Today’s Illustration: “Brace For Impact” — The After Story

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hudson sullenbergerBecause of the upcoming anniversary of
“The Landing in the Hudson” by Captain Sullenberger,

and my interest in flying an airplane, [1]
here is another illustration
“ripped front the front pages of the news!”


When:  January 15, 2009 — “Described by the National Transportation Safety Board as “the most successful ditching in aviation history,” US Airways Flight 1549 was forced to make an exceptionally dramatic water landing in the Hudson River in New York after it struck a flock of geese following take off.”

Who: Captain Chesley Sullenberger / Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger of Danville, California

First Officer / Co-pilot: Jeff Skiles

Sullenberger attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and flew F-4 fighter planes while in the Air Force.

40 years of flying experience
29 years with United Airlines
licensed glider pilot

Sullenberger – age 58
Sullenberger Called — “Hero of the Hudson”

What: Airbus A320-214 registered as N106US

  • It was US Airways Flight 1549
  • Flight 1549 took off at 3:26 p.m.
  • Taking off from LaGuardia Airport, NYC
  • At 2,900 feet in the air
  • In 90 seconds, a “double bird strike” was reported and request to return to La Guardia
  • A flock of birds flew into the plane’s engines.
  • Both engines shut down.
  • Told to divert to the Teterboro airport, New Jersey
  • Landed In the Hudson River, NYC


  • Weather: 20 degrees / water temp 36 degrees / hypothermia would set in in about 5-8 minutes – 35 people were rescued from the frigid waters / wind chill 11 degrees
  • 155 passengers on board
  • Two pilots and three flight attendants on board
  • All passengers and crew survived.
  • One person suffered two broken legs.
  • Ferries and Coast Guard boats rescued the survivors.
  • The Thomas Jefferson ferry was one of the first to arrive and rescue
  • Crash Was Nicknamed — “Miracle on the Hudson”

The After Story: Whatever happened to that airplane?

The airplane continued to drift four miles downriver.

The airplane suffered significant damage and was waterlogged.

It was pulled out of the Hudson and loaded onto a barge on January 17th . . . 

“. . . salvage operator Weeks Marine cut off the wings and tail assembly, to allow the fuselage to be hauled on a flatbed truck through New Jersey streets, to a warehouse where federal investigators picked it apart for two years.”

It was moved to Kearney, New Jersey.

January 2010, it was put up for auction by an insurance company (AIG) for over three months — “as-is/ where-is”.

There was no buyer and it looked like it was going to be scrapped.

June 10th, 2011, AIG donated it to the Carolinas Aviation Museum. 

“The hoped-for bidding war did not ensue, and the plane was eventually bought (at a steep discount) by the Carolinas Aviation Museum, which reattached all the missing parts and restored the interior.

New York’s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum had expressed interest, but in at least one sense, the plane’s new home is entirely appropriate: the Museum is located in Charlotte, North Carolina, which was Flight 1549’s destination on the day of its splash landing.”

“Visitors to Carolinas Aviation Museum were able to not only see the plane but also witness passenger testimonies and find out more about the dramatic accident.”

The museum closed down for relocation in 2019.  It is set to open in 2022 — Charlotte, NC

The movie Sully debuted in theaters on September 9, 2016. It grossed $125 million in the United States and another $115.7 million worldwide and owns the September record for the biggest global IMAX opening for a 2D film. It was critically acclaimed for Hanks’ portrayal of Sullenberger. 


Some Quotations: 

According to WCNC in Charlotte, the last day the museum was open found passengers from that January flight coming to remember the day of the accident. “What’s amazing is there’s 155 different stories from that day and I like hearing everybody else’s stories, and it just makes it so miraculous,” passenger Laurie Crane said. “Some people thought we were going to die on the plane, then we thought we were going to die on the river. That we all were saved, it’s just a godsend.” 

Fellow passenger Denise Lockie visited on Sunday as well, telling reporters that “I also think that losing the museum for two and a half years has been emotional for all of us whether it’s public or private. I was very apprehensive of coming here today but I knew that I had to say goodbye to her before she left for her little vacation. It’s just part of my life and who I am today.” 

¤¤¤¤¤ ¤¤¤¤¤ ¤¤¤¤¤ ¤¤¤¤¤ ¤¤¤¤¤ 

“I thought that was it,” said Barnhardt. “As soon as I heard, ‘brace for impact,’ and to the point of hitting, I thought, ‘that’s it, it’s over. We’re done.'”

Brad Wentzell was in seat 21C. Moments after the plane hit the water, he helped a mother and her young baby get off the plane. He said the flight put his life in perspective and allowed him to focus more on his family.

“1549 was probably the best thing that has ever happened to me,” Wentzell told NBC Charlotte. “As crazy as that sounds to say, it’s true.”

NBC Charlotte has talked to a number of passengers on board the famed flight. And many of them share the sentiment that surviving gave them a second chance at life. And they all take it very seriously.

“I use a quote sometimes,” one passenger said. “‘You ask me why I came here, I came to live out loud.’ I love that quote because it says what a lot of us feel now. We want to make sure we live our lives.”

Despite it being a decade since the event, the crash is still vivid to those who experienced it.

“Every little bit of it,” said Kristy Spears, who ended up on the fuel-soaked slippery edge of a wing. “It’s just very crystal clear in my mind.”

Barnhardt said little things would remind her of the day she didn’t know if she’d live or die. She contributed to a chapter in the book “Brace for Impact,” that chronicled the crash.

“It says I was standing in waist-deep water in the aisle of the plane firmly believing we had sunk or we were sinking,” she said.

In that moment, Barnhardt thought of her family; her husband and two children, then ages 2 and 6.

My husband Mike erased the phone message of the last words I thought I would ever speak to my family,” Barnhardt read from the book. “He didn’t want to keep such a visceral reminder of that horrifying winter afternoon that he believed he had just become…a widower.”

“You can’t push a button to erase all the pain, the terror, the deep, deep sadness,” she lamented. “Those echoes still live with me. I’m not sure they’ll ever completely dissolve.”


Key Words & Thoughts:

  • accidents
  • life and death
  • saved
  • different stories
  • die on the plane, then die on the river
  • part of who I am today
  • worthless
  • no buyers
  • landing
  • the unexpected
  • “miracle”
  • “Brace for Impact”
  • “thought of her family”
  • erase all the pain and sadness
  • widower
  • say not today or tomorrow we will do this or that
  • fear
  • it started out as a normal day


Other Information & Links:

1. In the 80’s, while teaching at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, in Owatonna, Minnesota, a captain flying for Northwest Orient Airlines, and friend of the college, offered free flight lessons.  Our only cost was $18.00 for the plane rental (Who would believe that price today!).  On a lowly professors salary, I was unable to finish the class (salary $3,500 / year) and I also lack the confidence that I could fly solo, without such an experienced pilot alongside of me.  Nevertheless, the classes on aerodynamics and the opportunities to fly with with my instructor continued to ignite my life-long interest in flight.


What Happened To The Airbus A320 That Landed On The Hudson?


So what happened to Sully’s airplane?


Video Link:

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