Several Birds Die in Tragic Hudson River Plane Crash
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials are trying to determine what caused a tragic mid-air collision between a US Airways passenger jet and a flock of Canadian geese that left as many as 14 geese dead, with several more injured and/or irate.
The crash, which ended with the plane landing in the Hudson River, occurred on the afternoon of Thursday, January 15, after the airbus departed New York City's LaGuardia Airport. While all 155 humans on board were safe, search and rescue teams are still searching the Hudson River for the bodies of the geese.
"This is a tragedy that could have been avoided by a greater emphasis on safety and pilot training in emergency geese situations," said FAA spokesperson Sheila Warren. "Had the pilots reacted quicker in seeing or communicating with the geese, it is possible that the impact which caused the loss of so many innocent fowl could have been prevented."
To shed some light on the disaster, aviation officials continue to focus much of the investigation on Airbus pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenburger, a veteran of the industry with a 30-year record of flying for US Airways. Some are asking that Sullenburger, rumored to have once "gotten mad at geese" when he inadvertently stepped in goose droppings at the park, be held accountable for his actions.
"With all our sophistication and technology, it is difficult to believe that a pilot could not have steered around the geese, or crashed the plane in such a way to minimize goose causalities," said PETA representative Mark Olmstead. "We express sympathy to those who lost a mother, father, or fledgling in this disaster, and hope that those responsible will come forward."
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, describing the somber event as the "Massacre on the Hudson", promised to ensure that Sullenburger is thoroughly investigated.
"We are relieved that all humans on board survived, but we understand that Captain Sullenburger, after landing, checked only the fuselage for survivors, neglecting to look under the wing or in the turbine engines, where any avian victims could still have been alive and saved by rescue teams," said Bloomberg. "We cannot make a formal statement until the investigation is complete, but we are looking into the pilot's previous safety record, as well as allegations that he has previously directed rage towards geese."
A spokesman for the wildlife office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that though the disaster "could have been a lot worse if some fish in the Hudson River got involved", the loss of avian life highlights the need to improve airplane safety.
"The airline industry should do something to make the skies safer for all living things," said Brian Worthington of the USDOA, "because if events like this continue to happen, birds may become too fearful to take to the sky. Such a change could begin a chain reaction in the delicate balance of the Earth's ecosystem, resulting in the disruption of predator-prey relationships, and the return of terrible lizards, or 'dinosaurs', to our fair country."
Survivors of the flight, who may all be tried as accessories to birdslaughter, recall hearing the deadening thumps of birds striking the plane, followed by the smell of burning bird flesh.
"Oh, the humanity," wept one survivor.