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5 Amazing Rescues


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Miracle on the Hudson
Rescue boats float next to the U.S. Airways plane that crashed into the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009 near New York City.
Rescue boats float next to the U.S. Airways plane that crashed into the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009 near New York City.

On Jan. 15, 2009­, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 began a routine journey that ended as anything but. Shortly after taking off from New York's LaGuardia Airport, the Airbus A320, which held 155 people, lost power to both engines after they were struck by birds.

Rather than panicking in a moment of sheer terror, pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger III decided to land the plane in the Hudson River in an attempt to avoid crashing in the densely populated area. Amazingly, no one was killed.

After landing in the Hudson, nearby ferry boats, police boats, fire boats, and tugboats picked up passengers who were standing up to their waists in 35-degrees-Fahrenheit (1.6-degrees-Celsius) water and 18 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 7 degrees Celsius) air temperatures. What could have ended in a disaster -- in a city already haunted by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- turned out to be one of the most amazing flight rescue stories ever. For his quick thinking and skill, Sullenberger was lauded as a hero.