Us Air Flight 1549
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
By Dan Blumberg
Fearing US Airways Flight 1549 had crashed and no one would survive, air traffic controller Patrick Harten said he was an emotional wreck after the plane disappeared from his radar screen. Harten is speaking about the crash for the first time, as the US House holds a hearing today on what lessons the nation can learn from the averted disaster.
Harten recalled how he told pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger to return to LaGuardia, then offered up a runway at Teterboro. Sullenberger replied that his plane was 'gonna be in the Hudson” and the rest of the “miracle” is history. Only Harten didn’t trust Sully’s flying prowess: “People don’t survive landings on the Hudson River,” he said today, “I thought it was his own death sentence.”
After the plane disappeared from his radar, Harten was relieved from his duty, saying he was in no shape to guide planes through the air. He said that moment was 'his lowest low.' He couldn't even speak to his wife, opting to send a text message instead: 'Had a crash. I'm not OK. Can't talk right now.'
Listen here for Harten's entire opening statement before the House Aviation Committee: