The pilot who landed US Airways flight 1549 on New York City's Hudson River in January recounted his performance today at a hearing on the experience in Washington, D.C.
Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger recalled his decision to land the plane carrying 155 people on the water as investigators began a three-day examination of the so-called "Miracle on the Hudson."
Sullenberger said he and his right-hand man -- after, ironically, admiring the view of the river -- had precisely the same reaction when the plane touched down with a splash.
"First Officer Jeff Skiles and I turned to each other and, almost in unison, at the same time, with the same words, said to each other, 'Well, that wasn't as bad as I thought.'"
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Indeed, the transcript from the cockpit voice recorder released today mirrors what was evident in the audio recordings between air traffic control and US Airways Flight 1549 released in February: Capt. Sullenberger and his crew kept their cool.
"We didn't have time to consult all the written guidance, we didn't have time to complete the appropriate checklists," Sullenberger said today at the National Transportation Safety Board. "So Jeff Skiles and I had to work almost intuitively in a very close-knit fashion without having a chance to verbalize every decision, every part of the situation. By observing each others' actions and hearing our transmissions and our words to others, we were able to quickly be on the same page, know what had needed to be done, and begin to do it."
"We're all so thankful," passenger Billy Campbell said Tuesday. "The most difficult thing, and I would assume many of us share this, is seeing the other flights that don't end this way. You know, I came home and about three weeks after this and saw on the news the Buffalo flight, and then obviously, we're all terribly saddened by what's happened with Air France."
Not long after saying, "What a view of the Hudson today," Sullenberger and Skiles proceeded calmly through the emergency landing, according to the cockpit voice recorder.
"Got flaps two, you want more?" Skiles asked Sullenberger in the minute before landing on the river,
"No, let's stay at two," Sullenberger said.
"Got any ideas?" Sullenberger then asked.
Just 17 seconds later, Sullenberger said, "We're gonna brace."
"When we did hit, I almost felt like I was on the cruise ship because as I looked out the window, the plane submerged, and it felt like almost looking out a porthole because we were underwater," he said. "We then sort of bounced, came up, skidded, and it all happened obviously very quickly."
"When we finally came to a stop -- you know, sort of feeling the miracle of 'wow, survived this crash' -- immediately water was rushing out of my window. Very quickly, I talked to the two fellows sitting next to me, in B and C, said "Let's go, let's go, we have to go to the back."
Campbell said he was the last passenger to go out on one of the rafts, and grabbed Sullenberger's arm on the way out to say thank you.
"He very humbly just said to me, "You're welcome,'" Campbell said.