Yankees to honor hero pilot 'Sully'

Yankees to honor hero pilot 'Sully'

NEW YORK -- Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who successfully landed the impaired US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Yankees' exhibition game vs. the Cubs on Saturday, the team announced.

Sullenberger, 58, earned international recognition and praise for his actions on the afternoon of Jan. 15, 2009, when the Airbus A320 he was piloting hit a large flock of birds shortly after takeoff from New York's LaGuardia Airport, disabling both engines.

Discounting the chances of safely returning to LaGuardia Airport or landing at nearby Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, Sullenberger quickly informed air traffic controllers that he would instead land in the Hudson River. All passengers and crew members survived the touchdown along Manhattan's West Side.

The Yankees will honor "Sully," whom is said to have been a Yankees fan since boyhood, as well as Flight 1549 co-pilot Jeff Skiles and flight-crew member Doreen Welsh in a pregame ceremony.

In addition, the Yankees will welcome Challenger, the renowned American Bald Eagle. Challenger will fly across Yankee Stadium from the top of the Bleachers Café to the pitcher's mound at the conclusion of the national anthem.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.