‘Miracle on the Hudson’ flight survivors mark 10 years

It’s been a decade since Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger steered the plane into the Hudson River

Tripp Harris, who was a passenger on US Airways Flight 1549, the “Miracle on the Hudson” airliner in 2009, stands on the High Line along the Hudson River in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

It’s been 10 years, but there isn’t anything Tripp Harris doesn’t remember about the cold January day he cheated death on US Airways flight 1549.

The jolt when the plane collided with a flock of geese and the engines stopped moments after takeoff from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport. The smoke filling the cabin. The electric, burning smell. The panic from the people around him. The calm, steady tone of Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger telling everyone to brace for impact as he steered the Airbus A320-214 into the frigid waters of the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009.

And, of course, he knows the happy ending of the “Miracle on the Hudson”: All 155 people aboard survived.

Harris has also never forgotten what that day taught him about what really mattered: his wife and then-2-year-old son.

“Everything that I could think about was the things I was going to miss,” said Harris, 47, of Charlotte, North Carolina, where the flight was headed. “That fundamentally shifted my priorities.”

It’s colored his life ever since. He decided to spend more time with his family and have adventures and experiences he might otherwise have put off.

That day “made me a better father, a better husband,” Harris said.

It’s a common refrain among survivors, of how that day led to big life changes and small everyday choices, and to feeling joy more readily. But some also speak of the anxiety that can still rise every time they’re on a flight.

“I have a lot more gratitude about my life,” said Sheila Dail, 67, one of the flight attendants. After taking the better part of a year off, she returned to working in the skies and helped to create a peer support group for air stewards at her airline. “I have three grandsons I possibly would never have seen.”

Flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia a decade ago Tuesday, with Sullenberger’s co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles at the controls, three flight attendants and 150 passengers aboard. It was cold, only about 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 7 degrees Celsius), but the skies were clear.

“What a view of the Hudson today,” Sullenberger remarked to Skiles, according to National Transportation Safety Board’s report on the crash.

Less than a minute later, plane and birds collided at 3,000 feet (915 metres). Both engines stopped. Sullenberger took the controls and told air traffic controllers he couldn’t make it back to LaGuardia. His choices were a small airport for private aircraft in New Jersey — possibly too far — or the river. Sullenberger picked the water.

At 3:31 p.m., the plane splashed down, somehow stayed in one piece, and began floating fast toward the harbour. Passengers got out on the wings and inflatable rafts as commuter ferries raced to the rescue.

One flight attendant and four passengers were hurt, but everyone else was mostly fine.

READ MORE: Calgary-to-Vancouver flight forced to land after possible fire

The submerged and damaged plane was recovered and is now held at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, where survivors are planning to gather Tuesday to mark the 10-year anniversary, including a toast at the exact time of the crash.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Jayda Monilaws raises over $7,000 of cupcakes for Central Alberta Humane Society

This is the most the 10-year-old Red Deerian has raised so far

PHOTOS: Alberta male team takes silver in Winter Games relay speed skating

Alberta was close behind Quebec in the team relay speed skating finals

WATCH: Pet therapy brings calmness to Winter Games athletes

Canada Winter Games in Red Deer continue on until March 2nd

Jayda Monilaws is selling cupcakes again for Central Alberta Humane Society

The 10-year-old Red Deerian is selling cupcakes today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Alberta was crowned champions in Wheelchair Basketball at Canada Winter Games

Ontario won silver while Quebec took home the bronze medal

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

Child advocacy centre raising funds through Dream Home Lottery

The child advocacy centre in Red Deer uses its resources to help kids all over Central Alberta

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Sylvan Lake’s Megan Cressey misses Freestyle Skiing Big Air podium

Alberta’s Jake Sandstorm captured silver in the men Freestyle Skiing Big Air contest

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Most Read