” said Peter Capainolo, a senior scientific assistant at the American Museum of Natural History who has worked with teams that have tried to scare birds away from airport runways.
New York is a high-risk region for bird strikes, with three major airports close to active….
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