This month’s first Notable Narrative invites the reader in just before takeoff and then follows Casey Jones—who survived the U.S. Airways crash landing in the Hudson River—as he returns to the airways over Manhattan.

The St. Petersburg Times’ Lane DeGregory tells a story so spare it feels almost incomplete on the first read. But details lurk below the surface, showing how trauma can touch everything in a survivor’s life: Jones, who “never used to care about clouds,” now watches them out airplane windows; he worries that he’s supposed to be doing something big, “but he can’t figure out what that is.” DeGregory uses more than a dozen questions in the story to echo the uncertainty that dogs Jones in the wake of the accident.

DeGregory maintains suspense, even in her account of a crash we know Jones survived. Her subject’s unusual predicament, as well as her own language, keeps us wondering what will come next. “You want to think you’ll do the right thing in a disaster. Maybe even be a hero,” her subject muses.

Using the fly-along that makes the entire piece possible, DeGregory tersely captures the effects of post-traumatic stress, gliding through three flights, Jones’ backstory, and the crash itself before touching down at fewer than 2,000 words.

Read “Flight 1549 Survivor Got Out of the Hudson, Back into the Air,” by Lane DeGregory

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