In the realm of work, there’s a perception that people over sixty (or fifty or even forty) have had their day. They need to make way for younger people, bursting with energy.
So we tend to be oblivious of the obvious: along with the gray hair and many years on the job comes experience, invaluable experience.
We witnessed a stunning example of this reality on January 15, 2009, when Captain Chesley Sullenberger, days away from his 58th birthday, safely landed an Airbus A320 airplane in the Hudson River.
We all know the story: the bird strike just after takeoff, disabling both engines; the rapid loss of altitude; the decision to land in the water; the flawless ditching which left the airplane intact; and the survival of all on board.
New York Governor David Paterson–no doubt caught up in the emotion of the event–pronounced it a “Miracle on the Hudson.” It seems to me, though, that we need not invoke divine intervention to explain what happened that afternoon.
Let’s give credit where credit is due! And the credit goes to Captain Sullenberger, with over 40 years of experience as a pilot; First Officer Jeff Skiles; and the flight attendants on Flight 1549.
It’s interesting to note that it’s been only about 18 months since the mandatory retirement age for pilots was raised from 60 to 65. For years the “Age 60 Rule” had been defended on the grounds of the physical and mental decline presumed to commence on or shortly after a pilot reached his or her 60th birthday.