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The story of the flight pilot who saved…
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The story of the flight pilot who saved 155 passengers by landing the plane in the middle of a river

May 11, 2021 • By Alison Forde
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There are incredible stories that belong to the collective imagination as much as they make us dream; they are the ones we have read in a book, we have seen in an unforgettable film, stories that have raised our fantasy and our imagination beyond the limits of "boring" reality. There are, on the other hand, other stories, which really happened and that on hearing or reading of them, we wonder if they really happened, even though they seem impossible. Yet sometimes reality surpasses the imagination and gives life to one-of-a-kind, unrepeatable events that leave us speechless.

via: History

This is a story of incredible courage starring Captain Chelsea "Sully" Sulleberger and 155 passengers on an airliner, all rescued by the extraordinary courage and calm thinking by this American pilot who did not hesitate in the least to preserve the safety first of his passengers and then of his own life. It all began on the morning of January 15, 2009. Sullenberger was the commander of US Airways Flight 1549, and was accompanied by First Officer Jeff Skiles. The airliner departed from LaGuardia Airport in New York for Charlotte; shortly after take-off, the aircraft hits a large flock of geese unexpectedly, whose impact first damaged the engines and then knocked them out after a few minutes.

Quickly analyzing that the plane would not have time to reach any airport or return to LaGuardia safely, Sullenberger then decided to land the plane on the Hudson River making the decision with assistant Skiles in less than three minutes.

A daring maneuver that, however, in the end succeeded perfectly: the plane landed in the waters of the Hudson River that surrounds the metropolis of New York with no small difficulty, but despite the maneuver of Captain Sully, all 155 passengers on board were saved with a very low number of injuries. Like any self-respecting transport captain, Sullenberger was the last to leave the plane, after making sure that all passengers and crew were perfectly safe.

The actions carried out by Chelsea Sullenberger made him a real hero in the eyes of public opinion, even if immediately after the "Miracle over the Hudson" a commission of inquiry was launched to investigate the dynamics behind that amazing incident. 

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The flight simulations presented to the commission asserted that there was enough time to go back and land safely at LaGuardia airport, without endangering the lives of the passengers, yet Sullenberger and Skiles, when both were  questioned about the events time after time asserted that time was needed to assess the situation and to make an appropriate decision. Another 35 seconds were added to the time needed to make the decision, enough to confirm that no, there was no time to return safely to the departure airport.

For his heroic action, Chelsea Sully Sullenberger was decorated and celebrated by the then outgoing President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama. A beautiful film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks as the hero captain, has now been released.

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