"I finally get a chance to fly the F-16 ... who knew?"
Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger was back in the cockpit of a U.S. fighter jet on Thursday. Sullenberger actually flew the F-4 Phantom during the tail end of the Vietnam War during his service in the Air Force, so he could really appreciate what the F-16s can do.
"To see the skill in which they do what they do, it's really rewarding and amazing. You know, it's a lot of fun to be that good at something that is difficult to do well, and to watch them do it with such precision is really an astonishing thing," he said.
At 66, Sully didn't think he'd ever get a chance to fly in an F-16, but when the Thunderbirds asked him to join them to help promote their shows this coming weekend at Travis, it was something he simply couldn't pass up.
"I was literally 5 years old when I knew that's what I wanted to do with my life, and I've been fortunate enough to spend my entire professional life doing something I love, something that was important. When you get a chance to do that, there is nothing better," Sullenberger said.
Most would say that Sully was at his best that day in 2009, when he guided a commercial airliner to a safe landing on the Hudson River, shortly after take off. All 155 passengers and crew got off safely, and Sully was proclaimed an American hero.
He said not a day goes by that he's not reminded about that day on the Hudson and all that it has meant to his life since.
"A group of people rose to the occasion that day and made it their mission in life to save every life. I think it was an event that gave people hope when they very much needed it. So, I'm proud to be the public face of this event, and I'm very grateful for what we were able to accomplish under very trying circumstances that day," he said.