Tuesday marks 10 years since what is now called the “Miracle on the Hudson”.
Many remember exactly where they were when they heard a plane was making an emergency landing in the Hudson River.
For the 155 people who survived on board US Airways Flight 1549, the flight that lasted less than five minutes has impacted them for a lifetime.
After taking off from LaGuardia airport to Charlotte, North Carolina, the plane hit a flock of birds and was forced to ditch in the Hudson.
“Sully said, ‘This is your Captain. Brace for impact,’” remembered Laura Zych-McCormack.
“I remember looking around at the other people in the aircraft and just wondering, ‘Why today? Why me?’” said Denise Lockie.
Both Zych-McCormick and Lockie were on board Flight 1549.
“We had no idea what it felt like to die. So there was a moment where we felt, ‘Are we actually alive? Or is this how it feels afterward?’” explained Zych-McCormack.
Ten years later, those moments are still as raw as the cold January day they found themselves in the icy Hudson.
“We have all these shared experiences. And we come from all different backgrounds. And we have one thing in common. That thing has become very important to all of us,” said Michael Leonard, a Flight 1549 survivor.
“Sometimes you don’t really have to use a lot of words when you’re struggling with something — when you’re talking to one of your passengers,” Vicki Barnhardt said holding back tears.
Lori Crane introduced herself with her seat number: 9D.
Because while the landing doesn’t define the passengers, it did change how they see the world.
“It was really the best thing that ever happened to me that day. It made me realize what’s important in life,” said Crane. “The empathy and more awareness of everything going on in the world. I appreciate everything.”
Eric Stevenson still carries this note he wrote to his mother and sister as the plane went down.
“You look at that card and you say, ‘What was going on at that instant I thought my life was about to end?’ And now it’s proof of family and the importance,” he said.
Zych-McCormick’s family has grown in the past 10 years. This October, she married a man she met while out with Lockie.
“A gentleman had walked in, and Denise had pointed him out, said “Well, there’s an attractive– you know, attractive fellow,’” Zych-McCormick chuckled. “And I looked and I said, ‘Well, yes, it is!’”
So Zych-McCormack says she “definitely” would give some credit to the Miracle on the Hudson.
Years later, it seems the miracle isn’t finished yet.
Many of the passengers gather with the crew, observing the moment of impact with a champagne toast.
They call it a celebration of life, and a celebration of all they’ve gained because of that fateful day.