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Future of Travel

“Sully” Pilots the Airline Industry Into the Future of Health and Safety

Photos: Courtesy of NTSB and Michael Collopy

Since Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger performed the astonishing feat now known as the “Miracle on the Hudson,” he’s been speaking out about safety within the aviation industry as well as how to best improve health practices. Now that he has more of a platform, he uses it to increase awareness about certain procedures and act as a mouthpiece for the industry.

Sully says, “I learned to fly 50 years ago, and the Wright Brothers first flew 114 years ago this December. So I’ve been involved in aviation for 44 percent of its entire history, and I know what works and what doesn’t. Now I just have a greater voice about things I’ve cared about my entire life.”

Health and wellness

Air travel can take a toll on your health, particularly if you aren’t mindful of what you’re eating and don’t regularly exercise. As with most facets of life, having a more pleasant flying experience boils down to those basic health rules. Remaining active and keeping a healthy lifestyle can make the effects of altitude and jet lag that may be experienced from time zone changes more bearable.  

Sully advises, “I think whatever you do, whether you travel or not, to have the fullest life you can, it helps to be active. To remain active and be fit; to move around; to stretch your limits in terms of strength and flexibility; to try to eat right; to try to do something physically active every day, even if it’s to take the stairs instead of the elevator.”

Additionally, by heading outdoors often and exercising your body, you have the added bonus of mental exertion, which Sully refers to as our “creative reserves.”

“We literally walk outside and remember there’s a whole big, beautiful world out there and don’t just react to what’s in front of us and react to the problems in the forefront of our consciousness,” he says. “We change the way we look at the world; we change our perspective about viewing issues.”

Responsible passengers

In terms of safety, Sully advises that the most important thing is to remember that “we have a civic duty to be responsible, be knowledgeable and not to do things that are going to harm others.”

Drawing from his own experiences and observations, he notes that one mistake he always sees passengers make is trying to take luggage with them after an incident occurs. Doing so is irresponsible and can lead to others getting hurt. And besides, on his Hudson flight, Sully notes that “it was only the people who tried to take some of their luggage outside the airplane with them during the evacuation that didn’t get all their luggage back.”

Sully is confident in the progress the aviation industry and its safety protocol has made over the years, noting that this current period is the safest that air travel has ever been. In fact, there hasn’t been a passenger fatality on a flight since the Colgan flight 3407 in Buffalo in February 2009.

He also proudly speaks of his involvement in making air travel into a more team-oriented profession, a deviation from the days of “arrogant [pilots that] didn’t listen to anyone else.” He says, “I helped to develop, implement and teach the very first such leadership team-building course at my airline. I taught the very first one at my company.”

With his passion for aviation, one that has been embedded in him since early childhood, it’s reassuring to know that there are pilots like Captain Sully flying the skies.

Nicole Ortiz, [email protected]

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