The Miracle on the Hudson is one of the most incredible survival stories in aviation history. We all know the story of US Airways flight 1549’s fatality-free ditching in New York’s Hudson River in January 2009, but what about the aircraft’s removal from the water afterward? Let’s take a look at the aircraft’s journey from the river to a museum.
An unprecedented water landing
On January 15th, 2009, an unprecedented event now known as the Miracle on the Hudson took place. After bird strikes prompted both engines on US Airways flight 1549 from New York LaGuardia to Charlotte to fail, pilots Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles landed the stricken Airbus A320 on the Hudson River with no fatalities.
Emergency services and boats in the area were quickly on the scene to provide assistance. As such, the aircraft’s occupants were able to evacuate and travel to shore fairly quickly. While the most important thing was the fact that they were safe, there was still the question of what would happen to the aircraft, which laid half-submerged in the river.
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The recovery efforts
The most immediate priority was to secure the aircraft, and prevent it from interfering with river traffic. As such, authorities took it four miles (6.5 km) downstream and secured it by tying it up near Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan. As seen in the photograph above, the aircraft was still partially underwater at this point, and leaning to its left-hand side.
Having secured the aircraft in place, the next step was to safely remove it from the river. According to the BBC, this took place on January 18th, three days after the ditching, using a crane. That night, NBC reported that the aircraft’s largely intact remains had then been loaded onto a barge. This vessel then took the plane to New Jersey for examination.
As seen in the photograph below, the aircraft’s right-hand engine remained intact despite the impact of the ditching. However, this was not the case for the left turbofan, which detached from the A320 during the river landing. USA Today reported on January 23rd that it had finally been recovered from the riverbed following eight days of hard work.
The story of the A320 that ditched in the Hudson, which bore the registration N106US, was not over after its recovery. Indeed, two years later, in 2011, the Carolinas Aviation Museum purchased its remains from the New Jersey salvage yard that was its previous storage location. The museum was in Charlotte, the destination of US Airways fight 1549.
For now, the general public cannot see the aircraft, which has since had its engines reattached. This is due to the fact that, in 2019, the museum temporarily closed ahead of a move to a new location. Its exhibits, including N106US, are now in storage. Warbird Digest reports that they will be back on show at the newly relocated museum in 2023.
Did you know about N106US’s recovery process? Perhaps you’ve seen it in person during its time as a museum exhibit? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.