Chesley B. Sullenberger III, the US Airways pilot who made an emergency landing in
the Hudson, left. At right, he is seen during his days as an Air Force Academy cadet.
The Airbus A320 has a ditching button that closes all valves and openings
underneath the aircraft to slow the rate of flooding
Some passengers screamed, others
tucked their heads between their knees,
and several prayed over and over, “Lord,
forgive me for my sins.”
By landing successfully on water, the captain "achieved one of the
rarest and most technically challenging feats in commercial aviation,“
A board member of the NTSB stated that it "has to go down as the
most successful ditching in aviation history."
Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger, III, age 58, joined US Airways (PSA Airlines) in
1980. He has a total of 19,663 flight hours.
First officer Jeffrey B. Skiles, age 49, joined US Airways (USAir) in 1986. He has
a total of 15,643 flight hours.
Flight Attendant Sheila Dail, age 57, joined US Airways (Piedmont Airlines) in 1980
and has more than 28 years experience with the airline.
Flight Attendant Doreen Welsh, age 58, joined US Airways (Allegheny Airlines) in
1970 and has more than 38 years experience with the airline.
Flight Attendant Donna Dent, age 51, joined US Airways (Piedmont Airlines) in
1982 and has more than 26 years experience with the airline.
A flight attendant broke a leg, but most people were unharmed
except for suffering from the cold. Ferries rescued passengers from
the wings, where they stood in 20 degree Fahrenheit weather, their
feet dipping into water of 41 degrees F.
As the plane began sinking, Sullenberger walked the aisle twice to make
sure no one was left behind, Bloomberg said.
There was the woman in a fur coat who asked a stranger to go back inside
the sinking plane to fetch her purse.
Inside, as if heeding one collective thought, everyone moved to the rear of the
cabin, only to find the exit doors there locked tight and water rising as the tail
dipped below the surface.
“If that door opened, everything would go under,” said Brad Wentzell, 31, a
patio-door salesman from Charlotte
"The bulk of this event was over in 10 minutes," said Raymond Kelly, New York
Three minutes after the first alert, police had commandeered a Circle Line boat
that only minutes before was taking sightseers on a leisurely tour of New York's
landmarks. The officers directed it toward the sinking plane.
"After the crash, the pilot was sitting in the ferry terminal, wearing his
hat, sipping his coffee and acting like nothing happened," one police
source told the New York Daily News.
The last person to leave the plane was Sullenberger. As he boarded
a ferry he clutched a clipboard with the list of passengers.
Within five minutes of the call a police helicopter was also hovering above the
scene. A detective, a trained diver, was lowered into the frigid water. He swam to
a disoriented female passenger clinging to the side of a ferry and helped her to
safety on another boat.
Aviation experts said they could not recall another successful controlled
water landing by a commercial airliner in the U.S.
His gray hair was unruffled, and his blue pilot’s uniform had barely a wrinkle.
“His tie wasn’t even loosened,” said Ed Skyler, a deputy mayor of New York City