Flight 1549 home in Charlotte
Posted June 11, 2011 6:56 p.m. EDT
Updated June 11, 2011 7:14 p.m. EDT
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The plane that ended up in the Hudson River two years ago has made its final landing -- at Charlotte's Carolinas Aviation Museum.
It took a week to move the 120-foot fuselage 600 miles from from Newark, N.J. Instead of cruising at 500 mph above the earth, the plane's passenger cabin made the tour atop flat-bed truck.
Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III, the hero of the Jan. 15, 2009, emergency landing was in Charlotte Saturday to greet it.
He said he was touched by the people who lined highways to see the plane's passage.
"It gives them hope. It came at a time during the financial worldwide meltdown, and people were quite frankly beginning to question basic goodness of human nature," he said. "This kind of reaffirmed our belief in the potential of good that exists in all of us."
Sullenberger was scheduled to speak Saturday night at a fundraiser for the museum. It will be the first time be is reunited with all 155 passengers and crew who were on board Flight 1549 that day.
"We'll always be joined because of the special bond, and I'm glad the airplane is in Charlotte because that was the destination of the flight," he said. "We made it to Charlotte, and the airplane has now also."
Beth McHugh, who was a passenger on that flight, spoke affectionately about the plane. "We feel like she is a grand old lady who helped us survive," she said.
Jeff Skiles, first officer of Flight 1549, has a renewed respect for his responsibility since the water landing. "It's really reinforced to me the importance of what we do and the lives that we take in to our hands," he said.
The exhibit will cost an estimated $2.4 million and will open next January, said director Shawn Dorsch. In the interim, visitors to the museum can watch as the plane is re-assembled over the coming months.