“Even in those early seconds, I knew this was an emergency that called for thinking beyond what's usually considered appropriate”.Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger III, US Airways Flight 1549, after landing his airliner on the Hudson River Copyright © 2009 by Chesley B. Sullenberger III. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 departed New York City at 3:25 p.m. en route to Charlotte, North Carolina. The flight was proceeding uneventfully as the Airbus A320 lifted off LaGuardia Airport's Runway 4, gently climbing over the snowy city.
“What a view of the Hudson today!” the captain, Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger III, exclaimed as the crew completed their after-takeoff checklist.
“Yeah!” his copilot, First Officer Jeffrey Skiles, agreed while flying the jet.
Suddenly, just ninety seconds after takeoff, the airliner struck a large flock of Canada geese ahead and to the right in a V formation.
“Birds!” the captain yelled. With no time to react or avoid, the aircraft ingested several twelve-pound water fowl into both engines.
“Whoa! Oh, shit!” the copilot exclaimed.
Geese hit the windshield, nose, and wings in rapid succession like pelting hail. “It sounded like it was ‘raining birds’” the captain recalled. They filled the windscreen, “large dark birds” like a “black and white photograph.”