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‘Miracle on the Hudson’ Happened 5 Years Ago Today

Chris McGrath, Getty Images

It was one of those moments when you knew where you were and what you were doing. It was Thursday, January 15, 2009 at approximately 2:30 pm (ct) when you stopped everything you were doing and watched TV in amazement as US Airways Flight 1549 crash landed in the Hudson River.  There were 155 people (passengers and crew) on board the aircraft when it left New York’s LaGuardia Airport for Charlotte, North Carolina.  Moments after takeoff, the plane struck a flock of Canadian Geese during its initial climb.  The result was a total loss of engine power for the plane forcing it to be flown as a glider.

The captain was 57 year old Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, a veteran of nearly 20-thousand hours of flying commercially, a retired Air Force fighter pilot, a safety expert and ironically, a former glider pilot. Sullenberger along with 49 year old First Officer Jeffrey B. Skiles safely managed to land the aircraft in the Hudson River some 6 minutes after takeoff.

What followed was nothing short of miraculous. The plane did not break up on impact and once its momentum waned it started to float with rescue boats from both New York City and Weehawken, New Jersey heading towards the aircraft. With rescue ferries and watercraft around the plane and helicopters flying above it, the passengers started exiting the emergency doors above the wings.

In one of the most memorable images I have ever witnessed in my lifetime, there stood the passengers on the wings of the plane waiting to be rescued. That day 155 people experienced a plane crash and all 155 survived with only 5 injuries (2 serious and 3 minor).

Have many of these people elected never to fly again? I am sure there are some who won’t simple because they are not sure flying is safe.  One thing is for sure, they all were a part of the “Miracle on the Hudson” on this date in 2009.

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