Washington, May 4 : The Boeing 737 charter jet that was seen floating on the St. Johns River in Florida after crashing, was reminiscent of the January 2009 emergency landing of a now-defunct US Airways jet in New York’s freezing Hudson River.
Twenty-one people were injured in the Friday night incident when the pilot attempted to land the Boeing amid thunder and heavy rains. All the 136 passengers and seven crew members were rescued by early Saturday morning.
Images from social media showed rescue teams scurrying over the plane in the St. Johns River, similar to the January 15, 2009, emergency landing on the Hudson River.
That time, the US Airways’ Flight 1549 with 155 people on board had suffered a bird strike upon take-off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. It was headed to Charlotte, North Carolina.
The US Airways’ pilot, Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, had told the air traffic controllers that the plane suffered “a double bird strike” that led to loss of both the engines and that he was expecting the plane to flip over and break apart.
Given the total loss of power and time constraints, the pilot opted to land on the Hudson River.
Air traffic controllers at LaGuardia saw the plane clear the George Washington Bridge by less than 900 feet before gliding into the water.
Later, Sullenberger, emerged as a hero, with praise being heaped on him by passengers, officials and aviation experts for handling the emergency river landing with aplomb and avoiding major injuries.
The incident was dubbed as “Miracle on the Hudson” and the story behind it was told in the movie “Sully”. Actor Tom Hanks played pilot Sullenberger.
Sullenberger’s final words before losing contact with Air Traffic Control were calm but direct: “We’re gonna be in the Hudson.”
The time between the loss of the engines and landing the plane was 208 seconds, just under four minutes.