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Spotting an empty chair

This is quite old – the previous presidential election – but I cannot help thinking, given the huge gap between the supposed cleverness of soon-to-be-gone President Obama and his actual performance on the job, that the actor Clint Eastwood summed up the current occupant of the White House perfectly with this speech.

On a totally separate point, I really enjoyed the Eastwood-directed film, Sully, starring Tom Hanks. What I liked about this film, like another Hanks film (Apollo 13) is its celebration of grace under pressure, of competence, and of a sort of grown-up maturity and adult willingness to accept responsibility. Given the state of the culture, these are good things to put out there on the Silver Screen.


15 comments to Spotting an empty chair

  • Mr Ed

    Didn’t Eisenstein have the Soviet ‘Mass-hero‘ where the collective were the ‘hero’? A modern socialist take on this is the mass ‘lessons have been learnt’ moving on from disaster with a culture of ‘no blame, no credit, no responsibility but not “no pay”‘? So in a proper modern film, say a Towering Inferno re-make, there would be a review of risk assessments, a budget increase for those at fault, more training, cultural sensitivity exchanges, counselling and a ‘safe space’, and of course, it would be in a Tower named for a certain New Yorker friend of Taiwan.

    That so far, no such films are made is also a positive, the socialists know that their mind-bending can only go so far and still be useful.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Obama was quite effective in imposing regulations that have wide ranging effects – for the worse. And his actions were intentional – preplanned with the conscious intention of doing harm.

    As I have no position to lose I can write the above – and it is accurate.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Yes, Clint Eastwood is usually good value for money. I even heard a rumour that the original comic Judge Dredd was inspired by ‘Dirty Harry’- all those complaints about justice being delayed, and all. so they imagined what life might be like in the future, with quick justice. I wonder if he knows he inspired a comic?

  • When I learned from the previews when I watched Florence Foster Jenkins in the theater over the summer is that Sully apparently cracked the Dante code, too.

    Based on the trailer, I think I’d rather watch the Rhonda Fleming movie again, anyway.

  • Julie near Chicago


    I quit following Hollywood’s attempts at entertainment years ago, so I was completely unaware of Sully. (I was aware of the event, and awestruck by Capt. Sullenberger’s skill, as well as the efforts of others involved in rescue that day…but I didn’t know that the NTSB or whoever had tried to set him up for “Pilot Error” charges or some such nonsense.)

    And I’m in love with airplanes (and astronautics) and good thrillers based on them. I was so mesmerized by Apollo 13, which we actually went to the theatre to see, that I got to swinging my foot into the back of the seat of the lady in front me. Kick … kick … kick… . 😳 Finally she got tired of it, and turned around and asked me very politely to desist.

    When the movie was over, we walked in parallel from our seats to the aisle, and I apologized again. She smiled and said, “You were really into it, weren’t you.” I could but admit it.

    (I now own the DVD, which does not suffer from feelings of abandonment….)

    All by way of saying Thank You for the posting. Excuse me now — I have to visit Amazon.

  • The thing with Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III (great man, great name) is that he was almost uniquely suited to deal with both the problem in the air itself which led to the “Miracle on the Hudson” as well as the NTSB aftermath.

    Most pilots would have tried to land at La Guardia or Teterboro and would have run out of ground before doing so, likely killing everyone onboard. Of the remainder most pilots attempting to land in the Hudson would have run out of speed before hitting the water or hit the water at significantly +/- the 12-degree angle required, thus going arse over tit, again leading to a significant death toll.

    The NTSB wanted to nail Sullenberger for doing what nobody else would have attempted in order to stop pilots “Thinking for themselves” in similar situations.

    Where they went wrong is that Sullenberger had been involved in air accident investigations in the past and knew both the venality and vindictiveness of the NTSB bureaucrats (which was why he made sure he was accompanied by his union representative at every meeting).

    Fortunately, Sully understood the principle of Crew Resource Management (having trained many of US Airlines staff in the technique), and knew full well how to deal with time/safety critical situations.

    I strongly suspect that the NTSB would have preferred to have a dead pilot to blame and 155 lives lost as Sully demonstrated that a decent, well trained pilot can make the difference between life and death.

  • Fred the Fourth

    US Federal Aviation Regulations
    Part 91.3.a:
    “The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the safe operation of that aircraft.”

    My favorite, bar none, of the US regulations.

  • “The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the safe operation of that aircraft.”

    My favorite, bar none, of the US regulations.

    Sure and rightly so, but there have been circumstances where this has led to arrogance such as United Airlines Flight 173, where the pilot spent an hour circling Portland looking for a problem with the landing gear as the plane gradually ran out of fuel, despite increasingly anxious reports from the Co-pilot about the fuel situation.

    By the time the pilot realised that the fuel exhaustion was critical and turn towards Portland to land it was too late and the plane crashed 6-miles short of the runway when the fuel finally ran out.

    Similar “Cockpit Control Failures” occurred in the crashes of Scandinavian Airlines System Flight 933, Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 and LOT Flight 7.

  • Fred the Fourth

    That’s why any reasonable pilot will tell you that CRM is not incompatible with the PIC rule.

    However, the reason I quote that particular reg here and there is that I regard it as a bit of a canary-in-a-coal-mine. I watch to see if it changes, to see if it might be “pinin’ for the fjords” so to speak.

  • RNB

    John Galt: The NTSB hearings in the movie ‘Sully’ bear no resemblance to reality. The writer admits he made the NTSB investigators into caricatures to inject ‘drama’ into the script. The names of the movie’s investigators are fictional, reportedly at Capt. Sullenberger’s suggestion.

  • No, I’m not actually referring to that aspect of the movie, which was clearly done for dramatic effect and does not reflect the reality of the situation.

    I was referring to the actual NTSB investigation.

  • NickM

    My understanding is the only serious injury was a broken ankle. My further understanding is that that is a good landing. My even further understanding is commercials basically fly themselves except when they don’t and that is when you need a pilot. And that is why they tend to be quite highly paid. Because there are few careers where what you do there and then in those one or two points means life or death for hundreds of people yourself included.

  • And that is why they tend to be quite highly paid

    It used to be the case and for prestige international flights with major airlines it still is, but for domestic and smaller airlines it is a different matter. Sully himself complained about having to live with a 40% pay cut and getting shafted on his pension.

    Capt. Sullenberger: Stop Cutting Pilot Pay Or Next Plane Will Crash In River

  • NickM

    Yeah,I know. They pay Tube train drivers more.

  • What does a pilot earn these days? You might think they do alright, given all that training and responsibility.

    You’d be wrong. Salaries for a starter pilot at a regional airline are so low that if they are the breadwinner for a partner and a child, the household would qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, where the cutoff for a three-person household is just over $25,000.

    At some smaller regional airlines starting pilot does even worse, earning just $15,000 a year, about equivalent to the federal minimum wage.

    Flying Your Plane, Living on Food Stamps (Wall Street Journal – Paywalled)

    Figures are from 2014, but still $15,000 USD is about £12,000 give or take. Difficult to survive on that never mind live a “high flying life”. This is before you take into account the costs of airline pilot training which is about $100,000++ to start with.

    Cost of Flight Training at Aerosim Flight Academy