If the landing of US Airways Flight 1459 in the Hudson River on January 15 of 2009 was the "Miracle on the Hudson," then the impressive but not as spectacular landing of Delta Flight 4951 at JFK on Saturday was the "Good Fortune on the Runway." We know, it doesn't quite have that ring to it. Nevertheless, here's what happened. Unable to lower one of the plane's landing wheels, the pilot, Navy veteran Jack Conroyd, set the plane down knowing that one of the wings would scrape along the runway, which it did. But everything turned out okay the plane didn't break into pieces or explode, nobody was hurt, and the passengers gave Conroyd a round of applause after the landing, as well as the best kind of praise you can give a commercial airline pilot. "He was our 'Capt. Sully,'" passenger John Predham said. "I can't wait to see him receive all of the credit he deserves."
You want credit? How about lavish praise from Sully himself? Hmmm? How does that sound? Awesome? Okay, get ready. Here it comes. Sully, as the esteemed pilot emeritus of air travel, please tell pilot Conroyd what an amazing job he's done.
Sullenberger weighed in last night, telling the Daily News, "I commend the crew for ensuring a successful outcome for everyone on board."
Oh, that's it? Kind of muted, for lavish praise, no? He sounds as enthusiastic as a candidate for Congress congratulating the guy who just beat him in the election.
It does make sense, though, in a way. Sully has an image to protect, that of the greatest hero pilot the world has ever known. If he becomes just one of many great hero pilots, he loses his aura. Tom Hanks would be standing next to Jack Conroyd in a tuxedo instead of Sully. Sully can't have that.
Perhaps ever more significantly, Sully does not want to set the precedent of commenting on every plane mishap and bizarre landing, of which there are many. Giving the Daily News a quote as boring as that one is probably a good way to make the papers think twice about asking for another one.