Sometimes seemingly ordinary people become extraordinary by staying remarkably calm and capable in a crisis. The crew of US Airways Flight 1549 performed exceptionally on January 15, 2009, when their Airbus A320 jetliner became disabled over New York City after flying through a flock of geese moments after they took off from LaGuardia Airport. Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey B. Skiles masterfully guided the powerless aircraft to an emergency “landing” on the Hudson River. Flight attendants Donna Dent, Doreen Welsh, and Sheila Dail quickly and safely evacuated all 150 passengers. Although the captain and crew modestly claimed they were “just doing what they were trained to do,” rarely has such an urgent situation been so capably executed to avert disaster. The successful end to US Airways Flight 1549 without fatalities lasted only a few minutes, but this remarkable achievement exemplified the value of training, experience, and professionalism for the safety of commercial aviation. That is why the National Air and Space Museum will be awarding them our Annual Trophy for Current Achievement for 2010.
The crew of flight 1549 will be participating in an online conference this Wednesday, April 28th, where they will be taking your questions about this heroic accomplishment. Please register now to join the conversation.
Bob Van der Linden is the chair of the Aeronautics Division of the National Air and Space Museum.