It’s been 10 years since Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger unexpectedly landed a US Airways plane on the Hudson River, dubbed the “Miracle On The Hudson.”
Even after a decade, the audio from Sullenberger’s cockpit is still as terrifying to listen to.
In the afternoon of January 15, 2009, US Airways aircraft 1549 crashed with a flock of Canada geese, destroying both engines. Sullenberger, a veteran United States Air Force fighter pilot, was able to save the lives of everyone on board the jet by landing in the Hudson River after realizing he couldn’t make it back to LaGuardia Airport.
Even though no lives were lost in the tragedy, listening to the cockpit audio is nonetheless unsettling.
“My name is Cactus 1549. Hit the birds. Both of our engines have lost thrust. “We’re heading back to LaGuardia,” Sullenberger says calmly, adding, “We could finish up in the River.”
The air traffic controller answers that Sullenberger has been approved to make an emergency landing at LaGuardia, but the captain says he is “unable.” The controller then adds that the plane may land at neighboring Teeterboro Airport in New Jersey, but Sullenberger says, “We can’t do it. “We’ll be in the Hudson.”
“Cactus 1549, radar contact is lost,” the recording concludes chillingly.
In a subsequent recording, the controller summons emergency services.
“Send me a police helicopter… right now,” he can be heard shouting. “You can get anyone. You direct them to the Lincoln Tunnel. We had a cactus Airbus crash into the water… He went down the river, close to the Intrepid.”
Sullenberger, now 67, has been lauded as a hero and is possibly the world’s most famous pilot. He struggled at first to deal with the hero title.
“I rejected the H word at first,” he said in 2016. “But, I’ve come to appreciate people’s want to feel the way they do about this incident and, by implication, about myself.”
Sullenberger is still in contact with several of the people he saved.
“There were no extraneous thoughts in those few seconds that we had. I didn’t allow myself to, nor did I have any want to. I never considered my family. “I never thought about anything other than managing the flight path and fixing each difficulty one at a time until we had eventually addressed them all,” Sullenberger said on the tenth anniversary. “I consider not just what we did, but also what everyone else did. All of the puzzle parts have to fit together. This gang of strangers had to rise to the occasion and ensure that every life was saved.”
We will never forget what Sullenberger did ten years ago! Listen to the cockpit call for yourself below.