Now that was excitement enough to last a long time, and all I did was watch as events unfolded. I am referring to the U.S. Airways Airbus 320 that landed on the Hudson River just blocks from my office, and then floated past my office as rescuers aboard a fleet of mismatched And unlikely rescue ships and boats circled the aircraft saving the survivors. I am happy to have heard early reports that all have survived this potentially deadly ordeal.
Apparently the plane took off from LaGuardia Airport in Queens, NY and shortly thereafter, or maybe even during takeoff, a bird or birds were sucked into the engines. As I have heard it the pilot had a choice, try to turn around and head back to the airport or put it down in the river. It seems he chose the river. Based upon what others heard on radio reports, and from what I read on online news reports – witnesses say it looked like a perfect landing except for the fact it was in the middle of the Hudson River. As the first new reports were coming over the radio, I headed to the windows on the north side of my office and could see some of the rescue boats around the aircraft. I then headed to the west side of my office that directly overlooks the Hudson, and those of us watching saw one heck of a rescue operation staged by what appeared to be the: NYPD Harbor Patrol, Circle Line Cruise boats, Water Taxi boats, a possible NYFD boat (could have been something else, but this one had a line from it to the plane), and other small boats.
It was a tense 15 or 20 minutes, maybe even a half hour , just for us to watched the plane, still afloat, as it drifted from a point near mid river and straight out from about W. 34th Street, then continue south past our building between 27 and 26th Streets (we take up the entire block) down toward Chelsea Piers in the mid to low 20s. Imagine how those on the plane must have felt! As we watched we noted what appeared to be several orange life jackets, or maybe buoys drift ahead of the Airbus along with what appeared to be debris, luggage and the escape ramps that double as life rafts from the aircraft (those are our guesses as to what these items were). We also saw what appeared to be people on the aircraft, probably rescuers and not passengers as none had on the yellow life preservers they have on planes. Several small watercraft were circling the area possibly looking for anyone in the water. Helicopters circled overhead doing likewise, and some most likely filming for the new. We saw tens and tens of emergency vehicles heading south on West Street almost directly below us, some stopping at the piers cross from our building. One small boat came in with about 6 to 8 people aboard wearing yellow life vests, all apparently passengers from the plane. Only one was put onto a stretcher to be taken to a Hetzalah Volunteer ambulance. The other apparently well enough to walk under their own power and not needing blankets. Then again maybe no blankets were to be had in the mayhem; and I am guessing so because at least 3 of the passengers were in shirts or blouses with no jackets, sweaters or coats. Even if they had not gotten wet, which they may not have gotten, they should have been given some sort of protection from the bitter cold temps. Right now it is reported to be 19 degrees and feels like 14 degrees out there, pretty cold when you are in shock after a plane crash. Well not a crash really but a landing on a its wings, the water and a prayer.
It is a pretty helpless feeling to be so close and know there is nothing effective you can do to help, and just stand by watching it all unfold. Of course I can only imagine the feelings of those who had been on that polane when they realized they landed on the river. It was a great relief to hear all were saved, again I only imagine the relief they felt. The emergency responders were there quickly. I almost get the feeling they may have been headed there before the plane even hit the water; I mean they were there that fast to have saved all on board they must have gotten some notice from the air traffic controllers. My hat goes off to all of them be they well trained rescue teams from the NYPD, the NYFD, The Coast Guard (they seemed to be the last to show up – not a surprise considering how much they have been cut back and hopw far they probably had to go to get there) police, fire fighters, rescue teams, the crews of the Circle Line and the Water taxis, or just plain old Johns and Joans who were passengers aboard the Circle Line and Water Taxis. They sure are some folks’ heroes today. Then again, let’s not forget the men or women who piloted the plane, the rest of the crew who evacuated the plane, and those in the air traffic control tower who called for help. Someone listened, someone up high you can bet on that because as I said, the plane basically landed on its wings, the water and a prayer - then to top it all off it walked on water until everyone was saved. Just absolutely amazing.
All the best,