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Sully brings career in for safe landing

Captain Chesley Sullenberger has steered a US Airways flight home for the last time.

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"Sully," who was hailed a hero after piloting the US Airways flight that landed safely on the Hudson River in January of last year, retired Wednesday after 30 years with US Airways and its predecessor airline.

His final flight, number 1167 from Fort Lauderdale to his base in Charlotte, N.C., took just less than two hours. It arrived at 2:48 p.m. — 17 minutes ahead of schedule. Sullenberger, 59, officially retired at a private ceremony with fellow pilots and other US Airways employees.

Flight attendant Doreen Welsh, who was on Flight 1549 when it landed in the Hudson, also retired Wednesday. Welsh, 59, joined US Airways' predecessor airline in 1970 — when she was 19 years old.

All 150 passengers survived the emergency river landing after a flock of Canada geese was sucked into the plane's engines minutes after taking off from New York's LaGuardia Airport, headed for Charlotte, N.C.

"Each generation of pilots hopes that they will leave their profession better off than they found it," Sullenberger said in a statement. "In spite of the best efforts of thousands of my colleagues, that is not the case today.

"Though I am retiring, I will continue to serve as the same kind of advocate I have always been — not only for aviation safety, but for the airline piloting profession."

While Sullenberger walked away from the incident unscathed, Welsh was seriously injured in the crash and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She says she is still afraid of the water. She plans to go on the speakers' circuit to talk about her experiences in the crash.

"I feel grateful for still being alive," she said.

Sully brings career in for safe landing 03/03/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 9:30pm]
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