Flight 1549 Pilot A Glider Instructor
The pilot who guided a US Airways A320 to arguably the most successful airliner ditching in history on Thursday would appear to be well drilled in deadstick landings. Capt. Chelsey Burnett Sullenberger III holds commercial and instructor glider ratings, along with ground instructor, single engine and muli-engine instructor ratings, according to the FAA's airman certificate database. He does not have a float rating, however. Sullenberger is being hailed a hero for putting the airliner, with a total of 155 people on board, into the river without any fatalities after the aircraft reportedly lost both engines to multiple bird strikes. The most serious injuries appear to be broken bones, although at least half of those on board were treated for hypothermia after being dunked in the 40-degree water in air temperatures hovering around 20 degrees. "It would appear that the pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river, and then making sure that everybody got out," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters.
According to FlightAware, Flight 1549 was climbing northbound after taking off from La Guardia Airport for Charlotte, N.C. and was at 3,200 feet when it made a descending turn south to the river. Witnesses told various media outlets the airliner made a controlled descent to the river and doors and emergency chutes deployed immediately afterward. Passengers were quoted as saying at least one engine exploded and caught fire and that they were warned to brace for a hard impact. Passing commuter ferries were on the scene quickly to pick up passengers and it was reported that women and children were the first to be taken off the sinking airliner. Bloomberg said Sullenberger inspected the interior of the airliner twice to ensure everyone got off.