Friday, January 16, 2009
Heroic US Air Pilot Profiled
Nice to see a hero being celebrated for a change
The pilot of Flight 1549 was Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III, 57, of Danville, Calif., an official familiar with the accident told The Associated Press. Sullenberger is a former fighter pilot who runs a safety consulting firm in addition to flying commercial aircraft.
Sullenberger, who has flown for US Airways since 1980, flew F-4 fighter jets with the Air Force in the 1970s. He then served on a board that investigated aircraft accidents and participated later in several National Transportation Safety Board investigations.
Sullenberger had been studying the psychology of keeping airline crews functioning even in the face of crisis, said Robert Bea, a civil engineer who co-founded UC Berkeley's Center for Catastrophic Risk Management.
Bea said he could think of few pilots as well-situated to bring the plane down safely than Sullenberger.
The pilot "did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river and then making sure that everybody got out," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "He walked the plane twice after everybody else was off, and tried to verify that there was nobody else on board, and he assures us there was not."
In the minutes after takeoff, the pilot managed to maneuver past the skyscrapers of Manhattan and into the crowded Hudson River, even though the engines were disabled after apparently hitting a flock of geese.
Passengers said the plane was vibrating violently and the cabin began to fill with smoke. To reach its splashdown spot, witnesses said the jet glided over the George Washington Bridge before plopping into the water.