Friday, September 9, 2016

Who counts as a hero?

People who act to save lives generally count as heroes. 

Tuesday, 6 September, I looked out on the Hudson River at the spot where Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III landed the U S Airways jet on the water. I saw small water craft and a slow-moving barge. I wondered what kind of courage and skill would it take to really land a jet such that all 155 people lived to tell their story.

As with any retelling of an event, people recall different facts. Anyone wanting to accurately retell a story exercises some degree of judgment when reconciling disparate narratives. Add to this the known problems of eye-witnesses and we have the potential for disagreement.

Fortunately, scientific advances can help investigators in their quest to learn lessons to prevent future problems. Data are recorded. Simulations can be run. Asking questions of heroes and survivors is important but it can be a challenging experience for all involved.

The movie, Sully, retells the tale of this 2009 dramatic event.

As NYT writer Christine Negroni reports, the film has stimulated some controversy. Of course, as Negroni observes, movies are not documentaries.

Despite the disagreements, Sully remains a hero. And would-be-heroes might take note of the long history of preparation that led to the astounding outcome.