New York plane crash, Hudson River plane crash

US Airways Flight Crashes Into New York’s Hudson River

January 15, 2009 05:08 PM
by Anne Szustek
US Airways Flight 1549, leaving New York’s LaGuardia Airport for Charlotte, N.C., crashed in the Hudson River Thursday afternoon. Five crew members and 146 people were on board.

Plane Hits Geese; All Passengers Rescued

US Airways Flight 1549 left LaGuardia Airport around 3 p.m. Jan. 15 and was airborne for about six minutes, when the flight crew ran into problems as the the plane approached a flock of geese, reported WNBC’s Tim Minton. Upon hitting the bird, the plane lost both engines, according to reports.

“A 4-pound bird exerts more than 6 tons of force if hit by a plane traveling 200 mph—some geese weigh up to 15 pounds,” writes WNBC.

The plane landed in the Hudson River near the USS Intrepid between New Jersey and midtown Manhattan. All on board have been safely rescued, although the passengers and flight crew had to contend with frigid waters. Temperatures in New York were in the high teens to low 20s Fahrenheit.

“I saw it hit the river,” a caller told local TV station WNBC. “It just came crashing down into the river. I was wondering why it came down so low; there’s no airport around here.”

Erica Schietenger, who works in an office building at New York’s Chelsea Piers, overlooking the Hudson, told New York City radio station 1010 WINS, “I saw what appeared to be a tail fin of a plane sticking out of the water. … All the boats have sort of circled the area.’”

This was the first water landing in U.S. commercial aviation history.

Flocks of birds were behind two recent US Air Force plane crashes: one in Alaska in 1995, which saw 24 casualites, and one a year later in the Netherlands that killed 34 people.

Two other US Airways flights originating from LaGuardia have crashed. On Sept. 20, 1989, US Airways flight 5050, also bound for Charlotte, went down because of a rudder deflection during takeoff. Two died in the crash.

Less than three years later, US Airways flight 405, bound for Cleveland, crashed due to deicing problems. The plane crashed in Flushing Bay, which is adjacent to LaGuardia Airport. Twenty-seven people died in that crash.

Reference: What to do in a water landing

To stay safe in case of a water landing, also known as “ditching,” eHow suggests that passengers first and foremost study the safety instruction card, located in the seat pocket, as well as pay attention to the flight attendants’ safety demonstration at the beginning of the flight. Flyers should learn how to use in-flight life preservers; however, they should never inflate them while still in the plane.

“When an Ethiopian Airlines 767 ditched near the Comoros Islands, the cabin broke apart, filled with water, and several passengers with pre-inflated vests were unable to move freely and escape beneath the rising water,” writes the author of’s “Ask the Pilot” column. “The vests are designed to provide some buoyancy even if punctured, so if you’re unconscious and haven’t yet pulled the cord to discharge the little CO2 cylinder, you’ll still float with your head above the surface.”

Once life preservers are put on, passengers, after unbuckling their seatbelts, should hold onto a fixed part of the plane, like a seat, to keep steady, and move hand over hand to the nearest exit. Once out of the plane, resist the urge to kick immediately and push out of the aircraft, holding on until completely out of the plane. If underwater, follow breath bubbles and exhale slowly while approaching the surface.

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