“The Miracle on the Hudson,” which is still one of the most memorable moments in New York City history over a decade later, was an improvised maneuver by a heady pilot.
Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger said landing a plane on the water was “nothing we specifically trained for,” yet he successfully glided US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009, and saved 155 people.
“The only training we had gotten for a water landing was a classroom discussion,” Sullenberger said in an interview with American Veterans Center, which was shared with Fox News Digital.
“Probably the best way to explain it, is for 42 years before this flight, I had been making small, regular deposits in a bank of education, training and experience,” he said. “On Jan. 15, 2009, the balance was sufficient, so I could make a sudden large withdrawal.”
The plane lost power in both engines when it hit a flock of geese minutes after taking off from LaGuardia Airport.
Sullenberger, an Air Force veteran, and co-pilot Jeff Skiles immediately called in a mayday, as the plane quickly lost altitude at a rate of two stories per second.
A voice on the dispatch said, “I think he said he’s going to land in the Hudson.”
Flight 1549 glided in the Hudson River with a splash. Videos and images of passengers standing on the wings are still as memorable today as they were during the evening rush-hour commute 15 years ago.
WATCH: CAPTAIN “SULLY” SPEAKS ABOUT JAN. 15, 2009
Three waterway ferries were the first boats at the scene to evacuate passengers off the water-bound plane within minutes.
They were followed by rapid response from the FDNY and NYPD.
“Soon it seemed like all of New York and New Jersey were rushing to the middle of the Hudson,” said George Clooney, who narrated the American Veterans Center 6.5-minute video recap of events.
“It was a moment that gave Americans hope and captivated the nation,” the American Veterans Center posted in a tribute tweet.
“Sully” became an American folk hero after the unbelievable scene, especially in light of surrounding events.
A low-flying plane heading for Manhattan gave many people scarring flashbacks of 9/11.
On top of that was the housing crisis, the recession and the ongoing divide over the war on terror, as former NBC broadcaster Katie Couric noted during last week’s event at Paley Center for Media in Midtown Manhattan.
One correspondent described the scene “as a picture in search of a story,” Couric said, while broadcasters and viewers scrambled for answers.
“We got some video of a plane on the Hudson River,” Couric said. “And we’re thinking, ‘What the hell is going on?’ We thought, ‘Is this a movie being made, a disaster film?’ We couldn’t figure it out.”
Since then, Sullenberger and Skiles have worked together to improve the aviation industry, which included improvements to airline safety and a new law mandating pilots have 1,500 flight hours of experience before they can fly commercial airlines.