It is remarkable to me just how calm the pilots (especially the captain) are as they flew this damaged plane down. Lots of people are making comparisons to the “Miracle on the Hudson” a few years ago, and I think they're fair. BTW, the captain on this flight happens to be a woman, 56 years old, and a former Navy FA-18 pilot. Her husband is also a captain at Southwest Airlines. I'll close with an excerpt from this morning's Wall Street Journal piece (The Right Stuff at Southwest Airlines):
At the outset, the pilot calmly announces, “Southwest 1380 has an engine fire. Descending.”The right stuff, indeed...
A short time later she reports, “Actually no fire now, but we are single-engine.” At one point she informs controllers, “We have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.” Each report from the cockpit is delivered in the same even and reassuring tone.
“If you would, have them roll the trucks,” she asks politely, hoping for emergency vehicles on the runway given that her engine has exploded, passengers have been injured and perhaps killed, there’s a hole in the aircraft and shrapnel has been sprayed around the wing and fuselage.
Readers may be wondering, just as this column does, how one could not only maintain composure but even exhibit impeccable manners in such a situation. After landing the airplane, Ms. Shults says to the controllers, “Thanks, guys, for the help.”
Where do airlines find people like this? The U.S. military, of course.