CLARENCE CENTER, NY– The pilot of Continental Airlines flight 3407, which crashed near Buffalo on Thursday, attempted to land the plane on the Hudson River, according to Eddie Heegan, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board. “The black box of flight 3407 has been recovered,” said Heegan, “and it reveals that the pilot made quite an unusual decision.” It is likely that the pilot, Captain Keith Thomson, was inspired by the heroics of Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who received national acclaim when he landed US Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River last month after a flock of geese flew into the jets twin engines.
According to Heegan, the black box recording revealed that Thomson tried to imitate the actions of Sullenberger. “I’ve lost control of the plane,” said Thomson on the recording. Thomson proceeded to ask an air traffic controller at Buffalo Niagara Airport if there were alternate airports he could land at. “Negative,” said the air traffic controller. “Alright then. Forget it,” Thomson responded. “I’ll land it on the Hudson.” Sounding confused, the air traffic controller asked, “The Hudson? Do you mean the Hudson Riv– ” But it was too late. Before he could finish his sentence, Flight 3407 had already crashed, missing the Hudson River by a mere 283 miles.
Many people within the aviation industry believe that Captain Thomson’s decision was foolish. One of those people is Owen Planchart, a pilot for British Airways, who called Thomson’s piloting “a failed attempt at showboating.” “Flight 3407 was only 10 miles away from it’s destination,” said Planchart. “On the other hand, the Hudson River is on the other side of the state. This was unnecessary grandstanding, and it resulted in the death of fifty people, including Thomson’s.”
Captain Chesley Sullenberger agreed with Planchart, saying, “I’m not the competitive type, but Thomson deserves it for trying to steal my thunder. I’m glad the son of a bitch is dead.”
February 17, 2009