Where: New York, USA
January 16, 2009 : There were 150 passengers, three flight attendants and two pilots on board US Airways flight 1549. The plane, an Airbus 320, was on its way to Charlotte in the state of North Carolina from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Less than a minute after take-off, the pilot reported a ‘double bird strike’ – meaning that birds, probably a flock of geese, had hit both the plane’s jet engines. Passengers could soon see flames near the engines, and they smelt fuel, while power went off inside the cabin. The pilot asked and received permission from ground control to land at the nearest airport. However, the aircraft was losing altitude, and he decided to ‘ditch’, or land in water.
The landing is being described as a miracle, and the pilot, Chesley B. Sullenberger III, a hero. An eyewitness reported that the landing wasn’t “wild or erratic” but as if as the plane “was landing on a runway”. The passengers, wearing life jackets, walked off the wings of the plane into rescue boats, even as the plane was drifting down the river, submerged up to its windows. Some people were rescued from the water by police divers. There were some cases of minor injuries and exposure to cold.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the captain “achieved one of the rarest and most technically challenging feats in commercial aviation,” by landing successfully on water.