Sully Sullenberger: when did captain land plane on Hudson River - and why is it known as Miracle on the Hudson?

Tom Hanks plays Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger in the movie Sully, which retells the story of the famous Hudson river landing

Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (right), along with passengers and crew members from the flight, celebrate the anniversary of the Hudson river landing (Getty Images)

Clint Eastwood’s film Sully retells the story of the “miracle” that happened on the Hudson River.

Showing on BBC One on bank holiday Monday (3 May), the biographical drama film, starring Tom Hanks, is based on the events that unfolded when American pilot Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed his plane on the river that flows through New York.

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It subsequently became known as The Miracle on the Hudson.

So, who is Sully Sullenberger, how did he land his plane on the river, and where is he now?

Here is everything you need to know.

Who is Sully Sullenberger?

US pilot Chesley Sullenberger, known as Sully, is a former Air Force fighter pilot and ex-airline captain.

He was born in Denison, Texas, on 23 January 1951 and started his flight training in the country’s air force in 1969.

Sully was appointed at RAF Lankenheath, in the UK, to the 493d Tactical Fighter Squadron before he joined Pacific Southwest Airlines as a commercial pilot in 1980.

The captain became known worldwide for his role in the events that took place on the Hudson river.

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When did he land the plane on the Hudson river?

On 15 January 2009, Sully was flying US Airways Flight 1549 with 150 passengers and five crew on board when a freak incident struck.

Around 12 minutes after the plane boarded at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on that day, it was met by a flock of Canada geese.

The geese were sucked into the plane’s engines, making it fail immediately.

Quick-thinking Sully realised he was not able to return to the airport in time, and made the crucial decision to manoeuvre his aircraft into the Hudson River.

He did so successfully, and once the plane had landed the crew assisted passengers out of its doors and onto the wings.

Some panicked and dived into the river away from the jet as they were scared it could potentially explode.

Rescue vessels were able to reach the plane only four minutes later to save the passengers.

There were no casualties.

Sully’s decision-making and skill as a pilot resulted in him being offered national calls of thanks from President George W. Bush.

After the incident took place, the captain’s actions were investigated to ensure he had made the right decision to land the plane on the Hudson.

Speaking to Newsweek, Sully said: “We weren’t certain for many months after the investigation that we really had made the right decisions at every juncture and would ultimately be vindicated.

“Most people don’t understand that part of the story.”

After the infamous event, Sully co-wrote the New York Times bestseller titled Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters with his fellow pilot Jeffrey Zaslow.

In it, he tells the first-hand story of the incident.

Clint Eastwood’s movie is based on the 2009 autobiography.

Where is Sully now?

Following the incident on the river, Sully retired after 30 years as a commercial pilot.

He now works for CBS News as an aviation and safety expert and lives in San Franciso, California, with his wife Lorraine Sullenberger.

Sully has two adopted daughters, Kate and Kelly.