Famous Veteran: Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger

Capt. Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, shown with his wife Lorrie, is best known for his emergency water landing of a plane on the Hudson River in 2009.
Capt. Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, shown with his wife Lorrie, is best known for his emergency water landing of a plane on the Hudson River in 2009. (Courtesy photo)

Famous veteran Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger is best known for the US Airways Flight 1549 emergency water landing on the Hudson River, known as the "Miracle on the Hudson," and the movie about that incident, "Sully," directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks.

The movie has performed quite well at the box office, with a Metacritic score of 75% and a Rotten Tomato user score of 89%.

Sully the Veteran

First of all, he's a veteran. Sullenberger got his start as a pilot with the U.S. Air Force. He graduated from the Air Force Academy and went on to earn two master's degrees and an honorary doctorate of letters.

He served in the Air Force from 1975 to 1980, where he became a flight leader and training officer with the rank of captain.

Post Military

Following his time in the military, Sullenberger worked as a pilot for Pacific Southwest Airlines (now US Airways) and retired in March 2010.

He had been instrumental in aviation safety even before the incident for which he is now famous. Among his many accomplishments, Sullenberger served as the local air safety chairman for the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), and played a large role in developing and implementing the Crew Resource Management course for US Airways.

After logging more than 20,000 hours of flight time, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor and ranked second in Time's "Top 100 Most Influential Heroes and Icons of 2009" for his role in the Hudson River landing.

What He's Doing Now

Sullenberger is a New York Times best-selling author, having written "Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters" and "Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America's Leaders."

He currently serves as a CBS news aviation and safety expert, is an aviation safety expert and accident investigator, and is the founder and chief executive officer of Safety Reliability Methods Inc.

After all of his accomplishments, Sullenberger still attributes much of his success and who he is today to what he learned in the military.

In a recent blog post on his website, he stated that, "Without a doubt, my time at the U.S. Air Force Academy and subsequent military service provided the foundation not only for my career as an airline pilot -- but also for much of my life."

Sullenberger is a perfect example of how to leverage your time in the military for your civilian career.

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