The story surrounding Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's "Miracle on the Hudson" has been revived with the release of Sully, a Hollywood blockbuster movie.
In it, Tom Hanks stars as Sullenberger, the Flight 1549 captain who landed the crippled 76-ton US Airways jetliner atop the Hudson River saving all 150 passengers and five crewmembers in the process. Both engines had been blown out after striking a flock of Canadian geese.
Successful Meetings had the opportunity to talk with Sullenberger about his "Miracle on the Hudson" in 2010. Read the full story here.
"It was the worst, sickening, pit-of-your-stomach-falling-through-the-floor feeling I felt in my entire life," he explained emotionally during our interview. "I knew immediately it was very bad. That this was unlike any flight I'd had for 42 years. That it wasn't going to end with an airplane undamaged on a runway."
At a low altitude, traveling at a low speed, in an aircraft with no working engines, Sullenberger had few choices. He quickly surmised that the Hudson River was long enough, wide enough, and on that day, smooth enough, to land his aircraft and have it remain intact. "I had less than five minutes to get everything right," he recounts. If only an inch or two off, the airliner would have cartwheeled and flipped over in the frigid waters of the Hudson. A devastating outcome would have ensued.
In our interview, as well as in the movie, Sullenberger maintains the importance of teamwork, insisting that he is not a hero but that he and his crew just did their job well that day.
It is that message that makes Sullenberger a highly sought-after corporate speaker. In his speeches, he also shares his timeless management principles and the lessons from his life that prepared him to handle this unprecedented crisis.