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US Airways pilot and crew receive keys to New York City from mayor

Chesley Sullenberger (center) and the crew talked to passengers during an appearance on CBS's ''The Early Show'' yesterday. Chesley Sullenberger (center) and the crew talked to passengers during an appearance on CBS's ''The Early Show'' yesterday. (Jason Decrow/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / February 10, 2009
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NEW YORK - Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented keys to the city to US Airways Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and his crew yesterday, thanking them for preventing "an awful tragedy" when Flight 1549 ditched in the Hudson River.

"It is now my great pleasure to introduce five real American heroes," Bloomberg said at the City Hall ceremony. "I certainly hope that you feel at home here. And you should. New York City . . . is a city full of heroes."

Sullenberger ditched his airliner in the icy Hudson River on Jan. 15 after a flock of birds disabled both the plane's engines just minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport. All 155 people aboard survived.

The key comes with no benefit other than bragging rights; Bloomberg has given out about 130 in seven years. "I can't think of a safer group of people to give the keys to, actually," the mayor joked.

The presentation came after a weekend media blitz for the hero pilot, copilot, and three flight attendants. An interview with them was broadcast Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes," and they appeared yesterday on ABC's "Good Morning America" and CBS' "The Early Show."

During the event with the mayor, Sullenberger emphasized that while he's gotten a lot of the credit for the emergency landing, it was a team effort.

He and his crew also thanked the city and the people who mobilized the rescue on the Hudson.

"We got ourselves into the river, but you all got us out of the river," said first officer and copilot Jeff Skiles.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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