“Brace for impact, we are going down.” Those were the pilot’s words to the passengers and crew of US Air flight 1549 bound for Charlotte, NC. The news is covered with this miracle story. Apparently, birds struck the plane and both engines caught fire. All 155 passengers got out alive with minimal injury. Women and children left first.

The pilot came out of the plane last. What a hero! All the passengers said the pilot saved them and he was truly a miracle worker. We will sure be hearing more about this gentleman in the days to come. What are the chances that an airbus carrying 155 passengers can land in the Hudson, in frigid weather, with no deaths. That simply had to be divine intervention.

We have had so much bad news lately. The Hudson airplane crash and Joshua Castillo give us hope.

What does make a hero? Any suggestions?

32 Thoughts to “Plane Lands in the Hudson River”


    Really crazy and great news combined. How often do we get that? I’m on a cheap flight to Florida on Saturday night. We paid so little I’ve been joking that I hope we all make it there safely. Kidding, sort of.

    Off topic…anyone have any feedback on Universal Studios for a 7 year old? We did regular Disney and Animal Kingdom Disney last January, so I hate to revisit one of the same places we just visited not that long ago. He really wants to go back to Animal Kingdom, but it’s really not that big and we did everything last year so I’m trying to convince him that Universal will be fun. He was crying when we went to Animal Kingdom last year because he didn’t think he was going to like it compared to the Magic Kingdom and it turned out he loved it more. I do realize I am the boss and that I am the decision maker and not him, but sometimes one needs a reminder! Especially with since he is a master negotiator even though when I tell him that he asks what that means.

  2. Marie

    What an absolutely astounding event. I am so thankful that everyone was rescued. I heard the pilot waited until everyone was off the plane and walked the entire plane from front to back and back again to make sure no one was left on board. It truly was remarkable that everyone made and thank God for all the Ferry boat captains in NY and NJ who were there to assist.

  3. Marie

    My neighbors took their 8 year old and 5 year old to Universal last May and they loved it. There are rides and cartoon characters so your 7 year old should love it, too. For me, the Magic Kingdom is just that Magic. I love Disneyworld. It is like all the cares of the world disappear when I am there. My favorite ride is “It’s a Small World”. Corny, huh?

    Have fun in sunny, warm FL.


    Thanks, Marie! My Mom said it’s not all THAT warm though. Looks like high 60’s to very low 70’s…definitely better than here, but not pool temps for a 42 year old! My 7 year old won’t care, though. My sister is the one who suggested Universal and I hadn’t thought of that, but I think it’s a good idea. Although, you are right, can’t go wrong with Disney World. Especially at this time of year…last year the longest we stood in ANY line was 5 minutes and since the economy is even worse shape, I bet there will be even fewer visitors than last January. Thanks for the feedback!

  5. Firedancer

    I just read the the pilot is also the president of his own consulting firm on aviation safety, and has been an NTSB accident investigator! Can you believe that? The firm is called Safety Reliability Methods, and here is their link where you can read about the pilot.

    I actually just sent him an email using the “Contact Us”, thanking him for the miracle. I’m sure their email must be overflowing.

  6. Moon-howler

    Wow, thanks for that update, Firedancer. He really is a hero. I am glad to learn he is sharing his wealth of knowledge with others. I remember flight 90 coming over the 14th street bridge back in 1982. Thank goodness this accident had a better outcome.

  7. ShellyB

    It’s really frightening that birds can take down a jet of that size. You would think they could design some type of bird screen for the front of the engine. Can anyone tell me why not?

  8. Moon-howler

    Nope. I was thinking the same thing this morning. I think when human life is at stake, animal ‘rights’ have to play second fiddle. Animals cannot live around airports. Period.

    I don’t know enough about jet engines to even address screens. Did you see the news last week about the border collies who chase off Canada geese?

  9. IVAN

    M-H, Talk about strange. I knew one of the survivors of the Flight 90 crash. Also, one of my high school coaches was supposed to have been on the flight but missed it when he got caught in traffic. Talk about the ultimate “second chance” at life.

  10. Alanna

    This was an absolute miracle. How did the plane not immediately sink, was it because the river was iced over? The picture of all the passengers standing on the wings with their life jackets on was positively unbelievable.

    How much it’s incredible landing is attributable to the pilot or just sheer luck, I don’t know. But thank God that everyone walked away safely.

  11. Gainesville Resident

    Planes such as this one are designed to fly after the loss of just one engine. Somehow both engines went out. It must have hit a really big flock of birds to take out both engines.

    It certainly was some sort of miracle, coupled with the skill of the pilot to have landed the plane safely with everyone surviving.

    I don’t know about a screen over the jet intake. It might somehow limit airflow or reduce the efficiency of the jet engine. I don’t know enough about it to know if such a thing would be able to be made to work without interfering with the engine operation. I would think if it could though, it would have been done.

    I am sure birds get caught in plane engines all the time, and usually nothing bad happens. In fact, I read somewhere that plane engines are tested out by throwing dead turkeys into them. So there may have been something else at work here combined with the flock of birds hitting the engines. I’m sure the NTSB investigation will help determine exactly what went wrong.

  12. Gainesville Resident

    Here’s a good article on this: “The Growing Hazard of Bird Strikes” at http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1872175,00.html?cnn=yes

  13. Moon-howler

    Ivan, I think you are right: the ultimate second chance for the person you know. I would be thinking that if I were on the plane yesterday also. I get chills thinking about it.

    I heard that the airbus has a ditch switch on it which ….bear with me….seals the plane should it be activated. It is used for water landings. I know, really bad explanation.

    Gainesville, do you own stock in Time? Yet another great article. What’s happening with Gaza this morning?

    Many of the animals who present the most danger to planes, and therefore people, are on protected species lists. How do we reconcile this?

  14. Gainesville Resident

    MH – actually I look at CNN which usually seems to have a link to Time articles. I don’t own stock in either. In fact, I often disagree with some of Time’s opinions on things. Actually, here’s an article from WTOP about the bird situation – has some interesting info: http://www.wtop.com/?nid=104&sid=1575571

    Also, about the ability of planes to survive water landings: http://www.wtop.com/?nid=104&sid=1575922

  15. TWINAD

    My Dad is a private pilot and flies a single engine Cessna. He hit a bird once on takeoff and it broke the windshield! Not all the way and he was able to land safely, but it was a little difficult since blood and guts was all over the windshield and it wasn’t all in one piece. Glad I wasn’t a passenger that day. He did say birds are a big problem.

  16. Remember Dumbo?

    We should all just be grateful that elephants can’t fly…

  17. from The Hill

    White House press secretary Dana Perino said in a statement that Bush called Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot of Flight 1549.

    “The president praised him for his amazing skills in bringing his plane down safely, for his bravery, and for his heroic efforts to ensure the safety of his passengers and the people in the area,” Perino said.

  18. ShellyB

    Still no thread for Bush farewell address? Anyway thank goodness for this pilot keeping his cool. I heard a flight expert say the trick is to lay the tail down first so the water slows the plane down. If the nose touches first you can dive underwater or the nose catches and you do flips. I think it’s amazing they can control the plane at all with no engine power.

  19. Excellent training. Well honed skills. Very impressive.

  20. Moon-howler

    And I agree with President Bush. He most definitely is a hero.

  21. Things like this make one proud that we have such incredibly skilled people working the skies. This was a true accomplishment. A true-life inspirational example of bravery, skill, and coolness under fire that comes from a career dedicated to meeting standards of excellence and a character rich with integrity.

  22. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    So did y’all see the press conference with Bloomberg and Patterson? They kept mentioning that the pilot would be there at the press conference also. If I were Bloomberg, just for the humor, I would have jokingly introduced Patterson as “the pilot of the plane” It would never happen, but man, would that have been funny.

  23. Moon-howler

    OMG, yes I saw it. I never thought of that. Shame on me for laughing. Slow, [stern look], you are baaaaaadddddddd.

    Pilot never did show up, did he? Maybe he won’t ever. He just seems like the type who would blow off all the fanfare.

  24. Moon-howler

    ShellyB, I don’t know what I would say about Bush’s farewell. I think he is a sincere man who just sees the world through a different pair of eyes than I do. He gave us a very gracious exit.

  25. GainesvilleResident

    Without engine power a plane is still very controllable as far as pitch and steering – and can be glided for some distance depending on how high the plane was when the engines died and as long as it wasn’t already in some spiral or nose down and falling fast. A good pilot can definitely do a lot even without engines in steering the plane to a safe place to land. After all, the Space Shuttle is landed without engine power and has none from the time it hits the atmosphere – yet is still steered quite a bit by the pilot (or it can be done totally by onboard computer control but so far hasn’t been). In this case, as the plane was taking off, it was probably pitched upward, so that would have made things harder – as without the engines there would have been quite a lot of drag on the plane in that configuration – but obviously this pilot was very skilled and knew how to get the plane under control, and also how to properly land the plane on the water. If he hit the water too hard, the plane would have easily broken apart. As anyone knows, depending on how you hit the water – as in a belly flop – it can have a lot of force.

    A source at the NTSB said that this may be the first case of everyone surviving a water landing – there have been others where most people survived but not all.

    Unfortunately, one engine is missing – it may have fallen off on impact or when the plane was towed to where it is now. Hopefully they will locate it, as they need to look at both engines for clues as to what really happened so they can reconstruct everything that occurred.

  26. Lucky Duck

    After all of us have been critics of the airlines the last few years, it is easy to forget the individuals who actually are responsible for our flight. This gentleman is a hero as are the attendents on the flight who did their jobs. Good for them and may they bask in the praise they earned. I hope when they close their doors tonight they look in the mirror and smile to themselves for what they have done.

  27. Howard Roark

    Sullenberger is a USAF veteran – served from 1973 to 1980 as a Flight Leader and Training Officer.

    One hell of a man.

  28. ShellyB

    Gainesville Res, thanks for the details. I could just imagine it all while reading that. Nice to see everyone agreeing on something. Maybe this will happen more often in the future. If the BOCS starts to work together, then this blog can agree more I think.

  29. Moon-howler

    I have a feeling that Capt. Sully is going to be very unccoperative about being a national hero.

    Yes, Gainesville, Thx for the info.

    Shellyb, one can only hope.

  30. GainesvilleResident

    I suspect from Captain Sully’s point of view, while many others will disagree with him – he feels he was just doing his job.

    In case you haven’t seen it – there’s a good video of the plane landing on the river caught by surveillance cameras at http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/01/17/usair.splash.video/index.html

  31. Moon-howler

    Great video, Gainesville Res. you are becoming invaluable around here. Thanks for posting it.

  32. Gainesville Resident

    According to the Washington Post this morning – Sullenberger and his family are going to the Innauguration. Also, all 5 members of the flight crew have been invited to the Innauguration.

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