Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, III

Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Consultant and Best-Selling Author

Successful executive leader with a history of achievement throughout an accomplished transportation and consulting career with a focus on leadership, culture, safety, performance, reliability and operational excellence that contributes to saving lives, driving cost savings, and bringing value to organizations and communities


Widely recognized safety advocate and champion of high professional standards through a leadership-by-example approach that produces enhanced performance, reliability, quality, safety, and overall corporate improvement. Possess deep understanding of business and operational drivers with respect to safety issues, encouraging commitment to safety and transforming organizational culture. Skilled in identifying connections to effectively understand root causes, applying global solutions to critical problems in virtually every organization and securing employee-management buy-in. Excel at improving human performance in complicated systems through natural ability to leverage professional life experiences by transferring lessons learned in aviation to almost any industry. Influential communicator and skillful presenter with more than 200 keynote addresses on topics including aviation and patient safety, crisis management, leadership, and living a life of integrity in both personal and business endeavors.

Board, Membership & Leadership Roles

  • Member, U.S. Department of Transportation Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation
  • Course developer, pioneer, and implementer of airline Crew Resource Management (CRM), steering course development, implementing and teaching resulting program to hundreds of colleagues to drive industry-wide adoption and change
  • Former member of Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) – Served as ALPA Local Air Safety Chairman, member of ALPA Noise Abatement Committee and ALPA representative, contributed to the development of an FAA Advisory Circular, leading to industry-wide adoption of Aircraft Noise Abatement Departure Procedures as well as improved safety and standardization
  • Co-Chairman of EAA Young Eagles, an international program that inspires and educates youth about aviation

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, 2011 and at the Swiss Economic Forum, 2011
  • Featured speaker at NASA Quality Leadership Forum, Kennedy Space Center, FL, 2017
  • Featured speaker for NASA Safety Standdown, at NASA Headquarters and Flight Operations, Houston, TX, 2010
  • Featured speaker at the FAA International Air Safety Forum, Washington, DC, 2009
  • Featured speaker for two panels – one on aviation and one covering patient safety in medicine at the High Reliability Organizations (HRO) 2007 International Conference in Deauville, France, 2007
  • Featured speaker for DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS) at the Fatality Prevention Forum in Pittsburgh, PA, 2012
  • Featured speaker at the GLOBE 2012 Conference on Business and the Environment in Vancouver, Canada, 2012
  • Cushing Orator, American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting, New Orleans, LA, 2013
  • Numerous presentations for international groups and corporations from industries as diverse as transportation, government, nuclear power, financial risk management, communications, medicine, education, technology, space exploration, manufacturing, military, banking, energy and many others

Career Synopsis

  • World respected leading authority on leadership and culture, working with many private and public sector clients
  • Present expertise in numerous areas including Analysis/Assessment, Risk Evaluation, Strategic Vision/Mission, Executive/Leadership Enhancement, Targeted Training Development and Implementation, and Team Coaching
  • In collaboration with DuPont Sustainable Solutions developed a multi-award-winning video training program, Miracle on the Hudson: Prepare for Safety, which helps employees increase their commitment to safety and transform their organization’s safety culture
CAPTAIN / PILOT – US AIRWAYS – 1980 to 2010
  • Acted as Pilot-in-Command, In-flight Security Coordinator, and final authority on all issues relating to flight safety
  • As Captain, successfully landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River with no fatalities or serious injuries
  • Served as NASA aviation safety research consultant to evaluate cockpit systems for reducing runway incursions, and co-authored published technical paper on crew decision-making errors in aviation. Collaborated with NASA Ames Research Center in California to provide a blueprint for safer pilot training, procedures and standardization
  • Primary contributor/member of National Transportation Safety Board Survival Factors Group during investigation of major airline accident at LAX, leading to improved airline procedures and training for emergency evacuations
  • Led development of airline’s first CRM course focused on multidisciplinary approach involving leadership, communication, decision making and error management, presenting course to hundreds of US Airways pilots
  • As a Check Airman, served as an instructor supervising other airline pilots who were newly hired, new to airplane type, or upgrading to Captain
F-4 PILOT – U.S. Air Force – 1973 to 1980
  • Flight leader and training officer with experience in Europe, Pacific, and at Nellis AFB, serving as Blue Force Mission Commander in Red Flag Exercises.

Management Qualifications

Leadership, Corporate Governance, Culture Change, Team Building, Quality Control, Staff Training & Development, Systems Implementation, Public Speaking / Facilitation, IT Needs Assessment, Relationship Building, Safety Standards & Improvement, Productivity Improvement, Executive & Professional Development


“Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America’s Leaders,” Harper Collins, 2012
“Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters,” Harper Collins, 2009, New York Times #1 best-seller
Journal of Patient Safety, “An NTSB for Healthcare – Learning from Innovation: Debate and Innovate or Capitulate,” March 2012, co-author
Society of Automotive Engineers, "Identifying Error Inducing Contexts in Aviation," 1998, co-author


Opinion: Ligado Is LightSquared Fiasco 2.0 | Aviation Week, With Adm. Thad Allen and Dr. Brad Parkinson, July 27, 2020
Capt. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger: Like Joe Biden, I Once Stuttered, Too. I Dare You to Mock Me. | The New York Times, January 18, 2020
Capt. Sullenberger on the FAA and Boeing: ‘Our credibility as leaders in aviation is being damaged’ |, March 20, 2019
Shutdown is lesson in applied civics; grade is not good | The Hill, With Admiral Thad Allen, February 5, 2019
We saved 155 lives on the Hudson. Now let’s vote for leaders who’ll protect us all | The Washington Post, October 29, 2018
Miracle on Hudson pilot: Don’t privatize air traffic control | USA Today, October 18, 2017
What Is Needed When The Unexpected Happens…And It Will |, July 28, 2015
Technology Cannot Replace Pilots |, April 13, 2015
Pilots Need To Feel Safe Admitting Mental Illness |, April 3, 2015
Five Tips for Making Decisions Under Fire |, April 2, 2015
Pilot Sully Sullenberger on Ebola: Medicine Needs a Higher Authority |, November 7, 2014
A Tired Pilot Is a Tired Pilot, Regardless of the Plane | Wall Street Journal, With Jim Hall, October 6, 2013

Academic Achievement

M.A., Public Administration – University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado, 1979
M.S., Industrial Psychology – Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, 1973
B.S., Psychology – United States Air Force Academy, Colorado, 1973


French Legion of Honour, 2009
Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award, Harvard Foundation, 2009
Lloyd’s Gold Medal for Saving Life, Lloyd’s of London, 2009
Medal of Valor, Simon Wiesenthal Center, 2009
Founders’ Medal, Air League, 2009
Distinguished Crew Safety Award, Air Line Pilots Association, 2009
Master’s Medal, Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators, 2009
TIME 100 Most Influential People, 2009
Jabara Award for Airmanship, U.S. Air Force Academy, 2009
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement, 2010
Grand Marshal, Tournament of Roses, 2010
Honorary Doctorate of Letters, Purdue University, 2011
Inspiration Award, Angel Flight West, 2017
Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Wings of Valor Award, American Veterans Center, 2017
Achievement in Aviation, San Francisco Aeronautical Society, 2018
Tony Jannus Award, Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society, 2018