Capt. Sullenberger told the crew and passengers to brace for impact. Then, he guided the aircraft onto the Hudson's narrow waterway, which was surrounded by an ocean of concrete. The plane landed without serious incident, but the danger wasn't over yet. As freezing water began rushing into the cabin, passengers rushed out onto the plane's wings to await rescue.
Nearby boats sped to the scene, and five minutes after the plane first touched down, all 155 people were pulled to safety.
That day, hundreds of emergency workers—firefighters, police officers, divers, boat captains and medics—rushed to the scene and helped make the "Miracle on the Hudson" possible. Now, 22 of these first responders join Oprah onstage for a round of applause.
Boat captain Vince Lombardi was first on the scene, arriving just three minutes after the plane landed. He and his crew rescued 56 terrified men and women from Flight 1549.
"I had people on the wing cheering and screaming, 'Oh thank God,'" he says. "There were a few people crying, but most of all, everybody was cheering. They just had this overwhelming look of joy on their faces."
Published on November 24, 2009
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