(CBS NEWS) -- Five years ago,
U.S. Airways flight 1549 made an emergency landing on New York City's icy Hudson
River. All 155 people aboard survived, and the safe landing would
quickly become known as "The Miracle on the Hudson."
The pilot, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger -- now a CBS News aviation and safety analyst -- and his
first officer Jeff Skiles joined the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts to discuss what it is like for them on this anniversary.
It was 208 seconds from the time the birds hit the plane,
to the time the plane was down in the water. Sullenberger told the co-hosts
that the landing was a "startling shock."
"After almost 30 years of routine flying, where we were
hardly ever surprised by anything in an airplane and we were all of a sudden
confronted with an ultimate challenge of a lifetime - one we never trained for,"
he said. "But, I was confident at the outset, that I could find a way to solve
the problem, in the time that we had."
There is debate over if it was a heroic act, or if the
landing was something that any correctly trained pilot should be able to do.
Skiles said that they were "very well trained" and they have that to "fall back
on in these kinds of situations."
"Obviously any type of circumstances could lead to a
different result," he said. "And the one thing I can tell you is I am very happy
to have been flying with Captain Sullenberger on that day and I could not have
had a better colleague on that day - or since."
Even with those compliments, what is interesting is the
two met for the first time just three days before the start of that trip. Sullenberger said that this practice is "not
uncommon at a large airline." He also said that this was Skiles' first trip on an Airbus after being trained on
it, saying he was "brand new" to the type of airplane.
"CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King asked Sullenberger
if he's ever had a breakdown or cried over how life-changing the landing was.
He said that on that night, he called his wife Lorrie Sullenberger.
"I called home late that night and talked to Lorrie for a
subsequent time and I said, 'I think our lives are changed forever,'" he said. "I
just didn't know how, or how much, but I knew, actually in the first seconds,
that this was going to be a life-changing event."
Sullenberger said he knew it would be life-changing
because it both put a huge focus on him as the pilot, but also in the fact that
he survived and saved 155 lives.
"It was one of those events, in the first couple of
seconds, I knew it was going to be unlike anything I had ever experienced," he
said. "It was going to define my life into before and after. I knew it was
going to be a challenge of a lifetime that was mine to solve, but it also
provided opportunities - like this one - to have a greater voice about things ...
we've been passionate about and care about our whole professional lives - like
the safety of the traveling public."
He said that in the past five years, a lot has been learned
about safety and flying, but not necessarily because of his "Miracle on the
Hudson," and in fact, "very little" has changed because of that flight.
"In the final report that the NTSB wrote on our flight, they
made several dozen recommendations - to my knowledge, none of which have been
implemented by FAA or by industry," he said. "It's been instead the Buffalo crash a month later, in February of 2009
and only because the families of the victims have been such ardent advocates on
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