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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.'
“Tv specialist. Friendly web geek. Food scholar. Extreme coffee junkie.”