The Miracle of the Hudson River Crash

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It was a routine flight for US Airways 1549 bound for Charlotte, New York from LaGuardia airport. But minutes into the flight, something whacky happened that caught the attention of the entire world; that became a worldwide sensation, making the pilots real-life heroes overnight.

Routine Background:

On the 15th of January, 2009, at around 3:25 pm, US Airways 1549 took off from runway 4, LaGuardia airport, New York City-bound for Charlotte, North Carolina. Onboard were 5 crew members, including Capt. Chelsey (“Sully”) Sullenberger III, and 150 passengers.

A Mishap in the Making:

Around 3 minutes into the flight, the jet bumped into a flock of geese during the climb, causing both the engines of the Airbus A320 to fail. Despite repeated efforts by the pilots to revive both the engines, the jet cruised at around 3000 feet without any power in both the engines.

There was no way that the plane could land anywhere as the pilots were unable to reach any airport for an emergency landing. That’s when the pilot Capt. Sully, keeping his cool, announced over the intercom “This is the captain. Brace for impact.”

The Great Descend:

The plane continued to descend in a glide and time was running out. The lives of the passengers and crew members were the deepest concern and burden for Capt. Sully.

He was convinced that it would be unable to reach LaGuardia or any other airport nearby and he immediately notified the air traffic control tower that he was going to attempt a very risky and daring water landing, exclaiming over the intercom, “We’re going to be in the Hudson.”

Having rich experience of about 19,663 total flight hours, Capt. Sully decided to land the aircraft in the river Hudson. As scary as it sounds, he found it the only and final option to land the aircraft or the city approach.

After the Captain informed the tower about his water landing plan, the tower asked the Coast Guard to be prepared for assistance and rescue.

Crash and Evacuation:

Minutes later, the plane plunged into the middle of the North River section of the Hudson River. It was a hard landing with one impact and no bounce. As soon as the plane plunged into the water, Capt. Sully had opened the cockpit door and gave orders to evacuate immediately.

The crew then began to evacuate the passengers through the four-over-wing window exits and inflatable rafts. Most of the passengers stood on the wings of the plane awaiting rescue.

About 140 New York City firefighters responded to nearby docks, and so did police, helicopters, and various vessels and divers.


All 155 passengers and crew aboard survived. Capt. Chelsey (“Sully”) Sullenberger III became an international hero and received love and appreciation from all over the world.

But some people criticized and condemned him for his life-risking decision to land the aircraft in the river. But after a very long and detailed investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that his decision to land in the Hudson had been fitting and pertinent. 

This incident was brought back to life, in the drama Sully, starring Tom Hanks.

Written By - Daniel Deepak Charles

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