It should have been a death knell: "Brace for impact."
But a year after 155 people lived through the water landing of the incapacitated US Airways Flight 1549 in the middle of the frigid Hudson River, many of them are gathering to celebrate the anniversary of their unlikely survival.
On Friday, Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger is expected to join other crew and passengers to revisit the site where he deftly set down his Airbus A320 on Jan. 15, 2009, after it crossed paths with a flock of Canada geese that disabled its engines.
The group, which will include First Officer Jeffrey Skiles and the plane's three flight attendants, is to gather in the morning for a breakfast to thank first responders and the Greater New York and Northern New Jersey chapters of the American Red Cross.
In the afternoon, they will meet with boat crews and other rescuers to board one of the passenger ferries that plucked them from the icy water. Together, they'll return to the place where they made their escape.
At 3:31 p.m., the moment of impact, they'll raise glasses in a toast to life.
The return to the water has brought up mixed feelings for some of the survivors. But many are eager to reunite with the others who shared in the harrowing experience. Some say they consider the group to be a kind of family.
"It does bring back memories of being out there and what we went through," Ben Bostic said of the reunion. "But with those memories, it also reinforces that gratitude we have."
In the months since the crash, Bostic and another survivor, Laura Zych, have begun dating and fallen in love.
Both say they walked away from the experience with a determination to live their lives more boldly and without letting opportunities pass them by. After finding how much they had in common, they say they realized: How better to satisfy their renewed passion for life than with each other?
Whether it's traveling together or just spending quiet time with each other, Bostic says he's intent on making sure he doesn't miss out on anything. After all, there could be another encounter with death at any time.
"If it happens," he said, "it's going to happen this time without any regrets."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times