60 Minutes Flight 1549 Part 3 passenger reunion (text)

Feb. 8, 2009

Flight 1549 posts

Part 1 Text Captain Sullenberger account
Part 1 Video Captain Sullenberger account

Part 2 Text Flight Crew
Part 2 Video Flight Crew

Part 3 Text Passengers
Part 3 Video Passengers

Part 3

This segment is survivors and their families mingling with the crew. They all walked in together and were given a resounding ovation. Can’t imagine that feeling. they gave an overhead view so you could see what the crew was seeing. There was a lot of hugging and crying and picture taking. Folks had balloons and signs and special t-shirts – one man’s was: Sully is my co-pilot, which Sully autographed.

KATIE COURIC VOICEOVER: There are 150 people who might not be alive today if it weren’t for Captain Sullenberger and his crew. 60 Minutes invited some of the passengers to reunite with them in Charlotte, N.C., the city that was supposed to be the final destination for US Airways flight 1549

The captain asked their names and where they were sitting. The rest of the crew were getting hugs and telling stories. I think the crews needed the hugs as much as he passengers and family members. This had to be the most rewarding part of their junket – meeting with the passengers and their family. One can imagine the very different mood if things did not turn out so magnificiently. Again the flight crew got shafted and not much footage was shown of even the first officer mingling or comments made to them.

Comments to Capt Sullenberger:

Thank you for saving my life.

You just did an incredible job. Really. Really. Really proud.

Thank you so much for bringing my husband home to me.

You kept our family together.

Thank you.

You are our hero. You and the whole crew.

You guys gave us all the courage.

A little boy around 3 said ‘thank you for bringing my daddy home’.

Cut away to just Couric and Sullenberger.

SULLY: More than one woman came up to me and said, ‘Thank you for not making me a widow. Thank you for allowing my three-year-old son to have a father’.

In case you were wondering – yes, there was someone on the flight who had a family member (brother – a firefighter) murdered on 9-11.

SHEILA DAIL: One man had told me that you know-I was looking at him. He was in first class, and he seemed to be very anxious. And I just told him, just, you know, ‘Be calm, and you know, just try to breathe’.

PASSENGER: I can’t tell you how frightened I was when we were coming down and I was just thinking this person is looking at me and she’s telling me everything is going to be fine. Thank you, again.

DAIL: He showed me a picture of himself with his niece, and the niece was a child of his brother, who was killed in 9/11.

Sullenberger cut in rudely here.

SULLY: And he told me, he didn’t think that his family could take losing a second son.

PASSENGER: My brother was a firefighter killed at the Trade Center. And the whole way down I’m thinking my family’s not gonna survive this. I’ve gotta get off this airplane. I can’t believe that everyone walked off that airplane. It’s a miracle. And I really thank you.

SULLY to COURIC: You know, 155 is a number, but when you can put faces to it, and not just 155 faces, but the other faces, the wives, the daughters, the sons, the fathers, the mothers, the brothers it gets to be a pretty big number, pretty quickly.

The crew lined up facing the assembled – who could have been the dearly departed – and Sullenberger addressed them. There is a curious body language here. The pilot is a few steps forward – First Officer Jeff Skiles to his left and Donna Dent to his right – both with their hands crossed in front of them, Sheila Dail is manning the door with her hands clasped behind her and Doreen Welsh is initially out of the picture. The four in uniform are still acting in unison – as a crew. Welsh, not in uniform, is separate. Wonder if the camera crew or editor realized the importance of that shot or if the crew was aware of it. There is definitely some tension there.

[After this interview on Sunday, Capt Sullenberger made a point to include the crew and say it’s not all about him all day Monday. 60 Minutes’ editing basically made it all about him, especially with Couric’s separate segments with him.]

SULLENBERGER: I simply wanted to thank all of you for coming. I think today was as much and as good for me and my crew as it was for you. We will be joined forever because of the events of January 15th, in our hearts and in our minds. Goodbye.

Then there’s a picture of four of the crew with the President and First Lady at the Inauguration Neighborhood Ball. (Skiles short account.) Missing is Doreen Welsh, who had a deep cut to her leg and presumably was unable (unwilling?) to fly. Perhaps that is part of the discord.

COURIC’S VOICEOVER: It was an emotional experience for all of them, following weeks that Capt. Sullenberger described as surreal: there was the Super Bowl, the inauguration and a chance to meet the president, and a celebration in his hometown of Danville, Calif. But like many of the passengers, the crew members are also having difficulty processing what happened, including Captain Sullenberger.

SULLY: One of the hardest things for me to do in this whole experience was to forgive myself for not having done something else….something better…something more complete. I don’t know.

COURIC: But it had such a good ending.

SULLY: Yes. It did.

COURIC: And it could have had such a terrible ending

SULLY: I know.

COURIC: Do you place this over in your head?

SULLY: The first few nights were the worst. When the ‘what ifs’ started. The second guessings would come. Made sleep hard.

Plus the fact that his family wasn’t there and he didn’t get to sleep in his own bed for however long.

COURIC: Like what?

SULLENBERGER: Just replaying it. You know, flashbacks. ‘Did er- were we aware of everything we could have been aware of.’ ‘Did we make the best choices.’ All those kinds of thoughts.

COURIC: And when you think that way, do you regret anything that you did?


COURIC’S VOICEOVER: Captain Sullenberger says he plans to fly again but he’s not sure when. For now, he and his family are finding comfort going through the mountain of mail he’s received from all over the world.

They show the Sullenberger family reading from a good old mound of US Postal Service delivered mail.

LORI SULLENBERGER reading a letter – holds up 5 singles: Mr. Sullenberger, great job, I’d like to buy you a beer. Albeit a cheap domestic one. Five dollars enclosed. God bless.

DAUGHTER 1: Dear Captain Sullenberger, in a world that seems to be full of bad news, it was such a wonderful day on January 15th.

DAUGHTER 2: Think about the not only 155 passengers, but all the families who belong to these people.

LORI SULLENBERGER voice cracks while reading it: Dearest Captain Sullenberger. Big Apple hero. Yesterday, I received a voicemail from my 84-year-old father who lives on the 30th floor of a building with river views here in Manhattan. Had you not been so skilled, my father or others like him in their sky-high buildings, could have perished along with your passengers had not you landed in the river as you had. As a Holocaust survivor, my father taught me that to save a life is to save a world, as you never know what the person you’ve saved nor his or her progeny will go on to contribute to the peace and healing of the world. Bless you dear Captain Sullenberger. New York loves you.

LORI SULLENBERGER: That is my favorite one.

SULLY tearing up and nodding: Yeah, mine too.

COURIC: You’ve been called a hero by a lot of people. How do you feel about that?

SULLY: I don’t feel comfortable embracing it, but I don’t want to deny it. I don’t want to diminish their thankful feeling toward me by telling them that they’re wrong. I’m beginning to understand why they might feel that way.

COURIC: Asked why that is,

SULLY: Something about this episode has captured people’s imagination. I think they want good news. I think they want to feel hopeful again. And if I can help in that way, I will.

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