God saved my life after he decided to make my plane crash in the Hudson river! I wasn’t a believer before, but since I survived (not because I had a good pilot), I praise and love God! Glory be to God!
From the bitter cold and ice enveloping New York City, they were headed south on US Airways Flight 1549, south to Charlotte, N.C. Some were making the two-hour flight on business, some for the pleasure of a golf trip where the day’s high would not be 15 degrees. One 85-year-old woman was flying the 660 miles for her great-grandson’s birthday.
A number of the passengers weren’t supposed to be on Flight 1549 at all. Their earlier flights had been canceled because of the weather.
So these 155 souls — passengers, pilots and flight crew — took off from LaGuardia Airport at 3:24 p.m. In the next six minutes, Flight 1549 crash-landed into the Hudson.
“There was a sudden jerk, it just felt like turbulence,” said Bill Zuhoski, 23, of Cutchogue, who was in seat 23A, well back of the wing on the plane’s left side. “No one thought anything of it until we started to go down.”
Jeff Kolodjay of Norwalk, Conn., was in seat 22A. He said he knew immediately that something was terribly wrong.
“I heard a loud explosion from the left side of the plane,” Kolodjay said. The smell of gas was strong.
Zuhoski said he “heard a stewardess looking for a fire extinguisher.”
Dave Sanderson, 47, a father of four headed home to Charlotte after one of his frequent business trips to the city, was sitting several rows forward of both Zuhoski and Kolodjay, and his experience was similar to Kolodjay’s.
“I heard an explosion and saw some flames coming from the left wing,” said Sanderson, who works for Oracle.
Kolodjay, going to Myrtle Beach, S.C., with his father and four other men on a golf outing, also spotted the telltale orange of flames.
“I could see fire, kind of, passing by my window,” he said.
Three minutes after takeoff, with Flight 1549 about five miles north of the airport, the pilot reported multiple bird strikes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The pilot declared an emergency and hoped to return and land at LaGuardia. But the jet’s two engines were losing thrust, and air-traffic controllers said no runway was open.
At 3:30 p.m., controllers spotted the jet over the Hudson River, south of the George Washington Bridge. Between 300 and 400 feet, it disappeared from the radar screen.
“Brace for impact!” pilot Chesley Sullenberger commanded the passengers.
“Everybody started saying prayers,” Kolodjay said. ” ‘Brace for impact’ is not what you want to hear.”
Sanderson described the scene as “controlled chaos,” with everyone “running away from their seats” toward the rear of the aircraft.
“We didn’t know if we would be hitting water or land,” Zuhoski said. “People rushed to the back of the plane.”
The plane hit the water.