Originally published on the FAA’s internal website and at Medium.
A few eventful minutes at work on Jan. 15, 2009, left an indelible mark in New York air traffic controller Patrick Harten’s mind. He constantly replayed those terrifying moments in his head in the weeks that followed, and although they ultimately ended with the inspiring tale known as “The Miracle on the Hudson,” Harten kept imagining the tragedy that might have been.
Now he is reliving those remarkable moments all over again — on the big screen via actor Patch Darragh, who plays Harten in the movie “Sully.” “I thought they did a great job capturing what it felt like to be there that day,” Harten said. “I’ve heard from some of the passengers, and they thought so, too. … Parts of it were tough to watch.”
The movie is based on the actual events surrounding the forced emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River. It happened on a cold winter afternoon a few minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York. A flock of Canada geese flew into the Airbus A320, taking out both engines at a low altitude.
Capt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger chose to land on the water after concluding that he didn’t have enough time to return to LaGuardia or to land at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. Harten is the air traffic controller who talked to Sullenberger that day from the terminal radar approach control facility for several airports in the New York area. The Federal Aviation Administration’s TRACONs manage the airspace near airports, and New York TRACON is one of the busiest.
Harten, who first publicly shared his account of the incident in dramatic testimony to Congress, started his shift in the LaGuardia sector of the TRACON minutes before Flight 1549 took off. But soon after he issued a routine heading for the flight, Sullenberger reported the bird strike and double-engine loss. He headed back toward LaGuardia for an emergency landing.
Harten quickly arranged runway access there and communicated the details to Sullenberger. But 35 seconds after first reporting the emergency, the pilot uttered these ominous words: “We’re unable. We may end up in the Hudson.“
Sullenberger predicted that fate more definitively about a minute later, after Harten suggested a runway at Teterboro instead. “We can’t do it. … We’re gonna be in the Hudson.”
“I’m sorry, say again,” Harten responded. He then lost radar contact with Flight 1549.
“I thought I was part of one of the worst aviation incidents in modern history at the time,” Harten recounted. He imagined the plane clipping a wing on the water, cartwheeling and breaking into pieces. Even if it landed smoothly, he figured most people on board would drown or succumb to hypothermia. “I was expecting there to maybe be a handful of survivors.”
Read the rest of the story at Medium.
Filed under: Aviation and Government and History and Movies and News & Politics and People and Video
To hear many Americans tell it today, “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been a cherished anthem of national pride almost since the day Francis Scott Key penned it in 1814. But the government-sanctioned reverence the song enjoys in the 21st century actually didn’t take root until the start of the 20th century — and not everyone thought it was a good idea then.
The song gained plenty of attention, particularly in the military, after Scott wrote it to celebrate the American victory over the British at Fort McHenry in Maryland. But even the military didn’t start incorporating “The Star-Spangled Banner” into its flag-raising ceremonies until 1889. It took another 27 years for Woodrow Wilson to give the tune the stamp of presidential approval in an executive order.
The song’s evolution from battle hymn to national anthem still wasn’t complete, though, and the final hurdle on Capitol Hill wasn’t easy to clear. As the National Park Service noted in its history of the national anthem, 11 lawmakers tried to push 15 different bills and resolutions through Congress between 1910 and 1917, and all of them stalled.
Even after a determined Rep. J. Charles Linthicum, D-Md., adopted “The Star-Spangled Banner” as his personal cause in 1918, he had a years-long fight ahead of him. Congress didn’t clear the bill to President Herbert Hoover until March 3, 1931, a day before adjournment would have killed the idea yet again.
That brings us to a surprising editorial that the Baltimore Evening Sun published the day after Hoover signed the bill. With the amateur poet Key being a favorite son of the city, the newspaper had good reason to celebrate the patriotic development. But it saw cause for concern instead:
Eighty-five years later, the paper’s prophecy has been fulfilled. The new country that repelled the British in the Battle of Baltimore and the War of 1812 is now embroiled in a tense debate about police shootings of black Americans, and the anthem that united us then divides us now.
It’s not enough that “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played at memorial holidays, military ceremonies and athletic contests across the country, or that the vast majority of the nation’s 324 million people (including me) solemnly stand for it, sing it and revere the symbolism behind it. Every single American must embrace that norm or be reviled as an un-American outcast who should shut up or leave the country.
This, indeed, is an unfortunate fate for a fine song written in a Free State, for a free country.
Filed under: Government and History and Holidays and Media and Military and News & Politics and People
The events did not happen in that order — the compliment actually came after I signed the contract, which was a given because we have an ant problem — but they could have. The way to a redneck’s wallet is through flattery of his beard.
Filed under: Culture and Family and Just For Laughs and Rednecks
This morning I saw a story on Facebook about Pokemon Go, the latest mobile gaming craze. It goes like this:
I like this version of America better than the one in the news last week. Plus I hear hunting Pokemon is good exercise. I may have to download Pokemon Go and give it a try — if I can manage to log into the game.
Filed under: Culture and Entertainment and Human Interest
I was excited this week when Matt Lauer headed to “The Today Show” kitchen for a segment with food critic Katie Lee on West Virginia’s state food, the pepperoni roll. The Mountain State rarely gets good press on a national scale, so a plug on a popular morning show couldn’t be a bad thing, right?
Then I watched in horror as Lee, a native of Milton, W.Va., proved that she is more foodie than hillbilly. She perverted the perfect simplicity of the pepperoni roll — homemade dough, slices or chunks of pepperoni, cheese and sometimes a little sauce — with a recipe that includes broccoli. Yes, broccoli!
To make culinary matters worse, Lee didn’t even craft her concoction into the form of actual rolls. She fashioned something that looked more like a stromboli, cut it into “12 even rounds” and then cooked them in a casserole dish. She served the meal with banana peppers and marinara sauce on the side.
News flash to Billy Joel’s ex-wife: That is not how you make pepperoni rolls! You’ve been living in the big city too long.
I’m not an anti-broccolite like George H.W. Bush, who famously banned them from the White House menu during his presidency. I might even like the recipe that Katie Lee invented. But she needs to pick a better name for it than pepperoni rolls.
The history behind the redneck delicacy exposes the flaws in Lee’s recipe. The inventor of the pepperoni roll, Giuseppe (Joseph) Argiro, got the idea from watching his fellow coal miners on their lunch breaks.
“A common lunch for immigrant miners, according to Giuseppe’s younger son, Frank Argiro, consisted of ‘a slab of bread, a chunk of pepperoni, and a bucket of water.’ At some point between 1927 and 1938 — nobody seems to know exactly when — Giuseppe began placing the spicy pepperoni within the bread, and the pepperoni roll was born.”
The food came into existence because miners needed something that was meaty enough to get them through the day and practical enough to take into a mine. Lee’s version is not the least bit practical.
The State of West Virginia may need to create the mountaineer equivalent of a “man card” for expatriates like Lee just so the card can be revoked for egregious behavior like this:
Filed under: Entertainment and Food and People and Video and West Virginia
I knew Lady Gaga had some West Virginia roots — she even gave the state a plug in her song “Born This Way” — but until today I didn’t know her Mom was a West Virginia University cheerleader.
That bit of history popped into my Facebook feed yesterday in the form of a picture of Mother Gaga in WVU cheerleading garb, and Lady Gaga herself confirmed it today by sharing the photo on Instagram. The family resemblance is obvious.
Filed under: Music and People and Social Media and Technology and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment
As of today, I’m officially a registered drone owner! That means I’ve agreed to fly by these rules:
These rules already existed, and they are reasonable precautions to ensure safe skies. I’m not sure what the big deal is, so I readily registered before Jan. 21 to get a credit for the $5 fee.
(Full disclosure: I’m a writer at the FAA, but I’m speaking only for me.)
Filed under: Aviation and Government and Technology
Comments: 1 Comment
Joel Pett, the editorial cartoonist at the Lexington Herald-Leader, chose to celebrate National Adoption Month this week by using the children of Kentucky Gov.-elect Matt Bevin as “mere props” to mock Bevin’s stance on Syrian refugees.
Bevin has said that when he takes office, he will work to keep Syrian refugees out of the Bluegrass State. That stance, one echoed by dozens of governors, didn’t please Pett so he attacked by drawing pictures of Bevin’s Ethiopian children into a cartoon. The strip depicts Bevin hiding under his desk, with an aide holding a family photo and saying: “Sir they’re not terrorists. … They’re your own adopted kids.”
As a journalist and vocal proponent of free speech, I give editorial cartoonists wide latitude for using mockery to make a point. But as an adoptive parent, I can’t let this tasteless jab go without engaging in some free speech of my own: The cartoon is despicable; Pett is obnoxious for drawing it; and the newspaper is tone deaf for publishing it as the country celebrates adoption.
Pett sounds petty when he says Bevin started it by using his children in campaign commercials first. He sounds arrogant when he says he has endured “little controversies” like the outcry over the cartoon for 30 years and scolds Bevin for rising to the bait. And Pett plays the hypocrite when he accuses the critics of Syrian refugee policy of demagoguery even as he engages in it himself.
The Herald-Leader is equally hypocritical for publishing a cartoon that uses a politician’s children as pawns. Journalists rightly raise questions when the children of Democrats are the targets of such attacks. Remember, this time last year an obscure Republican aide was driven from her job on Capitol Hill after mocking Sasha and Malia Obama. But let a Republican win a key race like Bevin did two weeks ago and suddenly his children are no longer off limits.
Bevin missed the mark in his reaction to the cartoon. Without any supporting evidence, he accused Pett of holding to a “deplorably racist ideology” and the newspaper of allowing “overt racism” into its pages. (It’s worth noting that editorial-page editor Vanessa Gallman, who approved the cartoon and said she “did not see in it the issue of race that Bevin has raised,” is black.)
But Pett and the newspaper crossed a line they shouldn’t have. Shame on them.
P.S. I have no reason to believe that Pett actually hates adopted kids, but he’s clearly a big fan of distorting people’s true opinions. I figured he would appreciate the headline.
Full disclosure: Several years ago I interviewed for a job as an editorial columnist at the Herald-Leader. I don’t recall whether I met Pett, but I did interview with Gallman. The paper offered the columnist’s job to one of its editorial writers.
Filed under: Adoption and Government and Media and News & Politics and People
Comments: 1 Comment
Normally I’d say the highlight of my day yesterday was meeting historian David McCullough, whose latest book “The Wright Brothers” brought him to Federal Aviation Administration headquarters. But the highlight actually was what he said when we met: “Great beard. Whoa.”
Filed under: Aviation and Books and History and People and Photography and Rednecks
Comments: 1 Comment
I’m totally jumping on the bandwagon of angry West Virginians rolling virtually toward Sheetz’s corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania. The cause: Mountain State pride in pepperoni rolls.
The outcry started Friday, when Rogers and Mazza’s Italian Bakery in Clarksburg, W.Va., announced on its Facebook page that Sheetz abruptly canceled the company’s contract to provide pepperoni rolls for 117 stores in West Virginia and other states. Worse, they lost the contract to a company outside West Virginia, the birthplace of the pepperoni roll.
“I would suggest and appreciate everyone writing this company with their displeasure on their decision,” Rogers and Mazza’s urged its fans — and they did.
Those complaints prompted the Charleston Gazette-Mail to run a story today. It caught my attention on Facebook, and here’s what I have to say to Sheetz after reading it:
UPDATE, July 30: Sheetz has caved to the pressure applied by West Virginia’s angry rednecks. Here’s what the company said in announcing that its Mountain State stores will sell West Virginia-made pepperoni rolls: “Our customers told us loud and clear that it is important to them to have those rolls provided and baked by a West Virginia company. I couldn’t be happier to have that feedback and we are committed to executing upon it.”
UPDATE, Aug. 17: Rogers and Mazza’s paid the price for biting the hand that fed it a contract for pepperoni rolls for years — the bakery lost the contract to another West Virginia-based competitor, Home Industry Bakery. “The company went through a thorough evaluation of West Virginia vendors and selected the best partner to supply all 49 stores in the state,” Sheetz announced.
Thank you, Rogers and Mazza’s for exposing a potential injustice at the hands of Sheetz. You took a hit to your pocketbook for West Virginia pride, and I, for one, appreciate it.
Filed under: Business and Food and Media and Social Media and West Virginia
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