Greta Van Susteren: Crew of Flight 1549 (Part 1)

February 13, 2009

UPDATED (2-20) Crew of Flight 1549 appearances

2-11 Greta Van Susteren:
Part 2 (video & transcript)
Part 3 (video)

Thanks katvan. I see I never posted this for some reason or if I did it got lost. Present are (starting top left in a clockwise position): Fllght Attendants Sheila Dail, Doreen Welsh, Donna Dent, Capt Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Office Jeff Skiles.

Part 1 Video

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Part 1 Transcript

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now you finally the US Air Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and his brave crew. Imagine being a passenger on U.S. Air Flight 1549. Minutes after takeoff from New York’s La Guardia airport, the plane hits birds. Both engines go down. And unknown to the passengers, the captain is relaying an ominous message to the tower.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) Full cockpit audio edited relevant audiotranscript of cockpit audio

UNIDENTIFIED MALE [Pat Harten]: 1529 (SIC), turn right 280. You can land runway (INAUDIBLE) at Teterboro.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Which runway would you like at Teterboro?

SULLENBERGER: We’re going to be in the Hudson.


VAN SUSTEREN: Back inside the cabin, the passengers hear what no passenger ever wants to hear, “Brace for impact.” Yes, that day was a stunner. Now, it started out normal, but it turned into a day that the U.S. Air crew and their passengers and we would never forget.


VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see all five of you. Glad you could join us.

SULLENBERGER: It’s good to be here.

VAN SUSTEREN: I want to go back to January 15. I take it about noon that day that you expected to have a different day than you ultimately had, right?

SULLENBERGER: It was the last day of a four-day trip, and in fact this was our last flight schedule to fly together, and we were all looking forward to going home.

VAN SUSTEREN: So I take it that you were going to get to North Carolina, get to Charlotte, and you were going to head west?



JEFFREY SKILES, US AIR CO-PILOT: Same thing-I was going to go up to Chicago.

SHEILA DAIL, US AIR FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Charlotte, hop in my car and drive to Ashville.

DOREEN WELSH, US AIR FLIGHT ATTENDANT: And I live Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So I was trying to get a plane to Pittsburgh.


VAN SUSTEREN: So those were the plans. It did not work out that way.

SULLENBERGER: No, the world changed.

VAN SUSTEREN: It changed immensely for all of us, as well.

So you show up, and what time did 1549 takeoff?

SULLENBERGER: I’ve forgotten. It was early afternoon. We were probably running about 30 minutes late due to a deicing delay that morning in Pittsburgh and a little bit of an air traffic control delay going into New York just due to heavy traffic.

VAN SUSTEREN: And those of us flying in and out of LaGuardia, we expect to be late for whatever reason.

SULLENBERGER: We were actually doing pretty well, and our company had given us a great quick turnaround from the time we arrived on the previous flight until we departed on this one was only about 35 or 40 minutes.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, so it takes off, and how long were you in the air before you had your first problem?

SULLENBERGER: Minutes–not long at all.


SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS HOST: Flashing right now from the Reuter’s News Agency, a plane is down in the Hudson River off New York City.


VAN SUSTEREN: It hit one engine first, or both engines, the birds?

SULLENBERGER: The impact–the birds were all of the airplane simultaneously. And we got pelted by many heavy birds.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who was at the controls at the time?

SKILES: I was at the time. I took off from LaGuardia. It was just starting to fly.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what do you do, just exchange? One goes one time, and then you alternate?


VAN SUSTEREN: So what do you feel when birds hit the engine?

SULLENBERGER: It was more you heard it. You heard the impacts, many thumps of the birds hitting the airplane.

VAN SUSTEREN: You were in the back. Did you hear anything?

WELSH: Not so much. Well, it was more of a feeling for me. I felt like we hit something, like went into a wall, like we were on the normal takeoff, and then stopped.

VAN SUSTEREN: So it didn’t feel like turbulence?

WELSH: Nothing like turbulence.

VAN SUSTEREN: It felt like something different? Have you guys ever felt that before? You never felt it before? Did it feel like you put on the brakes, was it that kind of feeling, like all of sudden you stop for a second?

WELSH: Kind of.

VAN SUSTEREN: Captain, did the engines stop at that point, was there still some rotation? We’re they still working for bit?

CAPTAIN CHESLEY SULLENBERGER, US AIRWAY PILOT: A few seconds the initial impact with the birds, I immediately felt heavy engine vibration, which indicated that the birds had severely damaged both engines.

I immediately heard noises that were not normal from the engine, indicating damage. And I smelled what I described at the time as the smell of birds going through the engines and being inducted into the cabin air.

It was obvious to me immediately that there was a very serious situation, and it was just a matter of seconds until we experienced some nearly complete, symmetrical, sudden thrust lost on both engines.

VAN SUSTEREN: Could you smell that smell in the back of the plane, or not?

SHEILA DAIL, US AIR FLIGHT ATTENDANT: I smelled it, but I smelled more of a metallic smell. Of course, I would not have described it as birds, because I have never had that experience.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you ever had birds before hit an engine?

JEFFREY SKILES, US AIR CO-PILOT: I do not believe ever hitting an engine. On occasion you do hit them with an airplane, but normally they are sea gulls, and they just clean the blood off of the nose, and you continue on your way.

VAN SUSTEREN: Can you fly in and airbus with one engine?

SULLENBERGER: Oh, yes. Every take off for every airliner is planned that if you can lose an engine at the most critical point, you can still climb safely away.

VAN SUSTEREN: So if this had only been one engine to get hit, you would have been a different story?

SULLENBERGER: We would have returned to land at LaGuardia.

VAN SUSTEREN: No problem?


VAN SUSTEREN: And you’ve done that all the time with one engine?

SULLENBERGER: Well, I have never actually experienced an engine failure in flight. Of course, we have trained for it in a simulator many times over the years, but this was the first time I had ever experienced an engine failure in my entire career.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you knew you had a catastrophic problem on your hands, but you were at the helm. So what happened?

SULLENBERGER: I decided a couple of things, quickly, that since Jeff had been a captain before, but on a different airplane that had recently been trained on the airbus, he was probably as familiar or more than I was about the emergency procedures, and he would know exactly which page to go to on the checklist, because he had just been through training on the airbus.

It had been almost a year since I had had my annual recurrent trading.

I also knew that because I had more experience on the airbus, it was probably better for me to fly. And since I had out of my side window a view of all the important landmarks, it was going to be up to me to decide where we would go.

VAN SUSTEREN: As you explain that, though, it probably took about 20 seconds to explain. You had to make that decision like that, right?


VAN SUSTEREN: You guys did not have a lot of time to discuss it.

SULLENBERGER: It probably took about seven or eight times longer than it took to do it.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I take it that because you were the captain, you do not debate this as a plan. You just take the orders at that point.

SULLENBERGER: It was an instinctive move based upon my experience and my initial read of the situation.

VAN SUSTEREN: So the plane at this point is gliding. It has its forward thrust, but that is about it.

SULLENBERGER: Yes. So we were essentially relying on gravity to provide the forward motion of the airplane as we descended.



End Part 1


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