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Hudson miracle: Emergency landing on Hudson River a blessing never forgotten

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A Hudson miracle is trending in top news headlines this afternoon with the fifth anniversary of the Miracle on the Hudson being discussed by the pilot of the plane and his first officer in a special interview. A full five years after the emergency landing of a U.S. Airways flight crashing into the icy New York River, the air officials look back on the incident as frightening at the time, but turning out to be a blessing that will never be forgotten — not one passenger was severely injured. CBS News explains the startling crash and quick-thinking pilot who managed to avert a potentially fatal situation this Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014.

The Hudson miracle officially occurred five years ago via U.S. Airways flight 1549. After birds slammed into the plane and prompted a risky emergency landing, pilot captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was able to safely land the plane in the middle of the Hudson River in New York. Memorialized as “The Miracle on the Hudson” in the years to come, the incident will always be remembered for a very good reason: all 155 passengers on board survived the crash.

It was Captain Chesley Sullenberger, an experienced pilot who now works as a News aviation and safety analyst for CBS, as well as his first officer Jeff Skiles who made a special appearance on “CBS This Morning” earlier today to discuss what this fifth anniversary of the Hudson miracle means for them, as well as their memories of the stunning event.

According to the flight experts, it was roughly 208 seconds from the moment that high-flying birds struck the plane that the aircraft slammed down in the waters of New York far below. Sullenberger revealed to the news station hosts that the emergency landing was something that he will never forget, and a true “startling shock.”

“After almost 30 years of routine flying, where we were hardly ever surprised by anything in an airplane and we were all of a sudden confronted with an ultimate challenge of a lifetime – one we never trained for,” he said. “But, I was confident at the outset, that I could find a way to solve the problem, in the time that we had.”

While there remains talk to this day whether the pilot’s sudden landing was something that should be particularly lauded as a blessing or if it was a grounding that any capable pilot trained in emergency situations should be able to do, it was nonetheless an experience that took all of their skill and quick-thinking. Skiles added that both of them were “well trained …” and that they knew to “fall back on [that experience] in these dangerous kinds of situations.”

“Obviously any type of circumstances could lead to a different result,” he said. “And the one thing I can tell you is I am very happy to have been flying with Captain Sullenberger on that day and I could not have had a better colleague on that day – or since.”

Even on its fifth anniversary, the Miracle on the Hudson is something that many Americans are no doubt still thankful for this 2014.

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