It’s been almost a decade since Sully Sullenberger pulled off his famous emergency landing of an Airbus A320 on the Hudson River after a bird strike shut down its engines, but today he may have finally gotten a worthy successor: When a full-grown goose got stuck in this man’s mouth, he sprinted straight into the Hudson River.
The torch has officially been passed!
Just like Captain Sullenberger on that chilly January afternoon in 2009, New York native Erik Hardy began his day with no idea what fate had in store for him. But when a low-flying Canada goose rammed itself directly into his open mouth as he yawned during a stroll through Central Park, Hardy didn’t give in to panic and confusion. He just quickly and calmly reoriented himself to the Northwest and began running at full tilt toward the safety of the Hudson River.
Carefully darting past cyclists and weaving through tour groups, Hardy dashed his way out of the park with a grace beyond what most of us could achieve on a good day, let alone with 8.9 pounds of terrified Canada goose struggling furiously in our mouths. He never once lost his cool during his brisk but controlled sprint to the Hudson, effortlessly hurdling obstacles and ignoring the thrashings of the goose lodged partway into his esophagus.
Not since the heroic Sully Sullenberger before him has anyone ever shown such levelheaded resolve in the face of an impact with a Canada goose.
After successfully dodging through rush hour traffic on the Henry Hudson Parkway, Hardy still had to ease himself and the adult female Canada goose in his mouth into the frigid river itself. Splashdown had been the diciest part of Sully’s Miracle on the Hudson, but Hardy handled the entry with skill, taking several long strides down the rocky shoreline and swiftly wading into the murky waters until the muffled honking from his chest faded and his body sank entirely out of view. Some bystanders saw a goose leg briefly stick out of the water, but it went back under and hasn’t come up since.
“I was biking on the greenway when suddenly this guy with a goose in his mouth comes tearing out in front of me,” said Beth Parker, a cyclist who witnessed Hardy’s stunning maneuver firsthand. “At first I was freaked out, but when I saw that calm determination in his eyes, I realized he was in total control of the situation. When he and the goose finally disappeared underwater, everyone around just cheered. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”
Hardy’s expert recovery from an unexpected bird strike stands among the finest feats of instinct New York has ever seen, but not unlike his predecessor Captain Sullenberger, he’s trying to stay out of the public spotlight and hasn’t been seen since plunging himself into the Hudson. We’d love to give Hardy a round of applause, but if he’d rather just relax by himself with some peace and quiet, he’s more than earned it after such a magnificent showing of grace under pressure.
Erik Hardy, our hats are off to you! We hope that someday you and Sully can sit down for a drink so he can finally swap goose stories with a true equal.