Local pilots give insight on "Miracle in the Hudson" - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Local pilots give insight on "Miracle in the Hudson"

Authorities say bird-striking caused pilots to have to land in the Hudson River. To get more perspective, we talked to a couple of retired pilots who live right here in East Texas.

Both men flew commercial flights for Delta for more than 30 years. One of the pilots has first hand experience with bird strikes.

"They say airline flying is hours and hours of boredom interrupted by moments of stark terror. That would be the latter," said John Crotty.

John Crotty and Charlie Niven say it's extremely rare for a bird strike to be large enough to blow-out two engines.

"Bird strikes usually will just hit the windshield or the leading edge of the wing or the leading edge of the engine inlet and not cause a catastrophe like this," explained Niven. 

Niven once had a close call when he hit a large bird.

"We just heard a tremendous explosion in the aircraft just before we landed."

Fortunately, it just hit the nose of the aircraft and he landed safely. But it was a much more terrifying landing for the nearly 200 passengers on this airbus.

Did you notice how the plane never actually sank?

"The lower baggage area, the lower part of the thing, would still be sealed up so that's enough buoyancy," said Crotty.

They say if the plane had been punctured, it'd be a different story.

Back to the hazard of birds.

"During the wintertime they congregate around the asphalt runways because it's warmer," explained Niven. "They've tried multitudes of things to try to scare them away but nothing seems to work very well."

Both commend the Texas pilot for making that "Miracle in the Hudson" and avoiding homes and businesses, but at this point in their lives, they're happy to be grounded.

"No, that doesn't make you miss flying," Crotty laughed. 

Niven flew out of Laguardia a lot and says birds are common at that runway because it's surrounded by water.    

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