Image 01 Image 03

10 years ago: Sully Sullenberger lands US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River

10 years ago: Sully Sullenberger lands US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River

One of those events that defined the time, a historical place marker.

On January 15, 2009, US Airways Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport in New York City when the Airbus plane he was flying hit a flock of birds, lost engine capacity, and had to try an emergency landing.

Not just any emergency landing. An emergency landing in the only place available, the Hudson River.

It was one of those events that defined the times, a historical place marker. I certainly remember it well.

Here’s the Coast Guard camera that caught it all.

You can see the plane splash down on the left.

Then come to rest in the water.

Then the passengers exited onto the wings, waiting for rescue.

It became one of those events that defines our memories.

Here is the chilling cockpit audio communications with the control tower:

This hour-long documentary tells the story.

Okay, time to take out the hankies:

In a series of tweets today, Sully remembered the event:

Ten years later, these are the things that stay with me: the professionalism of the crew and air traffic controllers, the cooperation of passengers, the bravery of the rescuers and first responders, and the enduring love of my family, and I celebrate them every day. #Flight1549


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


Compare and contrast with Air Florida Flight 90. Off airport landings seldom go well as Sully’s. Altitude is your friend.

    Rduke008 in reply to NotKennedy. | January 15, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    Air Florida wasn’t an off airport landing, but a barely controlled crash that gave the industry a tremendous wake up call to CRM and checklist adherence

    alaskabob in reply to NotKennedy. | January 15, 2019 at 11:03 pm

    There is nothing to compare. Air Florida Flight 90 was out of control with icing, in a snow storm and just happened to crash into the water. Sully had fully functional airframe with uncompromised control surfaces.

    I beg to differ on calling Sully a “hero”. He is a consummate professional pilot. He made the best call of using the Hudson. How many crashes occurred because the flight crews tried to make it back to an airport rather than a early crash landing… think ValueJet, Alaska 261…milking it and losing control up high and punching a hole in the ground.

    I would set Sully up as the prime example of what pilots should be.

Not to take from this, but I have always admired the skills demonstrated here:

    MajorWood in reply to rabid wombat. | January 15, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    I read that they took a bunch of flight crews and set up the same circumstances as Sioux City and not one crew, including the original guys, got within 30 miles of the airport. The Sioux City guys did everything but flap their arms out the windows to keep it airborne. Sully did a nice managed flight path into the drink, just as the checklist indicated. There was an issue I believe of having to either go over/or under a bridge, but the rest of it was straightforward.

So the Airbus does have features that are useful in an emergency…
Doesn’t answer the question as to whether the engines were actually damaged beyond running, or whether the plane decided they were.

I’ve never flown on an Airbus, and given flight training to a few pilots who bid off of them for various reason.

My personal observations do not a scientific database make…

    alaskabob in reply to Rduke008. | January 15, 2019 at 11:10 pm

    The two copilots stalled the Air France flight 447 from cruise altitude right into the ocean. Setting power to 85% and flight level was all that was needed but the copilot on the right kept the stick full back all the way down. hyou are right …training .. and the AIrbus design were bad (Sully has a interview about Airbus vs Boeing on YouTube).

The thing that frustrates me about USAir1549 are the pictures of the passengers standing on that wing. Look at how many of them are there without a life vest or any floation assistance. Not 5 minutes prior, they had (ostensibly) watched a demonstration of what to do in the event of a ditching.

    Reminds me of all the selfies from the recent SW flight where a passenger went halfway out the window. The majority of the passengers didn’t have their oxygen masks on right. But they got their selfies!

The cockpit recorder audio is just A-B-C like the captain is made of ice and steel, from the bird strikes to the last pass through the aircraft to make sure everybody is out on the wing being picked up. Amazing.

    alaskabob in reply to georgfelis. | January 15, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    Read “The Right Stuff”…. Sully was in the same league as the prime test pilots (and Apollo 13) when it came to keeping their wits and knowing what needed to be done.

Toxic masculinity and white privilege.

disagree on the airflorida incident–if you’ve listened to the blackbox recording, those boys knew very shortly after rotation that they were done–they had the presence of mind to veer toward the river(though the ship was probably handling like a grand piano)in an attempt to save at least some of the passengers(perhaps)while minimizing casualties on the ground(they were carrying a full load of fuel)–they almost cleared the bridge before impact–balls of steel and focus in the clutch–rest in peace

DINORightMarie | January 16, 2019 at 1:04 am

This was indeed a “Miracle on the Hudson.” Water landings were not considered possible, but this pilot, with his depth of experience in both this plane and flying over years in different aircraft, showed how it’s done.

A good Hollywood film with Tom Hanks playing Sully was made in 2016 on this event, simply called, “Sully.” They did a good job of showing this miracle, as well as the aftermath that most don’t see – the NTSB trying to blame the safe water landing, the miracle, on “pilot error” and undermine what this man and this crew did to keep every soul onboard that flight safe.

I find it shocking that in the early years of flight, we had planes – seaplanes – designed to land on the water,. Some are still made to do that today, seen in more northern climes (like Alaska, for example). This experienced pilot, Sully, knew he could land on the Hudson as a worst case scenario “runway” for a safe landing, with risk but a possible successful outcome that would minimize loss of life and hopefully give all on board a chance at survival – and it did!….yet that was questioned as if it had never been done?! Sad.

DouglasJBender | January 16, 2019 at 5:21 am

Ten years ago?!? Good grief, it seems like only 2-3 years ago to me.

He’s not a hero by any means. He did exactly what he was trained to do and first saved his own life, everyone else aboard the plane came in second. Second, he had a co-pilot who did what he was trained to do and third he had a well-trained flight crew. None could have done it alone. But most of all they were just lucky.

Not sure if I read you right, but I call him a hero and he can be that and a consummate professional in my book.

“He’s not a hero by any means. He did exactly what he was trained to do and first saved his own life, everyone else aboard the plane came in second.”
After everyone else was safely out on the wings, Sully walked through the cabin to make sure that everyone was out. Everyone else aboard came first; he came second

    floridaman in reply to blacksburger. | January 17, 2019 at 9:57 am

    The first person I heard say he was not a hero was Sully himself. He did nothing heroic in landing the plane, he had no other choice. If he was following regular US Air procedures it was actually the co-pilot who had the controls, not Sullenberger. I’d also point that Skiles, the co-pilot, was an ex-Captain and had just as many flight hours as Sullenberger. His actions after the plane landed certainly showed good character and bravery. Lots of pilots with the same experience and some with more have tried to land on water and failed horribly. Sully and everyone else aboard the plane were very, very, lucky. It’s not called the “Miracle on the Hudson” for nothing.