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Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson
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Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  219 ratings  ·  46 reviews
On January 15, 2009, a US Airways Airbus A320 had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport in New York when a flock of Canada Geese collided with it, destroying both of its engines. Over the next three minutes, the plane's pilot, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, managed to glide it to a safe landing in the Hudson River. It was an instant media sensation—the "Miracle on the Hudso ...more
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Published December 14th 2009 by Tantor Media (first published November 5th 2009)
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Eric_W
It's a mantra of mine that there's no point reading about events in the newspaper because the whole truth will not surface until time has passed and someone has written a book about the incident. I am fascinated by technology and especially transportation technology and follow NTSB reports carefully and with interest since, as another favorite author, Henry Petroski has pointed out, we learn more from our failures than from our successes. But it's nice when you get a really good author to summar ...more
Jim
This is an excellent analysis of the ditching of an Airbus into the Hudson River in New York that left the pilot a hero and the aeroplane just another aeroplane. But, says the author, that's doing the 'plane a massive disservice. To understand why, you really need to read the book. It's not that the pilot wasn't a hero, showing grace under pressure and an affinity to his machine that went beyond the norm, it's more that the 'plane, and the men who designed it, helped him massively in his minutes ...more
Jim
This was a competent, breezy, slice-of-life tale of an airplane crash. No, really--it's the story of Captain "Sully" Sullenberger and his unfortunate encounter with geese that forced him to ditch his commercial airliner into the Hudson River.

I liked that the author approached this tale with the gravity that it required without trying to turn it into a MELODRAMATIC TALE OF TERROR. There was a lot of decent information in here, but I would have enjoyed it more if he had spent more time writing ab
...more
Wayne
A quick four hour read that adds some technical details to the account of the famous "Miracle on the Hudson" ditching by Sully Sullenberger. The author posits that some aspects of the Airbus alpha contraints assisted Sully in his successful landing on the river.
Larry Coleman
It is both sad and frustrating that someone named Langewische would write such an uninspired and lazy book about such an inspiring subject, because Wolfgang Langewische (William's father) is famous in aviation circles as the man who wrote THE book on flying: "Stick and Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying". (That book is so good that I named my aviation blog, "Keyboard and Rudder", after it.) In this case, the son definitely and unfortunately does not surpass the father.

The story almost w
...more
Marc
From leaving the gate to the last person being taken safely aboard a ferry U.S. Airways flight 1549 lasted just under an hour. The author weaves this into a fascinating 193 page story by including background information on what the crew did in the days leading up to this flight, the NTSB hearings about it, the geese and how they came to be flying in the area, how modern jet engines function, and extensive information about the history and background to the fly-by-wire system used on the Airbus A ...more
John
Fascinating story about the history of the Airbus A320 - which was engineered with "fail-safe" computer interventions to keep the ride smooth and the plane out of untenable situations (e.g., stalls). These interventions cannot be overridden and this has made the concept a lightning rod for criticisms by professional pilots who don't want to accept that computers can assist with idiot-proofing the act of flying commercial airliners.

The book focuses in on the 2009 US Airways Flight 1549 which land
...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Newspapers and magazines that ran articles on Fly by Wire seemed just as interested in reporting the conflict over this book--Sullenberger has publicly disagreed with many of Langewiesche's conclusions--as they were in assessing whether it was a compelling work. Few who heard the Sullenberger's calm cockpit demeanor during the crisis or caught his self-effacing appearances on television are interested in a book that undermines the man--but that's not what happens here. Langewiesche's work is bal ...more
Jean
Captain Sullenberger (Sully) was a true hero. The story of his ability to ditch USAirways Flight into the Hudson River on January 15, 2009, after being hit by a flock of Canada geese,with no loss of life, is incredible. Langewiesche is an excellent author (also check out Common Ground about the dismantling of Ground Zero after 9/11). He has just the right touch of irreverence and interest to make the story compelling. The author talks in detail about Canada geese and other critters that get into ...more
Eric B. Kennedy
A well written, engaging account of one of the most famous water landings by a commercial jet. Langewiesche manages to weave in an interesting tale of Airbus vs. Boeing design philosophies, while revealing the challenging tradeoffs between manual and autopiloted aircraft in an age of increasing digitization. It's a light read, but an interesting sociotechnical story.
Jaclyn Day
This is very well-written, not too technical. It gives a great overview of fly by wire aircraft and intertwines general aviation history/the origin of fly by wire aircraft/etc. with the story of the Hudson River landing in 2009.
Maggie
This book came on recommendation from my dad. I'll admit that at first I was skeptical that I would enjoy it, and thus it sat on my shelf for a few months before I finally picked it up. Overall, this is a great account of the US Airways landing in the Hudson River in 2009. What makes the book fascinating, though, is the intermittent discussion on flying, modern airplane design, the industry itself and a number of other noteworthy accidents/crashes. This book opened up so many things I didn't kno ...more
Kariss
Anyone interested in Aviation should read this book ....and the
article "The Human Factor" by Mr.Langewiesche.
james
The book deals with the plane that ingested some geese into both engines, rendering them inoperative, or almost so. The plane crashed into the Hudson River near New York in January 2009. Miraculously, there were no fatalities.

The book reports on the crash and all the participants who did a fabulous job in preventing disaster. But it also deals with some fundamental differences between passenger jets produced by Boeing and those by its only competitor, Airbus.

The author comes by his writing tal
...more
Pam Roberts
Okay - I'm not an Airbus fan but I found this an interesting if quick read.
Lewis
Excellent. Weaves the gripping story of Flight 1549's 5-minute descent after a bird strike over the Bronx, with in-depth discussion of the development of the Airbus A320's electronic avionics control systems, the history of airline crashes generally, and useful bits and pieces about changes in the U.S. commercial airline business. Just enough physics and engineering to keep a liberal arts major on his toes, but not too much to make him feel ignorant. Some beautiful prose. Total lack of notes or ...more
Pierre Rooyen

For anyone who loves flying, I do recommend William Langewiesche's Fly By Wire.

It is the story of US Airways Flight 1549 that, in 2009, only 90 seconds after take-off, collided with a skein of migratory Canadian Geese. And, of course, the airliner was so expertly put down in the Hudson River.

But it is also the story about why the Airbus is such an outstanding aircraft. Uncrashable.

Fascinating concepts and applications. Not necessarily a man's book. I read it in three sittings. My wife read it in
...more
Ashwath
Great book on aviation. Definitely one of its kind. While it clearly appreciates the work of Sullenberger and Skiles as pilots, it also recognizes the value of the other factors involved in the miracle, especially the fly-by-wire system. Deals with a lot of pilot psychology and I would go to the extent of saying that anyone who is interested in aviation must definitely read this book. To enjoy this book however, at least rudimentary knowledge of flying is required.
Peggy
This was an ok book, but I wish the author would have focused more on the actual event. He talked a lot about hte airplane itself and how it was manufactured, about pilots in general, and about geese. Where is the real story of 2 pilots who saved the passengers and crew of a stricjen airliner by landing it in the Hudson River? There was very little about the real story! From what I can see about this author, he focuses on the whys instead of the whats.
ej cullen
Langewiesche tells it like it is and (as usual) tells it well. Many of these aircraft are today so sophisticated that you almost get the impression that, in the absence of truly multiple catastrophic conditions, a pilot would have to be a totally incompetent boob to crash one. That said, the pilot (and co-pilot) here were two cool cucumbers who faced bravely multiple problems of mental gymnastics. If you like this book, read Langewiesche's 'Atomic Bazaar.'
Noah
This very short book is great on two counts. First, the moment-by-moment account from the flight deck is genuinely gripping even though you know exactly what's going to happen. Second, this book is more interesting for the way in which Langewiesche ties the example of flight 1549 to a bigger story about modern aviation and human performance. He walks such a fine line so well that it's hard to even describe what the book is about once you've read it.
Jeff
I really enjoyed this book and the various unusual perspectives it offered on some of the aspects of the Miracle on the Hudson. Like, how geese fly and airport efforts to minimize strikes. And, the technology of the A320 that is designed to minimize the pilot's ability to wreck the plane (and tells the very interesting story of how one idiot pilot proved he was not made of the Right Stuff... http://youtu.be/CNd9JXp9CMU). Very enjoyable read!
Alan
In the aftermath of the water landing on the Hudson many people were quick to praise the pilots and and crew - and rightly so. Langewiesche's account gives credit to other major player in the drama - the Airbus and its fly by wire avionics. Ultimately, that credit finds its way to Bernad Ziegler and the other engineers of Airbus that helped create bring into existence the A320.

Steve
Langewiesche tells the story of Sullenberger's flight that ditched into the Hudson River after its engines are put out by collisions with geese. He's a superb storyteller, fascinating in the way he imparts all aspects of the story with no wasted words. He tells the story of Sullenberger, the Airbus that crashed, and even how those geese came to be there. Gripping.
Jason
An interesting look at more details about the 'Miracle on the Hudson' and Aviation in general. The author goes on different tangents throughout the book - some interesting, some not. Fans of the TV Series 'Mayday' or 'Air Crash Investigation' will recognize some of the air disasters described in this book. All in all, an interesting rainy Sunday afternoon read.
Linda
This book is riveting! It was not really about what I thought - it focuses much more on the inner workings of an Airbus 320 (the kind Jet Blue flies to FLL). It takes nothing away from Sully, but provided a moment-by-moment primer on the aerodynamics of flying sans engines, and even on the psychology of birds! I'll never be afraid to fly again! Wow!
Sean Hopkins
This book provides a detailed of Captain Sullenberger's three minute flight from LaGuardia Airport to the Hudson River. I enjoyed the discussion of advances in aviation technology that have made commercial airlines easier to fly and the difficulty of designing a plane to minimize the consequences of bird strikes by pilots.
Howard C.
Interesting from an engineering standpoint in discussing the issues of flight controls and human engineering in the Airbus, not at all dramatized, but I'm a little frustrated that it's not more detailed. If it wasn't going to go into the "miracle flight", I'd like to have seen more discussion of the theory; it's a short book
Don Weidinger
80 of 4K geese to birds decade prior, 60% within 100’, 73 w/500’, 90 w/3200’, fascinating flight emergencies, engines quit wings stall, to err is human to persist is diabolical, lack of humility to quickly correct, intellectually arrogant, airbus fly by wire within design limits, sit vs put them on, 86% crash survive.
Ron Crooks
An interesting look at how the refinement of the modern passenger airplane allowed this particular pilot to save his own life and that of all of the passengers when he lost power in both engines shortly after take-off from NYC.

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William Langewiesche is a journalist who has written for Vanity Fair and The Atlantic Monthly.
More about William Langewiesche...
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