Explore Charlotte

Flight Delayed

Not since Gilligan set sail on the S.S. Minnow has a trip endured such a long and adventurous delay from its intended destination. But this one is a true story, depicted daily at Carolinas Aviation Museum. The Airbus 320 from US Airways Flight 1549, landed on the Hudson River by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger on Jan. 15, 2009, has become the museum’s signature attraction.

Within minutes after departing New York City’s LaGuardia Airport on its way to Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Flight 1549 struck a flock of geese, knocking out both engines. Realizing he didn’t have enough altitude to guide the plane back to LaGuardia, Sullenberger made the heroic decision to land on the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 people onboard.

Delivered to Carolinas Aviation Museum in June, the Airbus arrived at its final destination in Charlotte two years and five months after its originally scheduled flight. Its new home: the museum’s large, hangar-style facility, surrounded by several historic aircraft. Throughout the summer, museum visitors could watch the famous plane undergo the long and tedious process of being installed as the “Flight 1549—Miracle on the Hudson” exhibition. Work on the plane is ongoing; the exhibit will be completed by early 2012.

At the exhibit, chairs are lined up around the massive display. Artifacts from inside the plane are housed in glass cases—refreshments flight attendants never had a chance to serve, items from overhead compartments, luggage tags and more. Items from the rescue, such as life preservers, are also on display; there’s a certain joy that comes from seeing the evidence of the rescue, knowing that everyone onboard survived.

In addition to the Flight 1549 exhibit, Carolinas Aviation Museum features more than 50 aircraft and a number of smaller historic aviation items from North and South Carolina. Mon-Fri 10 am-4 pm; Sat 10 am-5 pm; Sun 1-5 pm. General admission is $11. 4672 First Flight Drive, 704.359.8442, www.carolinasaviation.org.