Four days after the crash landing of US Airways Flight 1549 and the miraculous landing in the Hudson River by pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III, the Sullenberger family is being reunited in Washingon D.C. Sullenberger, hailed as a hero for his quick action and skills in saving the plane, was invited to attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Flight 1549 had just left the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport on Thursday afternoon enroute to Charlotte, N.C., when the craft was struck by several geese. The birds flew into the plane's engines, causing them to fail.
Sullenberger, the pilot on the flight, did not have enough airspeed or altitude to return to the runway so he guided the plane to what one witness described as a "three-point landing" in the icy waters of the Hudson River.
Emergency crews leapt into action and ferries quickly converged on the downed aircraft, where some passengers floated in the frigid water and others huddled on the plane's wings.
The rescue operation took just minutes, with only some minor injuries reported. Emergency officials credited Sullenberger with an amazing landing and said he was the last person to leave the plane, making certain that everyone had gotten off first.
New York Gov. David Paterson referred to the incident as "The Miracle on the Hudson" and lauded Sullenberger as the hero of the hour, catapulting himself and his family into the national spotlight.
News media from across the country swarmed to the couple's home in the Vista Tassajara community on Danville's southeast side in the hopes of getting interviews with wife Lorrie Sullenberger or a sighting of "Sully" should he return home.
Those attempts went largely unanswered as a shroud of silence descended on the family. Sullenberger himself was sequestered somewhere in New York after talking to the National Transportation Safety Board, and the family remained in its home, insulated by friends and neighbors who deflected press inquiries.
"It was easier to get close to the Jonas Brothers than it is to get close to the Sullenbergers," said Susan Young, a freelance reporter who has written for the Washington Post and was at the scene for a national entertainment and personalities magazine.
Sullenberger was scheduled for an interview on the Today show Monday with Matt Lauer, but it was cancelled after the US Airline Pilots Association, the union representing US Airways pilots, requested that Sullenberger and his family refrain from all media contact until the investigation was concluded.
Still members of the media camped on the Sullenberger's doorstep throughout the weekend in hopes that there would be some statement made.
Their efforst were to no avail. Barbary Coast, a media relations firm, was hired but spokesman Alex Clemens offered no information regarding the family or their plans.
Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich confirmed that the family would be attending the Inauguration. Arnerich said he had been in contact with the family to express his joy and pride in his fellow Danville resident.
He said that when the Sullenbergers return from Washington, there would be a celebration of the heroic rescue.