Local News

US Airways copilot helps launch Red Cross program

Posted June 26, 2009 10:49 p.m. EDT
Updated June 26, 2009 11:05 p.m. EDT

— When US Airways flight 1549 crash landed in New York's Hudson River in January all of its 150 passengers and crew survived.

A common refrain from the crew was how their training and teamwork paid off.

“There’s a lot of parallels between the American Red Cross and what we do as pilots – preparedness, training and teamwork and being ready to meet all eventualities when they occur,” flight 1549 copilot Jeff Skiles said.

Skies was in Raleigh on Friday to help launch American Red Cross "Ready When the Time Comes" volunteer disaster program. The program officially launches on July 1 - before the heart of the hurricane season.

Hurricane Floyd in 1999 was the last major storm that caused serious damage and destruction in the Triangle.

About 30 percent of Americans are prepared for disasters like hurricanes, according to the American Red Cross.

“Our message is constantly make a plan, build a kit, be informed and be ready,” Triangle American Red Cross Executive Director Barry Porter said.

Porter believes the Red Cross can learn key lessons of preparedness from the crew of flight 1549 and how they were ready when disaster struck.

“When we get into the cockpit, I might never have sat next to that person before,” Skiles said. “But our procedures, our training and our strict regimentation allow us to act as a team right from the very first moment we fly.”

Skiles began flying again several months ago. He remains based in Charlotte.