Sully Book Summary - Sully Book explained in key points
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Sully summary

Chesley B. Sullenberger III & Jeffrey Zaslow

My Search for What Really Matters

4.6 (14 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Sully is the memoir of Captain Chesley Sullenberger, who successfully executed an emergency water landing on the Hudson River in 2009. The book explores the mindset, preparation, and teamwork that enabled him to save the lives of all onboard.

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    An early lesson in self-reliance

    Chesley B. Sullenberger’s father was a self-reliant individual, often taking on various tasks around the house from carpentry to wiring and roofing. This sense of self-sufficiency was imparted to his children, teaching them not just to be independent but also the value of precision and diligence. A particular lesson that left a mark was when Sullenberger mistakenly cut a piece of wood too short. His father's advice, “Measure twice, cut once,” highlighted the importance of thoroughness and the irreversible nature of certain actions.

    From a young age, Sullenberger found satisfaction in seeing tangible results. Whether it was mowing the lawn or helping his father put shingles on the family home’s roof, the pleasure derived from accomplishing tasks and marking progress was evident. Half-mowed lawns acted as clear indicators of work done and the amount remaining. This appreciation for measurable outcomes and the joy of completion is reflective of a goal-oriented mindset.

    Growing up in the 1960s, Sullenberger had clarity about his future aspirations. He envisioned a life in the military followed by a career as a commercial pilot. Even as an earnest and serious young boy, he exhibited a heightened sense of self-awareness, recognizing both his strengths and imperfections. His writings from eighth grade provide a glimpse into his character. He acknowledged his good habits, like politeness, which he credited to his upbringing, and was candid about his shortcomings, like impatience and perfectionism. The feedback from his teacher, a simple affirmation that he was “doing fine,” was reflective of an era where sparse words of encouragement were the norm. This formative feedback and the societal expectations of the time shaped his adult disposition – regimented, self-demanding, and perfectionist, attributes he believed contributed to his proficiency as a pilot.

    Sullenberger's writings also shed light on his familial bonds. He expressed pride in his sister, despite occasional differences, and profound appreciation for his mother’s ceaseless care. His father stood as a beacon of wisdom, guiding him, imparting lessons, and enabling him to learn from his errors. These relationships laid the foundation for his values and principles.

    Despite the imperfect nature of his home, with slanted floors and a lack of financial focus, Sullenberger cherished his upbringing. The house his grandfather built became more than just walls and roofs; it was a repository of memories, lessons, and familial love. He recognized the fortune of growing up in such an environment, nurtured by parents who, in their own unique ways, instilled invaluable life lessons.

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    What is Sully about?

    Sully (2009) chronicles the remarkable life journey of the pilot who landed US Airways Flight 1549 on New York's Hudson River, ensuring the safety of all on board. The memoir sheds light on his unwavering dedication, the significance of readiness, and the profound lessons from his military and aviation careers. Through his experiences, the book emphasizes the enduring values that can guide individuals through times of adversity and uncertainty.

    Who should read Sully?

    • Fans of aviation and heroic true stories
    • Autobiography enthusiasts
    • Readers seeking inspiration in challenging times

    About the Author

    Chesley B. Sullenberger III is an airline pilot and safety expert, with notable roles as an instructor and an ALPA safety chairman and accident investigator. Recognized as the Outstanding Cadet in Airmanship during his time at the US Air Force Academy, he further augmented his credentials with two master's degrees.

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