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American hero visits Purdue

Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger

Monday, February 25, 2019

Pictured above: Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger in Purdue’s Elliott Hall of Music, Feb. 24.

It’s not every day that an American hero comes to visit your university! Last night, Purdue alumnus Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who secured the lives of over 150 individuals in 2009 by landing flight 1549 on the Hudson River, came to speak on campus in the Elliot Hall of Music. Capt. Sullenberger was welcomed on stage with an incredible round of applause and a standing ovation from the audience. Before beginning his presentation, he had the audience watch a short video. The video showed the view from the cockpit beginning at the moment when both engines failed and ending with the emergency water landing on the Hudson River. It also included the radio conversation between Capt. Sullenberger and the control tower.

It goes without saying that the video is chilling to the bone, but to hear the conversation and see the view while sitting in the same room as the man responsible for the marvel was nothing short of astonishing.

The presentation covered a variety of topics ranging from a detailed explanation of how the impact occurred, to what led Sullenberger to be prepared to make the decisions he made every day as a pilot.

Capt. Sullenberger began by stating that all four of his grandparents, despite being born in the 19th century, were able to attend college. This showed him the importance of education and eventually brought him to The Air Force. In his eyes, education serves as a means of innovation, and innovation is something one can never be short of in the constantly changing world of the 21st century. But he emphasized that his education isn’t what allowed him to achieve what he has in life. In his words, that merely, “brought him to the front door.” What allowed him to pass through and attain success was what he did with his education. He never stopped learning. He remarked that learning shouldn’t stop at a certain age since it truly enhances your opportunities.

Capt. Sullenberger stated his instruction from the U.S. Air Force Academy followed by his learning from Purdue, prepared him to make strong choices and become a qualified pilot. He joked with the audience saying that upon disembarking the aircraft at the Purdue airport, he was greeted by several eager Purdue aviation students. One of the students was anxious to know if Sullenberger’s education at Purdue prepared him for life. He responded with a clear and confident, “It sure did.”

Getting to hear from Purdue’s history-making alums in person opens the door to great learning moments. Take advantage of the “150 years of giant leaps at Purdue” speaker series while it’s still here because it offers great advice and knowledge to anyone willing to listen.


Kent Burkman is a freshman from Miami, Florida with a double major in General Management and Spanish and a concentration in International Business. He is a Management Ambassador and looks forward to getting more involved in Krannert.

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