Everyone loves a hero. Don't they? Someone who performs a daring deed, saves mankind (or at least, some of mankind) from imminent peril. And then of course, a true hero ends up also being a basically nice guy. That's just the icing on the cake. We celebrate heroes. We want to put them up on a pedestal. We want them to be just a little bit better than the rest of us.
Last month such a hero came to the forefront of the news. Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger will forever more have the words "Hero Pilot" attached to his name. This is the captain that landed his USAir plane in the Hudson River last month after a flock of birds damaged the engines. Passengers stated that they were not afraid because his voice was so calm. No one was injured and all were rescued safely.
That's enough to get anyone their fifteen minutes of fame. But then more info started to come out about Sully. He runs a consulting business on the side. For airline safety. He has years of experience and is one of the foremost knowledgeable in his field. Yes, sir. If you're going to land your plane on a river, this is the man you want in the driver's seat.
And then I heard more information about him. Not only can he keep his head in an emergency situation, but he did exactly what he was supposed to do. And he announced it. He didn't crash in the Hudson. He landed there. Because that was the best option for his passengers to survive.
He made the rounds of the talk shows. In these interviews he's repeatedly said that too much attention has been on him and not enough on his crew. Because they wouldn't have had such a good outcome without their calm, professional actions. He's a guy who shares glory. He truly seems too good to be true.
Now, I'm sure that someone somewhere has been investigating Sully's past as soon as he became a public figure. If there's a discrepancy in his taxes, or an affair hidden in his past, it will surface eventually. Not that it will have anything to do with his heroic efforts to save his passengers. It's just that some people aren't satisfied until they've found some dirt in the pool.
But in the meantime, this seems to be a genuinely nice guy. A nice guy that had no idea the tag "Hero Pilot" would be attached to him before the end of the day on January 15th. He had no time to polish up his reputation or sweep a few indiscretions under the rug. Fame hit him suddenly, and so far his reputation has been able to stand up to the onslaught. Moral of the story? Live your life the right way now. You never know when your fifteen minutes of fame might start. You don't want to be unprepared.
By the way, Sully had a library book with him on that plane, but it was ruined in the landing. The book? "Professional Ethics". The library is waving his fees. But then again, this guy will probably pay them anyway.