. . . Saturday January 24, 2009

Before the Hudson

A plane takes off. One engine fails. Then another. A calm, cool and talented Bay Area pilot realizes that a water landing is the only option.

Only this one was in 1956. And the water was the middle of the Pacific.

At one point, someone on a coast guard ship in the ocean below had this radio exchange with Captain Richard Ogg who was about to attempt the water landing (after circling for hours and telling everyone aboard to extinguish their cigarettes and assume the crash position):

Ogg: Your ship is sure a beautiful site.

Coast Guard: Thank you … glad it’s a comfort to you. We’ve got your bacon and eggs ready for you.

Ogg’s water landing was a little more rough than the one Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger would perform more than 50 years later, but the key result was the same. Everyone survived, including the captain who made the same two passes through the sinking fuselage before boarding the rescue boat. Here’s the story. Better yet, here’s the video:

Concentration is important!