TRAVERSE CITY — First Flight Officer Jeff Skiles had no idea how much the next few moments would change his life when he spotted a formation of Canada geese headed directly toward US Airways Flight 1549.
Skiles, who served under Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, assisted in successfully landing their disabled aircraft on the Hudson River, and became forever linked to the story that gained international attention.
Skiles will speak about this harrowing experience, as well as his history as a flight instructor and commercial pilot, during An Evening with Aviators March 14, sponsored by Aviation Explorers and Traverse City Area Public School’s Sci-Ma-Tech program.
“Skiles’ story is sure to pique some interest in aviation science and technology,” said Bill Donberg, assistant chief flight instructor and NMC’s aviation division.
Donberg also serves as a board member for Aviation Explorers, a group that holds monthly events to encourage students ages 12-19 to become interested in aviation science and technology. Sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association, Northwestern Michigan College, U.S. Coast Guard and Boy Scouts of America, the group provides hands-on learning experiences, as well as speakers who share their love of aviation.
“We are extremely lucky to have someone like Jeff Skiles coming to speak to our group,” Donberg said.
Toby Tisdale, director of the Sci-Ma-Tech program, sees his students benefiting from hearing about the problem-solving and quick thinking Skiles exhibited on Flight 1549.
“He definitely had to be in the moment, thinking on his feet and that is something we all can learn from,” Tisdale said.
Tisdale said his students, many of whom are studying engineering and technology, will have an opportunity to see where their academic studies can take them.
“Aviation may be something that they had not considered,” he said.
The program also will feature Trevor Janz, a pilot and member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, who earned his private pilot license at the age of 17 and manages all EAA chapters and the Eagles Flight programs.
An Evening with Aviators begins Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Traverse City Central High School auditorium. Admission is $5 and open to the public. Space is limited and advance registration is required. To register, or for more information about Aviation Explorers, visit www.234.eaachapter.org
Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Aviation Explorers scholarship fund, allowing two area students to attend a two-week EAA Air Academy summer camp in Oshkosh, Wis.