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“The Miracle of the Hudson” – Heroic: 15 years ago, a plane landed on the Hudson River – News

“The Miracle of the Hudson” – Heroic: 15 years ago, a plane landed on the Hudson River – News


It went down in history as the “Miracle of the Hudson”: on January 15, 2009, an Airbus A320 was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River in New York after birds collided with its engines. All 150 passengers and five crew members survived the crash, thanks to the response of one man.

January 15, 2009 was initially a day like any other for pilot Chesley Sullenberger. But suddenly it became the worst day of his life, he told Ink Magazine in an interview.


Hudson River Hero: Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, here at a 2010 documentary show.

Archive/Keystone/AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

They had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport in New York. While they were still climbing, a flock of Canada geese came toward them. This could not be avoided and so the squadron collided with the plane.

“We'll end up in the Hudson.”

“This is Cactus 1549,” Sullenberger informed the tower. Cactus is the code name for the airline US Airways in aviation radio. “We lost momentum in both machines. We go back.”

But it turned out to be too late for that. It was clear to Sully: The only other option other than an airport for landing such a large plane in a big city like New York was the Hudson River.

“We can't do that. We're going to end up on the Hudson.” This was the last communication the tower received.

Passengers stand in the water after an emergency landing on the wings of an American Airlines plane


“The Miracle of the Hudson”: Passengers stand on the wings of an American Airlines plane after its emergency landing on January 15, 2009. Everyone survived.

Archive/Reuters/Brendan McDiarmid (United States)

Landing on the water. Something Sullenberger had never been trained to do before. There was no simulation of this in the training, there was only theoretical discussion about it.

A crane lifts the plane that crashed into the Hudson River out of the water


A crane lifts the plane that crashed into the Hudson River from the water (January 15, 2009).

Archive/Keystone/AP Photo/Craig Rattle

But Sully was an experienced pilot and knew his plane. He tried with his naked eye to determine the appropriate moment for the plane to land on the water. A tedious task, because when landing on water, the plane is at risk of crashing if it lands incorrectly.

A woman in a red jacket hugs a man


A passenger on American Airlines Flight 1549 hugs the pilot on the fifth anniversary of the successful emergency landing (January 15, 2014).

Archive/Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

But like a miracle it worked. Since then, the pilot of the ill-fated plane has been celebrated as a hero in the United States.

A crowd of people, some carrying posters


Thousands of people fill the town square in Danville, California, to welcome Sully after the ditch (January 24, 2009).

Archive: Keystone/AP Photo/Noah Berger

Sully received an award, at the invitation of the president, and a few years after the incident, The Hudson's Miracle was made into a movie.

Two men standing in front of movie posters


The story of the “Hudson's Miracle” was made into a movie. Here Sullenberger and Tom Hanks pose at the Los Angeles premiere of “Sully” (September 8, 2016).

Archive/Reuters/Mario Anzoni

“I am increasingly grateful for the result we achieved, as we were able to save the lives of all passengers, crew, first responders and emergency services,” the 72-year-old retired pilot said at an event before the event. 15th anniversary in New York.

“I think it was a time when we needed a story that gave us hope,” Sullenberger continued. “And I believe it is this hopeful vision of humanity and the future that we can hold on to in difficult times.”

Man in front of the fuselage


Museum visit: Former American Airlines captain Sullenberger in front of the fuselage at the Carolinas Air Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina (June 11, 2011).

Archive/Reuters/Jim R. Pounds

Incidentally, the pilot was the last to go down. Before doing so, he inspected the sunken machine again to make sure no one was left behind. Passenger Billy Campbell happened to be standing next to him in the lifeboat. “I grabbed his arm and thanked him on behalf of all of us,” Campbell said at the time, according to the agencies. “He just said, 'You're welcome.'