By JENNIFER PELTZ and CRISTIAN SALAZAR,
NEW YORK (Jan. 16) — Investigators brought in a giant crane and a barge Friday to help pull a US Airways jetliner from the Hudson River, and survivors among the 155 people aboard recounted tales of horror and hailed the pilot as a hero who delivered them from certain death. While on a rescue raft with pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III in the frigid cold, passenger Billy Campbell said he went to him. "I leaned over and grabbed his arm, and I said I just want to thank you on behalf of all of is, Campbell told NBC's "Today" show. "He just said, 'You're welcome.'' Campbell was sitting in the back of the plane when it landed on the water. "The water was rushing in through the window seams and we couldn't get the back exit open," he said. "So, that scared us a little bit, and we tried and the flight attendant did a wonderful job trying, but then finally turned and said immediately "'Go to the wing (exit).'"
National Transportation Safety Board investigators will now focus on recovering the black box from the plane and interviewing the crew about the accident — apparently caused by birds that slammed into the plane's two engines. The Airbus A320, built in 1999, was tethered to a pier on the tip of Lower Manhattan on Friday morning. Only a gray wing tip could be seen jutting out of the water near a Lower Manhattan sea wall. About a block away, it was business as usual as residents jogged or headed to work. "We want to get the plane recovered as soon as possible but we want to do it a safe way," NTSB spokeswoman Kitty Higgins said. Higgins said one challenge will be hauling the plane out of the water without causing it to break apart.
Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeff Skiles and crew have become instant heroes for guiding the plane to safety and safely evacuating the passengers. Sullenberger's wife told CNN she hadn't been watching the news and was stunned to hear about the ordeal from her husband after it was all over. "I've heard Sully say to people, `It's rare for an airline pilot to have an incident in their career,'" Lorrie Sullenberger said. "When he called me he said, `There's been an accident.' At first I thought it was something minor, but then he told me the circumstances and my body started shaking and I rushed to get our daughters out of school." Sullenberger, 57, of Danville, Calif., is a former Air Force fighter pilot who has flown for US Airways for 29 years. He also runs a safety consulting firm.
US Airways chief executive Doug Parker said in a statement it was premature to speculate about the cause. Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said there was no immediate indication the incident was "anything other than an accident." It was a chain of improbability. Birds tangle with airplanes regularly but rarely bring down commercial aircraft. Jet engines sometimes fail — but both at once? Pilots train for a range of emergencies, but few, if any, have ever successfully ditched a jet in one of the nation's busiest waterways without any life-threatening injuries. "We had a miracle on 34th Street. I believe now we have had a miracle on the Hudson," Gov. David Paterson said.
WOW, I don't know any thing else to call this But a MIRACLE. God is GOOD. This story is so touching. God Bless that Pilot!