Davidson Day family shares ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ experience
by Staff Writer
When a truck hauling the wings of U.S. Airways Flight 1549, the airplane made famous by its miraculous emergency landing in the Hudson River, passed by exit 30 on I-77, Caroline and Jackson Spiggle watched from a highway overpass with their Davidson Day classmates.
On Jan. 15, 2009, their father, Cornelius resident Charles Spiggle, was a passenger on the flight that would later be known as “the miracle on Hudson” and turn pilot Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger into a household name. As the two children and their mother, Kelly, watched Thursday, Sept. 15, as the wings traveled to the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, where the full aircraft will be reassembled and displayed, the family reflected on how different their lives would be today had Sullenberger not made the decision to land the plane in the Hudson River.
“I think that today, I feel like I’m processing it all over again,” Kelly Spiggle said. “For two years, I have never really entertained the notion of how things could have been if things had gone differently.”
Caroline and Jackson, now in the fifth and second grades, were outside of the Davidson Public Library, where they planned to view some of Caroline’s artwork on display, when their mother received a phone call from their father, who was on the flight traveling from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Charlotte Douglas International.
“He said, ‘My plane has crashed. I’m out on the Hudson River on a life raft, but please pray that the people still on the plane are going to be OK,’” Kelly Spiggle said. “So we hit our knees (in prayer) right there on the Davidson Green and then continued on to the library.”
Knowing that the event was bound to make national news, the family eventually drove over to Davidson Day School to watch coverage of the crash. However, at the time, the Associated Press newswire had yet to pick up the story. Although she felt “frazzled,” Kelly Spiggle said the support of friends at Davidson Day kept her calm enough to send Caroline to her dance class at the Academy of Dance and Fine Arts in Mooresville.
“Mom told me, ‘Daddy’s safe, and he would want you to go to dance class,” Caroline said.
When Kelly Spiggle heard last week that J. Super & Son Trucking Company, one of the trucking companies that helped move wreckage away from the Twin Towers after Sept. 11, would be hauling the wings of the aircraft down I-77, she immediately contacted school officials to see if her kids could share the experience of seeing the wings with the rest of their classmates.
“We thought that this would be a great opportunity for our students to learn from the example of Sully Sullenberger,” said Wes Wehunt, head of the lower and middle school. “Here at Davidson Day, our mascot is the patriot, and I think Capt. Sullenberger is a true representative of a patriot.”
In May 2009, Charles Spiggle was invited to address Davidson Day’s class of 2009 as the school’s guest graduation speaker. He explained to students how grateful he and his family are that Sullenberger was “not satisfied to just be able to get (his job) done,” but instead “pushed himself to become one of the best in the business.”
“That Friday (after the crash), as (Jackson) was crushing me in Wii bowling for the 10th straight time, I was struck that he was having a much better day than if he was trying to digest the fact that his dad was never coming home again,” Spiggle told Davidson Day graduates.