Survivors of Hudson jet landing gather year later
NEW YORK (AP) " A year after 155 people lived through the water landing of the incapacitated US Airways Flight 1549 in the middle of the frigid Hudson River, many of them gathered Friday to celebrate the anniversary of their unlikely survival.
A crowd of about 100 applauded as US Airways Flight 1549 Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, smiling and wearing his pilot's uniform, arrived for a breakfast. Rescuers were thanked at the event, which launched a day of activities.
"We're so happy to have so much to celebrate," said Sullenberger.
Participants included passengers Laura Zych and Ben Bostic of Charlotte, N.C., who started dating after the splashdown's six-month anniversary.
Life, said Bostic, is "a lot better. I'm more open to opportunities. I appreciate everything."
Chimed in Zych: "We don't take anything for granted. We celebrated the one-month anniversary, two, three, four. We've been waiting for this day."
Bostic said he still feels "a little apprehension, a little anxiety" about flying. But he said having Zych with him makes it easier.
American Red Cross of Greater New York CEO Theresa Bischoff introduced Gov. David Paterson at the gathering, crediting him with coining the phrase "Miracle on the Hudson."
"It was the happiest day I have spent or ever will spend as governor," Paterson said.
Later, Sullenberger was expected to join other crew and passengers to revisit the site where he deftly set down his Airbus A320 on Jan. 15, 2009, after a flock of geese disabled its engines.
In the afternoon, they'll meet with boat crews and other rescuers to board one of the passenger ferries that plucked them from the icy water. Together, they'll return to the place where they made their escape.
At 3:31 p.m., the moment of impact, they'll raise glasses in a toast to life.
The return to the water has brought up mixed feelings for some of the survivors. But many are eager to reunite with the others who shared in the harrowing experience. Some say they consider the group to be a kind of family.
"It does bring back memories of being out there and what we went through," Bostic said previously. "But with those memories, it also reinforces that gratitude we have."
Whether it's traveling together or just spending quiet time with each other, Bostic says he's intent on making sure he doesn't miss out on anything. After all, there could be another encounter with death at any time.
"If it happens," he said, "it's going to happen this time without any regrets."
Associated Press Writer Marcus Franklin contributed to this report.Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Barrington Broadcasting is a member of the AP Network.