The student blog for Drake University first year seminar entitled Visual Politics

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hudson River Crash

On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 made an emergency landing in the Hudson River shortly after takeoff. I thought it was phenomenal that all of the people on the plane survived.
      Americans everywhere saw the picture that day. I feel as though the image I chose from that day even has a lot of semiotic transcriptions. One of the codes (probably one of the most obvious codes) deals with an American tragedy. Plane crashes are no stranger to the people of America, especially only eight years after the attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York City. I feel this crash was very relatable for any resident of New York City that was there on September 11, 2001. They might have been thinking something was happening again, although it ended up just being mechanical difficulties. Some may say the plane should never have been okayed for takeoff, but nonetheless it departed.
      Another code that could be brought up from this picture would be a sense of heroism. There were several people who came out into the Hudson River that day to help all the survivors of Flight 1549. As the plane was sinking, there were people coming out in boats to bring these people to shore. All the passengers standing on the wings of the plane were heroes also. They could have reacted a lot more chaotically, but they all stayed fairly calm and came together to survive the crash. The pilot of the plane himself was also a hero for all the people on that flight. He could have freaked out and crashed the plane, killing himself and all the passengers on the plane. He did the complete opposite. He used his training to stay calm and successfully land the airplane safely in the Hudson River. I feel the sense of heroism that comes from this picture is not only a semiotic transcription, but also shows civic performance.
      There is, however, also a contradiction and crisis presented between these two codes. Both codes are clearly there, but they definitely portray two different codes of semiotic transcriptions. One code is portraying a tragedy; a plane crashing due to mechanical difficulties minutes after landing. Another codes is portraying a sense of heroism; a pilot successfully completing an emergency landing in the Hudson River.
Kelli Riesberg

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