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Brittany Cantazaro, Brittany Cantazaro ferry captain, ferry captain Brittany Cantazaro

Brittany Catanzaro, First Female Ferry Captain for New York Waterway and Hero to US Airways Flight 1549

January 16, 2010
by Sarah Amandolare
Brittany Cantazaro is NY Waterway’s first female ferry captain and helped rescue passengers on the US Airways flight that crashed in the Hudson River.

Brittany Catanzaro grew up boating in the summertime with her father on the Long Island Sound, and eventually turned her love of the water into a profession. The 19-year-old Catanzaro is the youngest ever and first female ferry captain for New York Waterway, safely transporting daily commuters from Weehawken and Hoboken, N.J. to New York City.

“I love being on the water. It’s like my first nature. It’s kind of home to me,” Catanzaro told The New York Times in an interview last December.

As if her trailblazing position weren’t enough, the young captain is now being hailed as a hero. On January 15, 2009, Catanzaro was in the midst of a shift when she noticed an airplane in the Hudson River. According to NorthJersey.com, Catanzaro was heading in the opposite direction, but “immediately … turned around and steered toward” what turned out to be US Airways Flight 1549.
Bound for Charlotte, North Carolina, from New York’s La Guardia Airport, the plane had become disabled shortly after takeoff when it ran across a flock of geese and lost two engines. Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III, a former Air Force pilot, and copilot Jeff Skiles have become national heroes for guiding the plane into a safe water landing in the Hudson River off the shore of midtown Manhattan.

With her crew’s guidance, Catanzaro steered her boat toward the plane’s wings, and wielded the watercraft expertly as a current pulled the plane downriver. The ferry’s crew helped passengers of Flight 1549 onto the boat and out of harm’s way.

“They were the ones who were down there pulling people out of the water. When I saw the people hugging my crew, that's one of the moments that really sticks with me,” Catanzaro told NorthJersey.com.

Web site wowOwow reported that Catanzaro and her crew on New York Waterway ferry Thomas Kean successfully “pulled 24 passengers from the flight to safety.”

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