On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 was forced to make a water landing in the Hudson River with 150 passengers and five crew members on board. The passenger flight, scheduled from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, lost thrust in both engines several minutes after takeoff when it struck a flock of Canadian geese.
Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger quickly realized that they would be unable to return to an airport safely and instinctively turned for the Hudson River where he successfully ditched the aircraft. All 150 occupants safely evacuated the plane, which was virtually intact after the impact but was partially submerged and sinking slowly. All on board were rescued by ferries and other watercraft on the river.
If you live in Charlotte, chances are you know someone who was on Flight 1549 or have heard someone on board speak about the incident. I personally heard the story of someone on board the flight at my church one Sunday – a memory that I will never forget. (If you have not, keep ready and learn about an opportunity to do so.)
Charlotte is now home to the “Miracle on the Hudson” aircraft, an Airbus A320, that arrived last year at the Carolinas Aviation Museum near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
It took a week to move the 120-foot fuselage 600 miles from Newark, N.J. The company that hauled the plane out of the Hudson River and stored it in a warehouse near Newark built a special 120-foot hauling trailer with six steering axles for the job. With the plane on board, the tractor-trailer weighed 254,000 pounds, was 149 feet long, 15-feet 6-inches high and 15 feet wide. The wings were taken off the plane and transported separately to Charlotte.
Upon arrival, there was a private reception and showing for Capt. Sullenberger, members of his crew and passengers. That was the first time they had viewed the plane since the crash.
US Airways Flight 1549 may be the main attraction, but the Carolinas Aviation Museum also has a collection of more than 50 aircraft (including aircraft representing each branch of the military) and a large number of smaller, historic items related to aviation in the Carolinas.
Visitors to the museum’s most recent addition can view the plane as it was on that fated day three years ago – minus the passenger’s personal belongings. The landing gear pins, fire ax, and the manuals are still in the cockpit; the Coke cans are still in the food carts.
On Saturday, January 14, from 1-4 p.m., there is an opportunity to meet some of the passengers from Flight 1549 and hear about their experience firsthand.
For more details, visit the museum website, www.carolinasaviation.org. The museum is open everyday except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Easter. General admission is $11.00, with discounts for seniors, students and active military. Take the opportunity to view a part of history right here in the Carolinas!
By DJ Stephan (President, Allen Tate Relocation)