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Third anniversary of Miracle on the Hudson remembered

January 17, 2012, 06:18 pm

On January 15, 2009, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 successfully landed in the Hudson River after a swarm of Canadian geese disrupted the flight path and destroyed both engines. Due to the heroics of the captain, crew and passengers, everyone made it off the plane safely after landing in the river.

Marking the three-year anniversary of the courageous event known as the Miracle on the Hudson, survivors shared their stories in hopes to inspire a new generation of aviation professionals. New York 1 reported seven passengers appeared at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the famous plane was put on display in 2011. Survivor Joe Hall said surviving the plane's emergency landing made him appreciate everything in his life and the chance he had to watch his kids grow up.

However, some of the passengers have struggled to get back on a plane since the event. Barry Leonard was able to see the plane for the first time since the landing and was overwhelmed with emotion.

"It was just a humbling experience, honestly," Leonard told the source. "It's...it's just...you just want to go up and give it a kiss."

Leonard commutes from Charlotte to Manhattan for his job of 10 years, but traveling by plane has not been the same since the crash landing. When the plane took off from LaGuardia Airport for Charlotte three years ago, the plane's engines were knocked out by a flock of geese very early in the trip, forcing the emergency water landing, the source reported.

"Actually, what I do is count to 90, which was when the birds hit," Leonard recalled. "I go one-one thousand, two-one thousand. And, I figure if we can get to that height, we'll be okay."

According to the Charlotte Observer, two communication headsets were retrieved from the landing site, one that belonged to Captain Chesley Sullenberger, and one from Patrick Harten, the air traffic controller who talked the captain through the heroic landing. Both of these headsets are on display at the Carolinas Aviation Museum, as well as old seats from the jetliner, so survivors could be transported back to the fateful day.

Harten told the guests at the museum about his memory of the day three years ago. It was a slow day, and Harten was directing around 20 planes at once to help them get to their destination safely. Harten vividly remembers trying to turn the jetliner west after a routine take off once the birds hit and destroyed both engines, the source reported.

First, Harten asked the airport to open runways to the plane could turn around and make an emergency landing. He kept communications with the captain short, as he understood the stress and confusion that was ensuing on board and in the cockpit. Sullenberger asked if he could try and land in the Teeterboro, New Jersey, airport instead, but realized he couldn't make it and landed in the river, the source reported.

"I was down there 45 minutes before anybody told me they had made it," said Harten. "I sat there thinking everyone had probably died. I had a hard time believing it - I thought, 'That's impossible. But awesome!'"

One way to stay safe in the skies is to invest in pilot insurance to prepare for such unexpected events.

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