How US Flight 1549 finally “Arrived” in Charlotte

us-airways-flight-1549 (Image: El Engr, reproduced with permission)

When Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger successfully ditched an Airbus A320 airliner in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009, he not only saved the lives of all on-board, but cemented his place in aviation history. Minutes after US Airways Flight 1549 took off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport bound for Charlotte, North Carolina, it struck a flock of Canada Geese causing a complete lack of thrust in both engines. With little hope of reaching an airport, Captain Sullenberger performed what has been described as “the most successful ditching in aviation history” and the “Miracle on the Hudson“.

What was less widely reported outside the United States, however, was that following the crash investigation, the A320-214 aircraft was donated to the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, where it finally arrived – by road – on June 11, 2011.


us-airways-flight-1549-transportation (Images:Greg L, cc-3.0El Engr, reproduced with permission)

The Airbus (registered N106US) was secured by the museum as a donation from Chartis Insurance. On June 4, 2011, the fuselage began its 7-day, 788-mile road trip to Charlotte from a secure storage facility at Kearny, New Jersey. The cost of the move was donated by Joseph Supor of J Supor & Son.

us-airways-flight-1549-moorestown-nj (Image: El Engr, reproduced with permission)

Unlike its ill-fated flight three years earlier, this journey was uneventful – other than one right turn in Moorestown, New Jersey, which took over an hour to negotiate. Finally, on June 11, 2011, the Carolinas Aviation Museum commemorated the “arrival” of Flight 1549 to Charlotte. All 155 passengers were invited to the event. Captain Sullenberger delivered the keynote.

us-airways-flight-1549-damage (Image: RadioFan, cc-sa-3.0)

A fundraiser on November 18 saw “Sully” once again enter the A320. Meanwhile, on January 15, 2012, 52 passengers took-up their assigned seats on the aircraft, together with air traffic controller Patrick Harten.

The engines, which had been stored near Cincinnati, were eventually released to the museum in June 2012. As a result, conservation efforts got underway to display the aircraft in the same configuration it was in when pulled from the Hudson three years earlier.

us-airways-flight-1549-airbus-a320 (Images: Spyropk; RadioFancc-sa-3.0)

Airbus A320-214 N106US was delivered to US Airways in August 1999, registered to Wells Fargo Bank Northwest, NA (owner/lessor) with AIG as lead insurer. At the time of the crash, the 9-year-old aircraft had logged 16,299 flights totaling 25,241.08 flight hours.

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