"Miracle Maneuvers"

Ben Bostic (’01) Remembers his Near-Death Experience with “Sully”

Out the window of his airplane, Gardner-Webb University alumnus Ben Bostic stared straight down at the Hudson River near New York City. Just seconds earlier, he had heard a booming noise, felt a jarring motion, sensed a burning smell and noticed one of the aircraft’s engines was in flames. Then he heard a voice on the cabin speaker: “This is your captain. Brace for impact.”

Bostic, who earned his Bachelor of Science in Information Systems through GWU’s Degree Completion Program in 2001, occupied seat 20A on U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on that day, Jan. 15, 2009. He was on his way back to Charlotte, N.C. after a business trip. But just moments after departing from LaGuardia Airport in New York, his plane struck a flock of geese, causing both engines to lose power. The captain, Chesley Sullenberger, led a series of quick maneuvers to land the craft in the river below.

After crashing into the water, metal from the plane crumpled around Bostic and the other nearly 150 passengers and crew on board. Cold water quickly flowed into the vessel. But despite a number of injuries, everyone on board escaped and survived. The events that day have now widely become known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

A film based on Sully’s autobiography and bearing his name has been recognized by critics and audiences as one of the best of 2016, bringing with it memories of the “Miracle” for Bostic and other passengers and crew of Flight 1549.

“(When something like this happens) it disrupts your whole world view and belief system up to that point,” Bostic shared. “But it taught me to be true to myself, not try to make everyone happy, live a more inspiring life, be more positive and optimistic than I was, especially when it comes to challenges in life.”