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SUNDAY, AUGUST 7, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Flight attendants also played role in ‘miracle’

A 37-year-old rental car manager is being recognized as the hero of Air France Flight 358 that crash landed in Toronto on Tuesday afternoon.

Guy Ledez and an unidentified second hero rushed to the crash site and helped passengers out of the Airbus. They then climbed aboard to search for other survivors. But there already were other heroes.

Mr. Ledez played down his role in the rescue, saying he didn't realize the danger until the plane exploded in flames after he completed the search. He's a hero to be sure, but so are the flight attendants who helped turn disaster into a miracle.

Flight attendants, most of whom are females, undergo rigorous training that goes much further than learning how to roll bulky serving carts down a narrow aisle. Most of them have given the preflight safety speech so many times that they seem a bit bored with showing passengers how to buckle their seat belts and what to do if emergency oxygen masks pop out of the overhead compartment.

Their real value, thankfully, is rarely seen.

The attendants on Flight 358 somehow brought order to the chaos when the plane and its 309 passengers and crew slid some 200 yards off the runway at 95 mph during a violent storm. They get much of the credit for getting all of the passengers off the burning plane within two minutes of the crash.

Flight attendants are on the front line when an on-board incident occurs, whether it's a drunken passenger or terrorist hijackers.

Airlines teach them to deal with these situations, yet attendants must be the product of intense screening to show such bravery and leadership during a crisis.

This crew did its job well.

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