They didn’t call the successful landing of a U.S. Airways Airbus in the icy waters of the Hudson River a miracle for no reason. The Airbus makes a really lousy seaplane. But that afternoon in January 2009, Capt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger and his first officer Jeff Skiles called upon their decades of cockpit experience just minutes after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia airport, to synthesize a river landing because they saw no other option after both engines quit at 3,000 feet. The pilots were successful in plunking the roughly 160-ton airliner down in the water with barely a ripple to the aluminum skin, and only five of the 155 people on board suffered serious injuries.
Now the Miracle on the Hudson will come to the big screen when director Clint Eastwood’s Sully premieres in early September, with actor Tom Hanks as the Texas-born Sully and Aaron Eckhart playing Jeff Skiles. But rather than simply recreating the event for a movie audience, Eastwood looks closely at some of the issues that surrounded both the investigation and the years since, like Sully’s choice not to turn back to LaGuardia, believing the “bus” would run out of altitude long before reaching LGA.
Sully later told reporters a decent night’s sleep evaded him for weeks after the crash too, with the first few being the worst as he found himself plagued with the “what ifs,” second-guessing himself and his decisions that day. Replaying the accident later in a simulator, some pilots were able to maneuver the aircraft back to LaGuardia, but of course, they were prepared for the event long before both engines flamed out. Sully and Skiles’ entire flight that day lasted just 208 seconds from throttles up to touchdown in the water. Sullenberger retired from U.S. Airways (now part of American Airlines) in March 2010.
Watch the trailer below.