Pat Shingleton: "Into the Hudson and Frozen Fingers..."
On January 14, 2009 a storm system sent gusty winds to New York with light snow showers. On the following day, calm, cold weather was reported. Due to de-icing delays in Pittsburgh, US Airways Flight 1549 left LaGuardia Airport at 3:25 p.m. bound for Charlotte. Less than 2 minutes after takeoff, at an altitude of 2,900 feet, a flock of Canadian geese struck the aircraft knocking-out both engines and sending the 150,000 pound Airbus A320 into a glide. The plane was descending over the Bronx at 1,000 feet per minute and the plane’s Captain made a decision never before performed – ditching in the Hudson River. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles safely off-loaded their passengers in 35 degrees and a wind chill value of 11. From the river to cold hands. Miriam Johnson was our piano teacher and her three worst students were me and my brothers Denis and Michael. More interested in sports than classical music, it was a challenge for Mom to ensure that daily practices were completed. Saturday morning’s lesson included a mile walk to Miriam’s house on Spring Ave in all types of weather. January winter’s were tricky, regardless of how “bundled” you were for the journey. Inevitably our hands were fresh frozen when we reached the side door to her home. Therapy for frozen hands included a regimen of running cold water onto your digits, followed by warm then hot. I’m not sure if she charged my Mom extra for the water before we “tickled the ivories.”
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