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Enjoying Dave Sanderson's 'Moments Matter'  

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Rory Ryan

By Rory Ryan
The Highland County Press

After a week at The HCP SCC (Southern Command Center) with family and friends, I'd like to say it's great to be back. I'd also like to say that it's great that I didn't have a winning ticket in last week's billion-dollar lottery. Right.

As is customary, I tend to enjoy at least one book while settling into a poolside lounge chair along the Gulf of Mexico. (Radio and cooler are also customary.)

Last week's reading was courtesy of Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera, who was kind enough to share his autographed copy of "Moments Matter – How One Defining Moment Can Create a Lifetime of Purpose."

"Moments Matter" was written and published by former Hillsboro resident Dave Sanderson, along with Cindy Wrightson.

Donnie and Dave were baseball teammates on Kelley Ferguson's Elks A League team at what is now Shaffer Park. I played against them on Jim "Dandy" Cumberland's Rotary Club team; and speaking of Jim Cumberland, I spoke with Jim and Eleanor at their Hazel Street home the day before leaving on vacation. It was sure good to see Jim getting along much better. All credit goes to Miss Eleanor, of course!

Now, back to "Moments Matter." Sanderson's book is his first-person account of US Airways Flight 1549, a scheduled flight from New York City's LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte, N.C. 

On Jan. 15, 2009, the Airbus A320 struck a flock of Canada geese shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia, losing all engine power. Given their position in relation to the available airports and their low altitude, pilots Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles decided to glide the plane to a landing on the Hudson River near Midtown Manhattan.

According to Wikipedia, "All 155 people on board were rescued by nearby boats, with no deaths and few serious injuries. (Sanderson was one of those seriously injured.) The time from the bird strike to the ditching was less than four minutes. The incident quickly became known as "the Miracle on the Hudson," and a National Transportation Safety Board official described it as 'the most successful ditching in aviation history.'"

The pilots and flight attendants were awarded the Master's Medal of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators in recognition of their "heroic and unique aviation achievement."

After the crash, Captain Sullenberger, while being interviewed by AARP Magazine, was asked how he was able to execute a nearly perfect water landing. 

He replied, "One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years, I've been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education and training. And on Jan. 15, 2009, the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal."

In an effort to prevent similar accidents, officials captured and exterminated 1,235 Canada geese at 17 locations across New York City in mid-2009 and coated 1,739 goose eggs with oil to smother the developing goslings. More than 70,000 birds had been intentionally killed in New York City as a result of the Flight 1549 incident.

In "Moments Matter," Sanderson, who was the last passenger to leave the plane before it sank into the Hudson River, shares what he learned during the crash and afterward and how he uses this in everyday life. He also shares a little bit about learning to swim at the Hillsboro Swim Organization pool on West Main Street and earning his Eagle Scout status under the tutelage of Lawson Walker. According to Sanderson, those swimming lessons in Hillsboro saved his life on Jan. 15, 2009 because he had to dive into the Hudson River and swim to the nearest rescue boat.

There's another Hillsboro connection to Flight 1549. As The HCP reported in 2012, the CFM56-5B engines from US Airways Flight 1549 were stored at Hangar 6 at the Highland County Airport before being transported to the North Carolina aviation museum.

Hangar 6 owner George Matthews told The Highland County Press the engines were transported to Hangar 6 for storage through an arrangement with the insurance company, Chartis, Inc. Hangar 6 is an FAA Certified Domestic Airframe and Power Plant Repair Station located along North Shore Drive near the Rocky Fork Lake State Park. (See…)

In addition to "Moments Matter," Sanderson also has written "The Limitless Life," in which he shares 15 lessons that will help readers take the uncertainty they feel and turn it into opportunities to live the life they want. For more information or to order a book, visit

Again, my thanks to Sheriff Barrera for sharing "Moments Matter," and OK, it is good to be back home. What makes it even better is that we've already made a reservation to The HCP SCC for August.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press, Highland County's only locally owned and operated newspaper.


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Greg Grant (not verified)

1 April 2024

I too have an autographed copy of that book, and have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Dave. His books and writings contain much good advice which we can all benefit from. I am proud to know Dave and learn from his experiences and words. I'm glad you had a good vacation to the HCP Southern Command Center.

Jim Thompson (not verified)

3 April 2024

After the Hudson River landing in 2009, wife Laura put together a committee in SAE’a Aerospace Group to develop a standardized surrogate bird and other standards which are now used to test planes and their engines for airworthiness in bird strike situations.

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