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Hero pilot of crash-landing honored in hometown

DANVILLE, Calif. — The US Airways pilot who deftly landed a disabled passenger jet in New York's Hudson River, saving 155 lives, told a cheering crowd of thousands Saturday that he simply did his job.

Danville, a well-to-do suburb east of San Francisco, welcomed back Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and hailed him as its "hometown hero" at a ceremony with marching bands, bagpipes, plaques and proclamations. A retired fighter pilot in a P-51 Mustang buzzed the event.

Sullenberger sat on a stage next to his wife, Lorrie. He smiled and placed his hand over his heart as the crowd whooped and hollered, waved small American flags and hoisted signs that read, "Sully's Soaring Saved Souls," "Sullyfied Hero" and "Excellent Landing!" The Sullenbergers' two teenage daughters, Katie and Kelly, watched from the front row.

When it came time to speak, the tall, thin Sullenberger was a man of few words. He said it was "great to be here in Danville" and expressed his family's gratitude for the celebration. He made only a brief mention of the event that has won him worldwide fame.

"I know I speak for the entire crew when I tell you we were simply doing the jobs we were trained to do," Sullenberger said in a strong, clear voice. "Thank you." With that, he sat down, and the crowd again erupted.

He has said he will not discuss the accident while it remains under investigation.

Hero pilot of crash-landing honored in hometown 01/24/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 24, 2009 10:47pm]
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