Cover Story: Now Arriving - Flight 1549

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - USAirways flight 1549 is on its way to Charlotte after leaving a New Jersey warehouse Saturday.

The fuselage is being delivered by trailers via the interstate. The journey will take several days.

It will be a different kind of reunion for the passengers of the famous flight which landed in the Hudson River in 2009. Everyone survived.

The people who lived through the Miracle on the Hudson get a first look at the plane parts that saved their lives.

From the bottom of the Hudson River to the Carolinas Aviation Museum.  Next week, the fuselage from flight 1549 finally arrives in Charlotte.

But just about everything that wasn't nailed to the walls is already here.  And Monday, for the first time, passengers got to take a look.

Flight 1549 is arriving by truck. But love is in the air.  Two of the Miracle on the Hudson survivors are now a couple.

And they were part of a team of volunteers who tore into the plane Monday - a day for remembering on this Memorial Day.

"That was easy..."

You won't find any soda in these food carts.  And these aren't flight attendants.

This isn't the way anyone planned on Flight 1549 getting to Charlotte, even the nose of the of the plane got hauled into the hangar by hand.

The Airbus 320 is in pieces.  Everything outside of the fuselage, wings and tail section is now at the Carolinas Aviation Museum where it will have a permanent home.

The work being performed today was done by people permanently connected to this moment in history, the passengers and their families.

"I think Jimmy Hoffa is in here."

They're unloading three huge shipping containers of parts.

The emergency exit doors - complete with Hudson River silt.  Seat cushions from the plane.

And the auxiliary power unit - the piece that kept the plane alive after both engines failed.  It's now mangled and knotted after going to the bottom of the river.

"The passengers have always had this debate.. was it a crash or was it a landing? Kinda looks like a crash when you see all this stuff," said Pam Seagle.  She was one of the first to get out.

For her seeing the plane's transponder took her back to that day being in the raft with "Sully" on January 15, 2009.  The transponder is the device that sends out a signal telling emergency workers where you are.

"Just seeing Sully in his uniform handing that in his left hand.. it's vivid!" she exclaimed.

What wasn't found in amongst the stuff (that'll become museum artifacts) was a romance between two passengers, Laura Zych and Ben Bostic, that was discovered six months after the ditching.

Out of something that was a new tragedy came joy.

Zych was impressed seeing the A320's nose up close and realizing what happened.

"I actually was very interested to see the nose of the plane because that's really where the birds' strike happened first and the impact on the plane," she said.

Two and a half years after one of the most amazing events in aviation history everything is finally coming home.

Carolinas Aviation Museum President Shawn Dorsch says it was a magical moment for the passengers.

"I think it was really great.. really excited to see it, touch it, feel it. I thought they were excited before.. they're even more excited now," he said.

And there's more to come.

The big parts - the fuselage, the wings and the tail section will be put on a specially-built 120-foot long flatbed trailer next Monday to make the 780 mile journey from New Jersey to Charlotte.

It'll take five days to arrive.

And there's another reunion planned a week from this Saturday.

The Carolians Aviation Museum is hosting a fundraiser.  Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger will be speaking and many of the passengers are coming.

The event is open to the public - tickets for the reception and dinner are $150 apiece.

Copyright 2011 WBTV. All rights reserved.