Chesley Sullenberger

The Heroic Pilot
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Program Descriptions

Preparing for Excellence: Leading Your Team to Success

How you prepare, train and lead makes all the difference when you are confronted with a challenge. While many know about Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger's heroic actions on January 15, 2009, few have an understanding of the depth of Sully’s preparation, as lives depended on his training every day.  From his early career as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, to his ongoing work in commercial aviation as a pilot and safety trainer, Sully’s life-long pursuit of learning and investing in himself shows the importance of education and preparedness, and illustrates that true leaders must always lead by example. Straightforward and humble, Sully’s story shows the positive outcomes of having a daily devotion to duty.  Sully will challenge and inspire teams to establish a foundation of passion for their work, build trust in each other, and commit to always reaching for the highest standards.

Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America’s Leaders

Effective leadership is needed in good times, yet is extremely difficult and all the more critical in times of challenge. How are the experiences of leading a team during a life-and-death crisis different from those of rallying an organization slipping into a slow, inexorable decline? Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger's dramatic and heroic safe landing of a US Airways jetliner on the icy Hudson River also marked the beginning of a personal quest. After years of leadership within the airline industry, he sought to use his own experiences and compare them with those of other distinguished Americans to answer that very question in his book, Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America’s Leaders. Travelling the country, Sully interviewed leaders from fields as diverse as technology, education, sports, economics, finance, medicine and the military. Exploring the keen insights he gained, Sully discusses what makes it possible for individuals to find the strength, skills and direction to lead others through crises—inspiring audiences to not only survive a crisis, but to thrive in the face of challenges.

Patient Safety and Avoiding Crisis: What the Health Care Industry Can Learn from Aviation

Aviation and medicine are both high-stakes professions with little margin for error. While aircraft accidents produce mass casualties that capture our attention, medical accidents occur one by one at a rate of nearly 200,000 per year, a mortality rate that would shut down the airline industry. Drawing from his 43-year career as a pilot and safety expert, Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger discusses how the lessons learned by the aviation industry can be applied to improving the safety, quality and cost of health care. As uncertainty looms with new health care regulations being put into place over the next decade that likely will link reimbursements to quality of care and outcomes, Sullenberger successfully demonstrates the importance of effective leadership, the necessity of understanding the science of safety and the vital need for all health care institutions to build a robust culture of safety that improves outcomes and saves lives.

A Conversation with Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger

Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger has flown thousands of routine flights over the course of his accomplished career.  One flight, in January 2009, catapulted this extraordinarily well-trained, prepared and modest professional into one of the most admired people of our time.  In this up-close-and-personal format, Sullenberger takes questions from the audience on what happened during the "Miracle on the Hudson," the lessons from his life that prepared him to handle this unprecedented crisis, and his reflections on the current state of the American airline industry. Sullenberger inspires audiences to find their passion in life, prepare for anything, and learn to rely on their teams as he did on January 15, 2009.

Why Book Chesley Sullenberger?

  • “Miracle on the Hudson” Captain

  • New York Times #1 Bestselling Author of “Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters”

  • Leading Voice on Leadership & Flawless Execution Strategies

  • Clint Eastwood/Tom Hanks film “Sully” released September 9, 2016
  • Biography Read more

    Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, III is the heroic pilot who masterfully landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River and saved the lives of 155 people. Captain of what has been dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson,” Sullenberger is an aviation safety expert and accident investigator who also serves as the founder and chief executive officer of Safety Reliability Methods, a consulting company dedicated to management, safety, performance and reliability consulting.

    Sullenberger was born and raised in Denison, Texas. After high school, he enrolled at the United States Air Force Academy to pursue his childhood love of aviation. Recipient of a bachelor's degree from the Academy, Sullenberger majored in psychology. In his graduation year at the academy, he received the Outstanding Cadet in Airmanship Award. In addition to his bachelor’s degree he also has two master's degrees, one in industrial psychology from Purdue University and one in public administration from the University of Northern Colorado.

    Upon graduation from the Academy, Sullenberger served as a fighter pilot for the United States Air Force from 1975 to 1980. He advanced to become a flight leader and a training officer, attaining the rank of captain. His service in the military stationed him in both North America and Europe.

    After serving in the Air Force, Sullenberger became a commercial airline pilot with Pacific Southwest Airlines, which was later acquired by US Airways. He has more than 40 years of flying experience. He has performed accident investigation duties for the United States Air Force, and served as an Air Line Pilots Association representative during a National Transportation Safety Board investigation, as well. Sullenberger has served as a Local Air Safety Chairman for the Air Line Pilots Association, and as a member of an Air Line Pilots Association national technical committee, his work led to the creation of a Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular. He was also instrumental in developing and implementing the Crew Resource Management course that is used by US Airways, and he has taught the course to hundreds of other airline members.

    After logging more than 19,000 hours of service in the skies, Sullenberger became an international hero on January 15, 2009 when he and his crew safely guided US Airways Flight 1549 to an emergency water landing in New York City's frigid Hudson River. The Airbus A320's two engines had lost thrust following a bird strike. Sullenberger and his crew have won international acclaim for their actions that day, including the passage of a Congressional resolution recognizing their bravery.

    Sullenberger is married to fitness expert and television personality Lorrie Sullenberger. The couple and their two daughters reside in Danville, CA.

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