Co-Pilot of U.S. Airways Flight 1549, "The Miracle on the Hudson"
On a bright, twenty-degree afternoon in January, US Airways Flight 1549 barreled down New York La Guardia Airport's main runway, loaded with 155 passengers and crew, headed skywards for Charlotte, NC. Everything was normal until First Officer Jeff Skiles spotted a formation of Canada geese on the right side of the aircraft, seemingly headed directly towards them. Skiles, who was flying the plane manually, was relieved when the nose of the plane rose above the geese, but that relief was short-lived. A few seconds later, he heard four distinct thunks as the birds crashed into the engines of the Airbus A320. Both engines immediately failed. Skiles lost his instrument panel. Captain Chesley Sullenberger took over flying the plane and tipped the nose down to retain airspeed. Within sixty seconds, the pilots made the decision that returning to LaGuardia or diverting to Teterboro or Newark Airports was just too risky – they'd have to fly over densely populated areas and there was no guarantee that they'd make it. So, surrounded by nothing but skyscrapers and neighborhoods, they decided to head to the only open, flat space available – the Hudson River.
Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Jeff Skiles details the lessons, training, and scenarios that led to the "Miracle on the Hudson" with a great sense of humor and his natural storytelling ability.
Crisis Management at 3200 Feet. Following the protocol for dual-engine failure, Skiles tried to restart the engines. But the manuals are written for failures that happen at 30,000 feet, and the only training pilots receive for water landings tells them vaguely to "try to land on the backside of a swell." Skiles and Sullenberger were truly in uncharted territory. As the passengers and flight attendants braced for impact, the plane descended 3200 feet toward the river. Eye-witnesses in the surrounding buildings said it looked like a perfect three-point landing. Inside the cockpit, Skiles noticed that the surreal sensation of landing between the high-rises of New York City on one side and the bluffs of New Jersey on the other felt like "sinking into a bathtub."
There are a few landmark cases in aviation history that change the way pilots do their jobs and the way the public perceives the often taken-for-granted ease of getting on a plane and flying around the world. News of plane crashes and airline disasters usually hits the public hard. Those same accidents become the training tools and examples that help pilots avoid repeating those mistakes.
But the exploits of the flight crew of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 is one of those rare examples where future pilots will be able to learn from a resounding success rather than a failure. In his humble, Midwestern style, Skiles explains the key lessons of teamwork, adaptability, training, and preparation that he and his crewmates relied on that day, relating these concepts to the daily lives of individuals and organizations.
Adapt, React, and Don't Fear a Change of Course. The son of two pilots, Skiles started flying at the age of 16, and to date has logged over 20,000 hours in the sky. From his days flying with his father over the Alcan Highway to Alaska to the last 23 years as a U.S. Airways pilot and first officer, his lifetime of experiences working as both a member and the leader of a crew contributed to the astounding outcome. Flight 1549 was only Skiles' second trip in the Airbus A320, and when the plane collided with the birds, he was still manually flying the plane, practicing the tricky controls of the Airbus. But the perfect landing was not a fluke--it was the result of intense training, preparation, and the lessons learned from other pilots' successes and failures. Skiles believes that life changes all around you, and if you can't adapt and change with it, you can't succeed.
A general contractor who builds houses when he's not flying, Skiles understands what businesses are going through. He attributes the success of the emergency landing on the Hudson to the extensive training that all members of a flight crew experience. From the mechanics and the maintenance workers to the people who write the emergency protocols and the flight attendants, he believes that every level of the U.S. Airways organization is responsible for the outcome on January 15, 2009. While he and Captain Sullenberger piloted the plane to a safe landing, the entire operation was only possible thanks to intense training, re-training, preparation, and organization.
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Lessons from the Miracle on the Hudson. When you're a pilot and both your engines fail over the largest city in America, you must act quickly and independently, but you must also trust in the system that has trained you and prepared you to handle such crisis moments. Jeff Skiles' story of the "Miracle on the Hudson" would not have the perfect ending if not for years of training and preparation that allowed the two pilots to understand exactly what the other was doing thus maximizing their time, communication, and effectiveness. Having only met each other three days earlier, Skiles and Sullenberger were able to work together as a team because they trusted in their system and training and professionalism of everyone involved, from the air-traffic controllers to their crew. As he takes audiences through the nearly catastrophic events leading up to U.S. Airways Flight 1549's emergency landing on the Hudson River, Skiles delivers the key lessons and principles that made the flight crew prepared, calm, and confident that they would successfully land the plane. If such lessons can save 155 lives when time is tight and every move must be perfect, imagine what these lessons can do for your organization.
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"Jeff was a fantastic addition to our leadership meeting and bonded very well with our team. They are highly suspect of any “sales-y” speakers, so Jeff’s kind, sincere, and informative presentation was a huge hit. Members of my team have sent me follow up emails expressing their gratitude and identification with his leadership style. Personally, I found him to be a man with whom the majority can identify, who loves what he does and does it exceptionally well. His humble demeanor with a twist of humor was an added bonus that went a long way to help him tell his story."
Bank of America
“In the age of ‘fame at any cost’, Jeff Skiles is a rarity. A family man who accomplished the near impossible—he attributes his team’s success to dedicated training and concentrated teamwork. With surprising details and a mixture of self-deprecating humor, Jeff recounts the most harrowing five minutes of his life. And while most of us can’t land a jet plane on the Hudson River, Jeff’s story shows us that we can accomplish great things when we take the time to dedicate ourselves to our profession and learn to value every member of our teams.” Sheraton Hotels
“Jeff Skiles is real, a natural, and the kind of person who would make a great neighbor, who was simply was doing his job that day, and as a result was hailed as modern day hero. We quickly learned from his opening comments that we were sharing our evening with a man with a distinct sense of humor, who delivered his perspective on the events with levity and delivery skills that echoed his skills as a well trained pilot. Skiles is taking off in his own way and he carries us with him in his journey.” American Red Cross
“Jeff Skiles’ vivid account of the miraculous water landing on the Hudson River captivated our audience and was the perfect opening for our North American Client Conference. Our attendees were all entertained and inspired. At then end of the presentation Jeff accepted questions from the audience – this was the perfect finish to a perfect presentation!” Invensys Process Systems
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Thanks to @HaleyBarbour and everyone who attended. Our next ALS event will be in 2014! #LAIevents
12/4/2013 2:43:10 PM
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