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Flight 1549 pilot gets warm welcome in hometown

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  • NEW: Left engine shows evidence of "soft body impact damage," NTSB says
  • Thousands greet US Airways pilot in Danville, California
  • "We were simply doing the jobs we were trained to do," he says
  • Investigators continue to piece together what happened
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(CNN) -- The pilot who made a treacherous crash-landing on New York's Hudson River look like a routine maneuver got a hero's welcome Saturday in his California hometown.

Chesley B. Sullenberger was honored Saturday with a celebration in his hometown of Danville, California.

Chesley B. Sullenberger was honored Saturday with a celebration in his hometown of Danville, California.

Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger put his US Airways jetliner down on the Hudson minutes after both engines failed, then walked the length of the drifting Airbus A320 twice to make certain that all 155 people on board got off safely.

He was greeted by several thousand cheering people gathered around the town square in Danville, California, for a celebration in his honor.

Mayor Newell Arnerich presented Sullenberger with a ceremonial key to the city, an upscale suburb near San Francisco. Sullenberger, who has avoided public comment since the January 15 incident, made very brief remarks.

He thanked the crowd for an "incredible outpouring of support."

"Circumstance determined that it was this experienced crew that was scheduled to fly on that particular flight on that particular day," Sullenberger said. "But I know I can speak for the entire crew when I tell you we were simply doing the jobs we were trained to do. Thank you." Video Watch Sullenberger address the crowd »

Sullenberger's wife, Lorrie, fought back tears as she spoke of her husband.

"I have always known him to be an exemplary pilot. I knew what the outcome would be that day, because I knew my husband," she said.

"Mostly for me, he's the man that makes my cup of tea every morning."

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board continue to piece together details from the double engine failure that hit the plane after it took off from New York's LaGuardia Airport for Charlotte, North Carolina.

The jet's left engine, which apparently tore away from the plane on landing impact, was raised from the bottom of the Hudson on Friday.

Sullenberger reported to air controllers that his plane had hit birds shortly before both engines shut down.

On Saturday, the NTSB said a preliminary examination of the left engine found evidence of "soft body impact damage," the same kind of damage reported on the right engine.

An NTSB spokesman said that there was no evidence of organic material such as a dead bird in the left engine but that was not surprising because the engine had been under water for a week.


Although the NTSB has not officially confirmed reports of a bird strike, the agency's findings and statements have not done anything to discount the bird-strike reports.

Both engines will be shipped to the manufacturer in Ohio, where NTSB investigators will tear them down completely for examination.

All About US Airways Group Inc.Sully SullenbergerU.S. National Transportation Safety Board

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