NEW YORK (AP) — 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, is tethered to a pier on the tip of Lower Manhattan.
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.”