Miracle on Hudson passengerwill be Aero Club speaker

by Gary Vacin

 

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A Phoenix woman who survived the “Miracle on the Hudson” flight

in 2009 will be guest speaker at the Sun Lakes Aero Club gathering Monday,

March 19 at the Sun Lakes Country Club Navajo Room. The session starts with

coffee and fellowship at 6:30 p.m., followed by the presentation at 7 p.m. The

public is invited.

Tracey Wolsko will relate her experiences as a back-seat passenger in

the flight that successfully landed in the Hudson River after both engines failed

following a collision with a flock of birds. She was originally scheduled to speak

in November but had to cancel because of health reasons.

The flight left LaGuardia Airport in New York City en route to Charlotte,

N.C. when it struck a flock of Canadian Geese almost immediately after takeoff.

Both engines failed. The plane, an Airbus 320 piloted by Chesley “Sully”

Sullenberger, made a successful forced landing in the Hudson River. Despite

the cold weather, all 155 passengers survived.

Walsko wasn't supposed to be on the flight that day. She was booked on an

earlier flight but decided to go stand-by for the later flight. She said she was

thrilled to get one of the last seats on the flight, a middle seat in the last row of

the plane.

A few minutes later she found herself crammed onto one of the plane's

emergency slides, shoeless and shivering, floating in the Hudson River. Many of

the plane's passengers were perched on the plane's wings. She said she had no

idea the plane had landed in the river. “I thought we had headed back to

LaGuardia for a landing there. I was surprised when the water started rising in

the cabin.

Walsko is the fifth in a series of six persons to relate their aviation-related

experiences at a Sun Lakes Aero Club gathering. April speaker will be Lonnie

McClung, a retired U.S.Navy officer who logged more than 7,000 flying hours

and flew 250 combat missions in Vietnam.

More information on the Aero Club is availabale from Cannon Hill at

509-539-7857, Gary Vacin at 480-298-7017 or at the club's web site,

www.sunlakesaeroclub.org.