Pilot hailed 'Hero of the Hudson' after plane crash drama
The pilot of the US Airways jet that crashed into icy waters off New York was hailed as a hero after coolly overseeing the miraculous escape of 155 passengers and crew. Pics: Plane ditches into riverworld Updated: Jan 16, 2009 13:42 IST
The pilot of the US Airways jet that crashed into icy waters off New York was hailed as a hero on Thursday after coolly overseeing the miraculous escape of 155 passengers and crew.
The pilot was praised by survivors and officials for smoothly landing the jet belly-first onto the Hudson River, allowing passengers to make a successful evacuation from the stricken craft.
Local media reports identified the man at the controls as former military fighter pilot Chesley Sullenberger III, with the New York Daily News swiftly branding him "The Hero of the Hudson."
"It would appear that the pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river, and then making sure that everybody got out," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters.
"I had a long conversation with the pilot. He walked the plane twice after everybody else was off. And tried to verify that there was nobody else onboard. And assures us there were not.
"The first and most important thing is, this pilot did a wonderful job, and it would appear that all roughly 155, including crew and one infant, got out safely," Bloomberg said.
New York Governor David Paterson added, "We've had a miracle on the Hudson."
Passengers also praised the pilot's actions when the Airbus A320 was forced to make a watery crash-landing after taking off on its flight from New York to Charlotte, North Carolina.
"All of a sudden the captain came on and he told us to brace ourselves and probably brace ourselves pretty hard," Jeff Kolodjay told CNN.
"But he did an amazing job, kudos to him on that landing."
Another passenger, Fred Beretta, told the network: "I've flown in a lot of planes and that was a phenomenal landing."
Asked if he had a message for the pilot and co-pilot, Beretta said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope somebody gives you a great big award for your performance."
Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, added: "It was an amazing piece of airmanship."
Officials suspect the plane was forced to crash land after slamming into a flock of geese, damaging both engines.
However the passengers couldn't have been in safer hands. Sullenberger runs a transport safety consultancy and has clocked up 19,000 hours of flying time in a 40-year-career as a pilot, according to a biography on his website.
A former US Air Force fighter pilot, he has also served as an instructor and safety chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association. He has also participated in several NTSB accident investigations.
First Published: Jan 16, 2009 09:01 IST