Controller Thought Ditching In Hudson Spelled Doom

WASHINGTON — The air traffic controller who handled US Airways Flight 1549 says he thought he was hearing a death sentence when the pilot said he was ditching in New York’s Hudson River.

Controller Patrick Harten says, “I believed at that moment I was going to be the last person to talk to anyone on that plane alive.” The 10-year veteran controller publicly described his reactions to last month’s miracle landing in the Hudson for the first time Tuesday before the House aviation subcommittee.

Harten said: “People don’t survive landings on the Hudson River. I thought it was his own death sentence.”

But pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger glided the Airbus A320 into the river after it collided with birds and lost power in both engines. All 155 people aboard survived.