NEW YORK – A US Airways pilot who safely landed an Airbus 320 in the Hudson River off the shores of Manhattan without any fatalities is being hailed as a hero.
So, who exactly is Chesley B. Sullenburger III?
Sullenburger's daughter, contacted by FOXNews.com Thursday night, declined to confirm details about her father.
An official familiar with the accident told The Associated Press the 57-year-old, of Danville, Calif., is a former fighter pilot who runs a safety consulting firm in addition to flying commercial aircraft.
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"We've had a 'Miracle on 34th Street' and now we have a miracle on the Hudson," said New York Gov. David Paterson.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the pilot, whom he declined to identify, told him that he walked through the plane twice to make sure everyone was off before exiting the aircraft.
Sullenberger, who has flown for US Airways since 1980, flew F-4 fighter jets with the Air Force in the 1970s. He then served on a board that investigated aircraft accidents and participated later in several National Transportation Safety Board investigations.
He is president of Safety Reliability Methods, a California firm that uses "the ultra-safe world of commercial aviation" as a base for safety consulting in other fields, according to the firm's Web site.
Sullenberger's mailbox at the firm was full on Thursday. A group of fans sprang up on Facebook within hours of the emergency landing.
"OMG, I am terrified of flying but I would be happy to be a passenger on one of your aircraft!!" Melanie Wills in Bristol wrote on the wall of "Fans of Sully Sullenberger." "You have saved a lot of peoples lives and are a true hero!!"
Passenger Joe Hart said Sullenberger "was phenomenal."
"He landed it — I tell you what, the impact wasn't a whole lot more than a rear-end (collision). It threw you into the seat ahead of you. Both engines cut out and he actually floated it into the river," he said.
Another passenger, Jeff Kolodjay, said the captain instructed them to "brace for impact because we're going down."
"You've got to give it to the pilot. He made a hell of a landing," Kolodjay said.
FOXNews.com's Michelle Maskaly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.