Fascinating Tales at Carolinas Aviation Museum

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Dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson” and described as “the most successful ditching in aviation history”* the story of US Airways Flight 1549 is legendary. On January 15, 2009, the Airbus A320-200 had 150 passengers and five crew members on board when it took off at 3:27 pm EST from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport en route to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport as a stopover before heading to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Just three minutes into the flight, on its initial climb out, the plane struck a flock of Canada Geese just northeast of the George Washington Bridge, resulting in a sudden loss of engine power. Thanks to the quick thinking of the crew, led by Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, the airplane was ‘landed’ intact on the icy Hudson River with all on board being rescued by nearby watercraft and ferries as the Airbus slowly sank. Visitors to the Carolinas Aviation Museum can view the complete original airplane, as well as viewing videos detailing the rescue of passengers, the recovery of the Airbus from the Hudson River and its transportation from New York to the museum at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Carolinas Aviation Museum focuses on the stories behind the various aircraft on display, an example being the CH46-D Sea Knight helicopter which was used in both Vietnam and the Gulf War. One of the remarkable accounts presented by the museum is of Medal of Honor recipient Marine Corps Aviation Private First Class Raymond Michael Clausen Jr. who, during the Vietnam War, ran across a mine field six times to rescue twenty Marines who had been injured crossing that very field. Clausen carried some, while those who could walk followed him, assuming that he knew where the mines were planted and how to avoid them. He didn’t, but was willing to risk his life to save the lives of others.

Other military aircraft on display include a Douglas A4 Skyhawk, Grumman F-14D Tomcat, Vought A-7 Corsair II, PT-17 Stearman, P-80, D-558-1 Skystreak, McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, AV-8 Harrier II and EC-120E Hercules. In the Civil Aircraft category, visitors will be able to view the historic Wright Flyer, the unique Ercoupe, the Savoia Marchetti single-engine biplane flying boat, and the most popular small single engine aircraft ever made – the Cessna 150.

The mission of the Carolinas Aviation Museum is to tell the stories of aviation pioneers, thereby inspiring future generations to write aviation’s next chapter. Visitors to the museum will no doubt agree that this is a mission accomplished.

*quote attributed to Kitty Higgins of the NTSB

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