Today I finished one of my new favorite books, as title portrays it is the autobiography written by Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters book. I wouldn’t be surprised if a handful of you out there reading this have also taken the time to reward yourself with a read such as this one. I got this book from my parents for Christmas last year, and I am sad that it took me this long to finally get the time to read it. I finally had enough, I just had to read this book. I read and read during my study hall each day until I finished it [today]. I must say that there are a lot of books out there that a person can go through life and forget they had ever read, but this book is not one of those. I can’t account for everyone that has read this book, but from my very recent experience engulfing myself in Capt. Sullenberger’s life for a week of reading I was filled with every emotion possible.
Although I have an overwhelming gratitude and amazement for what the crew of Flight 1549 (flight that safely landed in the Hudson in 2009) did that day when they were faced with a dire situation, I can not write about that in detail here or else I would be typing for days upon days. I would like however, to thank them from the deepest place in my heart. Flying has always been a win-win-win, loss type of game. What I mean by this is when air travel is at it’s best, is when no one is talking about it. But when there is even a minor crash, that instant the general public frowns on aviation and questions the actual “safety” of flight. I think every pilot in America, when given the news on January 15, 2009 of the safe water landing piloted by Capt. Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles, they all had a sigh of relief for a change. So many times when the media covers an aviation related crash, the in-direct cause of it echoes to the lives of all pilots. They start to get questioned by their friends, family, co-workers about how safe their flying abilities really are. But on that winter day in January the two men in the front of that water bound Airbus, gave pilots an unusual sense of pride for once. That is why I want to thank them, they made the whole world assured that the pilots in the cockpit of the aircraft they get on, are usually professional and good at what they do.
Capt. Sullenberger describes more than just that flight in his book with a bi line of My search for what really matters, he describes his entire life in a 300+ page autobiography. I am sure there isn’t enough pages in the world to describe his life in full, but he did a wonderful job by putting the reader (me) in his shoes. When he was sad I was sad, when he smiled I found myself smiling. I am proud that although he was faced with many road blocks in his journey of life, he never once made me feel sorry for him. Instead he took the hardships of dealing with loosing his mother and father, and found the positive out of what they gave him in life.
After reading this book, I will forever have an odd but unique bond with this guy. Although we have never met and most likely we never will, I can relate to his personal struggles with family members. It has always been a hard road but I have been able to embrace it and not let it get me down. He approached it similarly as well, which emotionally struck me. I forever will be inspired by this book to live my life out in a more gracious and full way. You only have one life to live on this earth and I now realize that living is not just about what you can achieve, but who you can achieve it with. Capt. Sullenberger talked on many occasions his struggles with his marriage due to being away on trips and how it caused him to miss out on watching his daughters grow up at points. He managed however, and although being away there was a very prevalent love between him and his family.
Flying will forever be a lifestyle and not only a career choice. Highest Duty: My search for what really matters book runs parallels in ways to captains notes in this book. It is rare you find a pilot that got into aviation strictly for the career aspect. I had been waiting for a book to fully encompass the ups, and sometimes low low downs of a pilot’s life, and finally Capt. Sullenberger gave the world a medium into the lifestyle of a real airline pilot. I recommend this book to anyone, aviator or not, because everyone needs a little “Sully” in their life.