TAPPAN ZEE IMPLOSION & “MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON”

January 16, 2019 at 4:30 am

The last remnants of New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge were demolished today. We have the backstory and what happens next. It’s been ten years since “the miracle on the Hudson.” It was a frigid day that saw triumph over tragedy, in what could have been a major disaster. We’ll speak with one of the passengers of U.S. Airways flight 1549 and discuss the bird threat to aircrafts that still exists today.

For more information on “Bird vs. Plane: Miracle on the Hudson,” click here. 

Aired on January 15, 2019.

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>> WE HAVE THE MOST SOCIALLY
PROGRESSIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF
ANY STATE IN THE NATION, AND
IT'S NOT EVEN CLOSE.
FIRST BIG STATE TO PASS MARRIAGE
EQUALITY.
FIRST STATE TO PASS $15, THE
HIGHEST MINIMUM WAGE.
THE MOST AGGRESSIVE BUILDING
AGENDA IN THE STATE.
A NATIONAL CHAMPION FOR
ORGANIZED LABOR, WHICH IS UNDER
ATTACK BY THIS ADMINISTRATION
AND HAS A FRIEND IN THE STATE OF
NEW YORK.
THE NATION LEADING ENVIRONMENTAL
AGENDA.
THE FIRST FREE COLLEGE TUITION
PROGRAM.
THAT'S NEW YORK.
THE BEST PAID FAMILY LEAVE
PROGRAM IN THE NATION.
AND A LEADER ON GUN SAFETY.
THAT'S THE STATE OF NEW YORK,
AND THAT'S WHAT YOU'VE DONE.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>>> GOOD EVENING.
WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."
I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.
BEFORE GOVERNOR CUOMO DELIVERED
HIS STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS,
THE LAST REMNANTS OF THE OLD
TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE WENT OUT WITH
A BOOM TODAY.
A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EVENT THAT
DEVIATED FROM ITS ORIGINAL PLAN
DUE TO WEATHER AND INSTABILITY.
SOMETHING WHICH MAY CONTINUE TO
DISMANTLE THE STRUCTURE UNSAFE!
[ EXPLOSION ]
THIS MORNING, THE BUTTON WAS
PUSHED, EXPLOSIVES ACTIVATED,
AND THE EAST ANCHOR SPAN MET ITS
FINAL FATE, COLLAPSING INTO A
SET OF NETS HELD UP BY BUOYS.
AND NOW, ALONG WITH OTHER ICONIC
STRUCTURES, THE TAPPAN ZEE
BRIDGE IS JUST PART OF CITY
FOLKLORE.
PRIOR TO TODAY'S DETONATION, THE
U.S. COAST GUARD ESTABLISHED A
2500 FOOT SAFETY RADIUS, AND
THIS WERE NO RESIDENTIAL HOMES
WITHIN THAT SAFETY ZONE.
BUT IT WAS STILL A SIGHT TO
BEHOLD.
THE TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE, WHICH HAD
BEEN HANDLING 140,000 VEHICLES A
DAY, FAR MORE THAN IT WAS
DESIGNED TO ACCOMMODATE, WAS UP
FOR 64 YEARS, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS
ACTUALLY DESIGNED TO LAST 50
YEARS BECAUSE OF MATERIAL
SHORTAGES.
IN 2013, THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY
ADMINISTRATION CLASSIFIED THE
TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE FUNCTIONALLY
OBSOLETE.
AFTER YEARS OF DISCUSSION,
CONSTRUCTION STARTED ON THE
STATE OF THE ART $4 BILLION
GOVERNOR MARIO CUOMO BRIDGE.
YES, TODAY WAS A DAY TO
REMEMBER.
BUT THERE'S ANOTHER REASON WHY
TODAY WAS MEMORABLE.
THAT'S BECAUSE IT WAS EXACTLY
TEN YEARS AGO THAT THE MIRACLE
ON THE HUDSON OCCURRED.
THAT, OF COURSE, REFERS TO THE
LANDING OF US AIRWAYS FLIGHT
1549 BY PILOT SULLENBERGER ON
THE SUDDON AFTER A BIRD STRIKE
CAUSED THE ENGINE FAILURE.
THERE'S A NEW DOCUMENTARY CALLED
"BIRD VERSUS PLANE: MIRACLE ON
THE HUDSON," AND HERE'S A
PREVIEW.
>> IN 2009, A MIRACLE ON NEW
YORK'S HUDSON RIVER SEIZES THE
WORLD'S ATTENTION.
BEHIND THE SCENES, AN
EXTRAORDINARY SCENE.
THIS IS THE INSIDE STORY OF THE
QUEST TO SOLVE THE MIRACLE ON
THE SUDDEN.
>> I HAPPENED TO LOOK UP.
THERE WAS THE FEATHER.
>> NOW, AS OUR SKIES GET BUSIER,
AN ARMY OF EXPERTS ARE RACING TO
SOLVE THE BIRD STRIKE PROBLEM.
>> WE ARE GOING TO LEARN HOW.
>> BEFORE DISASTER STRIKES.
>> WE REALLY HAVE TO PLAN FOR
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO, BECAUSE
WE MAY NOT BE SO LUCKY THE NEXT
TIME.
>> JOINING US NOW IS DENISE
LOCKHEED, WHO WAS A PASSENGER ON
THAT FLIGHT, AND ASH POTTERSON,
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF "BIRD
VERSUS PLANE: MIRACLE ON THE
HUDSON."
THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US
TODAY.
A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU HERE.
DENISE, LET ME BEGIN WITH YOU.
WHEN DID YOU SENSE YOU WERE ON
THAT PLANE, JUST A REGULAR SI,
REGULAR FRIGHT, WHEN DID YOU
SENSE SOMETHING WAS AMISS?
>> WE WERE ON TAKEOFF, AND
LEAVING LaGUARDIA, AFTER THE
SHUTTER AND THE UNUSUAL SOUND
AND THE SMELL THAT INFILTRATED
THE AIRCRAFT --
>> THERE WAS A SMELL?
>> A HORRIBLE SMELL.
I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT IT WAS AT THE
TIME.
I KNEW THAT SOMETHING WAS NOT
QUITE RIGHT.
AND I THOUGHT, WELL, OKAY,
SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THE
ENGINE.
WE'LL TURN AROUND AND GO BACK,
WE HAVE TWO ENGINES, WE'LL BE
OKAY.
THEN I STARTED TO SEE DEAD
SILENCE.
>> WOW.
>> WE HAD NO ENGINE, SO I KNEW
THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT WASN'T
RIGHT.
>> SO CAPTAIN SULLENBERGER
ANNOUNCED, GET READY FOR A CRASH
LANDING?
>> HE ONLY CAME ON ONCE, HE SAID
THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN, BRACE FOR
IMPACT.
AT THAT TIME, WE DIDN'T HAVE ANY
IDEA THAT IT WAS A BIRD STRIKE.
I THOUGHT IT WAS SOMETHING ELSE.
AS A LOT OF OTHER PASSENGERS
DID.
I THOUGHT IT WAS A POSSIBLE
TERROR ATTACK.
>> REALLY?
SO WHAT WAS THE -- WHAT WAS IT
LIKE IN THE CABIN?
WERE PEOPLE CALM AND COLLECTED
OR WERE PEOPLE FREAKING OUT?
>> THERE WAS A COMBINATION OF
BOTH.
THERE WAS PEOPLE THAT WERE
SCREAMING.
THERE WAS PEOPLE THAT WERE
CRYING, PEOPLE TRYING TO REACH
THEIR LOVED ONES.
I WAS IN THE FRONT OF THE PLANE,
AND MY SEAT MATE, MARK HOOD,
REALLY TOOK CARE OF ME.
I WAS VERY ON SERVANT.
I WATCHED ALL THE PASSENGERS
JUST TO SEE WHAT THEY WERE
DOING.
>> WHEN DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU
WERE SAFE?
>> ONCE WE LANDED, I THOUGHT WE
WENT IN NOSE FIRST, WHICH IS
IMPOSSIBLE.
BUT THE WAY WE HIT, THE IMPACT
AND THE WATER COMING UP.
I SAT IN MY SEAT AFTER THE PLANE
CAME TO REST, I IMMEDIATELY
THOUGHT THE PLANE WAS GOING TO
BREAK UP OR WE WERE GOING TO
HAVE AN EXPLOSION WITH THE JET
FUEL.
AND THEN THERE WAS ALSO THE
SURVIVAL FACTOR AND GETTING INTO
THE COLDEST DAY OF THE YEAR AS
FAR AS HYPOTHERMIA.
SO NO, I WASN'T CERTAIN I WOULD
SURVIVE.
>> ASH, LET ME TURN TO YOU.
IT NEVER DAWNED ON ME THAT A
BIRD OR FLOCK OF BIRDS COULD
TAKE DOWN A BIG COMMERCIAL JET
AIRPLANE.
WHAT MAKES THESE PLANES SO
VULNERABLE TO SUCH A THING?
>> THE AIRCRAFT ENGINES JUST
AREN'T DESIGNED TO WITHSTAND
IMPACT FROM MULTIPLE OF A 7 TO
10 POUND BIRD.
AND THE OTHER FACTOR TO BEAR IN
MIND, IN THE EARLY DAYS OF THE
JET AGE, JET AIRCRAFT TENDED TO
HAVE FOUR ENGINES.
NOW I THINK IT'S 95% OF THEM
ONLY HAVE TWO.
WELL, ONE OF THEM SAID IN THE
FILM, YOU TAKE ONE ENGINE OUT,
IT MAKES IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR
THE PILOT.
YOU TAKE TWO OUT AND AN AIRCRAFT
BECOMES A GLIDER.
>> AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE
DOCUMENTARY FOCUSES ON THE
EFFORT TO FIND OUT WHAT KIND OF
BIRD IT WAS THAT CRASHED INTO
THE 1549.
WHY WAS THAT CRITICAL?
>> IT WAS IMPORTANT TO ESTABLISH
WHERE THE ENGINES ON THAT
AIRCRAFT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE
TO WITHSTAND THE IMPACT FROM A
PARTICULAR -- FROM THE SIZE OF
BIRD THAT IT WAS.
NOW, IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, THE
INVESTIGATIVE TEAM AT THE
SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION FEATHER
LAB HAD TO DETERMINE WHAT
SPECIES OF BIRD IT WAS.
CAPTAIN SULLENBERGER REPORTED
HITTING GEESE.
BUT THEY COULDN'T NECESSARILY
TAKE HIS WORD FOR THAT, SO THEY
HAD TO PROVE THAT.
BUT EVEN WITHIN GEESE, THERE
WERE TWO TYPES OF GEESE.
YOU HAD THE BROWNS, WERE WERE
GEESE, AND YOU HAD THE MUCH
LARGER CANADA GOOSE, BETWEEN
SEVEN TO TEN POUNDS.
SO IT WAS IMPORTANT TO ESTABLISH
WHICH OF THOSE TWO DIFFERENT
SIZE OF BIRDS IT WAS.
>> SHOULD OUR VIEWERS, WHO ARE
GOING TO BE FLYING PLANES, FEEL
RELATIVELY SECURE THAT THEY'RE
NOT GOING TO BE ANOTHER MIRACLE
ON THE HUDSON OR WORSE?
>> WHAT WE DISCOVERED IS THAT
ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW, THIS IS --
THE NUMBER OF BIRD STRIKES IS ON
THE RISE.
THERE ARE, ON AVERAGE, EVERY DAY
40 CIVILIAN AIRCRAFT THAT ARE
INVOLVED IN BIRD STRIKES IN
AMERICA ALONE.
NOT ONLY THAT, THERE ARE MORE
AND MORE BIRDS THAT ARE HALIVIN
AROUND URBAN AREAS.
BUT IT'S IMPORTANT TO SAY THE
MAJORITY OF BIRD STRIKES DON'T
RESULT IN AN AIRCRAFT CRASHING.
>> DENISE, SOMETHING WATCHING
AND EXPERIENCES SOMETHING LIKE
YOU DID, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR
ADVICE?
>> I THINK THE KEY IN ALL OF
AVIATION IS SAFETY.
IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU PAY
ATTENTION TO YOUR CREW AND TO
THE SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS.
YOU HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO EXIT
ABAIRCRAFT WITHIN 90 SECONDS.
>> I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE HERE AND
SURVIVED.
>> ME TOO.
>> IT'S A WOLF NDERFUL DOCUMENT.
"BIRD VERSUS PLANE: MIRACLE ON
THE HUDSON" PREMIERES TONIGHT AT
9:00 P.M. ON THE SMITHSONIAN
CHANNEL.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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