Despite Denise Lockie’s fears 14 years ago, she didn’t die, and neither did the 155 other people who survived the "Miracle on the Hudson."

“There was no question in my mind. I knew I was going to die," Lockie recalled. "I never once gave it a thought that I was going to survive."

The flight coming from LaGuardia Airport — on its way to Charlotte — was struck by geese that knocked out the engine, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River.

What You Need To Know

  • On Jan. 15, 2009, Flight 1549 from New York to Charlotte had to make an emergency landing into the Hudson River after geese struck the plane

  • All 155 passengers and crew members survived

  • The passengers and first responders hold a reunion every year

  • A museum in Charlotte was renamed to honor the pilot, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger

Fourteen years later, passengers and first responders met and remembered the day.

“I don’t want this family to ever go away. So I will do everything and anything to keep us together,” Lockie said.

This year was special because the passengers and first responders had their first in-person reunion since the start of the pandemic — with around 25 people in attendance Sunday.

“It’s cathartic because we talk about what happened at that time and on the fly,” Barry Leonard, a passenger who plans the reunions, said.

They also recognized and admired the captain who landed the plane, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.

“Sully was the main reason. He was the one who was at the control, and yeah, saved our lives,” Leonard said.

Both Lockie and Leonard hold Sully close to their hearts. In his honor, Lockie has a charm on her necklace. But they know it was more than one person who saved their lives on the river.

“I always say it’s thanks to Sully, and the crew, and the passengers, and the first responders. It’s everybody,” Leonard said.

NY Waterway captain Vince Lombardi was one of those rescuers.

“It kind of seemed a little surreal to me, but I knew what I was looking at, and I knew what I had to do,” Lombardi said.

The reunion coincided with another important event: the renaming of the Carolinas Aviation Museum to the Sullenberger Aviation Museum in honor of the hero pilot.

“I want to make sure everybody has an opportunity to go to the museum, learn because it is definitely an educational experience,” Lockie said.

Speaking at the event, Sullenberger highlighted the importance of investments in aviation and preventing fatal errors.

“We should not be complacent, we should actively be looking for gaps and mitigating them before they can cause harm,” Sullenberger said.

Lockie and Leonard’s work with the museum continues.

A campaign raised $30 million for the museum. The passengers and first responders continue to raise funds.