Beyond the Clouds by Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, S.A.C. - Page 53

Flying in the plane’s cockpit must be an amazing experience, a privilege most only given to the pilots. How vast the Panorama before their eyes! The rising and the setting of the sun; the beautiful blue sky by day, the luminous moon overhead by night. I suppose even the stars look closer. Yet as far as the pilots are concerned, their confined travel is not only a privilege and pleasure, but also a grave responsibility. Even though today’s technology has advanced so that planes are able to take off and land on their own, the human brain still remains superior in critical moments. Almost ten years ago, Captain Chelsey Sullenberger’s US Airways flight struck a flock of Canadian Geese upon takeoff from New York’s La Guardia Airport. Seeing his engines lost power, and that even the quickest divergence to return to the tarmac was not a viable option, he made a landing known as “the miracle on the Hudson River.” All 155 passengers and crew- including one handicapped- safely disembarked on the wings of the plane to rescue crews and ferry boats waiting in the 2 degree C water. A hero the captain was, and a hero he remains, but not without a slight trial. Simulations had shown that, in fact, the plane could have made it back to the runway. However, this was without human intervention. When placing the stimulation again in the hands of the pilot, a mere delay of 35 seconds in his decision to land in the river would have resulted in a crash. Technology can only do so much, because as with most near-death experiences, we turn toward divine intervention. While not every Captain has a story like Chelsey’s, I am sure many have stories to tell. Perhaps near-miss situations with other airplanes, or technical problems that they solved without ever having to warn the cabin crew. For those in command, they bear the stress of carrying their passengers safely, just as they do the fatigue of continuous flying across time zones. Yet as for us in economy, we are just trying to get a good sleep! The title The Untold Stories of the Captain came to mind because of my 53