sully’s soaring saved souls

January 26, 2009

If I was a guy, I can almost guarantee that at some point during my many sweeping depressions, I would lapse into a reoccurring fantasy where I’m welcomed home from a heroic triumph to a parade down Main Street, USA. Children will be celebrating with streamers and confetti poppers and some form of the military would be doing a demonstration to assert the legitimacy of my act. The mayor would speak from a gazebo in the park downtown (that looks like the Gilmore Girls set) and the president of the high school glee club would sing the national anthem. Everyone would be holding clever signs and I would wave to every smiling face that’s chanting my name. Sometimes, it would less like Main Street and more like Anytown, but always, everyone would be chanting. It is such an ego-boosting dream to be a hometown hero; filling our quinticentially American need for social acceptance while finally giving all those years of underpaid tireless labor a slightly better emotional payoff.
Anyway, I’m not a guy (I guess the girl-quivelant would be the fantasy of being a princess of some sort in a castle of another sort, trapped—the damsel in distress), but I think I can safely say that this kind of shit never happens. No one parades their beauty queens and crimefighters down the streets anymore. These are images. The only reason I know that this is even plausible is because I’ve seen them played out in John Cusak movies and on TV and this is more what I assume depressed fifteen year-old virgins dream about (but with more Victoria’s Secret catalog models) than what actually ever happens.

And with all this skepticism and American Dream bullshit fantasies swirling around in my head from watching the Family Guy episode where Quagmire gets a key to the city after giving CPR to a woman he was spying on in the dressing room and Peter is proclaimed a “local hero” for saving someone from a burning building, I come across the story of “hero pilot” Chelsey B. Sullenberger, III.

A week and a half ago, Sully—as he is affectionately known—landed a US Airways passenger plane into the Hudson River after both engines were disabled by a run-in with a flock of birds. Captain Sully had less than two minutes to decide what to do, but his 40 years of flying experience and quick thinking saved the lives of all 155 on board.

Yesterday, Sully returned home to Danville, California and received the exact kind of cliché welcome that every John Cusak movie has had me thinking men dream about. According to the L.A. Times article, Saturday’s homecoming festivities were attended by a “cheering crowd of thousands” and featured an “outdoor ceremony replete with brass and marching bands, bagpipes, plaques and proclamations, and a slew of speeches by local officials.” A retired fighter pilot in a P-51 Mustang flew overheard and children waved American flags and held alliterated signs.

It was everything I envisioned could never happen and more. Yesterday, Sully, you lived the fucking dream. Even though everything else written about you discusses your modesty, I bet your ego is bigger than that plane you successfully landed because for this moment—in your little town of Danville—you are the man.
So enjoy your recognition (and that bonus on your next paycheck) because you’ve achieved the impossible ideal and are living the dream. Don’t try to think about how much everyone would have hated you if your emergency landing on an icy river killed everyone, just relish in the fact that it didn’t and know that every other teen movie-nerdy guy wishes he could be you right now.

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