Sully’s Final Departure: Miracle on the Hudson Hero Flies Into Retirement (w/ Photos)
A cool and cloudy Wednesday afternoon greeted the final departure of Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger from Hollywood/Ft. Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) for his last flight before retirement, US Airways Flight 1167 to Charlotte.
In the cockpit with him for the milestone was First Officer Jeff Skiles, his co-pilot on the famed “Miracle on the Hudson” flight. Following the push back from the gate, the flight was given priority taxi clearance on Taxiway Alpha for a westerly departure on runway 27R. At the end of the taxiway, Ft Lauderdale Tower ATC communicated a very nice tribute to Sully before giving him his clearance to line up and hold. In his usual professional voice, the reply to the tribute was “Thank You. Confirm Cactus 1167 cleared to line up and hold.” The take off clearance was equally professionally acknowledged and the Airbus A321 (N181UW) rolled down runway 27R and climbed out into the cloudy South Florida skies.
Captain Chesley Burnett Sullenberger III is best known for saving all 155 people aboard US Airways Flight 1549 that crash landed into the Hudson River on January 15th, 2009 after losing thrust in both engines due to bird strikes. His impressive career began in the United States Air Force Academy in 1969. It was when he graduated there in 1973 that he received an award for being his class’ top flier. He went on to serve in the USAF flying F-4 Phantom II’s for six years before moving into the civilian world in 1980, flying for Pacific Southwest Airlines (later to become US Airways). He now finishes his 40-year aviation career with over 27,000 hours of flying, and will surely continue to play a major role in aviation by means of speeches and appearances to discuss his experiences and safety related issues.