January 15th, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549, an Airbus A320-214 departing LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport struck a flock of Canada Geese during its initial climb out, lost both engines, and was forced to ditch in the Hudson River off midtown Manhattan.
The plane ended its six-minute flight at 3:31 pm as a glide to a perfectly executed forced water landing. Surface contact was made heading south at 130 knots in the centre of the North River section of the Hudson River roughly abeam 50th Street in Manhattan.
The pilot in command was 57-year-old Capt. Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, a former USAF Phantom Driver who had been an airline pilot since leaving the United States Air Force in 1980. The FO was Jeffrey B. Skiles, 49, who was on the last leg of his first assignment in the Airbus A320 since completing the 320 training.
The Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators awarded the entire flight crew of Flight 1549 a Master's Medal on January 22, 2009. The medal is awarded only rarely, for outstanding aviation achievements at the discretion of the Master of the Guild. The citation for the award is:
"The reactions of all members of the crew, the split second decision making and the handling of this emergency and evacuation was 'text book' and an example to us all. To have safely executed this emergency ditching and evacuation, with the loss of no lives, is a heroic and unique aviation achievement. It deserves the immediate recognition that has today been given by the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators.”
The Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, presented the Keys to the City to the crew of Flight 1549.
Lastly, Capt. Sullenberger was handed a replacement copy of a library book he lost on board the flight.
“We need to try to do the right thing every time, to perform at our best, because we never know which moment in our lives we’ll be judged on.”