January 15th, 2009
04:30 PM ET

Breaking News: Pilot: "Brace for Impact"

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/15/new.york.plane.crash/art.plane.news12.jpg ="A ferry was dropping life jackets into the water after the plane entered the river."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Just moments ago, a plane crashed into the middle of the Hudson River between midtown Manhattan and Weehawken, N.J.

The FAA confirms it was US Airways Flight 1549. The Airbus A320 took off from LaGuardia Airport just after 3pm E.T. and was headed to Charlotte, North Carolina.

155 people were on board the plane, including 5 crew members.  Everyone on board was rescued. Let me repeat that: Everyone on board was rescued.

Just seconds after the plane hit  the water ferry boats were on the scene to help passengers escape the plane. Keep in mind the water temperature in the Hudson River is 41° F. The rescued passengers are bundled in blankets now on dry land.

Alberto Panero, a passenger who escaped the plane, tells CNN the pilot told everyone on board to "brace for impact" just seconds before they hit the water.

Another passenger tells us it was a smooth landing, as smooth as you can get on water.

According to the N.J. State Police , the pilot declared an emergency in flight and a "bird strike".

My fellow writer, Cate Vojdik, did a web search and discovered that bird strikes in flight are more common than you might think.

Check out these web sites she found:

Bird Hazards to Aircraft

Bird Strike Information

Filed under: 360° Radar • AC360° Staff • Airline Safety • Maureen Miller
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Ted

    Kudos to the pilot and his copilot! They performed their duty to the highest standards. This types of incidents very rare and very difficult to simulate during their training. The A320 with its both engines in its wings is very vulnerable for breaking apart during a water landnig because water can easily be scooped by the engines. I just wateched a video on you tube of a similar incident happened in1996 on a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines plane. This accident took the lives of more than 100 people as the aircraft broke apart while dtching in the water near the Comoros island. Today's accident was prevented from this kind of catastrophy because of a remarkable heroism the US airways pilots. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    from VA

    January 15, 2009 at 8:05 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    The more I watch the footage of this crash landing and hear the stories the more awed I am by the tremendously good job everyone did – the flight crew, the boat pilots, the rescue people and even the passengers. It sounds like a textbook emergency landing and rescue – I don't see how anyone could have done it better.

    January 15, 2009 at 7:49 pm |
  3. Megan Dresslar - Shoreline, WA

    That is so miracle!!!! I like to say thank you Pilot Chesley B. Sully Sullenberger to save their lives!!!! The captain of US Airways Flight #1549 for the HERO of year of 2009!!!!! I hope that he will get heroes award the year of 2009!!!!! I am so proud of him what he have to do something to save their lives on the plane!!!! The captain is my hero!!!! Congrats to Chesley B. Sullenberger!!!!! 🙂

    January 15, 2009 at 7:34 pm |
  4. Isabel, RJ, Brazil

    The image of the day in the world: the U.S. Airways plane crashed in the Hudson River.

    January 15, 2009 at 7:31 pm |
  5. EJ (USA)

    How lucky those passengers were. Amazing.

    And what an amazing pilot – Chesley B. Sully Sullenberger

    January 15, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  6. Sunil Vaid

    I am clothing designer/artist from India and visiting NYC on a business trip.
    I finished my meeting with Polo Ralph Lauren at manhatten and took Taxi around 2.15 pm to go towards Long Island.
    As i crossed Queens i saw a big flock of birds gliding in the sky.
    In India it is normal to see such flocks and was a bit unusual to see here.
    I just saw the TV and was astonished to hear thar that flock of birds hit the plane.
    Anyway all passengers and crew are safe and the pilot,police & marine security did a great job in saving the life of all.
    I think the passengers & crew had done good Karma... and thus got another life.
    Sunil-New Delhi-India

    January 15, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  7. Janine from PA.

    I know they have used dogs to annoy birds to keep them from hanging out at airport areas. Don't know if they use them at laguardia. But even then it can happen. The crew should be honored as well as the passengers who survived and also it seems followed orders.

    January 15, 2009 at 5:50 pm |
  8. xtina, chicago IL

    reply to "carol"; recently the FAA set into effect a requirement that individual briefings to passengers sitting in exit row seats must be conducted before takeoff. Each person is questioned to make sure they fit the criteria for sitting there and the criteria is reviewed with each passenger. In fact, the criteria changes periodically, as safety information is updated.

    In this accident, the best exits to open were not the exit row doors, but the forward entry doors, due to the attitude of the aircraft. The decision about which doors to open is dependent upon how deeply immersed the plane is and that decision rests w/ the crew. They evacuated thru the forward entry and possibly the forward galley doors in this case.

    January 15, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  9. carol nielander

    This is the reason more flight attendants should be more serious about letting some people ride the exit seats. They should be screened ahead of time. Make sure they have not been drinking or are overtired. We have watched people in those seats not pay a bit of attention during the flight attendant speech on what to do in case on emergency. Some of the people want that seat for leg room and could no more help in an emergency than the man in the moon. Thanks Please spread the word.

    January 15, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  10. xtina, chicago IL

    now those USAir pilots are heroes. What a great landing those pilots made and what a fantastic job the crew did of conducting the water ditching.

    January 15, 2009 at 4:47 pm |