LISK Had Silent Role in “SULLY”

Jan 26, 2009 — Pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was hailed as a hero when he crash-landed in the Hudson River Jan. 15 and saved all 155 people aboard U.S. Airways Flight 1549.

But he may not have pulled it off without the performance of the local workers who made one of the plane’s parts.

The L-6810 locking solenoid is made by village-based G.W. Lisk, and on Monday company President Mark Kowalski learned that one  of those solenoids was in the ram air turbine that was deployed by Sullenberger and his co-pilot after losing both engines.

A ram air turbine — in this case made by Lisk’s customer, Arkwin Industries Inc. — is a backup power system driven by a large propeller that is dropped into the air stream below the plane’s body to supply the emergency power needed to land.

Kowalski circulated a letter to his roughly 500 employees Tuesday to let them know that they had been heroes in their own small way because of “their attention to detail” in the solenoid’s manufacture.

It read: “I want to personally thank you all of our Lisk employees for their dedication in providing a quality product that was so important in saving lives. Of course, this is a dramatic example, but all of our products are important in some way to our customers, and their customers.”

It’s important to reinforce the impact your work can have, Kowalski said.

This is the second documented case in which a Lisk L-6810 was called upon to function in an emergency, he said. In 2007, an Asian-based airliner experienced a dual-engine flameout at 30,000 feet, and Lisk solenoids helped deploy the ram air turbine, enabling the pilots to restart the engines. About 140 lives were saved, Kowalski said.

He said that the system originally was designed with higher elevation flame-outs in mind, so he is doubly impressed that it worked to perfection in the case of Flight 1549, which was at just 3,000 feet.

djsmith@fltimes.com