Captain Chesley Burnett Sullenberger, III, (Sully) was born in Denison – a small North Texas town on the Oklahoma border. There, as a teenager, he learned to fly a single engine prop plane off a grass strip. A serious and talented – but shy and introverted – high school student, Sully was admitted to the highly competitive United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. When he graduated in 1973, he received the Academy’s prestigious Airmanship award as its top flyer.
Sully flew the F-4 Phantom jet fighter in the Air Force, acquiring thousands of hours of flight time, always honing his airmanship. That ability, that skill to perceive his environment, to be situationally aware, to anticipate issues, and to solve problems – that airmanship – enabled him as a commercial airline pilot, to safely navigate a crippled passenger jet to a dramatic water landing in the Hudson River on a frigid January day in 2009.
That flight – US Airways flight 1549 – lost thrust in both engines shortly after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia airport when it struck a flock of Canada geese. Thanks to the remarkable skills of Sully and his co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, everyone aboard that plane survived the harrowing landing.
Sully’s story is moving – humble beginnings, exceptional hard work, exacting dedication to his craft, and a lifetime of experience and knowledge that enabled him – in a moment of unprecedented crisis – to solve one problem after another, step by step, in 208 seconds, to navigate his crippled plane to the river, and to save the lives of its 155 passengers and crew.
Sully shares with host Chuck Rosenberg fascinating insights about his childhood, his education at the United States Air Force Academy, his passion for flight, and his dedication to his craft.
Sully is also the author of two books:
Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, with Jeffrey Zaslow (2010), and
Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America’s Leaders, with Douglas Century (2013)
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Chuck Rosenberg Podcast With Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger | The Oath- Ep 30 | MSNBC