Chesley Sullenberger hailed in Hudson River crash
A US Airways Airbus 320 carrying 155 people on a domestic flight crashed into Hudson River off Westside Manhattan minutes after it took off on Thursday but all aboard miraculously escaped as the freezing waters rose around them.
Coast Guard boats rescued 35 people who were immersed in the water and ferried them to shore. Some of the rescued were shivering and wrapped in white blankets, their feet and legs soaked.
One victim suffered two broken legs, a paramedic said, with some suffering from minor cuts and injuries, and some from hyperthermia, but there were no other reports of serious injuries.
New York Governor David Paterson, speaking from the New York Waterways Ferry building where some of the rescued passengers were taken, called the landing “a miracle on the Hudson.”
“The pilot somehow, without any engines, was able to land this plane … without any serious injuries,” Paterson said.
The pilot of the doomed Flight 1549 was Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III, 57, of Danville, Calif., a former fighter jet pilot.
Sullenberger supervised the escape of 150 passengers and four crew members from the cabin of the aircraft as it sank slowly into the river, then reportedly walked the length of the aircraft twice to make sure no one was left behind.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg commended the pilot for ensuring all those on board, including a baby, were safe.
“The pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river and then making sure that everybody got out,” Bloomberg said.
Within hours of the amazing event, blogs lit up praising Sullenberger and a Facebook fan site sprung up.
Initial accounts from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) suggested that a bird strike caused the plane’s engines to stop but this was not immediately confirmed. Terrorism was ruled out.
Bird strikes, or the collision of a plane with an airborne bird, tend to happen when aircraft are close to the ground. It can harm vehicle components, or injure passengers. Flocks of birds are particularly dangerous, and can lead to numerous strikes and damage. Depending on the damage, aircraft at low altitudes or during take off and landing often cannot recover in time, and thus crash.
More than 200 people have been killed worldwide as a result of wildlife strikes with aircraft since 1988, according to Bird Strike Committee USA.