Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger Says Wife Stills Ignores His Calls After ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ [Video]
Being a hero doesn't necessarily change the little things at home.
I was in Memphis, Tennessee over the weekend to tour St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and had the opportunity to not only hear Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, pilot of the famous "Miracle on the Hudson," speak, but also had the chance to ask him a question.
Just a little back story on Capt. Sullenberger.
On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 left LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. That flight would not make it to its destination.
The plane struck a flock of Canada Geese (yes, Lubbock's beloved honkers) during its initial climb and lost engine power. When the crew of the aircraft, piloted by Sullenberger, determined that they would be unable to reliably reach any airfield, they turned southbound and ditched the airliner in the Hudson River about three minutes after losing power.
All 155 occupants safely evacuated the airliner -- which was still virtually intact though partially submerged and slowly sinking -- and were quickly rescued by nearby ferries and watercraft. The incident became known as the "Miracle on the Hudson."
The entire crew of Flight 1549 was later awarded the Master's Medal of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators. The award citation reads, "This emergency ditching and evacuation, with the loss of no lives, is a heroic and unique aviation achievement." It was described by NTSB board member Kitty Higgins as "the most successful ditching in aviation history."
When I visited St. Jude in Memphis, Tennessee this past weekend and heard Capt. Sullenberger speak, I was captivated by his eloquence, humor and most of all his character and integrity.
During his speech, Sullenberger mentioned the call he made to his wife following the landing in the Hudson River.
His first call was to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). His second call, or series of calls, were to his wife, Lorraine.
She was on an important conference call with her work and ignored his repeated calls on both their land line and her cell phone, he explained. So I asked him: "Has your wife ignored any of your calls since then?"
Sullenberger replied with a three-point answer, saying in part that being a "hero" doesn't get you much past the threshold of your own home and that you have to earn your way with your friends and family. He added that not too long after the incident his wife was in a store when a woman recognized her, saying, 'You are so lucky to be married to such and American hero.' His wife's reply? "You haven't heard my side of it."
He also revealed that when he and his wife attended President Obama's inauguration five days after the incident, they visited with the President and First Lady Michelle Obama for around fifteen minutes that evening during the Inaugural Ball.
President Obama asked Mrs. Sullenberger: "You're not letting all this attention go to his head, are you?" To which she replied: "Mr. President, the world may think him a hero, but he still snores."