Mayor praises captain who was last to leave sinking plane

Heidi Blake,Press Association
Friday 16 January 2009 08:45

The Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, said the US Airways pilot who landed a plane safely in the freezing Hudson river did a "masterful job".

Speaking in New York just hours after the crash, Mr Bloomberg heaped praise upon the pilot, who was the last person to leave the plane before it sank.

The Mayor said: "It would appear that the pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river and making sure that everyone got out.

"I had a long conversation with the pilot, who walked the plane twice after everyone got off to make sure there was no-one left on board. This pilot did a wonderful job."

Mr Bloomberg commended the pilot for his bravery in ensuring all the passengers were free of the plane before exiting.

He said he had spoken to a passenger who confirmed the pilot was the last person on board.

The Mayor said the pilot had refused to speculate on the cause of the crash during their conversation.

"He was very careful in what he talked about and I think that's the sort of training you'd expect in a veteran pilot. They don't speculate," he said.

The Mayor also applauded the efforts of the New York emergency services, saying: "The FDNY, the NYPD and the Port Authority Police all worked together. They plan for these kinds of emergencies and they train for these sort of emergencies, and you saw it in action. Because of their fast, brave work, all these people were saved."

He added: "It is really hard to find anything that you would want to change. We are very lucky. The pilot certainly did a masterful job of landing and everybody worked together. It is terrible that it happened at all but if it was going to have to happen, this outcome is as good as you could ever hope and pray for."

The mayor was cautious about confirming there had been no fatalities, because he said passengers were rescued by various means and they were still trying to verify that no-one was seriously injured.

He also appeared to rule out terrorism as a cause, saying: "There is absolutely no indication whatsoever that this was anything other than an accident."

Mr Bloomberg said he had spoken to Mary Peters, the head of the US Department of Transportation, who said she was en route to New York to begin the investigation into the cause of the crash.

Governor David Paterson added: "We have had a miracle on 34th Street. I believe now we have had a miracle on the Hudson."

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