A little thought can make all the difference

Avoiding the Birds

airbusOn a Weekend Update Thursday edition last week, the Saturday Night Live team came up with a pretty funny story about Captain Sully Sullenberger returning to the cockpit. Sully is now famous for his emergency landing of a USAir flight in the Hudson River. In case you don’t know the details, birds were sucked into the plane’s engine during takeoff, forcing emergency maneuvers into the river.

In the skit, the SNL anchor is interviewing another pilot who acknowledges Sully’s heroic effort, but is a little bitter. Why? Because he learned how to avoid the birds.

I’m not a pilot, but I would think that if Sully could have avoided the birds, he would have. This was not a 4-wheel drive truck going 35 miles an hour when a child’s ball rolled into the street. This was a massive airplane. There is no traction in air for quick maneuvers or an easy way to swerve away from the danger – I don’t think. But the idea was still interesting to think about.

In industrial safety, as I have written before, an accident is frequently discussed afterward with the use of the word “luck”. Sometimes good luck is at play, and sometimes bad luck. It was bad luck that the flock and that airlane were on intersecting flight patterns. It was good luck that Sully happened to be a student of exactly that type of landing. Another pilot may have been able to do the same thing, or maybe not.

The pilot on SNL seemed to think that the skill of avoiding the birds is what should be acknowledged.

Do you have someone with a knack for not getting hurt? They seem to avoid the dangers? Or maybe they just know more about spotting the problems and steering clear. It might be that you have something to learn from them.

Oh, and for the record, I think Sully is a real hero. Not for making the landing, but for being ready to do just that. For caring enough about his work to know what to do when the unexpected happens.

Let’s be careful out there.

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