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It’s been five years since the “miracle on the Hudson.” How did that event change your life?

It was, at first, very difficult, very shocking, but with time you have to make it part of you, not simply something that happened to you.

What about you is different?

It’s made me think that whatever trivial things I have to deal with don’t even hold a candle to that.

Tell me about meeting President Obama several days later at his first inauguration.

When my wife, Lorrie, and I met the president at a ball, he turned to her and said, “America considers him a hero.” My wife said, “Well, the world may think him a hero, but he still snores!” This hero stuff doesn’t get you much past the front door no matter who you are.

How important was your experience in the sky above the Hudson?

Training in flight simulators, you can’t practice a water landing. We had 208 seconds to solve a problem for which we had never specifically trained. The experience and the judgment my crew and I had developed over many decades allowed us to have the creative reserve to deliver the airplane full of people to the surface intact.

Conversation With Sully Sullenberger

Sully Sullenberger, retired “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot, talks personal achievement and reinvention. — Jonathan Sprague/Redux


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