On January 15, 2009, US Airways 1549 departing LaGuardia airport hit a flock of geese, causing the extremely rare loss of both engines. What followed became known as the Miracle on the Hudson in which all 155 people on board miraculously survived, although the geese didn’t fare quite so well. The recent movie “Sully” has become a Christmas favorite because we all love miracles, especially at Christmastime.
Largely forgotten in the celebration of flight 1549 was the tragedy that happened less than one month later on February 12th when Colgan flight 3407 crashed into a New York house killing all 49 on board and one person in the house. While the US Airways pilots reacted perfectly to a terrible situation, the pilots of 3407, after noticing a dangerous accumulation of ice on the wings, proceeded to commit a series of errors that led to their tragic outcome. The 1549 pilots, Sully and Skiles, will forever be heroes for their courageous actions while the Colgan pilots, Renslow and Shaw, have become sadly immortalized in aviation flight training material as examples of what not to do.
An article by Sam Weigel in a flying magazine contrasted these two accidents, comparing the emergencies they faced and the pilot’s responses. He spoke of the highly acclaimed pilot training program of US Airways and the extensive and unique preparations of both Sully and Skiles. It compared this to the relative inexperience and poor training of the Colgan pilots as well as an atmosphere of cost cutting that existed at the now defunct Colgan airlines.
In conclusion, Mr. Weigel made a profound statement that applies far beyond these two accidents. He said, “US Airways 1549 was not a miracle. It was a return on a long term investment. Colgan 3407 was the natural result of when such investments are lacking.” In my lifetime of teaching financial principles, I have never come across a truer principle.
It has been said that miracles happen when preparation meets opportunity. The miracle on the Hudson only became a miracle because two pilots had paid the high price of preparation. Sadly, Colgan air could have been a miracle too, had the pilots made the proper investment to make it happen.
Many have told me it would take a miracle for them to ever save enough money to retire. I can tell you I have seen that miracle hundreds of times throughout my career as I have watched people of modest means invest years of discipline into making that miracle happen.
Christmas is a time of celebrating miracles but let us not forget the part we play in making those miracles possible in our own lives. Specifically to this column, if we prepare ourselves financially, then we open the door for financial miracles to occur. If, however, we are unprepared and choose instead to live on “hope” that things will turn out for us, then we will likely live our lives wondering why the miracles always seem to happen to someone else.
Hi, I'm Dan. I'm a CFP® Professional.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®.
Member www.finra.org / www.sipc.org , a Registered Investment Advisor. Wyson Financial, 1173 S. 250 W. Suite 505, St. George, UT 84770.
This communication is strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AZ,CA,CO,DC,FL,HI,ID,IL,KS,KY,MA,MI,MN,MO,MT,NE,NM,NV,OH,OR,SD,TX,UT,VA,WA,WY. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.