Here is a story about strengths and resilience in action:

On January 15, 2009, US airways flight 1549 took off from New York heading to Charlotte, North Carolina. Shortly after take-off, Captain Chelsey Sullenberger (known as ‘Sully’) radioed air traffic control to report that the plane had been hit by a large flock of seagulls. As a result, both engines were disabled. The air traffic controller suggested returning to the airport, or landing in another airport in New Jersey. Sully quickly calculated that both options were not possible and simply said back: “We’ll be in the Hudson!” The Hudson is a large river in New York but attempting to land a plane there was an extremely difficult task.

Nevertheless, Sully managed to skilfully and successfully land the plane in the river. But the danger wasn’t over as the captain and crew had to get all the passengers off safely as the plane was surrounded by and was beginning to sink into the dark and frigid waters of the Hudson. Despite the danger, the crew managed to evacuate everyone safely including an infant and an elderly woman in a wheelchair. How did they do this? According to the reports of the passengers the crew remained calm and worked as a team. The passengers too, as they made their way to the exits did so without panic or rush.

Everyone exited onto the wings and down the emergency chutes. The evacuation took place in really harsh conditions – cold winter weather and even colder water. A number of people fell into the water, where they would have died of hypothermia within minutes but were courageously pulled from the river by their comrades. Sully patrolled twice up and down the aisles of the plane to make sure no one was left behind before eventually exiting himself.

Coastguard vessels, tour boats, and commuter ferries responded to the crisis by fishing people off the jetliner and giving the victims their coats, gloves and hats to prevent hypothermia.

The whole episode is a remarkable example of courage and teamwork. People came together to act courageously and rise to a challenge. What is remarkable about the rescue is that we see the power of combined courage, or compassionate courage where a number of people act bravely for the good of others.


What does this story teach us about resilient action?

What morals or values are evident from this rescue tale? (Altruism, for example)

Which of these values resonates with you the most? Why?

Courage and teamwork were two strengths or resources that were used to solve the problem on the plane. What other ones can you spot that were used by Sully and the people involved?

Pick one of these strengths and see if you can think of an opportunity to exercise this strength in some area of your life this week. Imagine yourself doing it. What would it feel like?

Carry out this strengths exercise and then reflect or report back to someone about how it went. Remember, that every time you exercise a strength it grows stronger.