CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- More than two years after it went down in the frigid Hudson River, NBC News got an exclusive look inside the Airbus A-320 of Flight 1549. It’s being stored in a makeshift hangar in New Jersey. But in four months, it’ll be moved to its new home at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in west Charlotte.
The plane, covered in mud and dust, is a reminder of the cold January day that 155 survivors will never forget. The plane took a beating when it hit the water at 150 miles an hour, enough to rip off the landing gear. Along the side, the emergency exits remain open, where passengers made their escape then stood waiting to be rescued.
“Pretty much everything except for the passengers’ personal effects is still in the airplane as it was when the airplane came out of the water,” said Shawn Dorsch, President of the Carolinas Aviation Museum.
He’s made discoveries here, including something obvious as you move row to row.
“One of the things that I think is really interesting is that most of the people did not use their life vests on the flight. Most people took the seat cushions.”
In the cockpit, you can see the impact of the Canada geese, which also took out the plane’s engines.
“There are two really big impacts here on each of these windows and you know it must have taken a tremendous amount of force,” said Dorsch standing near where Captain Chesley Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles made those split second decisions.
Everything inside the plane will stay exactly where it is, including soft drink cans covered in dirt and several hangers still hang on a hook near first class.
“The entire inside of this plane was flooded and somehow those hangers are where people left them,” he said.
To Dorsch, the plane, though beaten and battered, tells an important tale. “It is a time capsule that tells a story. It tells a lot of stories.”
Thankfully for everyone involved that day, this story ended with a well-documented miracle on the Hudson River that saved a lot of local lives.
“This is a Charlotte story. The plane was headed to Charlotte. The crew was from Charlotte. More than 100 of the survivors live in Charlotte,” he said.
Right now, between 100 and 150 people are working to get the plane ready for its move here. “There is a lot of engineering going into this because the aircraft was damaged so there is a lot of planning that has to go into how we’re going to move it, how we’re going to lift it, and how we’re going to display it.” Dorsch says it’ll be moved on a special trailer which will have to be custom built. Once in Charlotte, the pieces of the US Airways plane will be put back together. The target arrival is June 11.