Chesley Sullenberger helped Twitter take off by landing a plane in the Hudson

You know how when people look back at big, historic events, they always ask, “Where were you when blah, blah, blah?”

Well, five years ago today, when Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, aka Sully, put a fully-loaded Airbus A319 down safely in the Hudson River, the answer for the first time for some was, “Watching my Twitter feed.”

It was an historic landing in the Hudson — Sullenberger saved all on board by diverting after a flock of geese jammed his engines. And it was the event that Twitter founders point to as a turning point for the social media platform, MSNBC reminds us.

 As MSNBC post relates: ‘”It changed everything,” Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey told CNBC in 2013. “Suddenly the world turned its attention because we were the source of news—and it wasn’t us, it was this person in the boat using the service, which is even more amazing.”‘

In other words, when that plane landed, Twitter took off.

This person was Janis Krums, who was riding a ferry when he saw the sort of thing that leaves you not believing your eyes: Passengers from the crippled jetliner standing on the wings of the plane, waiting for rescuers, as the plane bobbed in the river.

He did what anyone would do today: Tweeted out a picture (remember TwitPic) and a note that said: “There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on a ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.”

But back then, such on-the-scene-reporting was new. Yes word, reached Krum’s 170 followers, MSNBC says. And then it reached MSNBC, which interviewed Krum 32 minutes after he tweeted, the website says.

Krum, who describes himself as an entrepreneur, now has nearly 11,000 followers and, no, he hasn’t forgotten his 140-character moment of fame.

It’s one of those regular reminders of how fast technology is changing and how fast that change is transforming the way we all live. In five years, Twitter has grown from a fail-whale-laden novelty that many had never heard of, to a go-to news provider that drives the national conversation.

(Photo: Passengers move away from the US Airways flight that Chesley Sullenberger safely landed in the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009, by the Associated Press.)



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  • michaelfkelly

    Upon hearing Sully and others say they were not heroes, but just doing their job well, it seems they are first professionals, and because they are, appear to be also heroes.
    The power of professionalism is to do a job well, whether its doing what had to be done to protect your passengers, or to get a child out of a burning building. Its also the cab driver who finds a way to get you to the airport around traffic. The real difference seems to be when its not your job and you do it anyway. Is this a higher level of professionalism, or something completely different? Maybe that’s a hero. You didn’t have to, but did.