Ferry captain recalls ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ rescue ahead of 14th anniversary

This Sunday will mark the 14th anniversary of the so-called “Miracle on the Hudson.” It was a day a passenger jet landed on the Hudson River. Passengers were rescued with the help of New York Waterway ferry boats.
It was Jan. 15, 2009, when a bird strike caused the engines to fail on US Airways Flight 1549. The jet had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport. When the plane landed in the water, ferry captains and crews went into action.
Capt. Vince Lombardi was one of those captains. He says that it was 3 p.m. and he was just pulling out his ferry from the West 39th Street Terminal in Manhattan and saw the plane glide to a stop.
Within three minutes, he says he was next to the aircraft. The passengers were standing on the wing waiting for help.
“I saw people walking out from the plane, and it kind of looked like they were walking on water,” Lombardi says.
A total of 14 crews would converge on the plane and save the 143 passengers. Lombardi was able to rescue 56 passengers and brought them on his boat.
“I approached slow because I didn’t want to carry a wake in and knock anybody the water,” Lombardi says. “Pretty much angled the bow over the wing so we could drop our ladder down and walk right up.”
Every year since the rescue, Lombardi says he, the passengers and the air traffic controller get together for dinner. They will stick to tradition and do that again this Saturday in New York City.