So how much training do pilots get on how to land on the water? Almost none, writes pilot Patrick Smith, who shelves his regular Salon column this week to offer insights on the Hudson crash-landing. Among them:
- Pilots can read up on how to perform these so-called "ditchings," but they don't come up much in simulators because they're so rare.
- They were two pilots on board, and both deserve credit for a "suberb" job. "They were able to maintain control and, it seems, hit the water at as slow a speed as possible. Had they hit too hard and broken apart, we'd be looking for bodies."
- Luck helped: If this were at night, in bad weather, or in even a slightly different location, it could have been catastrophic.
- Smith won't be "terribly surprised" if a birdstrike did, in fact, cause this. They're common and usually harmless. "We were due, perhaps."
- This should only reaffirm how safe flying is. Two full years since the last commercial fatality, and seven since the last large-scale crash. Both records.
- Passengers, stop zoning out during those pre-flight safety drills.