By BosNewsLife News Center
NEW YORK, USA (BosNewsLife) — Survivors of a spectacular crash landing into the Hudson River thanked God on Friday, January 16, that the right pilot at the right time guided a crippled US Airways jetliner safely into the Hudson River — saving all 155 people aboard.
The pilot of Flight 1549 was Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III, 57, of Danville, California. Sullenberger is a former fighter pilot who runs a safety consulting firm in addition to flying commercial aircraft.
“I think a lot of people started praying and just collecting themselves,” said passenger Fred Berretta said in comments aired by the Cable News Network (CNN). “It was quite stunning.”
He said he was expecting the plane to flip over and break apart, but it did not. “It was a great landing,” Berretta said.
Sullenberger, who has flown for US Airways since 1980, flew F-4 fighter jets with the Air Force in the 1970s, The Associated Press news agency reported He then served on a board that investigated aircraft accidents and participated later in several National Transportation Safety Board investigations.
Sullenberger had been studying the psychology of keeping airline crews functioning even in the face of crisis, said Robert Bea, a civil engineer who co-founded UC Berkeley’s Center for Catastrophic Risk Management.
LAST TO LEAVE
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the pilot had told him he was the last to leave and even walked twice through the partly submerged aircraft to ensure nobody was left behind. There were no life threatening injuries reported; most serious injury was a crew member with a broken leg.
Candace Anderson, a member of the Danville town council who lives a few blocks from Sullenberger, said she was proud to live in the same town as the pilot.
“You look at his training, you look at his experience. It was just the right pilot at the right time in charge of that plane that saved so many lives,” Anderson said. “He is a man who is calm, cool, collected, just as he was today,” AP quoted her as saying.
CO-PILOT IS “OK”
Sullenberger’s co-pilot was Jeff Skiles, 49, of Oregon, Wis., a 23-year US Airways veteran. “He was OK,” said his wife, Barbara. “He was relieved that everybody got off.”
Initially people in New York city were reportedly on edge, recalling the September 11 attacks in which terrorists crashed two planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
They were soon told that no terrorism was suspected, but that a bird strike was most likely to blame for the engine failures of the Airbus 320. An official investigation is underway.
Live television footage from a news helicopter showed recovery workers trying to keep the plane afloat early Friday, January 16, local time. (With reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).