Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger gives a keynote speech during the O.C. Tanner Influence GR8NSS conference at the Cliff Lodge in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. Sullenberger is celebrated for the Jan. 15, 2009, water landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River off Manhattan after the plane was disabled by striking a flock of Canada geese immediately after takeoff.
PARK CITY — Retired Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger on Thursday praised the teamwork and ability of his flight crew to adapt to an emergency as he shared the story of the 2009 crash landing of US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River.
When he had to make an emergency landing into the river, Sullenberger realized that a lifetime of training and decisions, as well as team-building efforts with his crew, had become a vital part of ensuring the survival of his passengers, he said.
As he spoke during O.C. Tanner’s Influence Greatness team-building and leadership seminar at Snowbird’s Cliff Lodge, Sullenberger expressed a regret that he had become the face of the “Miracle on the Hudson,” knowing how vital his flight crew’s teamwork and professionalism had been to the successful emergency landing.
“You can probably only imagine, having gone through such a traumatic event together, we’ve become very close,” Sullenberger said of his crew, singling out co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles, who was in the cockpit as Sullenberger landed the plane.
Sullenberger and his crew had met just three days before teaming up for a four-day flight schedule, he said. The pilot attributed much of the crew’s success to a change in the airline’s “cockpit culture.”
Sullenberger had been flying commercial airlines since 1980 and was an airline safety advocate. He had wanted to move away from an internal culture where pilots were “solo acts” who did not offer good leadership, he said.
Ultimately, Sullenberger was instrumental in developing and teaching leadership courses for US Airways.