Fallows, who knows how to fly a plane, helps you see that this was indeed a remarkable feat. And he makes nervous flyers like myself a little spooked about ... birds:

Coastal airports are often near water; most airports are surrounded by a lot of grass; the combination means that flocks of birds often assemble where they can do themselves and the airplanes real harm. At an airport in Maryland I once aborted a takeoff in a small propeller plane -- the only time I've had to do so -- because, out of nowhere, dozens of Canada geese suddenly appeared in front of me. It's all too common, when approaching airports near water, to have to concentrate on flocks of seagulls (or crows, even away from water) in hopes that they will, by the very last instant, get out of the way and allow you to land.

And ditching in water? This is something that very few amateur or professional pilots have ever practiced for real.

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