Hometown Rallies For Hero Pilot

Sign for hero pilot
A sign recognizing "Miracle on the Hudson" pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. Sullenberger's home town of Danville, Calif. held a rally to welcome home the hero pilot. Stores are offering "Sully specials" and one cafe is selling "Sully burgers."

He's been lionized in the media and by ordinary Americans from coast-to-coast, but up until now we haven't heard or seen much from hero pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger.

Now, nine days after he safely landed US Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River, Sully was back in his hometown of Danville, Calif., outside San Francisco, where he got a big welcome, reports CBS news correspondent John Blackstone.

Originally the people of Danville, wanted to have a big parade in honor of the hero of the Hudson, but Capt. Sullenberger asked for something more modest - a simple gathering this afternoon on the town green.

As the high school marching band played the green filled to overflowing to welcome Sullenberger home.

"If there is any doubt what you define a hero as," said Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich, "This man is the hero."

In his first public appearance since he accomplished that miracle landing on the Hudson River, the man friends in Danville simply call Sully was cheered by the hometown crowd.

"It's great to be home here in Danville with our neighbors and our friends," Sullenberger told the cheering crowd.

Danville is bursting with pride over Sully On Main Street there's a "Sully Sale" on at Tango 21, a clothing store.

"We're really happy we have a hero here," said Tango 21 owner Joanie Krisan.

At the Uptown Café the special of the day is named in honor of Captain Sullenberger. You guessed it - the Sully burger.

At today's ceremony Capt. Sullenberger was presented with a flag that flew over the Capitol, with plaques, a medal of honor and the key to the city.

His wife Lorrie told the crowd he's much more than an excellent pilot.

"This is where I cry," she said as she began to tear up at the podium. "I knew when I married Sully, the one thing for sure, is that he was the most honorable man I knew. But mostly, for me, he's the man that makes my cup of tea every morning."

Since the accident Sullenberger has been a man of few words. And today he said only a few more.

"Circumstance determined that it was this experienced crew that was scheduled to fly that particular flight on that particular day," he said. :But I know I can speak for the entire crew when I tell you we were simply doing the jobs we were trained to do."

Danville isn't really a small town - it's home to some 43,000 people. But these days, it seems, everyone around town claims to know Captain Sully.

  • John Blackstone
    John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.