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Letterman Soars With Heroic US Airways Crew
February 11, 2009  | By David Bianculli
 

Sunday on 60 Minutes, Katie Couric did a wonderful profile of the US Airways "Miracle on the Hudson" crew by asking the right questions and letting the story tell itself. Tuesday night on another CBS show, David Letterman provided another wonderful hour -- by showing the human, funny side of these everyday heroes.

It was delightful, for some odd reason, to watch pilot Chesley Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeff Skiles, on last night's Late Show with David Letterman, joke with the host, getting increasingly comfortable -- and casually, confidently funny -- with each passing minute.

"I'm more than tired of telling this story," Skiles said, to appreciative applause and laughter from the crowd. The audience also responded with glee when Skiles said the Hudson "stinks," and when Sullenberger asked for a copy of Letterman's detailed flight timeline, as if he were unfamiliar with its contents.

And Letterman, graciously letting them get and enjoy most of the laughs, got a huge one of his own by asking one question about his miraculous water landing that Sullenberger didn't, and needn't, answer: "Could you do it again?"

late-show-crew.jpg

In the second half of the show, Letterman moved the pilot and co-pilot onto stools, and brought on their flight crew: Donna Dent, Sheila Dail and Doreen Welsh. Letterman, dealing with these three ladies, was especially good, though they all seemed hesitant to be the first to answer any query.

And here, too, Letterman scored one memorably entertaining question. After one of the flight attendants told Letterman of hearing the words "Brace for impact" coming over the loudspeaker, he asked them, "Ever hear that come out of a cockpit before?"

That wasn't the question. That was the setup. Even so, it made them all smile, and say no. But then, without missing a beat, Letterman asked his unforgettable follow-up: "Ever hear that in any other aspect of your lives?"

All five guests smiled and laughed so widely, as the audience roared, that it seemed the pilots and flight attendants were truly relieved to be confronted with such irreverent silliness.

Couric, with her straightforward questions, did justice to this heroic crew and justified her CBS star status. Letterman, with his warped questions, did the same thing.

You can see excerpts from the interview on the CBS Late Show site here.

 

1 Comments

 

Danny said:

I still can't believe that Leno does better in the ratings than Letterman. (Neither can Letterman, I'm sure... -- David B.)

Comment posted on February 11, 2009 9:52 AM
 
 
 
 
 
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