Hello world!


Welcome to my blog. I am spurred to begin seeing an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River. I am in Los Angeles and no longer a reporter for CNN, and so I am feeling my first twinge of transition to a new career. I am inviting my friends who know things about airplanes to weigh in here. At first blush, it seems as if the crew performed heroically after a bird strike. – MOB


50 Responses to “Hello world!”

  1. Mr WordPress Says:

    Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.

  2. Jon Says:

    CNN is really missing out on your abilities. The coverage was terrible in my view.

    As a pilot, I would like to offer this…

    The story is becoming clearer with time. It appears that BOTH engines of the Airbus 320 operated by USAIRWAYS were damaged
    by ingesting birds. It is unclear if both engines completely failed, or were just reduced in ability to provide thrust to sustain

    THE TWO pilots recognized that any attempt to land on dry land would endanger the population of new york.

    The hudson river proved as good a landing spot as any. The dense water traffic was a saving grace with skilled sailors
    coming to the rescue within minutes of landing.

    Contrary to popular opinion, Jet Airliners can glide pretty darn well. for every 1000 feet above the ground, the plane
    can go 3 miles or so.

    A landing on water uses many of the skills used in a normal landing. Keeping the nose up and the wings level is pretty vital.
    It appears from reports that the flight attendants were not notified that the landing would be on water. It appears that
    many of the passengers had not paid attention to the departure safety briefing as many didn’t have the installed life vests on as they exited the plane.

    Exiting on to the wing is a normal thing to do in this situation. The plane is designed to float with the wings awash.
    I call upon the FAA and NTSB to retest the type of engine involved by shooting larger birds into the intake to see how they react.

    The Pilot has been called a hero. In flying, the true heroes are the ones who don’t make headlines. The pilot, copilot(who had been a captain himself, demoted only for cutbacks since 9-11) did their job. Nothing more or less. I would like to think that any airline pilot would have
    done as well in this situation. The flight attendants did their job too, with one sustaining leg injuries. USAIRWAYS crews from the Eastern
    division are among the most experienced in the world. While some airlines have captains with 7 years experience, the copilot alone
    had been with the airline for 23 years. This experience is due to cutbacks at this airline…perhaps a blessing in disguise.

    It is the job of the captain to insure that all have been evacuated.

    I would also point out that jet fuel floats and aided in the buoyancy after landing.

    I encourage all passengers to PAY ATTENTION to the safety briefing. The card in the seat back ahead of you has many bits of information
    including what to do in a water landing *which we call: DITCHING.

  3. Jon Says:

    I would also like to point out that the pilots involved in this crash, as well as thousands of other pilots, have taken massive
    pay cuts and lost 75% of their pensions due to events related to the 9-11 attack. I would like to see
    a federal bailout of their lost pay and pensions…don’t you think they are worth it?

  4. Mark E Says:

    Welcome to the blogosphere Miles!

  5. Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer Says:

    Hi Miles! Just checking in. I have little knowledge of airplanes except for the physics with a smattering of fluid dynamics. But if you need an astronomer for any reason in your new career, I’m your guy.

  6. Shaun Daily Says:

    Yes this will get all us to pay attention to those pesky before flight instructions..

    Also we have to be aware of the exits etc prior to the plane taking off..

    Hope those people on the plane in the Hudson realize how lucky there are to be alive !!

    You are sorely missed on TV, Miles..


  7. Justin Rosenberg (jsryclist) Says:

    I would like to agree w/ @Jon about the safety card not being studied enough by passengers. As someone who is (irrationally) scared to fly, but still does so quite often, EVERY time I get on a plane, I learn everything I can about that plane, from the type of engines, to safety procedures, etc. I guess it stems from a love/fear relationship with aviation. (I grew up w/ my father working for Eastern, so I was always flying, yet, every time, I still get the jitters — weird yes, but it’ll never stop me from getting on a plane!)

    Cheers & Good Luck w/ the New Blog,

    Justin R.
    Deerfield Beach, FL

  8. kitty421 Says:

    I am not an expert on flying. Wanted to express my appreciation to the airline crew for navigating a challenging situation. It was nice to have a happy ending.

    Best wishes to Miles O’Brien, as well.

  9. spacewriter Says:

    Hey Miles, CCPetersen here — welcome to the blog-o-sphere!

    Agree with the comments about the pilots above. I hate to think that the people whose hands we place our lives in each time we fly have been so poorly treated by the corps and government (not to mention the ATC folks).

  10. Susan Says:

    I agree with Jon that CNN is really missing out but I also believe you will better off in the long run for havng left that network. Your talents far exceed their worthiness.

    As for the Cpt and FO of the United flight, hats off for a great ditching, cabin crew, great job! People forget that the flight attendants are actually there to help keep you safe and not just get you a beer or diet coke. They are highly trained professionals that have seen their numbers dwindle in this economy while trying to survive in an ever changing and increasingly volatile climate, domestically and international.

    We see so many negative stories about the aviation industry, it is refreshing to see a positive one. I hope some other good can come of this incident and with fuel prices on the decline maybe stories like this one will instill some confidence and get people flying again.

    Just because something is “your job” doesn’t mean you are good at it and few would be considered the best. Where is it written that a Cpt is inherently a good leader or will show courage under pressure? A leadership position does not make you a leader just look at Wall Street. What the crew of that flight did to maintain order and keep everyone calm is because of THAT particular Cpt and his abilities. HE does deserve credit and thanks for turning a potentially tragic event into a study of what to do in a crisis. He deserves the praise and thanks for saving those lives and so much more.

  11. Ruth Says:

    I agree with Jon that CNN is suffering a brain drain since your departure. I was disappointed with the commentary after the Miracle on the Hudson. You always explained your stories so that average “working people”, like me could relate and get educated. Thanks Jon for your top notch analysis. This is what we “Miles” fans are accustomed to. This is one blog I will sucribe to post haste.

  12. The Mad LOLScientist, FCD Says:

    CNN’s loss is the blogosphere’s gain. Hope you tweet your blog entries!

  13. Bill Simmon Says:

    Yay! CNN’s loss is the blogosphere’s gain!

    I like the angle on the US Air ditch story that it’s a validation of America’s labor unions…

  14. Barbara Rademacher Says:


    I know nothing about airplanes, but I am a fan of yours. I am writing this brief comment to give you my full support. I will be following your blog, your tweets and your career.

  15. Guillermo Sohnlein Says:

    Jon brings up an interesting point. Not to take away from the actions of the entire US Airways crew, but I have never understood why we insist on labeling people as “heroes” when they are simply doing their jobs. Granted, often they are doing extraordinary jobs in extremely trying conditions that most “normal” people would never have to deal with AND often their actions deeply impact others, but at the end of the day they are simply doing their jobs. It’s what they’re trained for. It’s what they’re paid for. It’s what they’re expected to do.

    As a former Marine, I know that my colleagues would always cringe when receiving awards, decorations, or recognition for “heroism” especially during combat. I’ve had the honor of meeting several “winners” of the Congressional Medal of Honor, and almost every single one of them resents the label of “hero.” Marines are trained for combat, we get paid to succeed in dangerous situations, and we are expected–no, required–to lay down our lives in defense of our country. Speaking only for the many fellow Marines I’ve served with and met over the years, I believe that rather than being honored as “heroes” we would prefer to be thanked for doing our jobs well.

    Given what I’ve read about the professionalism of the US Airways crew, I wouldn’t be surprised if they also would prefer a simple “thank you.” (Of course, a re-instatement of their full pay and pension would also go a long way toward demonstrating gratitude!)

    I realize that this flies (no pun intended) in the face of the dictionary definition of the word: “a hero is a man (sic) of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” However, I think the media has gotten to a point where they throw about the label of “hero” far too easily.

    Honestly, I think it takes away from TRUE “heroes”, namely, people who go above and beyond the call of duty, people who do things they are not expected to do, or people who give unselfishly sacrifices that no human would think of giving. The passengers of UA Flight 93 on 9/11 certainly come to mind. Now, THOSE were “heroes”!

  16. Guillermo Sohnlein Says:

    Regarding the US Airways flight/landing itself … I fly quite a bit for business, and I notice that very few people seem to pay attention to the safety briefings or the information cards in the seat pockets. Bad move.

    Here are my personal safety tips:

    – I *always* choose a seat near an exit (doesn’t matter which one), since those have the highest survival rate. Ideally, I like the window seat in an exit row, not just so I can be the first one off the plane, but mostly so I can help the crew get everyone else off as safely as possible. How quickly those first few passengers can exit the aircraft can set the tone for how the rest of the evacuation proceeds. My second choice is an aisle seat within reaching distance of an exit row.

    – I *always* check out the passengers around me to get a gauge on who I might have to assist in case of an emergency. I introduce myself to my fellow row-mates as soon as we buckle in, if anything so we can call to each other by name during an evacuation.

    – I *always* read the info card, since every aircraft is different. Over the years, I’ve noticed something that apparently came into play with the US Airways ditching: on some aircraft, certain exits are not used during water landings. This is one of the first things I look for in the safety card. I heard an interview with one of the evacuated passengers that some folks started heading toward the tail exit, only to be turned around by the crew. Thankfully, everyone still made it out OK, but that’s something that’s clearly spelled out in the safety card.

    – I *always* check out our intended route and if possible also the weather across the entire route, so I can prepare myself for potential issues during the flight.

    – I *always* pay attention during the safety briefing, if anything just to recognize the flight attendants. Although most passengers tend to view flight attendants as the ones who cater to their needs during a flight, their REAL reason for being aboard is to assist in case of emergency. This allows the pilots to worry about the plane while the rest of the crew worries about the safety of the passengers. THAT is what they’re trained for, so I try to pay attention to them as much as possible and treat them with the respect they deserve.

    – I *always* stay awake and sober during take-off and landing, even on red-eyes. Those are the most trying times during a flight, so I want to be as alert as possible.

    – I *always* keep my shoes on during take-off and landing, just in case we have to evacuate the aircraft. Not only do I do that, but I also keep my jacket/coat on or handy. Did you notice how freezing cold every US Airways passenger was as they were waiting to be rescued out of the Hudson? Only a handful of them had coats on.

    Perhaps I’m a little paranoid to go through all this trouble, but I’d rather be prepared than not.

  17. Rob Says:

    I tuned into CNN to see Miles report on this…. It was clear they were lacking in information when it came to the reporting on this subject…

    In terms of pilots getting bailouts? Please, NO MORE BAILOUTS….

  18. Alan Says:

    I have a basic question for you Miles. Why don’t they put some sort of defection cover in front of the engine to keep birds out. How many jet engines that are housed in the tail of a plane ever get bird strikes? I gotta assume the have plenty of airflow and it seems pretty unlikely that a bird would finf its way in there.

  19. maryn Says:

    Welcome to Blogville, Miles. As a journalist, I’m very happy to see you start this. As a licensed pilot, I would love to see some coverage – no, I’m not asking you! just outpointing – of the “advanced” age of the 1549 pilot. My avionics-engineer husband was pointing out that most of the “hero” pilots – the Des Moines crash years ago where the hydraulics blew out and they controlled descent with thrust, the flight where the cargo door blew out – were very close to mandatory airline retirement ago. The ages may havebeen pushed back a bit over the years, but it is an interesting counter-trend to the “young is always better; the olds can’t learn the tech” present in so many other fields.

  20. James Says:

    Miles I thought about you. A “reporter” analyzing and reporting on this incident and a “report” who is a LICENSED PILOT reporting and analyzing this incident is 2 completely different thing.

    You would have been able to shed light to the viewers on possible cause and how the crew was able to achieve a successful landing with loss of life. I’m interested to know if the senior leadership at CNN realize the error in judgement in dissolving your department. Grant it, I don’t know the ends and outs of how/why that decision was made but I think about it sometimes.

    Anyway, it is my opinion that you are talented and I certainly learned things when you spoke. I will be one of the ones that follows you to your next adventure….whether it’s a new network or freelance.

    Fligth attendants do not get enough credit especially the flight attendants working the regional jets. They are usually younger and less experienced. Although the training is still there, majority of passengers look down on them because they’re not mainline or because they have not flown for years. It’s sad.

    I guess I want the world to know…..they are JUST AS capable and all due attention should be paid.

    Thanks Miles.


  21. Margaret Anne Says:


    welcome to the insane world of blogging. It’s fun really believe me. As for the plane crash CNN sorely missed your take on the plane crash. Can’t wait to see your documentary for PBS.

  22. amcar65 Says:

    welcome to the blogging world!
    I wish we had had your knowledge and insight during the plane crash the other day.
    We miss seeing you on tv. I will be looking forward to your upcoming PBS documentary.

    Good luck with all your future plans, and take care.

  23. Keith Cowing Says:

    Welcome to blogosphere!

  24. Warren Leary Says:

    I applaud your starting this blog and am following with interest as I have considered the same thing. This first one is quite refreshing.

  25. Jon Says:

    Jon warns the new President to keep our military air power strong. To continue the FA22 Raptor and other programs.
    Also, I think the industrial base of America needs renewing. I advocate an easily built
    simple fighter jet, non computer dependent as an emergency aircraft. And that plans, and production jigs be built and stored
    for that raing

  26. Jon Says:

    correction to above…continued: that rainy day.

    I also advocate a revitalization of our nuclear arsenal…even nuclear bombs get old.

  27. wonderingbrit Says:

    Frankly I’m amazed the Airbus let the pilot do what he wanted to do. The Airbus has a very bad if not horrific history in this regard.
    Of course the two factors that are amazing are a) in the approach of the asymmetric water landing he managed to slow the A320 enough to not smash into the water and b) looking at the CCTV from the eastern bank where we see the actual landing quite clearly is the fact that to within a single degree the A320 touched down evenly onto both engines and the rear of the fuselage at exactly the right place and angle. This is something that can not be known, trained for or even practiced. It was either shear fluke or (and I believe) many years experience and thousand of hours flying time.
    Oddly this incident wasn’t yet another shortcoming of the Airbus legacy, it was an unfortunate incident that by all normal instances should have ended in disaster.
    The bottom line is, the man at the controls saved the day and the passengers.
    It’s 12 months now since the only aircraft in the world to be designed around the ability not to crash actually had it’s first crash, I am of course talking about the Boeing 777. Yet while the 777 is by far the safest kite out there, no one expected it to crash – but then they don’t check for contaminated fuel when filling these birds up. Again, it was the hands of a pilot that made the difference. So while even the most unforeseen things may happen, I’m glad that pilots are so highly trained and skilled individuals.

  28. Robert Says:

    Goodness !! I found this site while researching some other silliness at CNN and learned that they’d let you go (AND a whole department / division).

    I will MISS your appearances on CNN, and your HELPFUL and POLITE correction of Non-Aviation anchors “babble”. I’ll be bookmarking this site.

    I still remember and “cry” at the beginning of the Air-War in Afghanistan and hearing CNN personnel ID’ing a PLAT camera image of an S-3B Viking as an “F-14 Tomcat Bomber”… I flew for 15 years with Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club (USN) and recall that WE could teach 18 yr old kids aircraft recognition in a few weeks.

    IS Sir Richard Branson still going to get you a ride on Virgin Galactic ??

  29. wonderingbrit Says:

    I totally agree – that is what is so amazing, the computer on the Airbus did not take over and screw up the pilots commands like at the Paris airshow crash and gave the pilot full and total control.

  30. milesobrien Says:

    You have to wonder if the computer shut down engines that might have still been able to provide enough thrust to get back to LGA – or make it to TEB.

  31. wonderingbrit Says:

    Indeed, from an onboard eye witness account it sounded like one engine expired completely, but to get two complete failures is almost unheard of – I certainly don’t recall one due to bird strikes, but there could be instances.
    Thankfully I have to go to work, otherwise i’d be sitting trawling through accident reports now you’ve said that lol.

  32. kathy eckhoff Says:

    hello miles,
    i still cannot believe that cnn decided to let you go. i think you were the best on cnn. i always followed your coverage on the space shuttles and your in-depth interviews with current and previous astronauts. i wondered what happened and am so glad to find you here. please continue to enlighten us and inform us on science and flight issues. thank you for all the great coverage and information. you make science and flight so interesting. cnn has certainly made a huge mistake. you rock.
    kate in california

  33. JON Says:

    I think it is important to note that the ENGINES of any modern airliner are designed to SHEAR OFF when exposed to a huge force. This is to save the structure supporting it. In this case, the wing.

    At some point in the water landing, the LEFT engine did hit the water at a force high enough to shear it off. That is why the engine ended up at the bottom of the Hudson river. If one watches the closed circuit tv footage, one can see the plane turn/yaw to the left as the left wing dug in to the water.

    It is good to know that the skill set used in a normal landing on the paved surface of a runway is largely the SAME skill set as the water landing used. Keeping the nose up and the wings level is the same on land or sea.

  34. Maquis Says:

    I’m sure You get that a lot, so I’ll cut to the point.
    It’s a shame we won’t see You on CNN – I think You were the best in this business (and that’s not only my opinion), so it’s a big loss to the space community and generally speaking – science.

    We sure hope to see You again in the future.

    P.S. Looks like I’ll be popping here now and then.


    P.S. Airbus flight software underwent series of patches if I’m not mistaken.

  35. wonderingbrit Says:

    yes, but if he landed on water at the same angle that he would land on a runway then the front of the aircraft would have been slammed into the water harder – that said, does anyone know what speed the 320 was doing when it hit the water?
    I was surprised that one engine stayed on the wing actually. But bolt tolerance does very quite a bit.
    Another thing that raised an eye brow; did anyone see any deployed life rafts?

  36. wonderingbrit Says:

    Maquis, I believe they’ve been patching the software from the beginning and managed for the most part to lose the sudden none-commanded altitude drops/decents and the low altitude thrust response issues.

  37. Cameron Says:

    I can’t believe CNN let you go and kept the inane Nancy Grace.I am
    enjoying your insghtful blog.Keep up the good work.

  38. David Snepp Says:

    Miles, missing the first few days of a big story is the worst in transitioning. But then, on the third, fourth, fifth, and fifteenth day of it, you will be enjoying dinner with friends and thinking how silly the coverage gets at time. Enjoy the relative calmness of the new career!

  39. JON Says:

    maybe we are going about this the wrong way 😉

    if we can’t stop the birds, if we can’t design an economical engine that will withstand birdstrikes…

    HOW ABOUT clearing more land for emergency landing spots near huge metro areas.

    They could use this land for a lovely park, devise a detection system for airplanes within 1000′ of the ground over the park’s approaches to turn on a siren to warn the park goers to CLEAR THE AREA for emergency landing.

    Imagine if the polo grounds were still open? When the polo grounds were open in San Francisco many years ago, I got the impression I could set something down there in one piece…might not takeoff, but down in one piece!

  40. JohnJ Says:

    Re: Miracle on the Hudson

    I have a couple of comments on the Miracle on the Hudson. And I certainly do not want to take anything away from Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, his co-pilot, and the crew for their feat.

    The first comment is that verly little credit has, in my opinion, been given to the designers and builders of the aircraft. Both Boeing and Airbus design and build excellent aircraft. And include emergency features that will seldom if ever be used. The “ditch switch” which may have been used on the aircraft that ditched into the Hudson is one such example. The auxilary power used in the “Gimli Glider” (see below) is another.

    Sullenberger’s landing on the Hudson River was certainly extraordinary given that the bird strike happened at a low altitude giving the pilots limited time to effect a successful outcome. But this is not the first time an airliner made an emergency landing on water nor an airliner was turned into an unpowered glider and flown to a safe landing, saving all aboard.

    On Oct. 16, 1956, Pan Am Flight 943 ditched into the Pacific Ocean after losing two of four engines.

    On July 23 1983, Air Canada Flight 143 ran out of fuel over Canada and was flown to a safe landing on a decommissioned airstrip in Gimli, Manitoba. Once the engines failed, an auxiliary turbine was deployed providing power to flihgt deck and allowed the “Gimli Glider” to be flown to a safe landing.

    On August 24, 2001, Air Transat Flight 236, developed a fuel leak over the Atlantic Ocean and too ran out of fuel forcing the pilots to fly the aircraft as a glider to an emergency landing in the Azores.

    Sullenberger’s successful landing on the Hudson River, though not the first such event, combined elements of the previous events, i.e. the aircraft was un-powered and was flown like a glider and the aircraft was ditched onto water.

    Thanks, Miles for your work at CNN. And for this opportunity to say so.

  41. Colin Says:

    Hi Miles, I always loved your CNN coverage of space. Sorry the small minds in big towers didn’t find the value that so many of us viewers did. Keep up the excellence in whatever you do, you’ll always have fans. We may not be able to pay your bills but sometimes the little things count.

    As a struggling musician my hope has always been to connect with a person, one, even if it’s only one. It could be some stupid sappy song I wrote at 4 AM in the morning after a breakup in confusion, but if another can relate to it, I’ve touched one person so, as far as I’m concerned, that’s one more than I wouldn’t have if I didn’t get the courage to get up on stage in the first place, as far as I’m concerned, that’s my measure of success, it’s more than putting food on the table. Your stage was much larger, your music of sorts touched on those who live in wonder, there was many, so as far as I’m concerned, you were and are, to this day, a rock star. Thanks for making such great music for so many of us geeks or just people who find interest in science and the things you talk about. Rock on Miles, rock on!

  42. Brett Says:

    What a great blog which I stumbed across when I typed into Google “what happened to Miles O’Brien”? After the crash in Buffalo I was wondering why I wasnt seeing Miles on CNN. Now I know.

    Just know that lot’s of people miss you Miles; both your specific reporting on aviation topics, and your general morning show with Soledad. I liked you delivery; you were easy on the ears.

    I have my private pilots license myself so I enjoyed your interests and expertise in flying. Just read your analysis of the Buffalo crash and found the theory about icing on the rear stablizer fascinating, along with the auto-pilot factor. Sounds like “pilot expertise” and the FAA (or lack of) could have been contributing factors too.

    Anyway, good luck to you Miles. You’re a talented guy. Maybe the Discovery Channel or the History Channel would appreciate your talents and you could do some specials for them.

  43. Rebecca Says:

    I’ve been searching and searching for Miles O’Brien and it is so good to know you are sharing your expertise with us on a Blog. You commentary has been sorely missed on several occasions and it is a shame CNN not only dismissed the entire department, but such an expert as yourself. I’ve watched as CNN put on their “non experts” and don’t quite get it, or bring in a “color reporter” or a weatherman to explain the science of these stories. You were fabulous at explaining things to anyone, even those of us who knew nothing about science, but do have a love for it.

    I wish the best for you and hope to see you on another network soon. Whatever it is, I wish you the best. You were a joy to watch. I loved you and Soledad at 3am, west coast time, on American Morning. I hope your friends at CNN were incensed at the upper “butt” management in letting you go. I like Anderson Cooper, but HE’S NOT an expert at everything and should not be the “go to” guy for everything. Maybe CNN should have let some of their “suits” go instead.

    Looking forward to following your blog and anything else you might do.

  44. klimi Says:

    I hope you find your niche in science blogging (is there such an animal?). I can’t believe CNN’s decision to dump it’s science wing. It’s not as if Science, Tech and Aerospace/Aviation are so well covered by TV news organizations. Good luck with the blogging!

  45. mark miller Says:


    Was covering the Turkish 737 incident…and stumbled across this.
    I am the reporter with Discovery channel, last time we met was PHX landing at JPL. Drop me a line.. Lets find a doc for you.

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