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Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  4,494 Ratings  ·  667 Reviews

On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed a remarkable emergency landing when Captain "Sully" Sullenberger skillfully glided US Airways Flight 1549 onto the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. His cool actions not only averted tragedy but made him a hero and an inspiration worldwide.

Highest Duty is Sully's story—a story of dedication, hope, and preparedn

Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 2009)
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Will Byrnes
Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger has written (with the help of Jeffrey Zaslow) a very readable memoir that details not only the specifics of his memorable Hudson River landing of flight 1549, but a very convincing explanation of how he was able to get it done.

The book’s subtitle is “My Search for What Really Matters,” and while what Sullenberger reports may be aeronautical, it ain’t rocket science. It was a combination of his own talent as a pilot and thousands of hours piloting aircraft, ye
Apr 11, 2017 HBalikov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"For a pilot, LaGuardia, is a more challenging environment than the average airport. The volume of traffic in the New York area makes it a complicated airspace, with so many planes vying for slots to take off and land. There are three major airports in close proximity---JFK, Newark and LaGuardia--pluse smaller facilities such as Westchester County Airport in White Plains and Teterboro in New Jersey."

All this just adds to the challenge of a normal takeoff, but Flight 1549 was not about to have a

Excellent! Extraordinarily readable and fascinating. A highly recommendable, well written aviation memoir that is as enlightening as it is entertaining. One in which I originally bought with the intention of reading on my trip to visit family in North Carolina. Then I thought better of it. I mean, who in their right mind, on a long intercontinental flight, reads a book about a catastrophic bird strike, emergency landing on the Hudson river?

Not my brightest idea, right? So instead, I waited unti
Betsy Robinson
Aug 31, 2016 Betsy Robinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a ride! Sully Sullenberger’s life and experiences that prepared him to do the right thing at the right time, landing US Air 1549 on the Hudson River and saving all 155 souls aboard, is an exercise in diligence, integrity, and introspection. Sully is a cerebral guy, and you get to hear every thought he didn’t have time to think in the 208 seconds between getting hit by birds and landing in the water. I feel as if I’ve had a peek into the life of a pilot. There is a lot to learn here.
I rea
Jun 21, 2017 Fred rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other
The book is great & describes Captain Sully Sullenburger's life more than his heroic successful landing of US Airway flight 1549 into the cold NY Hudson River on January 15, 2009 when birds destroyed both engines after takeoff. LaGuardia or Newark airports were not alternatives with no engines. He "glided" into the Hudson & saved everyone.

It describes his life & the commercial airlines. Orville Wright's first flight was in 1903, 106 years before Flight 1549 & people expect no fli
Mar 04, 2010 Bobbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have profound respect and admiration for Captain Sullenberger. Because of his lifetime of hard work and dedication, his clear thinking and his respect for life, a tragedy was averted that day on the Hudson.
Nov 13, 2009 Glenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Very inspirational story on Chesley's life and the events of Flight 1549 that crash landed successfully on the Hudson river in New York just 5 minutes after takeoff in Jan 2009 after a flock of Canada geese took out both engines. All 155 onboard survived. Through the dedication to his craft and also to his copilot and three crew members, they were able to stay calm in the midst of a harrowing experience, react to the best of their abilities, and make split second decisions to save the lives of a ...more
Aug 14, 2016 Thom rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Reading this is like sitting down and hearing some anecdotes from the author, not quite enough for a full biography. Liked the emphasis on preparation and doing the job right; the later chapters were far better than the earlier ones. Wanted to read this before seeing the upcoming film.
Jan 28, 2010 Sage rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For serious Sully fans only. I love Sully because he is a conscientious nerd. However, conscientious nerds' life stories don't make for the best books. Still, I love the Sully.
Mar 11, 2017 Marty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, non-fiction
An interesting enough guy with an interesting enough life (eventually) caught in an extraordinary situation. It was all a bit self-professed and preachy - love my family, love my job, love my country - for me to enjoy it more. Nearly gave up halfway through when the "miracle on the Hudson" was still no more than a passing mention. I can see how this would be more appealling if I was American.
I enjoyed this book. The author makes the case that his miraculous landing of the disabled plane on the Hudson last January was a culmination of a life lived paying attention to what he was doing (especially flying) and carefully following the rules. I enjoyed reading about his passion for flying starting at age 5 and how he began lessons at age 16. It's wonderful to read about someone who is so focussed that he never had any doubt about his direction in life. His time at the Air Force Academy a ...more
Oct 17, 2011 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
Most people when they see this book will probably think that it is only about the now famous "Miracle on the Hudson" airplane accident that captivated the nation in Jan. 2009. But it is actually a lot more than that. Mr. Sullenberger, with the aid of Mr. Zaslow, have written a fine autobiography about his life, the love of flying he has had since he was a young boy, and the values and life experiences that prepared him for this one-in-a-billion emergency. As Mr. Sullenberger admits, he is just a ...more
Dec 26, 2016 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
I imagine most people have heard about the jet that was forced to land in the Hudson River in January of 2009 { wow was it that long ago?} Chesley B. Sullengerger was the pilot of that jet. He instantly became famous after that historic landing. He wrote a memoir later that year. Not only does he devote a few chapters to the six minute flight where the jet hit a bunch of large birds and was forced to land in the Hudson river. He also shares about the rest of his life. Growing up in Texas. Joinin ...more
Feb 13, 2017 Alexis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! How he's explaining what he does, his thoughts, his life up to this incident. People may not think to much of pilots and that but they do an amazing job day in day out without them we couldn't get anywhere
Aug 29, 2014 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
This is not the story of a hero. Sullenberger does not call himself a hero. Nor does his wife. His actions were not voluntary. He did not run into a burning building to save someone.

He reacted to circumstances for which he was over-trained and over-experienced. A pilot with regular training, who had not had Air Force training on jets, 40 years of experience flying, years of study of what went wrong in airplane disasters as well as how to prevent them, and military training and discipline, would
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
Sometimes in own lives, we have the distinct privilege of seeing a miracle in our life, yet on January 15, 2009, 155 people on US Airways flight 1549 and the world watched as one man saved the lives of everyone on board when a flock of birds took out both engines on the plane and forced Captain "Sully" Sullenberger to make a decision to ditch the plane in the Hudson River. It couldn't have been a more text book crash landing and one that saved the lives of everyone on board the plane.

But what l
Li'l Owl
An Excellent book! An education in history, humanity, and humility for sure. But this is not just a thrilling story about a plane crash. No. I am left with an overall sense of..... a kind of peace? A warm feeling around my heart? Yes. But the grace in which Sully lived, and lives still, and his love of flying.... It's a very unexpectedly different, but fantastic, book then I thought it would be. You simply MUST READ THIS BOOK! I will be forever changed, gratefully so, because Sully, The Crew, an ...more
April Williams
Having not seen the film adaptation, I wanted to read Sully's account of landing his plane on the Hudson, along with finding out more about him as an individual. The writing in the book does tend to skip around and circle back to different topics. I was a bit disappointed that after describing the events leading up to and during the landing of his plane, he did not go into any great detail about the investigation that was done following; instead mainly addressing the cockpit conversation. Overal ...more
Tammy Eades
Oct 07, 2016 Tammy Eades rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. I loved the way the book portrayed Capt Sully's life and how he came up to that day of Fight 1549 on Jan 15, 2009
Wow. 5.5 stars. Man, I ate this book up. It was put together so well with tons of details. If you think about it, it's just a story about the crash into the Hudson, but when you dig deep it was so much more than that one event. Many lives were prepared and foreordained for January 15, 2009 and for so many reasons. It's amazing how this story gave hope to thousands at a time when there was nothing but despair and uncertainty for our country. This was like a fairy-tale disaster. Sully was the perf ...more
May 17, 2017 Brittany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone who frequently travels I had a feeling Sully would interest me. When the movie came out I was always overcome with emotion that I couldn't explain every time I saw the previews on tv or at the movie theater.

Sully is written by pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger along with writer Jeffrey Zaslow. This pairing seems to have been a perfect fit because the writing style matched so well with the type of person Sully is. Sully is a regular guy, who loves his job and sees the importance of p
Rod Brown
Apr 13, 2017 Rod Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-real-books
Much of this autobiography is as heavy handed as its subtitle, and I'd normally rate it three stars, but it gets an extra star because its Sully, dammit, and even though he's a bit of a dork, he landed that plane like a steely-eyed motherfucker just doing some shit that needed to get done. I cried gallons, even more than when I watched the Tom Hanks movie last fall.
Mar 13, 2017 Brooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sully is an extraordinary person, someone who rises above life's mundane moments to be excellent in the things that he does. That daily, consistent effort lead him to be prepared when his flight 1549 encountered the flock of geese which took out the two engines on his jet passenger plane. He and his crew were able to save the passengers.

I also love the stories he told about how what he (and his crew) did touched so many different people in different ways. Reminding me that we really are all conn
Jennifer Nelson
While by no means a piece of literature, this book told Sully's story well in an unvarnished and straight-forward manner that mirrors his pragmatic, honest personality. It was a pleasant and flowing read (which might be a surprise considering the harrowing circumstances that led to this book), again reflecting Sully Sullenberger's avoidance of the melodramatic. Even though Sully doesn't see himself as a hero, I, like so many others, will still insist on considering him just that.
Ruth Ann
A thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring book, I could sense the guidance of writer Jeffrey Zaslow throughout this amazing story of the life of pilot Chesley Sullenberger who landed U.S. Air flight 1549 in the Hudson River on a very cold January afternoon.

Undoubtedly, everything in Sully's past helped prepare him for what could have been a disastrous bird strike and subsequent successful landing.

Glider Training He discounts his training as a glider pilot, noting instead that he relied on energy ma
Feb 15, 2017 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really interesting story. I learned a lot about the aviation industry. I was very impressed with the author and how he lived his life. Because of how hard he worked at being an excellent pilot, he was able to avoid a catastrophic plane crash. Great read.
Like the man, a straight-forward and likable autobiography of the first national hero since Rudy Guiliani. The ecstatic embrace of “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger’s reveals much about the U.S. near the end of the first decade of this millennium. Sully’s authenticity and actual passion for doing excellent work in his chosen field starkly contrasts the gestalt at a time when Sarah Palin is considered an inspirational leader, Donald Trump the consummate entrepreneur, a ...more
I thought the book was okay. The style of writing wasn't very good--if he had a ghost writer it wasn't a good one. Overall the book really drags here and there until, of course, we get to the famous flight. It was interesting to read about how he came to flying and how it affected his flight. It was also nice to read how he had been imported with a sense of duty and doing things the right way--I would definitely like to have a pilot fly my planes.

It's also nice to see that it seems it hasn't go
Dec 29, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was completely impressed by the professionalism of this pilot when he landed his plane in the Hudson River, and saved every one of his passengers and crew. In appearances following this event, he seemed humble and decent. I thought that anyone would be privileged to have a pilot like this in the cockpit, and it struck me that perhaps I had been taking pilots a bit for granted in these unglamorous days of routine flight crammed into too little space with few or no amenities, and stressful, over ...more
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Contemporary YA: Chesley B. Sullenberger 3 7 Sep 03, 2016 12:53PM  
Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III is an American airline transport pilot (ATP), safety expert, and accident investigator from Danville, California,who successfully carried out the emergency ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, offshore from Manhattan, New York City, on January 15, 2009, thus saving the lives of the 155 people on the aircraft. He is an international speake ...more
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“We all have heard about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations. They act courageously or responsibly, and their efforts are described as if they opted to act that way on the spur of the moment... I believe many people in those situations actually have made descisions years before.” 7 likes
“Everyone’s reputation is made on a daily basis. There are little incremental things—worthwhile efforts, moments you were helpful to others—and after a lifetime, they can add up to something. You can feel as if you lived and it mattered.” 2 likes
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