The highly publicized movie of “the miracle on the Hudson” starring Tom Hanks as “Sully” Sullenberger was entertaining but filled with flaws Here are a few:

In an opening scene Hanks has his wedding band on the right ring finger and the Air force Academy “table knocker” on the left hand. In future scenes the rings were reversed’

A flight attendant forced a passenger to jump into the frigid water.  The temperature was 36 degrees F. The time of survival in this water was about one minute. They showed him thrashing in the water 5 minutes later. His wet clothing would have dragged him under in a very short period of time. An implausible scene but it did add to the drama.

Since I am an ex-F-4 Phantom pilot I loved the F-4 flight scene. The wild oscillations were attention-getting. It was also an overplayed implausible bit of non-reality; great “theatre” unless you are a retired pilot harboring a lot of skepticism.

The most illogical scene involved Sully wandering the streets of Manhattan a few hours after the incident and going into a sleazy neighborhood bar for a drink. I think his ALPA union lawyers would have prevented such lunacy.

There were several reruns of the actual landing in the river. One was enough. Also the high rate of descent prior to impact was unlikely. Sully had glider experience and his skill level would (or should) have resulted in a low speed, low sink rate landing. Several brief scenarios revealed the aircraft at a very low altitude traveling at what looked to be at least 300 knots. Not realistic!

The phone conversations between Sully and his wife were overplayed. It added very little to the movie. The NTSB meetings were also overplayed. I doubt if a room filled with at least 50-75 people who were all wired actually occurred—but it was good

An additional technical error involved a view of the right engine instruments rolling back and the pilots said “one is rolling back.” the professional pilot verbiage should have been “engine number two is rolling back.”

Co-pilot Jeff Skiles was not at the controls during impact but his assistance as co-pilot was down-played until the end of the movie when Sully said “we were all a team.”

While Sully was the Captain and we should not diminish his yeoman efforts, the rest of the flight crew were equally heroic. I met Sully at the Oshkosh Air show a few months after the incident and he exhibited a very soft-spoken, self-effacing demeanor. He has accepted the hero’s role very graciously since he understands that 19 out of 20 Airbus pilots would have made the same decision to land in the Hudson River—a total no-brainer—and the final results would have been very similar, with 155 survivors.

I only scratched the surface of the pilot’s perspective of implausible scenarios but Sully is worth the admission and will provide a few adrenalin spikes. My review of the movie “Sully” was a bit nit-picky but I did enjoy the movie.

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  1. Jerry September 22, 2016 at 12:16 pm #


    I enjoyed your critique of the movie even with the technical liberties that you noted, but as you said, it was great ‘theater’. I really couldn’t believe that he would end up in a sleezy bar but, again, great ‘theater’ and it is Hollywood and they do have to drag it out. I thought Hanks was great as he always is. I did immediately wonder about the guy jumping into the river and remembered that you could only live a few minutes in water that cold.
    All in all a very good movie and a good revue on your part.

  2. JC Hughes September 24, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

    Good review Al. How are you? I’ve been home from that horror show at GSW for a year now. It was so good to get home. Now I’m getting the itch to go back to work. Would believe!
    Hope your well,

    • allen morris January 4, 2018 at 9:12 am #

      Hi JC.
      Sorry about the late response but I am an incorrigible procrastinator and I just cam across this review. Thanks for the input.
      Al Morris/aka Ace Abbott

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