The former Carolinas Museum of Aviation is moving into a new, bigger space – and a new name is coming along with it.
Its namesake is Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who became famous for landing a plane safely on the Hudson River in 2009. Sullenberger’s quick thinking as the aircraft encountered a bird strike made him a hero, and the incident was dubbed “the Miracle on the Hudson.”
The Sullenberger Aviation Museum is due to reopen in late 2023, with a groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for September 27.
The plane he piloted, US Airways Flight 1549, was en route from New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina – where the museum is located. Many of its passengers live in and around Charlotte, and the aircraft is the museum’s best-known exhibit.
One of the US Airways Flight 1549 passengers was Ric Elias, the Charlotte-based CEO of Red Ventures, who contributed significant funds to the museum.
“Flight 1549 changed the course of my life and gave me the ultimate gift of a second chance,” Elias said in a statement. “The Museum is a tribute to the courage of Captain Sullenberger and the entire flight crew, and my hope is that it will also inspire young innovators to change the world.”
The reimagined museum will include a new exhibition area focusing on advances made in the aviation industry as well as programs to get young people interested in studying science, tech and math.
“I feel privileged that my name will be associated with such an awe-inspiring institution that is actively working to expand social, cultural and economic mobility in Charlotte and beyond,” Sullenberger, who retired in 2010, said in a statement.
He added: “it is our hope that as more than a collection of aircraft, the Sullenberger Aviation Museum will serve as a vehicle of opportunity to inspire and elevate the next generation of innovators and future heroes.”
A biopic based on Sullenberger’s life and the events around the Miracle on the Hudson, “Sully,” was released in 2016. It was directed by Clint Eastwood and starred Tom Hanks in the title role.
Top: Sullenberger poses in front of the “Miracle on the Hudson” plane. Image courtesy of the Sullenberger Aviation Museum.