Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger, III (born 1951) is an American airline pilot and hero, famous for the amazing, successful ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in 2009. Btw, I apologize in advance for not cracking any jokes in this post. It’s hard to joke about a man who saved dozens and dozens of lives by pulling off one of the most daring and incredible maneuvers in aviation history. Up to 155 people could have died that day had it not been for the actions of Sully and his crew.
Sully began his aviation career as a pilot for the US Air Force, before signing on with US Airways in 1980. He was extremely active in accident investigations and airline safety (and reliability) improvement long before the flight that made him famous.
On January 15, 2009, Sullenberger’s Airbus A320 ran into a large flock of birds shortly after takeoff, disabling both engines. Although attempting an emergency landing at a nearby airport was discussed, Sully decided that the only option for survival was to perform a water landing on the Hudson River. Sullenberger landed the plane at a perfect angle on the water. None of the 155 people aboard were killed, and there were very few serious injuries. This was unprecedented, as no plane that large had ever performed a successful water ditching with no loss of life.
After the incident, the reserved, calm Sullenberger received worldwide recognition and acclaim for his heroic efforts, including being ranked second in Time Magazine’s “Top 100 Influential Heroes and Icons” list of 2009. He retired as a commercial pilot in 2010, after 30 years in the field.
Sully has, without a doubt, an awesome name, but he’s an even more awesome guy.