Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, III was the pilot who safely crash-landed US Airways Flight 1549 in NYC's Hudson River.
Sullenberger, 57, of Danville, Calif., is a former fighter pilot who runs a safety consulting firm in addition to flying commercial aircraft. He had been studying the psychology of keeping airline crews functioning even in the face of crisis.
Sullenberger became an instant hero Thursday, earning accolades from those aboard US Airways Flight 1549, from New York's mayor and governor, and from an online fan club.
Sullenberger's wife told CNN she hadn't been watching the news and was stunned to hear about the ordeal from her husband after it was all over.
"I've heard Sully say to people, `It's rare for an airline pilot to have an incident in their career,'" Lorrie Sullenberger said. ""When he called me he said, `There's been an accident.' At first I thought it was something minor, but then he told me the circumstances and my body started shaking and I rushed to get our daughters out of school."
Sullenberger, who has flown for US Airways since 1980, flew F-4 fighter jets with the Air Force in the 1970s. He then served on a board that investigated aircraft accidents and participated later in several National Transportation Safety Board investigations.
He is president of Safety Reliability Methods, a California firm that uses "the ultra-safe world of commercial aviation" as a basis for safety consulting in other fields, according to the firm's Web site.