One year after he successfully landed a plane on the Hudson River in New York, Danville resident Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger was back in Manhattan Friday to thank first-response workers on the scene and commemorate the landing with the flight's crew and passengers.
On Jan. 15, 2009, Sullenberger safely landed US Airways flight No. 1549 on the river after its engines lost power, saving the lives of all 155 people on board.
To celebrate the anniversary of the landing, Sullenberger first attended an appreciation breakfast for the American Red Cross organized by the passengers.
Flight 1549 passenger Theresa Leahy organized the breakfast for the Greater New York and Northern New Jersey chapter of the American Red Cross, according to the organization.
Sullenberger thanked the emergency personnel at the event, which was also attended by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Gov. David Paterson.
Bloomberg also praised Sullenberger and his crew, in addition to the emergency workers.
He said being able to tell New Yorkers that all 155 passengers were safe marked one of the happiest moments of his life.
After the Red Cross event, Sullenberger and the Flight 1549 crew and passengers rode on a ferry boat to the area on the Hudson River where the landing happened and raised a toast at 3:31 p.m. to commemorate the event.
"The passengers have organized a reception for this afternoon and evening," said Libby Smiley of Barbary Coast Consulting. "They're doing something to mark the moment."
A year after the landing, Sullenberger, who has been widely lauded as an American hero, is as popular as ever.
A speech he gave at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco sold out in November, and last month, a pilot's cap he wore for years brought in $5,800 at an auction for local schools.
"The story has a lot of power," Smiley said. "As (Sullenberger) likes to say, it's reminded us of the potential in each of us. We can all take a moment today to remember what a good thing happened."