Image: Chesley Sullenberger, Jeff Skiles
Seth Wenig  /  AP
Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, left, and 1st Officer Jeffrey Skiles go through their pre-flight routine at LaGuardia Airport in New York on Thursday before departing for Charlotte, N.C.
updated 10/1/2009 7:29:32 PM ET 2009-10-01T23:29:32

The pilots who safely landed a disabled jetliner in New York City's Hudson River are back together.

Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and 1st Officer Jeffrey Skiles flew Thursday from Charlotte, N.C., to New York — their first flight together since they were forced to ditch their plane in the river, saving all 155 people on board.

"I was overwhelmed when I found out it was him," said Don Lambert, 61, of Fort Mill, S.C., who was on the early morning flight to LaGuardia Airport. "You feel like you have the best pilot in the world fixing to fly you to New York."

At a LaGuardia news conference, Sullenberger said the so-called "Miracle on the Hudson" "happened at a time when people needed to know that good could still be done in the world."

Sullenberger said the gratitude of passengers has been "an extraordinary gift." And he bestowed the same gift on his colleague.

"You have my eternal gratitude for your skill and your courage," he said, turning to Skiles.

US Airways had told reporters that Sullenberger's first flight would be later Thursday out of LaGuardia, but that wasn't true.

Airline spokesman Jonathan Freed acknowledged that the flight out of LaGuardia would actually be Sullenberger's fourth flight since landing in the Hudson. He flew two passenger flights Sept. 11 as part of his re-training process.

'Symbolic' flight
His flight Thursday morning from Charlotte was his first with Skiles.

When asked why US Airways released incorrect information, Freed said the flight out of LaGuardia was important because it was "symbolic" for the crew.

"It's the one that they're emotionally attached to," Freed said.

Sullenberger ditched the Airbus A320 on Jan. 15 in the Hudson after a collision with a flock of geese killed power in both engines minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia. All his passengers were saved, and "Sully" was celebrated as an American hero.

"Everybody cheered and clapped when we got on the plane in Charlotte," said Wyatt Smith, 41, also from Fort Mill. "I put my seat back and took a nap. I felt really honored and safe that it was him."

More on: Chesley Sullenberger

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: ‘Miracle’ pilots soar together again

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments