Hero pilot tells of terror, focus - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Hero pilot tells of terror, focus

By Lindsay Cohen email

NEW YORK, NY (WFLX) -- Appearing calm but revealing sleepless nights and second-guessing, the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 says he had a "sickening" feeling when both the planes engines lost power over the most densely-populated area in the United States.

In an exclusive interview with CBS News, Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger recalled the moments leading up to "the miracle on the Hudson," as termed by the governor of New York.

"I heard the noises," Sullenberger tells CBS' Katie Couric, of the bird strike that brought the plane down. "I felt the engine vibrations of the damage being done to the engines. And I smelled what I described at the time -- and I still would --  as a burned bird smell."

"I made the "brace for impact" announcement in the cabin," Sullenberger continues, "and immediately, through the hardened cockpit door, I heard the flight attendants begin shouting their commands in response to my command to brace: 'heads down, stay down.' I could hear them clearly and they were chanting in unison over and over to the passengers to warn them and instruct them."

Sullenberger was able to safely land the flight in the Hudson River, with 155 passengers on board. He says that he knew that when the plane lost the thrust that he would have to make a critical decision.

"Losing thrust on both engines, at a low speed, at a low altitude, over one of the most densely populated areas on the planet. Yes, I knew it was a very challenging situation. My next thought was to consider Teterboro [Airport.]"

Sullenberger determined that the frigid Hudson River was "the only viable alternative."

In the aftermath of the emergency landing, Sullenberger says he lay awake at night second-guessing his performance, and he initially had trouble forgiving himself because he thought he could have done something different in that "critical situation."

But he says he's past that now.

Three flight attendants joined the interview, which aired on 60 Minutes Sunday night. Sullenberger and the crew will appear on the CBS Early Show Monday morning from 7 to 9 am.

They are then scheduled to get the keys to New York City today from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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