Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, was the guest of last night’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Stewart, with the energy akin to an adolescent Golden Labrador, gave Sullenberger– one of the more reserved and modest people on the planet, a venue to talk about his new book and rehash details about that day and its aftermath.
Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters is not only about that day back in January. It’s about all the moments that led up to the point when Sullenberger decided to go for the river landing. For Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles, that decision changed how they view their purpose in life.
As Sullenberger says, the plane landing was much needed good news for people. Last January, when the river event happened, the economy was in shambles. Job loss and foreclosures were taking up much of the news and producing a sense of hopelessness. The plane landing gave a boost towards hopeful thinking.
As a result of that day, and the response afterwards, both Sullenberger and Skiles have looked for ways to continue to make positive contributions–in essence to keep hope alive.
Along with highlighting Sullenberger’s book and rehashing the details of that remarkable airplane landing, the interview with Sullenberger was seasoned with Stewart’s brand of wacky fun. Pick a situation and Stewart can find the absurd.
For example, the spot on the Hudson where the plane landed is close to where The Daily Show is filmed. Also being filmed that day at a close by location was an episode of Law and Order. When folks at The Daily Show saw the commotion caused by the plane, they thought it had to do with Law and Order and were impressed with how much effort was being put into making the episode look realistic.
Stewart also wondered if when Sullengberger landed the plane he thought about how Jon Stewart was just a block away.
Stewart also joked about passengers who might have complained that the plane hadn’t landed closer to the section of New York where they lived–as in why didn’t Sullenberger land it in a more convenient location for them to get home more easily.
During Stewart’s banter, Sullenberger mostly smiled, made a few comments, and seemed generally unsure about how to josh along with Jon. A kidder he is not. Not being a kidding type did come in handy back in January.
Stewart and Sullenberger also talked about how the plane’s manual used to be published with tab markers for the various sections which made it easier to use. As a cost cutting measure, the manuals aren’t published with the tab markers anymore.
That meant that Skiles had to rapidly leaf through the book looking for the pages that had the details about making a water landing. Sullenberger’s years of training kicked in to help him land the plane, but checking the manual was a double check.
As the interview’s last point, before Stewart gave Highest Duty one more plug, both Sullengerger and Stewart agreed that those tabs need to be put back on the manuals.
To watch last night’s full episode, click here.