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'Miracle on the Hudson' plane bound for North Carolina

By Phil Gast, CNN
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'Miracle on the Hudson' is headed for Charlotte museum
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • US Airways plane will have new home at North Carolina museum
  • Crew of Flight 1549 was forced to land plane in Hudson River
  • The Airbus 320 will be reassembled in Charlotte
  • Capt. Sullenberger is expected to speak at a June 11 reception
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(CNN) -- The aircraft that Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger heroically landed in New York's Hudson River began its long ride Saturday to an aviation museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Airbus A320, sans its wings and tail section, left a warehouse in Harrison, New Jersey, for the journey south, according to Shawn Dorsch, president of the Carolinas Aviation Museum.

"It's very hard to miss," Dorsch said of the fuselage. "It's not covered."

The museum has invited the 155 crew members and passengers from the "Miracle on the Hudson" incident for a June 11 arrival reception, at which Sullenberger is the scheduled keynote speaker, Dorsch told CNN.

On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 left LaGuardia Airport and ran into a flock of geese that damaged both engines, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing in the frigid Hudson.

Rescuers quickly reached the aircraft and found passengers standing on its wings. Everyone was rescued.

Sullenbeger, who retired in March 2010, and other crew members became instant celebrities.

J. Supor & Son Trucking and Rigging Co. in New Jersey has donated the considerable cost of transporting the aircraft, Dorsch said. About 40 vehicles are in the entourage, which reached Rutgers University later Saturday.

Because the rig's height won't allow the plane to go under older interstate bridges, some of the move will be on other highways, where wires and some stoplights will have to be temporarily moved, Dorsch said.

The plane will be shown off at the Charlotte museum's main hangar.

"It will be on display almost as soon as it arrives," Dorsch said.

US Airways and Airbus mechanics will reassemble the aircraft, including its wings and tail section. Much of that work will be completed by the fall.

Sullenberger's uniform, passenger belongings and other artifacts will be part of the display, he said.

The cabin will look much as it did during the flight, Dorsch added.

Between 30,000 and 35,000 visitors visit the museum annually. Dorsch expects that number will triple within 18 months of the exhibit's opening. Most of the flight's passengers still live in the Charlotte area, he added.

The incident represents the height of technical achievements in safety and human heroism, the museum president said.

Dorsch recalled taking the next flight after Flight 1549 and seeing the plane in the Hudson River.

"I was thinking, 'That could have been me,'" he said.

 
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