Miracle on the Hudson passenger to be Aero Club speaker


Gary Vacin

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 7:00 p.m. The public is invited.

Tracey Wolsko will relate her experiences as a backseat 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 Canada 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.

Wolsko 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.

Wolsko 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 available from Cannon Hill at 509-539-7857, Gary Vacin at 480-298-7017 or at the club’s website, www.sunlakesaeroclub.org.