Press "Enter" to skip to content

Miracle on the Hudson hits home

When Dar Bohnenstiehl heard about the New York airplane crash now dubbed the ‘˜Miracle on the Hudson’, he knew immediately what a feat U.S. Airways pilot Sulley Sullenberger had pulled off. Bohnenstiehl, proprietor of Milner Farms and a retired Delta captain with over 25,000 hours in the pilot’s seat under his belt, had a very similar experience nearly 20 years ago. Sullenberger had a double bird strike on his aircraft. Bohnenstiehl hit two geese while taking off in Philadelphia, lost one engine and was forced to return to the airport for an emergency landing. ’A double strike is a real long shot. That pilot really had it together,’ Bohnenstiehl said. Bohnenstiehl’s incident occurred in the early 1990s. ‘I can still picture it like it was yesterday,’ he said. His Delta jet was rolling down the runway and hit two geese at rotation – the point when the plane comes off the ground. One took out his left engine. The other hit his right main landing gear. ’I could see the geese for a long time. They were not moving in the windscreen. There was no evasive action I could take on the runway. The impact was explosive. It knocked the engine out of balance. The plane was shaking so badly I couldn’t read the instruments,’ he related. Bohnenstiehl and his crew did the only thing they could – take off with one engine. ’We declared an emergency and flew around for seven minutes while the flight attendants prepared for an emergency landing and it was smooth,’ he said. An engine loss at rotation is a pilot’s nightmare and the procedures for handling it are drilled extensively in flight simulator training. ’It is the hardest and most practiced maneuver we do. It takes a lot of work in the simulator to master it. It is very serious – the worst thing you can have,’ Bohnenstiehl said. Bohnenstiehl had less altitude than Sullenberger at the time of his bird strike but Sullenberger had much less power, having lost both engines. ’In our strike we had a lot of shrapnel from the engine hit. It tore up the side of the plane and one piece took an eight-inch gash out of my right engine. Had that engine gone out, we would not be having this conversation,’ he said. Having taken off from LaGuardia countless times, Bohnenstiehl doesn’t think Sullenberger had time to get to the Teterboro airport as some have suggested. ’I think he saw that big Hudson runway and made a great choice,’ Bohnenstiehl said. The ditching plan for an airplane that size is to go to full flaps, slow the aircraft, get the nose up high and let the tail drag in. There is a button for sealing the pressure outflow valve that controls cabin pressure used in ditchings that seals the plane. ’That is why it stayed afloat long enough to get the people out,’ Bohnenstiehl added. Having flown 33 years for Delta, five years in the Air Force, three years in the National Guard and two years as a student, Bohnenstiehl has seen a lot of geese around airports near water. He managed to hit only two of them and, like all pilots, was extensively trained to handle the resultant scenario. The 155 passengers from the ‘˜Miracle on the Hudson’ are alive today thanks to just that sort of training.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Website by - Copyright 2021