Captain Wilson was one of those knocked unconscious but only for a few minutes. The waters of Flushing Bay had nearly engulfed the cockpit by the time he’d regained consciousness. And he woke because he was chocking on the raw filthy water. It was in his mouth and was inching its way up into his nostrils and down into his lungs.
He struggled in the cold wet blackness searching for his First Officer, Bob Nelson. He felt around in the cabin expecting to find him still fastened in his seat, unconscious.
He’d flown this plane six times a day, three times a week for eight years. It only took him a few seconds to find his First Officer’s seat. Bob was there as he expected. But his body was limb. He reached out his hand to put the tips of his fingers to his First Officer’s throat hoping to find a pulse, but instead quickly withdrew his hand because of the pain. He’d cut his fingers on a huge shard of glass sticking out of Bob’s neck. Panic gripped him. He thrashed wildly about the cockpit for a few seconds before regaining his composure. He wanted to take in a deep breath to calm himself but the water was now well over his head. He realized he had a few seconds of air left before he too would be dead. It was going to take all of the air remaining in his lungs to reach the surface.
Oh God Helen, he thought, his eyes growing wide with horror. He swam over to the cockpit door. He had his hand on the handle about to turn it, when it occurred to him that the cabin might have held pressure. Opening the door would flood the interior of the plane killing most of the people before they had time to escape. Reluctantly, he let go of the door handle and went out through the broken cockpit window and headed towards what he hoped was the surface. It seemed to take forever. He broke the surface of the water and took in a deep breath of air.