CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The US Airways jet that made a near-miraculous landing on the Hudson River in 2009 will finally reach its destination, but as a museum piece rather than in service.
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The Carolinas Aviation Museum has almost completed an agreement to buy the damaged plane from the insurance company that owns it, museum president Shawn Dorsch said Wednesday.
The museum is in Charlotte, which was the destination of US Airways Flight 1549 until a flock of geese disabled the engines. Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger glided it to a safe landing on the Hudson in New York City and all 155 passengers and crew members were rescued.
Dorsch would not disclose the cost of the plane.
The fuselage is in a New Jersey warehouse. Dorsch says he hopes to have the plane on exhibit by May.Interactive: Top travel stories of 2010 (on this page)
"It will be trucked down here and will be reassembled in the configuration it came out of the water," he said. "And it will be reassembled as it came out of the water. So the artifact will be conserved as opposed to restored."
Dorsch said the Airbus A320 will provide a boost to the museum, which attracts about 30,000 visitors a year — a number that could increase to more than 100,000 once the plane goes on display. The museum, which opened 19 years ago, has over 50 aircraft in its collection.
"It's a fantastic piece of history,' Dorsch said. "It has everything from the dents from the birds to the Coke cans and the food carts to the markings from the NTSB investigation on the aircraft. It's just fascinating to walk around the aircraft. Except for the passengers' belongings, it's like a time capsule."
Dorsch said the project began last year during a trip to Japan. In a Japanese airport, he noticed a large exhibit honoring Flight 1549.
"I realized that 1549 was not just an aviation icon, it was an internationally recognized aviation icon," he said.
So he contacted US Airways and the project took off from there, Dorsch said. US Airways helped put Dorsch in touch with the right people at the insurance company that owned the plane.
US Airways spokesman Derek Hanna said Wednesday the airline had no comment about the plane and was directing all calls to the Carolinas Aviation Museum.
Dorsch also said has been working with community leaders to help raise money for the project, and said Sullenberger has agreed to donate to the museum the uniform he was wearing the day of the landing.
"It's still not 100 percent done," Dorsch said. "There are things to tidy up. We are in the final stages of this process. ... This is undoubtedly going to be worth millions to the community."
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