Chesley Sullenberger, Jeffrey Skiles
Susan Walsh  /  AP
US Airways Flight 1549 Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger III and First Officer Jeffrey B. Skiles receive a standing ovation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., during their February testimony.
updated 3/5/2009 6:29:50 PM ET 2009-03-05T23:29:50

The co-pilot aboard the plane that made a splash landing in New York's Hudson River said Wednesday that he'll take some simulated flights to reacquaint himself with flying before returning to the air by the end of the month.

First officer Jeffrey Skiles, 49, said he expected to fly until retirement at age 65 because he sees "no future in being a long-term celebrity."

Skiles was part of the five-member crew on the Airbus A320 that ditched in the river with all 155 people aboard surviving. The plane's captain, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, glided the US Airways plane into the river when a flock of geese disabled both engines just minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport.

Skiles, from Oregon, Wisconsin, was awarded a trophy Wednesday at an air traffic controllers' union meeting.

Slideshow: US Airways Flight 1549 crash The National Air Traffic Controllers Association also honored Sullenberger, air traffic controllers Patrick Harten and Bill McLoughlin, and the plane's flight attendants.

"People want to relate it and say it's luck, divine intervention or heroism, but my thought was everybody was just doing their jobs," Skiles said.

He said he expects to work four to five days per week when he returns. He said simulated flights were normal for pilots who have taken breaks from flying, even those coming back from vacations.

Skiles also said he had trouble sleeping immediately after the incident but was OK now.

"When you normally have an incident, you have post-traumatic shock symptoms and I did myself for the first week, week-and-a-half," he said. "I got over it pretty fast."

Sullenberger has not said when he will return to flying, but wrote in a first-person Newsweek essay that he thought he would be ready in a few months.

Video: Hudson plane landing reconstructed, animated

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Back to the cockpit


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