Hero pilot returning to NYC, getting key to city

Saturday, February 7, 2009

NEW YORK -- New York City never got a chance to say a proper thank you to the pilot who miraculously landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River last month, saving the lives of all 155 on board. Now he's coming back for his hero's welcome.

Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and his flight crew are set to be honored Monday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg at city hall, where they will be given a key to the city.

Sullenberger and his family also plan to take in a Broadway show and perhaps enjoy a little free time in the city Bloomberg said is inspired by his brave actions.

The pilot and the mayor last spoke at the scene of the rescue operation on Manhattan's west side, hours after Sullenberger glided the Airbus A320 into the frigid water in what Gov. David Paterson called a "miracle on the Hudson."

Both engines lost power in the Jan. 15 incident -- a moment that Sullenberger, in a "60 Minutes" interview, said was "the worst sickening, pit-of-your-stomach, falling-through-the-floor feeling" he's ever had. The interview with Katie Couric will air Sunday.

Sullenberger also said New York City's first responders also deserve gratitude for the quick midriver rescue. "'Thank you' seems totally inadequate," he said.

After the interview airs, Sullenberger is scheduled to continue a media blitz with appearances Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America" and CBS's "The Early Show." CBS is devoting its entire show to the story of Flight 1549, and will speak with the rest of the crew and Sullenberger's family.

The pilot and crew are also set to appear on CNN's "Larry King Live" and CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman."

Sullenberger did not do media interviews immediately after the crash because he was still working with officials investigating the cause. He also could not attend a City Hall ceremony where Bloomberg honored rescuers who plucked survivors off the wings of the floating jet.

Before Monday's media interviews and City Hall ceremony, the Sullenberger family is set to spend some time on the town.

The pilot, along with his wife and two daughters, are scheduled to attend one of Broadway's hottest shows and have been invited backstage to meet the stars. The musical: "South Pacific."

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