Jeff Skiles returning to the skies

April 17, 2009

Flight 1549 posts

US AIRWAYS Flight 1549’s First Officer Jeff Skiles will be back in the cockpit on Monday. He said it’s the longest time he’s gone without flying since he was 16. He has spent the last week in the US Airways flight simulator in Charlotte – where they are based – getting reacquainted. I wonder what scenarios he was put through and whether they videotaped him the first time back in. It would have been good to study his reactions both performance wise and physiologically.

NBC’s Lester Holt talked to Skiles as part of an upcoming documentary on water landings that will air later this summer. I don’t think I ever posted that water landing in Australia that happened like a week after Flight 1549. Wasn’t as dramatic but no one got hurt and the pilot/passengers walked back to the beach.

LESTER HOLT: Any anxieties? How are you feeling?

JEFF SKILES: Oh, I’m feeling great. I really missed it. That’s why I came back so soon.

I hope that his decision to start flying again so early was not at all an economic one. Captain Sullenberger isn’t planning on getting back into the cockpit until June – July. I don’t know if the flight attendants are back flying. Donna Dent is most worrisome.

Skiles has worked at US Airways for 23 years and was a full fledged pilot before the cutbacks. He had just gotten certified on the Airbus A320. He started ground school on December 1st and 6 weeks later his plane gets hit by geese, which if you aren’t aware was the cause of the engine failure – Canada Geese to be exact. I just watched the landing again from all the various angles and truly cannot believe it. And to put it down right where the ferries were. Utterly amazing. Worth a second look.

Anyway. January 15th flight was only his only his 4th flight as a fully certified a A-32o pilot. And those 4 days were the first time Skiles and Sullenberger had flown together. Anyone know anything about the man (air marshall) who gave up his shirt?

Lester Holt asks him how he’s been coping.

SKILES: For the first week and half — because it was so fast, and you don’t remember much of what happened –  or you don’t remember everything, I’d sleep a couple of hours, wake up, be running the things through my mind again, trying to remember things. So I got next to no sleep the first couple of weeks.

Any qualms?

SKILES: I guess I don’t think it’s ever going to happen again. I think it was a complete fluke.

HOLT: Has there ever been a temptation to try and reenact it on a simulator?

SKILES: Not with me. [He laughs uncomfortably.] That is something I don’t particularly want to do.

So it still weighs on him. I hope when he writes his book he tells us about the first landing and the first time he stepped into the simulator. He seems like an honest guy. He’s actually very funny. And when he threw out the first pitch at Miller Park for the Brewers’ home opener against the Cubbies – he got it across the plate. A little hitch on the wind up but otherwise ok. See link below. Sullenberger did well both times he threw out the first pitch. First the second (exhibition) game at the new Yankee Stadium Cubs v Yankees (his favorite team as a kid) and then at the Giants’ home opener. His jersey had the #155 on the back, which was pretty cool. See the links below for pix and video.

Taylor Hicks sang the National Anthem before the Giants game – was in town because he’s touring with Grease – Johnny Angel.


Skiles tossed first pitch Brewers’ opener


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