Note: While I don’t give away any specific plot details, I do discuss some general themes of the movie. I don’t think reading this will ruin your movie-going experience if you plan to see the film.
Unless you’re really young or you were living under a rock seven years ago, the story of the Miracle on the Hudson isn’t a new one. Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Sully) landed an Airbus A320 carrying 155 souls on the Hudson River when the flight lost both engines due to a bird strike.
Hollywood took the story and massaged it a bit to create the movie “Sully”, featuring Tom Hanks as the title character.
As an aviation geek, I read extensively about flight 1549 when it happened. To me, it truly was a marvel of aviation that a pilot could safely perform a water landing. It was also an incredible feat that the ferry operators and other rescue workers were able to quickly pull all 155 souls out of the water safely. Given all that, I wasn’t expecting many surprises in the movie.
Before the movie hit theaters, I read that the NTSB was putting up a bit of a stink about the creative license taken by the studio. I’m guessing the thought process was that since most folks knew the story of what happened to flight 1549, the movie needed some other drama. Enter the NTSB investigators as the bad guys.
It Was A Landing, Not A Crash
One of the only specific details of the movie I’ll mention is an early interview between the NTSB and Sully where they discuss the “crash”. He quickly corrects them to say “it was a landing, a forced water landing”. The NTSB defines the term “accident” on their website but I couldn’t find a definition of a crash. Maybe just splitting hairs, but given how much danger there was if a wing tip caught in the water before the plane settled, I’d certainly be comfortable calling this a skilled landing attempt as opposed to a crash.
Why Won’t American Airlines Show The Movie?
As a general rule, airlines don’t show movies about plane crashes so as not to upset nervous travelers.
In keeping with that policy, American Airlines won’t be showing the movie onboard their flights even though they gave some pretty good help to the producers that lent a ton of authenticity to the movie.
I was really surprised at how authentic some of the scenes onboard the plane looked, especially given how often I’ve been on one of those old US Airways Airbus planes. Makes a lot more sense since they had access to an actual US Airways plane and uniforms.
Did We Like It?
My wife said she had a pit in her stomach the entire movie, even though she knew the general outcome. I didn’t have a pit in my stomach, maybe because I spent so much time reading about the crash back in 2009 and the fact that I had read a little about what to expect from the movie.
But, I did think the movie ends up being a winner. Sure, there’s some embellishment here and there. But, for a story where I already knew the ending, I enjoyed being there for 90 minutes.
It still stands in my mind as one of the most incredible feats a commercial pilot has ever executed in an attempt to protect his/her passengers or crew. Reliving that in a Tom Hanks movie with Clint Eastwood directing made me remember just how much a miracle that cold January day really was.
Oh, and if you plan to see it, make sure you stick around for the credits. 😉
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