In what will forever be known as The Miracle on the Hudson, Sully Sullenberger and his crew saved the lives of 150 passengers after being forced to splash down in the frigid Hudson River.
After logging more than 20,000 hours of flight time Sullenberger became internationally renowned on January 15, 2009 when he and his crew safely guided US Airways Flight 1549 to an emergency water landing.
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The Airbus A320’s two engines had lost thrust at low altitude, following a bird strike. Sullenberger and his copilot had to think and act fast in order to save the passengers and plane.
“It was very quiet as we worked, my copilot Jeff Skiles and I. We were a team,” Sullenberger later said. “But to have zero thrust coming out of those engines was shocking—the silence.”
With the plane in the water and the passengers standing atop the wings, Sullenberger twice making sweeps through the cabin to make sure all passengers and crew had evacuated. He made his final exit only when he was certain that everyone was out safely.
Sullenberger and his crew received international acclaim for their actions that day, including the passage of a Congressional resolution recognizing their bravery.
Sullenberger and several passengers reunited in January 2024 as part of a television program the 15th anniversary of the crash.
Survivors described the event and their gratitude – to God, and to Sullenberger.
Born and raised in Denison, Texas, Sullenberger pursued his childhood love of aviation by learning to fly at age 16, while still in high school, and later at the United States Air Force Academy. At his graduation from the Academy in 1973, he received the Outstanding Cadet in Airmanship Award.
Sullenberger served as a fighter pilot for the United States Air Force. He advanced to become a flight leader and a training officer, attaining the rank of captain.
After serving in the Air Force, in February 1980 Sullenberger became an airline pilot with Pacific Southwest Airlines, later acquired by US Airways, where he fulfilled the earlier promise of outstanding airmanship. until his retirement from commercial flying in March 2010.
Sullenberger was portrayed by Tom Hanks in the feature film Sully.