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Sunday, February 1, 2009
Updated: February 4, 1:49 PM ET
Freak Celebrity Sighting

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Who was standing there Saturday night—just he and his wife—in the lobby of the Marriott Waterside hotel in Tampa, Fla., but Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who ditched his plane safely and miraculously in the Hudson River with both engines gone. The man who saved 155 lives was about 6-foot-2, 175 pounds with a deep radio voice and a personality that couldn't be hurried with a team of Clydesdales. He was at the Super Bowl as a guest of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but hadn't met him yet, even though Goodell was standing 15 feet away. I had to ask him, What was that like when you realized both engines were out? He thought about it for awhile and then said, slowly and deliberately, "Shocking. It was very quiet as we worked, my co-pilot and I. We were a team. But to have zero thrust coming out of those engines was shocking—the silence." How were you feeling inside? I asked. "Calm on the outside, turmoil inside." He kept calling the whole thing "surreal." His wife, Lori, said she and Sully have been opening letters every night that are so emotional "it allows both of us to express emotion about it all. We both sit there and cry." I wanted to ask him one more question but he got swept away. It was going to be: Do you mind e-mailing me the list of all your flights coming up in 2009? I'd like to be on them.

See all of Rick Reilly's Freak Celebrity Sighting More random mind dumps from the brain of Rick Reilly. Go fish! Be sure to check out Rick's Life of Reilly