Thursday, January 22, 2009

Something to cheer about

In advance of the inauguration of President Obama, Americans unexpectedly got something else to cheer about, though we all wish we hadn't. A plane immediately after takeoff lost both engines due to bird strikes; believe it or not, a small bird flying into a jet engine can disable the engine. Ordinarily that would have spelled doom for the plane and all on board. But this time the pilot, Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III, was a safety trainer as well as a certified glider pilot. Without engine power, he landed the plane in the Hudson River as if he was landing it on a runway. He saw to it that all passengers and crew left the plane safely. He walked through the plane twice, as it was filling with water, to make certain that everybody got out before he did. As per nautical tradition, women and children left the plane first, the captain last. Numerous ferry boats as well as fireboats and police craft were on the scene and picked everybody up in sub-freezing temperature. There were no fatalities - none. No serious injuries, only mild hypothermia and relatively minor fractures. Sully now has numerous Facebook groups to honor him, and will likely receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award. He deserves it. He deserved his invitation to the inauguration, where he waved reporters away, not wanting to upstage the President. It all sounds like something from the last generation, from the days of Chuck Yeager and John Glenn. Sully has all the right stuff; I didn't think they made 'em like that any more.

Unflappability, unflagging courage, grace under pressure, a cool head and a steady hand - all the manly virtues (i.e. the virtues deemed manly by Anglo-Saxon and many Native American cultures, as well as sabra culture) - were on display in abundance. The episode has been dubbed "Miracle on the Hudson," but no laws of nature were broken (nor need they be, according to the Rambam and others). That happy ending was the result of consummate skill, training, practice and traditional Western values. God accomplishes His miracles through people who work for them (hint hint). Remember what we say at a siyyum: We run and they run, we run to eternal life and they run to the pit. What a difference between us and our enemies. We celebrate people of accomplishment and so do they. We celebrate a pilot whose skill saved over 150 lives. We celebrate Salk and Sabin, whose skill consigned polio to history. They celebrate pilots who fly planes into buildings and kill thousands of innocents. They celebrate suicide bombers and teach children to emulate them.

Barukh ha-mavdil.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did notice the manliness of the Israeli men recenlty. As one told me, "we are like cactus in the desert."

Tue Jan 27, 12:31:00 PM EST  
Blogger Zev Stern said...

Cacus in the desert? I don't understand the point he was trying to make.

Wed Jan 28, 03:02:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like Cactus in the desert... surviving with little sustenance, yet tough and spiny, ready to take on any comers...

Wed Feb 04, 06:46:00 PM EST  

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