Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, 59, has flown his last airline flight. The captain of US Airways Flight 1549, who landed his bird-strike stricken Airbus in the Hudson River a year ago January, has been hailed as a hero ever since. Though eligible to continue flying until age 65 (the FAA’s age-60 retirement mandate was extended to 65 in December 2007), Sullenberger has chosen to retire early and work to improve aviation safety and advocate on behalf of stemming further deterioration of the airline industry.
He said, “Each generation of pilots hopes they will leave their profession better off than they found it. In spite of the best efforts of thousands of my colleagues, that is not the case today.” Sullenberger also said, “I will work to remind the entire industry — and those who manage and regulate it — that we have a sacred duty to our passengers to do the very best that we know how to do.” Sullenberger’s last flight with US Airways was along the route planned for that day in January 2009. At his side was copilot Jeff Skiles from the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ event. Controllers along the route lined up on the radio to offer congratulations and other kind words.