Hero of the Hudson

Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, III was the last person to leave US Airways Flight 1549 — a true captain, he swept the center aisle twice to ensure no one else was still on board.

Sullenberger appears to have landed a plane as safely as possible on the Hudson River, as all passengers survived, including one baby. Even the airplane's manufacturer was impressed, telling the Daily News, "Ditching an aircraft is a significant accomplishment on the part of the pilot, as opposed to crashing one." In fact, no one in 45 years has crash-landed an airplane in the water with no fatalities, the tabloid said. (We're curious who pulled this off 45 years ago.)

An ABC News reporter also saw Sullenberg's work first-hand and was impressed:

Sullenberger made what ABCNews' Robin Roberts, who saw the crash from her apartment, called a "perfect water landing" into the frigid waters of the Hudson River off Manhattan.

The atmosphere in Sullenberger's cabin was notably calm, said the Daily News:

Passengers described the scene moments after the plane hit the water as "organized chaos," but also said there was little panic as they helped each other reach the exit - allowing women and children to go first.

Sullenberger, 57, has been with US Airways since 1980, and prior to that spent six years in the Air Force as a fighter pilot. He was also an instructor in the Air Force, graduated from the Air Force Academy and has graduate degrees from Purdue University and the University of Northern Colorado. He lives in Danville, California.

And he has a safety consulting firm called Safety Reliability Methods, so he'll soon be rich beyond his wildest dreams, probably.

(Photo via The Smoking Gun.)