Childhood friend remembers heroic pilot

By Morgan Chesky - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Investigators have an update on U.S. Airways flight 1549.  They say moments after takeoff the pilot, Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III already knew they were in trouble, radioing the tower saying,"We're going to be in the Hudson."

His quick decision and landing skills have earned him the title of hero.  A childhood friend of Sullenburger's from Tyler says he was just doing his job.

The man responsible for making a miracle on the Hudson happen, Captain Chesley B. Sullenburger, a hero for many, but for a select few Sully was much more.

"I was lucky enough to be a really good friend," said Nita Meads, a family friend of the Sullenburger.  Hearing the news of the crash from her sister, Meads couldn't believe it.

"I mean I had chill bumps, listening and knowing it was a childhood family friend, a close friend that has now done this miraculous thing," said Meads.  Miraculous, yes, but Meads is quick to note when it came to flying her childhood friend was more than capable.

"If it were anybody, I would think Burnette could land a plane like that," said Meads.  Looking at old photos, Meads remembers Sullenburger taking her up for her first airplane flight, saying he was successful at more than just being a pilot.

"He was good at everything he did, you know, he was also a wonderful musician, but he was also a role model for all of us growing up," said Meads.  "He's the type of person that would just say that was my job and go on with life from there."  Once she heard the details about the plane having to land with both engines out, Meads smiled remembering Sully's Air Force graduation.  She says his favorite flight school course was gliding.