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Personal Information

Regional manager, Japanese bearing company

Michael and DeenaWife: Deena

Children: Harrison, 7; Addison, 4; Anna Claire, 2


Michael Whitesides: Miracle on the Hudson

By Mimi Elliott
The 700 Club


Michael was on board US Airways flight 1549 (the number was reported wrong by the air traffic controller) on Thursday, January 15, 2009. He took his seat, 10B. To his left was a lady with a cold who sat next to an exit. As the plane took off from La Guardia, Michael looked out the window at the buildings of NewYork City. 

“God, there are so many people in this world, so many big buildings!” A large bird came into view and he added, “And so many birds!” The bird was swallowed by the engine. 

“It sounded like a cannon went off,” Michael said. The cabin began filling with the smell of roasted bird.

Michael thought, “We can land with one engine.” 

The plane banked to the left in a U-turn. It came within 900 feet of the George Washington Bridge. Passengers reached for their cell phones.

Michael reached for his, but in his spirit, Michael felt the Lord say “What are you doing? I’m not finished yet.”  A peace came over Michael.  “No one understands me when I say this, but it was like that peace that passes all understanding,” he said. 

Michael could see the Hudson River below, rapidly coming towards them. They were dropping 1,000 feet per minute. He and his seat-mates locked their arms, bowed their heads and prepared for a rough landing. 

Michael prayed, “God, if you’re ready for me, I’m ready to go. But if not, prepare me for what’s coming.” Michael braced himself, thinking his legs would probably break on impact.

As the plane landed, Michael looked out the window. He watched the water come up to the window. He stood up, pulled the door off its hinges and threw it out over the wing into the water. The lady on his right ran past him, across the wing and into the cold water. He pulled up her seat and his and went in after her. When he looked back, everyone else was on the wing, standing. Michael tried to swim after her but he couldn’t fight the current. He swam to the front of the plane where a huge “inflatable” appeared. He was pulled aboard to safety and then helped to a transport. The woman made it aboard, too.  Michael was stripped of his wet clothes and the pilot, Sully Sullenberger, wrapped him in his trench-coat flight jacket.

Michael was so shaken he could not dial the numbers to call his wife. It was 3:37 p.m.  The plane went down at 3:31 p.m. Deena was driving her car when she got the call and nearly wrecked. 

“If there’s anything I’d say I learned from this, it’s that God gets the glory,” Michael said.  “He made it possible for that plane to slow down enough to land.” 


Two days before the flight, Michael studied Genesis 22 where Abraham was willing  to sacrifice his son, Isaac, but the angel stayed his hand saying, “for now I know that thou fearest God.”  Fearing God, having awe for Him and not man – and not death in an airplane – was the message Michael took with him as he got in his seat on the flight. 

On Wednesday before the crash, Michael studied miracles in his men’s Bible study and said out loud, “Wouldn’t it be cool to experience God in a big way?” They were studying Luke and the miracles of Jesus. 

“People say you can’t prepare you for something like this, but you can,” he said. 

Michael had more than a life raft to hang onto; he had the Word of God.

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