Flight 1549: What really happened in the back of the plane?

June 6, 2009

Flight 1549

I think this is kind of sad. Very sad, in fact.

Does it really matter who opened the door?

What matters is everyone got out of that plane alive and there were no life-threatening injuries.

According to the NTSB “five serious injuries have been reported”. They qualified it with “to date”. After almost 5 months it’s impossible to be “injured”. And one of the five injuried is going to be challenged by those who were not.

Why does it matter? Really? Are non-injured people suing?

According to AP passengers on Flight 1549 – the plane Capt Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles set down in the Hudson – are challenging Flight Attendant Doreen Welsh’s version of what happened in regards to how the the rear door. Ms Welsh was the lone flight attendant in the rear of the plane, which bore the brunt of the impact because the plane, by design, touched down with the nose up.

Conditions were much different back there. The bottom of the plane was ripped open from the impact and the cargo section was pushed up through the floor of the cabin – which was presumably how she sustained the gash on her leg.. The fuselage was breached. No doubt about it. Water was getting in before the door was even opened. Granted, when the door was  opened, the flow of water probably increased, making the tail heavier…more water…heavier…

None of the three flight attendants were initially aware they had landed on water. The front of the plane was riding above the water and the flight attendants could see clearly they had landed on water and that they would be able to open the door and evacuate without a massive influx of water.

I don’t imagine Ms Welsh was that lucky. Water was already coming in – the floor was an obvious danger. And the rear doors have no windows. And how could she be sure the water wasn’t going to explode into the cabin and seal them there?

I don’t have any idea what happened though I have heard Ms Welsh retell the story at least ten times. Each time it was the same: a female passenger pushed past her and she was unable to close the door. She also related each time how she thought she was going to die – really and truly. No one on the plane that I’ve heard express “I thought I was going to die” meant it in the true physical sense of the word like she did. Not even the guy who jumped in the water thinking he could swim to shore.

WELSH from an early February interview with her local paper.

When I saw the water, that was the biggest shock of my life.

I had accepted death. But then I just got this gift – I think it was Divine Intervention.

I went absolutely insane and started pushing people out, telling them to get out on the wings.

As you can see, she was clearly traumatized physically as well as mentally – the others were not. And this hearing isn’t going to help her healing – no matter what happens.

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