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2/5/2009
06:57 PM
Bob Evans
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Hero Pilot Sullenberger's Exchange With Air-Traffic Control

An audio recording of the exchange between US Airways hero pilot Sully Sullenberger and ATC sheds light on the extraordinary two minutes after his plane was disabled and he decided to crash-land in the Hudson River between two of the country's most densely populated areas. Sully's voice remains calm as he first reports "hit birds -- we lost thrust in both engines" and barely 100 seconds later says, "We're gonna be in the Hudson."

An audio recording of the exchange between US Airways hero pilot Sully Sullenberger and ATC sheds light on the extraordinary two minutes after his plane was disabled and he decided to crash-land in the Hudson River between two of the country's most densely populated areas. Sully's voice remains calm as he first reports "hit birds -- we lost thrust in both engines" and barely 100 seconds later says, "We're gonna be in the Hudson."The following excerpts are from the audio file released by the FAA, which also has provided a full transcript. The audio recording spans about 20 minutes, and Sullenberger reports the bird strike about 6-1/2 minutes in. In the excerpts below, the time-markers on the left side are taken from the transcript and allow you to follow the passage of time; "Cactus" is a reference to US Airways 1549.

2027:36 [Sullenberger] "Ah, this is Cactus 1539 -- hit birds -- we lost thrust in both engines -- we're turning back towards LaGuardia."

2028:05 [LaGuardia ATC] "OK, yeah, you need to return to LaGuardia -- turn left, heading of uh two two zero."

2027:46 [Sullenberger] "Two two zero."

2027:49 [LaGuardia ATC] "Tower, stop your departures -- we got an emergency returning."

2027:53 [LaGuardia tower] "Who is it?"

2027:54 [LaGuardia ATC] "It's 1529 -- he, ah, bird strike -- he lost all engines -- he lost the thrust in the engines -- he is returning immediately."

2027:59 [LaGuardia tower] "Cactus 1529, which engines?"

2028:01 [LaGuardia ATC] "He lost thrust in both engines, he said."

2028:03 [LaGuardia tower] "Got it."

2028:05 [LaGuardia ATC] "Cactus 1529, if we can get it to you, do you want to try to land runway one three?"

2028:11 [Sullenberger] "We're unable -- we may end up in the Hudson."

[ATC talks to other planes in the area for 20 seconds.]

2028:31 [LaGuardia ATC] "Alright, Cactus 1549, it's going to be left traffic to runway three one."

2028:34 [Sullenberger] "Unable."

2028:36 [LaGuardia ATC] "OK, what do you need to land?"

2028:46 [LaGuardia ATC] "Cactus 1549, runway 4 is available if you want to make left traffic to runway 4."

2028:50 [Sullenberger] "I am not sure if we can make any runway -- oh, what's over to our right -- anything in New Jersey, maybe Teterboro?"

2028:55 [LaGuardia ATC] "OK, yeah, off to your right side is Teterboro Airport."

2029:02 [LaGuardia ATC] "Do you want to try and go to Teterboro?"

2029:03 [Sullenberger] "Yes."

2029:05 [LaGuardia ATC] "Teterboro, uh, Empire actually -- LaGuardia Departure -- got an emergency inbound."

2029:10 [Teterboro ATC] "OK, go ahead."

2029:12 [LaGuardia ATC] "Cactus 1529 over the George Washington Bridge wants to go to the airport right now."

2029:14 [Teterboro ATC] "He wants to go to our airport, check -- does he need any assistance?"

2029:17 [LaGuardia ATC] "Ah, yes, he, ah, was a bird strike --- can I get him in for runway one?"

2029:19 [Teterboro ATC] "Runway one, that's good."

2029:21 [LaGuardia ATC] "Cactus 1529, turn right two eight zero -- you can land runway one at Teterboro."

2029:25 [Sullenberger] "We can't do it."

2029:26 [LaGuardia ATC] "OK, which runway would you like at Teterboro?"

2029:28 [Sullenberger] "We're gonna be in the Hudson."

2029:33 [LaGuardia ATC] "I'm sorry, say again, Cactus?"

[No reply from Sullenberger; he is not heard from again.]

2029:51 [LaGuardia ATC] "Cactus, ah, Cactus 1549, radar contact is lost -- you also got Newark Airport off your two o'clock and about seven miles."

If you believe in miracles, add this chunk of evidence to your collection. And if you don't believe, maybe you should.

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