In riveting testimony before a congressional oversight panel, Harten recalled his emotions as he watched how bird intakes into the engines of "Cactus 1549" (Sullenberger's plane) caused the plane to loose power and disappear from his radar screen.
"The Captain said: 'We're gonna be in the Hudson.'
I asked him to repeat himself, even though I heard him just fine. I simply could not wrap my mind around those words. People don't survive landings on the Hudson River; I thought it was his own death sentence. I believed at that moment, I was going to be the last person to talk to anyone on that plane alive.
I then lost radio contact with 1549, and the target disappeared from my radar screen as he dropped below the tops of the New York City skyscrapers. I was in shock. I was sure the plane had gone down.
Less than a minute later, 1549 flickered back onto my radar scope. The aircraft was at a very low altitude, but its return to radar coverage meant that there was a possibility 1549 had regained the use of one of its engines.
Grasping at that tiny glimmer of hope, I told 1549 that it could land at EWR seven miles away on Runway 29, but I received no response. I then lost radar contact again, this time for good.
I was relieved from my position a few minutes later, as soon as it was possible. I was in no position to continue to work air traffic. It was the lowest low I had ever felt. I wanted to talk to my wife. But I knew if I tried to speak or even heard her voice, I would fall apart completely.
I settled for a hasty text message: 'Had a Crash. Not OK. Can't talk now.'
When I got home, she told me she thought I had been in a car accident. Truth was, I felt like I'd been hit by a bus."
Harten and Welsh are just two examples of the
|SOURCE Wings Of Mercy, Minnesota Inc.|
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