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Flight 1549 plane arrives in Charlotte after long voyage

Published: Jun. 7, 2011 at 3:09 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2011 at 3:10 PM EDT
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Flight 1549 arrived at the Carolinas Aviation Museum Friday morning.
Flight 1549 arrived at the Carolinas Aviation Museum Friday morning.
The US Airways jet made an emergency 'ditched' landing in the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009....
The US Airways jet made an emergency 'ditched' landing in the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009. (Photo source: Wikimedia Commons)
People waved as the plane made its way on I-77 South to Charlotte Friday morning.
People waved as the plane made its way on I-77 South to Charlotte Friday morning.
This Statesville man waited for hours to 'Welcome Home 1549.'
This Statesville man waited for hours to 'Welcome Home 1549.'

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV/AP) - The US Airways jetliner that landed safely on the Hudson River in 2009 finally arrived in Charlotte Friday morning after being greeted by thousands of people during its week-long voyage.

The jet was forced to make an emergency 'ditched' landing when a bird strike shut down its engines right after takeoff from New York's LaGuardia Airport on Jan. 15, 2009. The plane was heading to Charlotte, NC.

Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III managed to land the plane in the Hudson River, and all 155 passengers and crew were rescued by a flotilla of boats.

The incident became know as 'The Miracle on the Hudson.'

The truck hauling the famous plane was parked Thursday night at a weigh station off I-77 in NC less than 100 miles away from its final destination.

Around 9 a.m. on Friday, the plane started the last leg of its trip to Charlotte.

A man in Statesville said he waited for hours to see the plane arrive in Iredell County and he held up a sign which read 'Welcome Home 1549.'

By 10:41 a.m., the plane continued moving south of Mooresville and crossed Lake Norman at 10:47 a.m.

Hundreds of people pulled onto the shoulder of the interstate to wait for the plane to pass through. Many lined overpasses to capture the moment with their cell phone cameras.

The plane exited I-77 and got onto I-85 South around 11 a.m., and reached the exit for Billy Graham Parkway by 11:24 a.m.

The plane arrived at the Carolinas Aviation Museum at 11:48 p.m., but the driver had to carefully inch his way into the parking lot between two hangars at the museum where the truck finally stopped.

The State Highway Administration says the 120-foot fuselage of the plane captained by Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger left New Jersey shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday on a route that took it through Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia before finally entering North Carolina Thursday night.

As expected, the Airbus 320 arrived at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in west Charlotte just before noon.

Earlier in the week, the SHA said motorists should expect delays as the slow-moving truck created a rolling roadblock along its multi-state journey. The truck carrying the plane did not exceed 50 miles per hour and required two travel lanes.

Officials said coordinating all the details to bring the plane's fuselage to Charlotte was a monumental task.

A company that hauled the plane out of the Hudson River and stored it in a warehouse near Newark, NJ, also built a built a special 120-foot hauling trailer with six steering axles for the job, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

With the plane on board, the tractor-trailer weighs 254,000 pounds, is 149 feet long, 15-feet 6-inches high and 15 feet wide. The wings were taken off the plane and transported separately to Charlotte, the NCDOT said.

Taking up two lanes, the plane began the more than 800-mile trip to Charlotte on Saturday, and had to avoid low bridges and go around toll booths.

In some locations, utility lines and traffic signals had to be temporarily taken down to allow the trailer to pass through. There were no apparent problems as the plane passed through the Charlotte area Friday morning.

After reaching southern New Jersey last weekend, the caravan went down I-95 before taking I-70 near Baltimore. Then, it took I-68 into West Virginia before going south through the mountains on I-79. On Wednesday, the caravan got onto I-77 south in Charleston, and continued on I-77 in Virginia on Thursday. After crossing the VA/NC state line, the caravan stopped Thursday afternoon at the weigh station in NC.

The plane's fuselage was partially uncovered during the trip so people could see it as it traveled by.

On Saturday, there will be a private reception and showing for Capt. Sullenberger, other members of his crew and the passengers who in many cases will be seeing the plane for the first time since the crash. That night, there will be a fundraiser for the museum exhibit, with Sullenberger as the featured speaker.

Copyright 2011 WBTV. The Associated Press and the NCDOT contributed to this report. All rights reserved.