I’ve just finished reading William Langewiesche’s Fly by Wire: The Geese, The Glide, the “Miracle” on the Hudson, about Chesley Sullenberger’s heroic crash landing in New York last January. It includes some grimly compelling accounts of collisions between birds and planes which are not likely to alter my status as a nervous non-flyer any time soon. I liked this wryly anthropocentric description of the fatal - for the geese anyway - encounter between US Airways Flight 1549 and the flock of Canada geese at 3.26pm on 15 January:
At about that time a flock of Canada geese was flying at 2,700 feet southwest-bound over the Bronx in a loose-echelon formation, tending to business as usual, with nothing special in mind. Much about those particular geese will never be known – for instance, where they had come from that day, and where they were headed, and why – but it is likely that they were well fed and self-satisfied. Evidently they were also fairly dumb. Their stupidity cannot be held against them, since they were just birds, after all, but geese are said to be adaptive creatures, and it is hard not to think that they should have had better sense than to go blithely wandering through New York City’s skies. New York is a busy place, and January 15 was a typical day there, propelled by all those schedules to keep. Was that so difficult to understand?
By the way, in case any one worries that I am the Candide of book reviewers and only ever say nice things about the books mentioned on this blog, let me reassure you that I also read an awful lot of barrel-scraping, rock-bottom rubbish. I’m just too polite to mention it. If you can’t say anything nice …
I’m now going to read Sophie Scholl: The True Story of the Woman Who Defied Hitler by my colleague Frank McDonough, after I attended his book launch on Monday, which had some truly inspiring speeches and a mini-concert from the Backbeat Beatles.
Mundane quote for the day: ‘As we face each other in omnibuses and underground railways we are looking into the mirror … And the novelists in future will realize more and more the importance of these reflections, for of course there is not one reflection but an almost infinite number; those are the depths they will explore, those the phantoms they will pursue.’ – Virginia Woolf
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Fly by wire
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