Investigations Start in 'Miracle' Plane Landing

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WASHINGTON - Investigators are now trying to locate both engines of the US Airways plane that crashed into the Hudson River, Thursday.

Police divers went out Friday morning with sonar devices to locate the engines, which apparently fell off during the water landing.  Crews will begin removing the plane from the water, Saturday.

"A lot of things went right yesterday, including the way that not only the crew functioned, but the way the plane functioned," Kitty Higgins of the National Transportation Safety Board said in a press conference Friday.

Part of the NTSB's job, she added, will be to look at "everything that made yesterday's accident so survivable."

Hudson River Hero 

All 155 passengers and crew members on Flight 1549 were rescued in as little as five minutes, officials said.

Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III, the pilot who safely landed the engine-failed plane, is described by his wife, Lorrie, as a "pilot's pilot" who loved the "art of the airplane."

She said her husband was so calm when he called to tell her what happened that, at first, she didn't realize how serious it was.

"My husband said over the years that it's highly unlikely for any pilot to ever have any incident in his career, let alone something like this," she said.

Passengers say they owe their lives to Sullenberg who, by all accounts, made a picture perfect crash landing.

"In order to make the decision to land on water, you've got to be sure you do not have the power to make it to an airport," explained aviation expert John Nance.

"If he'd committed to that," Nance continued, "and then found out he didn't have enough air speed and altitude to make it, he would have ended up landing on a bunch of houses and that would have been catastrophic."

'Miracle' on the Hudson

Nearly everyone responding to the plane crash say its a miracle no one was killed.

"It was terrifying," survivor Clay Presley recalled, "but if anything it was the best way to have a plane crash." 

"We had a miracle on 34th Street. I believe now we have had a miracle on the Hudson," New York Governor David Paterson said.

Shortly after the plane took off from La Guardia Airport, passenger Jeff Kolodjay noticed something was terribly wrong with one of the engines.

He recounted, "Fire, flames coming out of it and I was looking right at it cause I was sitting right there and it just started smelling a lot like gasoline." That's when he says passengers started praying.

The plane reportedly ran into a flock of birds that disabled the engines. But Kolodjay says he knew he had a chance when he looked down and saw water.

"It was coming down low, too low," recalled one eyewitness. "And it was hitting the water and I just started dialing 911 like crazy."

The Rescue

Most passengers were able to walk onto the wings as rescuers plucked them into ferries.

But one wasn't sure he'd make it. Taking matters into his own hands, he stripped off his clothes and jumped into the water.

"I started to get close to my neck underwater and I just thought that I was going to drown right there," he said.

History of Bird Strikes

Birds strike planes every day - usually without incident. But it's rare for a pilot to land a jetliner on water without fatalities. 

"He was phenomenal," pasenger Joe Hart said. "He landed it. Both engines cut out, and he actually floated it into the river."

Reports indicate this is the first case in 50 years of commercial flying. 

Kolodjay said, "We were all making sure people in front of us got off. Although it was chaotic, everyone kept a pretty cool demeanor man. The water got cold, but everyone kept a cool demeanor. God bless patience man."

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Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News Reporter

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