The remarkable rescue of 155 people aboard US Airways Flight 1549 is a powerful reminder that heroes are among us and strangers will rise to the occasion to help others in trouble.
The airline passengers would not have survived without the finesse and extraordinary skill of Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger III. The 57-year-old Air Force-trained pilot, known as "Sully," deftly landed the Airbus A320 in the Hudson River's churning, frigid waters and stayed aboard until all his passengers had exited. His calm response and quick thinking to guide the plane into the river prevented a deadly catastrophe.
Then there were the ad-hoc rescue efforts of countless others, from the ferry operators who quickly responded to those commanding smaller vessels who snubbed their boats against the plane to keep it partially afloat. Ferry passengers gave the coats off their backs to survivors, and New York's emergency responders once again performed admirably.
The result was nothing short of miraculous in a city that has seen more than its share of pain in the past decade. It may have been luck. It may have been divine intervention. But it undoubtedly also included the heroic efforts of a veteran pilot and many others who did not hesitate to do whatever they could to help.