New Delhi: Americans are saying if you could choose a pilot when a plane was going to be crash-landed, they would choose Captain Sally. Captain Sally made sure the US Airways plane - which landed in the Hudson River on Friday after birds apparently knocked out at least one engine - was masterfully landed in the river and that all passengers were unhurt.
"We've had a miracle on 34th Street. I believe now we've had a miracle on the Hudson," New York Governor David Patterson said.
A miracle it was as a cool-headed pilot manoeuvred the jetliner over New York City and ditched it in the Hudson River. The US Airways plane was crippled after a flock of geese got sucked into one of the engines minutes after take off from New York's Laguardia Airport. The flight was bound to Charlotte.
Passengers say they could smell smoke and soon after the pilot warned them to 'brace for impact'.
A passenger, Dave Sanderson said, "I heard an explosion, so I have heard it before, so I thought they just lost an engine. I looked down, I saw some flames coming out from underneath the left wing and I said, alright this isn't good."
Rescue boats and paramedics were deployed right away to help passengers out of the sinking plane. There were no casualties. Only one passenger suffered broken legs.
New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg said, "It would appear that the pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river, and then making sure that everybody got out."
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be investigating the incident, which could have ended much worse than it did.
Senior Investigator NTSB, Joe Sedor said, "The NTSB investigation is just beginning. We'll be looking into all aspects of the accident including airplane structures, systems, power plants, flight crew operations, survival factors, air traffic control and airplane performance."
Cases of birds hitting planes happen more often than you think. The Federal Aviation Authority reports 56,000 such incidents in the US in six years.