‘Miracle on the Hudson’ Plane Heads Home to North Carolina Museum

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REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

U.S. Airways flight 1549 also known as the "Miracle on the Hudson" navigates an exit ramp near Burlington, New Jersey, June 5, 2011.

Two and a half years after it made a crash landing in New York’s Hudson River, US Airways Flight 1549 is resuming its trip down to Charlotte, North Carolina. But this time, it’s taking the highway.

On Saturday, the Airbus A320 started its journey southbound from New Jersey, where it had been living since it was rescued from the water. In January 2009, just minutes after taking off from New York’s LaGuardia airport, the plane hit a flock of geese, causing it to lose power in both engines. Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger became an overnight American hero for his split-second decision to land in the river.

(LIST: Top 10 Miraculous Rescues)

Over the next several days the plane’s 120-foot fuselage—partially uncovered for the viewing pleasure of off-road onlookers— will head south to become a permanent exhibit at the Carolinas Aviation Museum. Like any good twenty-first century road-tripper, the Museum is tweeting the entire way down.

Sullenberger is scheduled to speak at a sold-out June 11th event at the museum to celebrate the plane’s arrival. Also present will be many of the 155 passengers and crew who were onboard Flight 1549, some of whom have donated personal items to remain displayed with the plane. Already in Charlotte are containers full of artifacts recovered from the crash—emergency doors, seat cushions used as flotation devices, the auxiliary power unit that allowed for a safe landing. It will take several further months to reassemble the aircraft for display; the permanent exhibition is set to open in January 2012.

For now, the trailer on which the plane’s body lies is left dodging roads with tollbooths and low overpasses. And likely, just to be safe, dodging flocks of geese, too.

(LIST: Top 10 Heroes of 2009)