WURSON, NORTH CAROLINA– It would be referred to as a “normal” plane crash if such a horrific thing could be seen as normal, and if any other pilot had been flying the plane. But when the passengers of U.S. Airways flight 703 heard the pre-flight announcement on Thursday, they erupted into applause. That’s because Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the hero pilot who landed U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, was at the controls.
Sullenberger, who hasn’t flown since January 15–the day he landed the plane on the Hudson– crashed flight 703 into a crowded elementary school in Wurson, North Carolina, a town located twenty miles outside of Charlotte. All 130 people on board the plane, along with an estimated 600 children from the elementary school, were killed.
And in an incredibly startling twist of irony, the black box has revealed that the plane was brought down by geese. “Tower Control, you’re not gonna believe this,” said Sullenberger, “but a bunch of geese just flew into both of the engines.” “Again?” asked an amazed air traffic controller. “”Yeah,” said Sullenberger. The air traffic controller then asked Sullenberger if he thought he could make it to Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the flight’s intended destination. “Negative,” said Sullenberger. “Are there any alternate airports I could land in?” “Negative,” responded the air traffic controller. This prompted Sullenberger to ask if there were any large open fields or bodies of water he could land on. But before the air traffic controller could respond, Sullenberger spotted something below. “Never mind,” he said. “There’s an elementary school about a mile away. I’m going to see if I can land on the roof.”
Twenty seconds later there was an explosion as the black box shut off. “It was quite an unusual decision for a pilot to make,” said FAA spokesman Ken Foley. “I couldn’t possibly imagine a more tragic outcome to a bird strike than what we saw occur today.”
Many, however, are wondering whether the bird strike was just a horrible coincidence, or something much more sinister. On January 15, when Sullenberger landed flight 1549 on the Hudson, many top officials within the FBI believed that the crash was the work of Geesebollah, an Islamic faction of anti-American militant birds. This has never been proven, but shortly after Thursday afternoon’s plane crash, Al Jazeera aired footage of geese celebrating in the streets of Damascus, Syria’s capital. Still, some geese are quick to point out that not every goose in the Muslim community is celebrating the death of Sullenberger. “This is nothing but an odd coincidence,” said Muslim cleric and goose, Ali Flocka Birdal Shahif Shalawari. “It would be a mistake to assume that all geese fly into the twin engines of jet planes.” Others aren’t so sure. “If it happens once, it’s a coincidence. If it happens twice, it’s cold blooded murder,” said CIA spokesman Jackson Valentin. “Make no mistake about it. They were targeting Sullenberger.”
Regardless of whether it was a bizarre coincidence or a calculated act of Islamic jihad that killed Sullenberger and the 729 others who perished, many of the parents who lost their children at the Franklin Wilson Elementary School are honored to know that it was Captain Sullenberger who crashed into them. One of those parents is Michelle Reluth, who lost her five-year-old daughter, Hope. “I loved my daughter more than life itself,” she said. “And even though it hurts me to know that she spent her final moments of life on fire, it will always give me great comfort to know that it was Captain Sullenberger who created that fire.” Sullenberger certainly had his share of fans. Since the Hudson River landing, he has been honored with numerous awards, appeared at the Superbowl and on the “Late Show With David Letterman,” and he even spoke before a joint session of Congress. It is accolades like these that inspired grieving parent Brian Carnel to say that if anyone had to accidentally kill his ten-year-old son, Jacob, he’s glad that it was Chesley Sullenberger. “That guy is awesome,” said Carmel, “a true American hero. On the plane’s left wing, a huge portion of the rudder was sticking out of Jacob’s ribcage. If Sullenberger had survived, I would’ve had him sign it.”
October 4, 2009