Nightly News | January 15, 2014
>>> prior to what happened five years ago today, few americans who fly had ever given that much serious thought to bird strikes while in the air. but then five years ago today, a plane landed on the hudson in new york city . and captain sully sullenberger was hailed as a hero for his perfect emergency landing . as we hear tonight, though, the threat to planes is still an issue. our report tonight from nbc's tom costello.
>> reporter: it was an ice cold day just after takeoff when captain sully sullenberger radioed he was in big trouble .
>> returning by la guardia .
>> reporter: near the george washington bridge , flight 1539 had just hit a flock of geese, both engines dead. second seconds later, sully and the first officer pulled off one of aviation's greatest saves, landing the plane-load of passengers and pulling them off the wings. today, captain sully, crew members and passengers returned to the hudson to give thanks.
>> had even one person not survived, i personally couldn't have celebrated any of this.
>> reporter: five years later, much of the focus remains on the birds that still pose a threat. since that day, airports have taken bird strikes much more seriously. and bird strike reporting has soared, especially at airports near bodies of water and near bird migratory flight paths. at the airplane in atlanta, bird strikes are up 40%, at chicago's o'hare, 47%, at l.a.x., 50%, in san francisco , a 70% increase. every day, wildlife technicians grow the grass at just the right height to keep away the geese and rodents that attract bigger birds, at three major airports in new york, bird work is high.
>> it is a lot of emotion, raw emotion and feeling.
>> reporter: together, they toasted life, tom costello, nbc news, washington.