The US Airways jet that made the famous 'miracle on the Hudson' landing makes its final journey to North Carolina. This time the trip is by road.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The plane that made a miraculous landing on the Hudson River two years ago is finally due to arrive Friday at its intended destination of Charlotte, where it will be displayed in a museum. Public interest in the jet's journey this week on a flatbed truck has surprised and touched the hero US Airways pilot who guided it to a safe splashdown.
"When I see images of people in their lawns chair waiting for their airplane to roll by on the freeway overpass with a camera to get a glimpse of it is surprising and wonderful," Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III said in an interview.
Thousands of people in several states have lined up along the road to glimpse the 120-foot-long fuselage on its 600-mile drive from Newark, N.J., where it spent the last two years in a hangar. The wings from the damaged Airbus A320 were removed and shipped earlier to the Carolinas Aviation Museum.
US Airways Flight 1549 was bound for Charlotte when a flock of geese disabled the engines on Jan. 15, 2009. Sullenberger safely glided into a water landing on the Hudson in New York City. All 155 passengers and crew members were rescued.
Sullenberger said the landing still resonates with people.
"It gives them hope. It came at a time during the financial worldwide meltdown and people were quite frankly beginning to question basic goodness of human nature and this kind of reaffirmed our belief in the potential of good that exists in all of us," he said.
A day after the plane's scheduled arrival at the museum, Sullenberger will speak at a fundraiser for the exhibit. It will be the first time the passengers and crew will be together with the plane since the accident.
"It will feel like a wonderful reunion," he said. "I think we'll feel that connection again."
His speech will include a discussion of the bond that the passengers and crew share.
"We'll always be joined because of the special bond, and I'm glad the airplane is in Charlotte because that was the destination of the flight," he said. "We made it to Charlotte and the airplane has now also."
The museum is raising money toward an exhibit that could cost $2.4 million, said director Shawn Dorsch. Officials say they had collected enough to transport the plane to Charlotte, where Arizona-based US Airways also has a hub.
Sullenberger said the splashdown inspired those involved to make changes. He has fought for better flight safety and improved working conditions for pilots.
"For many it's become an impetus for change, a catalyst for living a more authentic fuller life. For me, it's given me the ability to be an advocate of important things," he said.
Sullenberger was recently named an aviation and safety expert for CBS News.
"This is a completely different life," he said. "I was completely anonymous. I had never done any public speaking before in my entire life. Now it's my main job."