Local News

'Miracle on Hudson' pilot flying again

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The "Miracle on the Hudson" pilots have reunited in the cockpit for the first time together for a flight into New York.

The US Airways Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger has been out of the cockpit for nine months.

Capt. Sullenberger and 1st Officer Jeffrey Skiles flew together on Flight 1050 that took off from Charlotte, N.C., at 7:55 a.m. and landed at LaGuardia Airport at 9:44 a.m.

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RAW VIDEO: Sully press conference pt. 1

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"Ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain Sullenberger," he told the passengers to a huge wave of applause. "It's a beautiful day for flying. We expect nice weather - smooth flying all the way."

Airline spokesman Jonathan Freed says the flight from LaGuardia would actually be Sullenberger's fourth flight since landing in the Hudson River.

At a LaGuardia news conference, Sullenberger said the Miracle on the Hudson "happened at a time when people needed to know that good could still be done in the world."

Sullenberger said the gratitude of passengers has been "an extraordinary gift." And he bestowed the same gift on his colleague.

"You have my eternal gratitude for your skill and your courage," he said, turning to Skiles.

US Airways announced Monday that Sullenberger would be making regular flights and supervising other pilots as part of the airline's safety management team.

"Everybody cheered and clapped when we got on the plane in Charlotte," said Wyatt Smith, 41, also from Fort Mill. "I put my seat back and took a nap. I felt really honored and safe that it was him."

Skiles has been back flying with US Airways since April.

Sullenberger landed his Airbus A320 in the Hudson after a collision with a flock of geese killed power in both engines minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia.

He wrote about the landing in "Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters," with co-author Jeffrey Zaslow. The book is due out next month.

Sullenberger and Skiles won praise for their textbook response to the loss of power. Their plane was at just 2,800 feet, giving them three-and-a-half minutes to try to restart the engines or find an airport for a landing.

Sullenberger told the National Transportation Safety Board in June that he glided into the Hudson near Manhattan's ferry terminals to increase the chances of a rescue.

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