Sullenberger to fly today with co-pilot of plane that they landed in Hudson River

US Airways captain returns to airline, schedules book signings in Danville

Danville pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger will fly for the first time today since he deftly landed a plane into the Hudson River, saving all 155 passengers aboard, US Airways announced Tuesday.

Sullenberger will reunite with his co-pilot who was flying with him on flight 1549 Jan. 15 when a flock of geese struck the engines, causing the emergency landing. Co-Pilot Jeffrey Skiles and Sullenberger will fly US Airways flight 1427 from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Charlotte, N.C., the airline said. The pair will speak to the press at two separate events today.

Anyone interested in keeping updated on the flight can check US Airways' Twitter account,


The airline announced Monday that Capt. Sullenberger would return to work in a new role as a management pilot. In addition to his flying duties, Sullenberger, who lives in Danville, will join the US Airways flight operations safety management team.

"We welcome Capt. Sullenberger back to work and are proud to have him flying with us again as a member of the US Airways safety management organization," said chairman and chief executive officer Doug Parker.

"The months since Jan. 15 have been very full, and my family and I have had some unforgettable experiences," Sullenberger said. "However, I have missed working with my colleagues at US Airways and I am eager to get back in the cockpit with my fellow pilots in the months ahead. In my new role, I will continue to be the same kind of advocate for aviation safety that I have been for several decades."

Since a miraculous landing and rescue earlier this year, the name Sullenberger has become a familiar one both here and abroad.

Since that day, life has been different for Sullenberger, who has been called the "Hero on the Hudson," and his family. In a speech to more than 100 people at the Alamo Women's Club, Lorrie Sullenberger, a fitness expert and personal trainer, detailed just how different it's become.

She talked about the accident, her husband's actions and the aftermath. With a wry smile she described how on the afternoon of Jan. 15 she was in a pitch meeting with television executives regarding a fitness show when her husband began trying to call her.

"We were on the phone when Sully first began to call," she recalled. "He first called on my cell, which I ignored."

But she said that when he continued to call on both of the landlines to the home and the cell phone she told the executives that she should probably take the call.

"I was trying to be so professional, and not just be a wife who takes her husband's call," she explained.

Moments later he had laid out what had happened, that he was OK, and that he would not be home that night. After getting off the phone, she turned on the TV and began watching the coverage of the safe landing of Flight 1549.

"It was a completely unreal feeling to know that that was his voice on the phone and the images I was seeing on the TV," she said. "My body started to shake violently and I sat down."

At a friend's urging she went and picked up her daughters, and they returned to the family's Danville home to await further word on the man the media would dub, "The Hero of the Hudson."

"We turned on the TV and sat in silence as our world, as we knew it, started to shift."

She described the barrage of calls, e-mails and faxes from news organizations all over the world as "like having a firehose turned straight on you."

She then spoke of the media siege of the family's home and how she was forced to call in a public relations firm to handle the onslaught of reporters and photographers. She drew laughter and applause from the crowd when she talked about what life is like being under a microscope 24 hours a day.

"Like I tell people, you just can't have that many good hair days in a row," she joked.

While the media frenzy was problematic in many ways, it also made for some fun and interesting moments. Sullenberger told a story of how she was talking to the producers of the Jay Leno show when her daughter walked in talking on her cell phone.

"I touched her with my finger and told her that I was on the phone with the Jay Leno people and she did this (pointing her finger at the cell phone), 'Matt Lauer.' I said, 'OK, you win.'"

This led to interviews on 60 Minutes, seats at the Superbowl, the Oscars and the Presidential Inaugural Ball.

"My initial impressions were that President Obama has the softest hands of any person I've ever met," she recounted.

Sully has achieved "Santa Claus status," she also informed the crowd. Mail addressed just to "Sully" finds its way to their home.

But her address touched on areas that had little to do with fame as well. She talked about the first time she saw Sully after the accident. She described a man who viewed himself differently from the hero being presented to the world.

"That was the weird part of all that," she said. "The world was celebrating, but he felt like first of all he wasn't supposed to end up in the Hudson. He struggled with, 'Oh my god, I'm responsible for that.'"

Overall, though, she said the family has adjusted and adapted to its change in status. From the well wishers seeking autographs to the mountains of mail they still receive months later.

"There is power in a worldwide feel-good moment," she said. "And Sully, and to some degree our family, was the face of that feel-good moment."

Lorrie Sullenberger said next month, her husband will be kicking off a tour to promote his new book, "Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters."

The tour is expected to begin Oct. 12 with an appearance on "The Today Show." Two Danville appearances have already been scheduled: 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 19, at Rakestraw Books on Hartz Avenue; and 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Danville Costco on Fostoria Way. Sullenberger will be signing copies of his book at the two local appearances.

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