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'Miracle on Hudson' Captain Sully Retires From Flying

Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who piloted a US Airways flight during its emergency water landing on the Hudson River in January of last year, is retiring.

Chesley B. Sullenberger
AP
Chesley B. Sullenberger

Sullenberger, 59, joined US Airways' predecessor airline in 1980. Until 2007, the mandatory retirement age was 60 for commercial pilots in the U.S. The top age for retirement is now 65.

Flight attendant Doreen Welsh, 59, who was on Flight 1549 when it landed in the Hudson, is also retiring. Welsh, 59, joined US Airways' predecessor airline in 1970.

All 150 passengers survived the emergency river landing in January 2009 when the plane's engines were struck by birds. The plane landed within minutes of taking off from New York's LaGuardia. It was supposed to fly to Charlotte, N.C.

Since that famous flight last year, Sullenberger has testified before Congress regarding pilot safety, given speeches about education and written a book, "Brace for Impact."

He became a member of US Airways' flight operations safety management team last September.

Sullenberger will fly his final flight to his home base at Charlotte (N.C.) Douglas International Airport Wednesday afternoon. He will officially retire at a private ceremony there with fellow pilots and other US Airways employees.

Capt. James Ray, a spokesman for the US Airline Pilots Association, which represents US Airways pilots, said that Sullenberger plans to spend more time with his family in retirement. He will also continue to talk to lawmakers about raising minimum qualifications for pilots and work to lower the maximum number of hours pilots are able to work in a single day, Ray said.

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