American Airlines on January 15 joined the crew and passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Miracle on the Hudson at a luncheon hosted by the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, First Officer Jeff Skiles and Flight Attendants Sheila Dail, Donna Dent and Doreen Welsh were recognized for the bravery and skill they demonstrated on Jan. 15, 2009.
Ten years ago, shortly after takeoff, US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of geese, disabling both engines of the Airbus A320 aircraft. Sullenberger and Skiles quickly ditched the aircraft in the Hudson River while Dail, Dent and Welsh helped passengers evacuate. Through the heroic actions of the crew and the immediate response from public and private agencies and organizations in New York and New Jersey, all 150 passengers survived. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Kitty Higgins later described Flight 1549 as “the most successful ditching in aviation history.”
“Flight 1549 quickly became known as the Miracle on the Hudson, but all of us know that what Capt. Sullenberger, First Officer Jeff Skiles and Flight Attendants Sheila Dail, Donna Dent and Doreen Welsh did on the Hudson was not a miracle, but an example of great skill and professionalism produced by years of training and experience,” American’s Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said.
“There’s never been a story quite like this one, and probably never will be. It is also a reminder of why our pilots and flight attendants train and prepare as hard as they do. We are proud of Sully, Jeff, Sheila, Donna and Doreen’s place in aviation history and are thankful for the hundreds of team members from across the company who sprang into action to take care of our customers and the crew in the hours, days, weeks and months after the accident.”
Parker joined former New York Governor David Paterson; City of Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles; President of the Carolinas Aviation Museum Stephen Saucier; union, corporate, government and nonprofit representatives and dozens of current and former airline team members who were instrumental in the response at the luncheon.
The airline’s CARE Team, a vital part of the emergency effort, helped to provide the immediate humanitarian response for the passengers, their loved ones and the crew.
After the luncheon, the crew, passengers and several American team members gathered around the aircraft involved in the accident, which resides at the Carolinas Aviation Museum, for a celebratory toast at 3:31 p.m. ET — the time of the ditching — to honor the milestone anniversary.
Each member of the crew of Flight 1549 had decades of aviation experience at the time of the accident. Sullenberger had been a pilot with US Airways for nearly 30 years and had more than 19,000 hours of flight time, placing him among the most qualified airline pilots in the world. Skiles had more than 15,000 hours of flight time and had just started flying Airbus A320 aircraft. Dail and Dent each had nearly 30 years of flight attendant experience; Welsh, nearly 40.
Sullenberger and Welsh retired from US Airways in 2010. Dent retired from American in 2017 and today marks Dail’s last day at the airline before retirement. Skiles is based in Chicago and flies Boeing 787 aircraft for American.