CRISIS MANAGEMENT AT 3,200 FEET

On a bright, twenty-degree afternoon in January, US Airways Flight 1549 barreled down New York La Guardia Airport’s main runway, loaded with 155 passengers and crew, headed skywards for Charlotte, NC. Everything was normal until First Officer Jeff Skiles spotted a formation of Canada geese on the right side of the aircraft, seemingly headed directly towards them. Skiles, who was flying the plane manually, was relieved when the nose of the plane rose above the geese, but that relief was short-lived. A few seconds later, he heard four distinct thunks as the birds crashed into the engines of the Airbus A320. Both engines immediately failed. Skiles lost his instrument panel. Captain Chesley Sullenberger took over flying the plane and tipped the nose down to retain airspeed. Within sixty seconds, the pilots made the decision that returning to LaGuardia or diverting to Teterboro or Newark Airports was just too risky – they’d have to fly over densely populated areas and there was no guarantee that they’d make it. So, surrounded by nothing but skyscrapers and neighborhoods, they decided to head to the only open, flat space available—the Hudson River.

Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities, Jeff Skiles details the lessons, training, and scenarios that led to the “Miracle on the Hudson” with a great sense of humor and his natural storytelling ability.

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