Imagine having the chance to look death in the face, and then within a matter of minutes, be given the good fortune to walk away with a life-changing experience.

This is the story of Ric Elias, the passenger in seat 1D on US Airways flight 1549, on January 15, 2009. It may just give you some insights into what that’s really like.

You may remember that this was the famous flight that lost both its engines from bird strikes just seconds after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York City.

Its skillful pilot, Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger (who, because of this flight and its eventually successful, fatality-free crash landing, was awarded the Master’s Medal of the Guild of Air Pilots) flew the plane like a glider and brought it down silently in the Hudson River, right beside the ferry terminals. 1

Within four minutes, boats were on the scene to pluck the passengers out of the icy water within. The flight went down in American history as “the Miracle on the Hudson3.”

From time to time on Ever Widening Circles, we share articles that beg the question: “can we truly learn from the experiences of others?

All 155 people on the airplane that day survived to live life with new insight. Mr. Elias’s story is both gripping and positive, and in his discussion on the TED stage he explains that, if we listen to his wisdom, we don’t have to personally survive such a harrowing experience to take away three simple messages:

Via: TED  2

Why Elias’ experience was life changing…

You might need a little refresher course on that remarkable landing and outcome. If so, here’s a flight simulation from Trial Graphics and 3D Animation with the actual cockpit recording embedded into the flight pattern shown in the animation. It’s simply unbelievable…

This leaves us with one more question:

Can we learn from Ric Elias’ advice, and make it life changing without a narrow-miss of our own?

Stay open, curious and hopeful!

~ Dr. Lynda

If you’d like to find more insightful, positive articles like this…

Just scroll down to the bottom of this page to find more related articles, or check out our homepage to check out our latest articles, circles, and archives! Even better, subscribe (it’s free!) below to receive the latest from EWC right to your inbox!

Support Us on Patreon!


  1. “2009: Airplane Crash-Lands into Hudson River; All Aboard Reported Safe.” CNN, Cable News Network, 11 Aug. 2016, Accessed 4 Dec. 2018
  2. “3 Things I Learned While My Plane Crashed | Ric Elias.” YouTube. TED, 26 Apr. 2011. Web. 16 Aug. 2017. <>.
  3. “Hudson River Plane Landing (US Airways 1549) Animation with Audio.”YouTube. Trial Graphics and 3D Legal Animations, 6 Feb. 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <>.

Dr. Lynda is a dentist, artist, global traveler, and philanthropist who looks for potential and shares it with the world. Hear her latest conversations with thought leaders on the Conspiracy of Goodness Podcast--new episodes every Wednesday!