Friday, January 16, 2009

And the engineers, too

"Pilot is hailed after jetliner's icy plunge." That is the headline on the New York Times" day after story about the seemingly miraculous survival of all on board the plane that crash-landed into the Hudson river, yesterday. And there is no doubt that pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III is indeed a hero for his quick thinking and calm in this extraordinary crisis.

But, as I looked at the pictures of the people out there on the plane's wing and in its safety rafts I thought of my Father, of blessed memory. No, he never piloted a plane. He was an engineer. And, like the "engineer's engineer" that he was, he walked around with Murphy's Law always on his brain -- he was always thinking about what could go wrong. And, more importantly, what could be done to prevent it, or to prevent lives from being lost if it did go wrong (as something went horribly wrong with yesterday's flight).

The survival of those 155 passenger's and crew would not have been possible without all the safety and emergency features built into that aircraft. Countless hours were spent by engineers examining past accidents and trying to quietly imagine what would happen in an emergency. They gave the pilot the tools he needed to save those lives.

In the Jewish tradition, we say that to save a life is to save an entire world. To all you engineers who helped save those 155 worlds, yesterday, I salute you. And your work, done in quiet, but with determination and commitment.

No comments: