2009-02-27 / Letters

Letter To A Heroic Captain

Dear Editor, This letter was sent to Captain Chelsey Sullenberg, of Flight #1549 Dear Captain Sullenberger:

I wanted to take this opportunity to extend my most heartfelt congratulations for your heroic efforts in bringing US Airways Flight #1549 and all of your passengers to safety from the possible catastrophic consequences, which you were facing.

As a resident of the Rockaway Peninsula (which I am sure you have flown over many times during your take-offs and landings at nearby JFK) my neighbors and I are always reminded of the tragic events of November 12, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed into our peaceful residential neighborhood, shortly after take-off, without any prior warning, killing all of those on board and others on the ground. It was a very tragic and fateful day for our otherwise quiet beach community.

I probably would not have written to you, except for the motivation found in the letter of Rabbi Levi Osdoba, which was printed in last week's "Wave," which is the weekly newspaper of our area. I have enclosed a copy of this letter for you to read.

In his letter, Rabbi Osdoba pointed out many similarities between your heroic acts and the acts of Bithiah, the daughter of the Pharoah, who saved Moses' life by rescuing him from a basket made of reeds, which was floating down the Nile River. As a result of his 'rescue,' Moses became one of the leaders of the Jewish people. It was also extremely coincidental, as pointed out by Rabbi Osdoba, that your 'rescue' of your passengers coincided with the reading of the weekly portion of the Old Testament, which describes the rescue of Moses himself. There appears to be other similarities in the two events, such as the fast moving waters of the Nile River and the fast moving currents of the Hudson River; the basket made of reeds which protected and cradled Moses and kept him afloat until rescued, and protection afforded to your 151 passengers and crew by your buoyant aircraft which kept them protected and afloat until they were all rescued; the hands of the daughter of Pharoah which pulled the infant Moses from the waters of the Nile saving his life. And the many brave hands of immediately arriving New York City policemen and firemen and the staff of the New York Waterways vessels who also pulled everyone to safety and plucked them from the cold and rapidly flowing waters of the Hudson River.

Rabbi Osdoba wisely points out that Bithia, Pharoah's daughter's first inclination was to save the infant Moses, and without a doubt, your first inclination was to land your disabled aircraft in a place and manner (also in the water) best suited to save your passengers. Both instances could have had long lasting and tragic consequences. However, they both became 'tragedies narrowly averted,' with long lasting and positive outcomes.

So, in closing, and on behalf of my fellow neighbors and Rockaway residents, I send our heartiest congratulations to you for your cool, calm, collected, professional, and well thought out heroic efforts which saved the lives of all those regular citizens who were entrusted to you for their fateful journey. You saved them as Bithiah saved Moses. You don't get more coincidental than that!

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