Chesley Sullenberger 60 Minutes Interview: Pilot, Crew Recount Hudson River Crash (VIDEO)

03/12/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In his first interview since crash landing his US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson river after suffering catastrophic engine failure from striking birds, pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger recounts the harrowing details of this near-tragedy. Watch the 60 Minutes interview below.

Sullenberger tells Katie Couric that he knew as soon as they struck the birds they were in the for the worst: "It was the worst sickening pit of your stomach, falling through the floor feeling I've ever felt in my life. I knew immediately it was very bad."

With the plane too far away to return to La Guardia, Sullenberger tried to make an emergency landing at Teterboro airport. But he quickly realized that they wouldn't make it that far either: "The only viable alternative, the only level smooth place sufficiently large to land an airliner was the river," Sullenberger said.

Sullenberger wasn't the only one who kept his cool during the traumatic experience. The flight crew reacted with cool professionalism throughout the whole ordeal:

"I made the brace for impact announcement in the cabin and immediately, through the hardened cockpit door, I heard the flight attendants begin shouting their commands in response to my command to brace. 'Heads down. Stay down.' I could hear them clearly. They were chanting it in unison over and over again to the passengers, to warn them and instruct them. And I felt very comforted by that. I knew immediately that they were on the same page. That if I could land the airplane, that they could get them out safely," he remembered.

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