City hails veteran pilot as hero
A former Air Force fighter pilot saved more than 150 lives Thursday, but inspired an entire city.
Praise was heaped on Chelsey B. Sullenberger, who skillfully steered an Airbus A320 to relative safety on the Hudson River after both of its engines had blown out.
If theres ever been a miracle, this is a miracle, said veteran flight instructor Gregory Keshishian. For him to put the plane down apparently perfectly takes a great amount of skill and good judgment.
The pilot and flight crew avoided fatalities with a technique called ditching, in which the plane must land perfectly flat like a pancake on the water, said Keshishian, of Manhattan.
If the plane had dug its wing tips or nose below the waters surface, it would have immediately submerged, he said.
Sullenberger, 57, who has more than 40 years of flight experience and runs a safety consulting firm, remained calm under pressure.He skidded unbelievably smoothly just skidded right in front of us and just skimmed the water, said Roseann Needleman, 59, who saw the water landing from her apartment on West 52nd Street and 10th Avenue.
Even after he evacuated the 150 passengers and four other crew members aboard the US Airways flight the Sullenberger walked around the plane twice to check for victims before he himself got off, according to Mayor Bloomberg.
Its no wonder Sullenberger had several Facebook fan clubs by Thursday evening.
The mayor added the flight crew would not speculate on the cause of the crash, but reports say a flock of birds blew out the planes engines.
I give all the credit to the flight crew. They made the right decisions, said Alan Yurman, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator. This was very lucky and very miraculous.
Keshishian, who has 30 years of flight experience, agreed: We all train for this but very, very few people do it, and its not something you would ever want to do.
Ryan Chatelain contributed to this story.