OPA-LOCKA, Fla. — Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the retired pilot made famous for his heroic landing of a US Airways 1549 on the Hudson back in 2009, returned to the skies Friday for charity.
Passengers paid $1,000 a seat on the sold-out 1958 Eastern Airlines DC-7 that departed from Opa-Locka Airport and landed safely in Charlotte, North Carolina. The proceeds benefited the Historical Flight Foundation of Miami, a museum that not only promotes the awareness and appreciation of aviation history, but also educates and trains young people in maintaining and piloting historical aircrafts.
“This is a priceless, historic artifact,” Sully, who built a model of the plane as a child, told the Sun-Sentinel. “It shows how far we’ve come in aviation.”
Co-pilot Jeff Skiles, the same man that was by his side three years ago on the Hudson, joined Captain Sully on the flight. Many applauded Sully’s quick decision-making and cool demeanor after he executed smooth emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York City after a flock of birds disabled the plane’s engines. All 155 passengers and crew members survived. Sully has since then retired from US Airways and is now an advocate for aviation safety.
During the event, Captain Sully and his crew signed autographs for passengers and posed for photographs. One of those passengers, Denise Lockie, was on American Airlines Flight 1549 on that fateful day on the Hudson and had been looking forward to meeting with Sully and Skiles.
“It’s a life-altering moment,” Lockie told the Miami Herald. “It defines me as a person today. So when I have an opportunity to see Sully or Jeff, it’s my honor to see them.”
The DC-7 aircraft, which recently made an appearance on the ABC show Pan Am, was taken to the Carolinas Aviation Museum, the same place where US Airways 1549 is located.