Hudson Miracle: A Story Of Intuition And Competence

It has been 11 years since the so-called Hudson Miracle. For psychologists, Captain Sully did not work a miracle; it is an action performed by an expert mind guided by intuition and his great experience.
Hudson Miracle: A Story of Insight and Expertise

“This is the captain speaking, prepare for impact,” were the words used by Chesley B. Sullenberger, Sully, to address his 150 passengers before performing what is known as the miracle on the Hudson. After colliding with a flock of birds and losing control of the engines, this experienced pilot ignored orders and only followed his intuition, successfully landing on the Hudson River and saving 150 lives.

11 years have passed, but that incident will be remembered for a long time. For many it was the most successful ditching in aviation history. For others, however, it was an act of unconsciousness. There are still those who believe that the best thing would have been to go back to the airport and not risk a tragedy.

Psychologically, this is the most interesting part of the Hudson miracle. Experts in the field of sixth sense, intelligence and intuition such as Malcolm Gladwell have studied this case to show us that Captain Sully did not actually perform any “miracles”.

His was the feat of an expert. The crew themselves stated shortly after that the captain had acted calmly at all times. Although his Airbus 320 had run out of engines, he acted as if he had full control of the plane. And in fact he had it.

The Hudson miracle happened in just over three minutes. In this short space of time, Sully assessed the situation, analyzed the options and realized what he saw fit.

Suly hugs a passenger.

Hudson miracle, the story

The story of the Hudson miracle begins at 3:25 pm on January 15, 2009. We are located at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Despite the cold weather, the sky appears clear, apparently without obstacles for the take-off of US Airways flight 1549.

In command is Captain Sullenberger, Sully, a 57-year-old former US Air Force pilot. Sully had over 20,000 flight hours behind him, but he couldn’t imagine that he would have a unique experience shortly thereafter. Two minutes after take-off, a flock of Canadian geese struck the cabin of the Airbus.

The cabin began to darken and the passengers heard very loud noises. Within seconds something unusual happened. Unfortunately, it happens that these animals collide with planes from time to time, but it is certainly not common for the engines to stop working due to this impact. Unfortunately, however, it happened that morning.

Evaluate the best option

After the impact, the plane began to plummet reaching a speed of 390 km / h at an altitude of about 500 meters. Various options were considered at LaGuardia Airport, including returning. However, to everyone’s surprise, Captain Sully ignored the orders.

Seconds later, they told him that the nearest airport was Teterboro, Bergen County. Again Sully, along with his co-pilot, replied in the negative.

The Hudson River Rescue.

Sully had figured out the best option in just over a minute. Returning to LaGuardia Airport without the engines would have been too reckless. Going to Teterboro is impossible: an airport with runways that are too short for a plane as big as your Airbus. The most suitable place was the Hudson River.

In all aviation history until 2009, only one large commercial plane had successfully landed on the river, the Tupolev Tu-124 in 1963. However, Captain Sully made a textbook landing, becoming the protagonist of what has passed. to history as the Hudson miracle.

Hudson Miracle, an example of intuition, experience and skill

Herbert Simon, a renowned social scientist, observed that people who show experience in a given subject develop an efficient and intuitive mind. Captain Sully is certainly among them. However, curious as it may seem, the months following that lucky experience were hell for the captain of the Airbus 320.

As Clint Eastwood showed us in the film Sully, the investigation into the case cast doubt on whether it had been a successful ploy. Eventually, and after a rigorous process, it was shown that the captain had used his vast experience to carry out the maneuver, thus saving the lives of 150 passengers and crew.

It was not a miracle, but the maneuver of an expert

To speak of a “miracle” means to belittle its protagonist. Malcolm Gladwell then explains that people like Captain Sullenberger are able to react highly efficiently in times of need using various strategies:

  • Pattern recognition. Although they do not always experience the same situations, they know how to recognize similar stimuli from previous experiences and use the responses that have helped them in the past.
  • They are very confident profiles and show temperance in complicated situations
  • They apply expert intuition. Gary Klein, a prominent behavioral psychologist, conducted a very interesting study to show us that experienced minds don’t ask themselves what to do when there is a difficulty, so they don’t hesitate. They immediately understand the situation they are in, analyze it and know exactly how to act.
Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks shoot the miracle on the Hudson.

It has now been 11 years since the so-called Hudson miracle. Remembering this story does not show us that true heroes exist, but that there are people who blindly trust their experience, their intuition and their sixth sense to accomplish feats of authentic value.

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