Hudson River pilot says he was only doing his job


Published: Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 5:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 5:49 p.m.

DANVILLE, Calif. -- Thousands of people holding signs and waving American flags cheered wildly Saturday to honor the pilot who safely landed a US Airways jetliner in the Hudson River. He told them he and his crew were only doing their jobs.

Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger was given a hero's homecoming, complete with a marching band, in Danville, the San Francisco suburb where he and his family live.

Sullenberger said he was grateful for the outpouring of support since the Jan. 15 emergency landing, and that he and his crew were only doing their jobs.

"Circumstance determined that it was this experienced crew that was scheduled to fly that particular flight on that particular day," he told the crowd.

"But I know I can speak for the entire crew when I tell you we were simply doing the job we were trained to do."

Sullenberger's brief comments were his first since he brought Flight 1549 to an emergency river landing in New York City. All 155 people on board survived.

The pilot's wife, Lorraine Sullenberger, said through tears that she was amazed at the warm treatment the family has received. She said she was not surprised by her husband's heroism.

"I have always known him to be an exemplary pilot. I knew what the outcome would be that day because I knew my husband," she said. "But mostly for me, he's the man that makes my cup of tea every morning."

Around 3,000 people gathered under drizzly skies in the town square as Sullenberger was given a key to the city and named an honorary Danville police officer.

Jim and Jane Foreman, of nearby Alamo, came to the event with their daughter and grandchildren.

"He's America's hero," said Jim Foreman. "This doesn't happen all the time, it's very unique. We're just so proud of him."

Sullenberger will give his first media interview to Katie Couric on CBS' "60 Minutes." The episode is expected to air Feb. 8.

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