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January 16, 2009

Purdue alumnus heroic pilot of Hudson water landing

New York City  - Purdue alumnus Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III is credited with the heroic landing of US Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson River and saving the lives of all 155 onboard Thursday (Jan. 15).

Sullenberger, who graduated from Purdue with a master’s degree in 1973, was enrolled in industrial and organizational psychology with an emphasis on human factors, which involves human interactions related to the use of technology. He studied under Ernie McCormick, an industrial/organizational psychologist who was famous for his work in human factors. McCormick retired in the 1980s and is deceased.

During his professional career, Sullenberger became interested in safety issues in the workplace and those related to human-machine interactions, which is a natural for a pilot, says Howard Weiss, professor and head of the Department of Psychological Sciences, part of the College of Liberal Arts.

Sullenberger earned his bachelor’s degree from the Air Force Academy and then moved immediately on to Purdue for his master’s. It was common during that period for military academies to send their graduates to Purdue for their advance work, especially in industrial and organizational psychology and human factors. Many also enrolled in other areas, especially engineering and science. Some went on become one of the 22 Purdue alumni group chosen to fly in space.

The following links provide more details on the story and our Purdue hero.

New York Daily News

NBC New York



New York Newsday

National Public Radio

U.S. News & World Report

Indianapolis Star


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