One of the most prominent American heroes of recent years is Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger. Overnight, this quiet and gentle man went from being a relatively unknown commercial airline pilot to a national hero lauded by political leaders and the citizenry alike.
On January 15th, 2009, airline pilot Mr. Sullenberger saved the lives of 155 passengers aboard US Airways Flight 1549 by successfully conducting an emergency landing of the plane in the Hudson River. The Airbus A320 had been en route from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to North Carolina’s Charlotte/Douglas International Airport when it crossed paths with a flock of Canada Geese. The resulting accident disabled both of the aircraft’s engines. Mr. Sullenberger spoke to air traffic controllers about possible options for saving the passengers, including making an unscheduled landing at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport or going back to LaGuardia Airport. After these options were rejected as being impossible given the damage to the engines, Mr. Sullenberger chose instead to land in the Hudson River. After telling his passengers they should “brace for impact,” he touched down on the Hudson at around 3:30 pm. He assisted all passengers in safely evacuating and was the last one to leave the plane, doing so only after recovering the aircraft’s log book.