Sully – unjustly vilifies the NTSB

Sully is an exciting  movie, but depicts  the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as a bunch of evil buffoons out to destroy  Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Sully). In reality, the NTSB was very respectful of Captain Sullenberger and praised him profusely. The actual events were interesting enough without Director Clint Eastwood having to invent bad guys like this was on old time Hollywood cowboy movie with Sully as the Sheriff.

Clint Eastwood & Tom Hanks on location for Sully

Clint Eastwood & Tom Hanks on location for Sully

The amount of time Sully spends on the NTSB committee hearings also takes time away from the more interesting events of the real  “Miracle On The Hudson” . The parts of the move that take place in the air and on the water are great. The NTSB hearings come across as unnecessary filler.  Lets take a look at the true events.

“Not again!” was the  thought that ran through the minds of thousands of people in New York and New Jersey  on January 15, 2009 when they looked out their windows and  saw a jet crash into the frigid Hudson river. Only 8 years earlier, on 9/11/01, terrorists had flown two jets into the World Trade Center. Then,  on on 11/11/01  a jet crashed into a Queens neighborhood. On October 11, 2006, New York Yankees Pitcher Cory Lyle crashed his plane into a Manhattan apartment building.

Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Sully)

Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Sully)

The “Miracle On The Hudson” was a huge group effort  that saved all 155 people aboard US Airways Flight 1548.  After a bird strike destroyed both engines, Sully  was able to execute a perfect water landing on the Hudson. The plane was evacuated and the people were rescued by ferry boat crews and the NYPD. The movie depicts all of this wonderfully, and we wish it had spent more time here than in the committee rooms.

Because of the amount of time the movie spends vilifying the NTSB, it ends up only lightly touching on many of the more interesting aspects of all the people who worked to save the passengers. The police and ferryboat crews are shown only briefly. The fast thinking of the ferryboat captains on that day deserved more screen time.

Sully did not show that the Hudson river has a tremendously strong current and the jet  was being carried downstream at a rapid pace. The Hudson is no calm lake. The ferryboat captains performed a tremendous feat of seamanship by pushing their vessels in a delicate maneuver to stop the jet from being carried away by the current.  Too little power and the jet would have gone downstream. Too much and the ferryboats could have crushed and sunk the jet. The movie ignored completely  the passengers on the ferryboats, who also helped.

Real Miracle On the Hudson

Real Miracle On the Hudson

The other problem with the NTSB hearing scenes in Sully was that they looked suspiciously like scenes from the movie Flight staring Denzel Washington.  There was also an amazingly large amount of product placement in Sully. The signs for the Marriott downtown hotel was shown so many times that Sully began to look like an informercial. Yes, we know that we have ads on our site; but at least we admit they are advertisements and don’t pretend they are part of the story.

Miracle on the Hudson

Miracle on the Hudson

Don’t get us wrong. Captain Sullenberger, and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles really were heroes. So were the Ferryboat captains and crew, the NYPD & Fire & Rescue teams and all the NY & NJ EMT & hospital workers.  However, you don’t need to have bad guys to have heroes.

 

 

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