Miracle on the Hudson

The Extraordinary Real-Life Story Behind Flight 1549, by the Survivors

Publisher: Ballantine Books
The remarkable true story of Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s heroic crash landing in the Hudson River, as told by the passengers who owe him their lives.
 
Millions watched the aftermath on television, while others witnessed the event actually happening from the windows of nearby skyscrapers. But only 155 people know firsthand what really happened on U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on January 15, 2009. Now, for the first time, the survivors detail their astounding, terrifying, and inspiring experiences on that freezing winter day in New York City. Written by two esteemed journalists, Miracle on the Hudson is the entire tale from takeoff to bird strike to touchdown to rescue, seen through the eyes and felt in the souls of those on board the fateful flight.

Revealing many new and compelling details, Miracle on the Hudson dramatically evokes the explosion and "smell of burning flesh" as both engines were destroyed by geese, the violent landing on the river that felt like a "huge car wreck," the gridlock in the aisles as the plane filled swiftly with freezing water, and the thrill of the passengers' rescue from the wings and from rafts—all of it recalled by the "cross section of America" on board.

Jay McDonald, a thirty-nine-year-old software developer, had survived brain-tumor surgery just two years earlier and now faced the unimaginable.

Tracey Wolsko, a nervous flier, suddenly became other people's rock: "Just pray. It's going to be all right." Jim Whitaker, a construction executive, reassured a nervous mother of two young children on board, only later admitting, "I was pathologically lying the whole time." As the plane started sinking, Lucille Palmer, eighty-five, told her daughter to save herself: "Just leave me!"

Featuring much more than what the media reported—moments of chaos in addition to stoicism and common sense, and the fortuitous mistakes and quick instincts that saved lives that otherwise would have been lost—Miracle on the Hudson is the chronicle of one of the most phenomenal feel-good stories of recent years, one that could have been a nightmare and instead became a stirring narrative of heroism and hope for our times.


From the Hardcover edition.

READ AN EXCERPT

Chapter One


Come Fly with Me

New York awoke that thursday morning in january to a storybook scene— Manhattan in a snowstorm; the flakes whipping almost sideways through the skyscraper canyons and a bright coat of white blotting out all of mankind's gray. Storybook, that is, if you were...
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PRAISE FOR

“Stunning . . . Open this book and you will not close it until you reach the last page.”—Buzz Bissinger, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Shooting Stars and Friday Night Lights

“An extraordinary drama seen through the eyes of ordinary people.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Absorbing, inspirational . . . a detailed, moment-by-moment account of the accident and its aftermath . . . Anyone who remembers the dramatic . . . event will be riveted.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“William Prochnau and Laura Parker bring to the passengers’ impassioned accounts of survival the old-fashioned values of the finest gumshoe reporters.”—Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer