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US Airways pilot hailed as hero

January 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Praise continues to roll in for the pilot of the jetliner that landed in the Hudson River in New York. The pilot's home is in California. While he's not speaking publicly during the investigation, his wife is calling him a "pilot's pilot."Chesley Sullenberger has practically spent his whole life preparing for emergencies in the air. He got his pilot's license at the age of 14. When the ultimate test came on a descent over the Hudson River -- he spoke into the intercom only once, and gave the most terrifying instruction a pilot can give: "Brace for impact."

More than 150 people may owe him their lives. Just listen to what all the eyewitnesses and passengers are saying about 57-year-old Sullenberger's cool-as-a-cucumber landing.

"Got to give it to the pilot, man, he did a helluva landing," said one passenger.

"He did just an amazing job, the chances of nobody getting seriously injured is just amazing," said another passenger.

"This pilot was an ace he knew exactly what he was doing," said a witness.

An ace indeed. With water seeping into the plane, he bravely walked up and down the center aisle twice to make sure everyone made it to safety.

"That would fit with both what I know about his special training, and what I know about his demeanor, which is to get the job done." said Colleen Roberts, a friend and colleague of Sullenberger's. "He's direct. He has terrific training. And he's been very active with his own organization in crew resource management."

That's what you get from 40 years of flying. Sullenberger served in the Air Force flying F-4 fighters before joining US Air in 1980. He lives in Northern California with his wife Lorrie, a fitness expert with an ABC affiliate, and their two daughters.

Asked by US Air not to comment publicly on the crash, Lorraine Sullenberger had this to say to reporters about her husband: "He's feeling better today. He's a pilot, he's very controlled and very professional. We haven't actually talked a lot, but we are very proud."

"Sully" practically wrote the book on safety, working investigations, serving as safety chairman of the Airline Pilots Association, even founding an air-safety company.

"It would appear that the pilot did a masterful job landing the plane in the river," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

So masterful a job that he is widely being hailed as a real-life hero.

A fan Web site dedicated to the pilot has already popped up on Facebook. A man from England simply said: "Sully, you rock."


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