I keep hearing both these descriptions of the incident with Flight 1549, as though they’re both compatible plausible explanations of what happened.

I suggest either Sullenberger was a hero OR it was a miracle: not both.

A miracle means God intervened to ensure that those innocent people lived. Quite why he would do that while so many other innocent people die of all sorts of other maladies everyday is never explained. I think calling this a miracle diminishes Sully’s expert handling of the situation. This wasn’t an example of a miracle: it was an example of an excellent pilot being given the chance to show how good he is at what he does for a living.

(And, in many ways, that’s even better. When I fly to Belfast next week, I’d rather not rely on a miracle to get there!)