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Author Topic: Flight 1549 14 years later, through the eyes of a 14-year-old  (Read 147 times)

Offline KB4TEZ

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Flight 1549 14 years later, through the eyes of a 14-year-old
« on: January 16, 2023, 07:35:51 AM »
From my LinkedIn feed from Capt. Sully.(My View from the Left Seat)
We could all use a little "warmth" today.

“He’s okay but…” - these three words have stayed with me for, well now, half my life.
As a society we watch as people’s worlds get flipped upside down every day. We see parents grieve the loss of their children. We watch viral videos of the aspiring actor getting the opportunity of the lifetime – but we never anticipate that flip will happen to us.

January 15, 2009, started as any other day. At 12:31 pm PST my dad had just landed his aircraft on the Hudson River, while I was at lunch in the middle of the school day. Not long after that a call was made to my classroom saying my mom was here to pick me up early. I knew something was wrong, but assumed it was regarding our family dog, or a grandparent; I never imagined it was going to be about my dad. As I got into the car my mom said, “he’s okay but…” and proceeded to tell me what happened during Flight 1549.

Fast forward to 2023, 14 years later. For me, as the younger daughter, this milestone is a weird tipping point that nobody yet in my family has experienced. 14 years ago, I was 14 years old. I am at the crossroads of half my life being before Flight 1549 and half being after Flight 1549. Our lives changed drastically that day and have continued to change in ways none of us anticipated. In 14 years, I have experienced opportunities of a lifetime - meeting President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on their inauguration day, setting foot inside Buckingham Palace, being a part of the Tournament of Roses, watching my dad’s story come to life in Sully, and getting to watch his legacy live on with the Sullenberger Aviation Museum in North Carolina.

These opportunities have shaped much of who I am today as a young adult, but the core of who I am still resonates with life before January 15, 2009. Many of the qualities the world has admired about my dad - his exceptional leadership, his calm demeanor, and the ability to prepare for the unexpected, are all things that my parents ingrained in us as young girls. When my dad would pick me up from preschool, he would see the toys left behind by the tornado of toddlers and the two of us would take a few minutes and pick some things up before heading home. As a pilot’s wife, my mom would be solo parenting for multiple days in a row out of the week, but when my dad came home, they seamlessly transitioned into a team, making the weird schedule of an airline family seem normal and effortless to my sister Kate and me.

The most common thing people say to me when talking about my dad is, “You must be so proud of him.” And I am, but not for Flight 1549. I am proud of him for being my advocate, my cheerleader, my friend, and a strong parental figure. And this goes for both my dad and my mom.
The world got to see these skills on January 15, 2009, but these were not things that my family was unaware of. To us, Flight 1549 was not just about him being a “hero” and saving the lives of 154 passengers and crew members on board. There were 155 people on that flight - he was also saving his life.
Today we celebrate a successful water landing, and the lives of 155 people who might not have had the chance to hug their loved ones once more.
Today I celebrate how a successful water landing doubled my lifetime thus far with my dad. My hero - not from January 15, 2009, but from January 7, 1995, the moment he held me in his arms for the first time.