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Investigators to Question Pilot about Hudson Crash

by Michelle Franzen
NBC News

NEW YORK - The crippled jetliner that plunged into the Hudson River is now tied to a pier in lower Manhattan.

With each person rescued from the wreckage of the US Air jetliner, there are incredible stories emerging of both courage and fear in the moments before the plane went down.

"Usually in moments like this you would expect chaos, it got real quiet and nobody said a word," passenger Brad Wentzell said.

"Just saying I love you but it was scribbled as fast as I could because the seconds were going by so quickly," passenger Eric Stevenson said.

Final thoughts Stevenson wanted his family to know in case he didn't survive. 

Passengers who returned home to Charlotte, North Carolina, where US Air flight 1549 was bound for before it went down are still in awe of the pilot's fast and controlled response.

"20,000 ton aircraft and you're floating in the water, yeah that's nothing short of a miracle," said passenger Joe Hart.

Pilot Chesley Sullenberger, a veteran commercial pilot and former Air Force fighter pilot is credited for saving lives when the plane came down.  His wife in California, says her husband and father of two was just doing his job.

We are very grateful that everyone is off the airplane safely. And that is what my husband asked to convey to everyone. And of course we are very proud of dad," Lorrie Sullenberger said.

The miraculous outcome was also helped by the quick response of New York's fire, police and ferry boat crews, who helped bring the freezing passengers to safety.

"A lot of them  were just in shock, thankful we were there, scared... Shivering," Coast guard Petty Officer Ian Kennedy said.

On Friday, at a city hall ceremony, mayor Michael Bloomberg commended crews and pilot Chesley Sullenberger for their heroism.

And he offered the pilot a key to the city.

"I'm going to hold on to it until we have the opportunity to present it to the incredibly brave pilot, co-pilot and crew of us airways flight 1549," Mayor Bloomberg said.

Before that happens, all will have to be interviewed by NTSB investigators who are trying to determine what went wrong and what went right.

"So often we are focused on what went wrong, obviously yesterday there were things that didn't go according to plan but there is so much that went right and we ant to understand that as well," Kitty Higgins of the NTSB said.

Preliminary reports from the pilot and passengers point to the plane hitting several birds and knocking out both engines.  

In addition investigators will retrieve the planes black boxes, said to still be intact on the aircraft now tied off at a pier in lower Manhattan. 

Investigators brought large cranes in Friday and plan to eventually lift the airbus out of the water and onto a barge.

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