Hello, my name is Michele Winegar. On Jan 15, 2009 I was one of the passengers that was on the flight that landed in the Hudson River (Flight 1549). I was sitting in seat 24D. The Flight was piloted by Captain Chesley Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles.

UPDATE: I'm popping on here when I can to answer. Thanks everyone for the interest.

Is this ok for a proof photo? See same window curtains. https://scontent.fsnc1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/13615361_10153761029721476_6119506011280528214_n.jpg?oh=a1c1785b602b4c667a1529d3ac6f3931&oe=582D3725

EDIT 1: Since there seemed to be so much interest about me trying to get to the premier I am adding a link to my Facebook and Video. Go ahead and friend me I'd love to see the people I have been chatting with!! https://www.facebook.com/michele.davis.526438/videos/10153715606631476/ This is a recent news interview done on me by King5 in Seattle. https://www.facebook.com/DrewMikkelsenJournalist/videos/1133041390093499/

Comments: 2362 • Responses: 64  • Date: 

MapsAreCool1092 karma

I guess my main question would be, can you describe your experience from start (when something first seemed to be wrong) to finish (when you last had contact with the airline or NTSB) as clearly as you remember them?

MicheleWinegar24D3083 karma

We had just Taken off and then suddenly there was a big boom noise and the plane shook. I was sitting near the back so I looked behind where the rear flight attendant was and saw she was moving around and that there was smoke starting to come inside the plane. (to this day any burning smell that is out of place triggers my PTSD). I could tell the plane was getting lower like it was going to land but I still had no idea what was going on. I kept thinking I should call someone but then thought against it because what if this was just something minor and I was freaking out for no reason... The those words came "This is your Captain, Brace for Impact." My heart dropped and I felt every emotion possible. Fear, anger sadness. I wasn't ready to die yet. I tried to prepare myself incase the the plane ripped apart. Maybe I wouldn't get hurt and could swim for safety. (At this point I could see out the window we were going to hit the water) The plane hit hard in the back, the water rushed up the sides making it dark and a terrible sound of metal groaning as it bent. Once it settled a bit I jumped out of my seat and ran towards the back (my nearest exit) Someone was yelling to run forward and I did as far as I could till the was a wall of people in front of me yell for everyone to hurry up. I looked down and released the back was filling up with water and I wasn't able to move forward. I thought I was now going to drowned. I stood on the seats to get as much out of the water as I could and climbed over them to get to the wing exits. The wings were full when I got there but a man (Capt Sully I believe) was Standing up at the front yelling for us to come forward into the rafts up there. Looking out that door and seeing the NY skyline and the fact that I was in the middle of the river was an amazing site. In the raft a man was holding his cell phone up so it wouldn't get wet. He let me use it to call my mom so she knew I was ok before she saw it on the new. I was one of the passengers that climbed up onto a ferry and was taken to the NY side. I haven't talked to the airlines or NTSB in quite a while. Just a bit off and on for the year fallowing the crash.

Gsusruls1218 karma

I looked down and [realized] the back was filling up with water and I wasn't able to move forward.

That might be the worst part of it. Yes, the prospect of the plane crashing would terrify me, but being trapped inside with a hundred other panicking people while it filled slowly with water is the stuff of living nightmares.

MicheleWinegar24D1188 karma

a big plus was people didn't really push or shove. There was lots of yelling. I may have dropped a F bomb or two when politely asking people to move faster;)

0theHumanity1383 karma

There's a polite way to do that?

"Could you fucking go? You're literally killing me!"

MicheleWinegar24D1440 karma

haha right. You think it's frustrating just getting off a plane when it lands normally.

Nationals387 karma

"Beg pardon, sir, but could you kindly get the f-ck out of the way? Just asking dear chap"

MicheleWinegar24D130 karma

haha fantastic!

angrygolfer1639 karma

that climbed up onto a fairy

you may have been hallucinating.

MicheleWinegar24D104 karma

awwww man that sucks. way to go Michele...

kevin_k26 karma

Depends how far downtown they got

MicheleWinegar24D64 karma

haha I appreciate the playful but not hateful razing... Thanks guys. I'll try to mind my grammar and spelling better.


Wow, that's an amazingly vivid description of the events, thank you for that.

Now my follow up question - I'm a regular traveller, and every time I fly I go through the "What if" scenario of a plane going down. I get the chills, goosebumps and fantasize about how I'd get out.

My question for you (assuming you do the same), is how similar the experience actually was to your "imagined" disaster, than what actually happened?

Also, during the events, does your brain go "ah fuck were dead...hope for the best?" or does it go "No, no way I can die, I'll get out of this!" and if it is the latter, how fucking stoked were you when you realized you had survived?

What an amazing story...by the way, have you ever watched the recreations online of the flight with the cockpit recording? - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLFZTzR5u84

"He lost both engines"

"Which engines"

"Both of em"

"...got it."


"...what do you need to land?"


"...we're gonna be in the hudson"

I can't imagine being in that plane, how do those recordings make you feel?

How much confidence do you have in the flight control/pilot/crews?

How did the crew react during the incident?

Have you flown since then?

Thanks for the insight. Your perspective is rare, luck as f #%^ and fascinating!

Edit: better link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZPvVwvX_Nc thanks /r/mylifeinpictures !

MicheleWinegar24D143 karma

I really want to answer all of this but I have to go to work. When I get back I will do my best to answer them all!!!

rjcarr59 karma

From the initial boom you heard until the impact with the water how much time passed? It doesn't sound like you had much time to even get scared and you just ran on instincts. I'm sure this was terrifying, but all things considered, about the best possible outcome.

MicheleWinegar24D193 karma

The outcome was amazing. Depending on where you were sitting is how much you knew. People by the wings knew the were on fire. I was in an aisle seat near the back. Having a pilot tell you "Brace for Impact." Trust me you have plenty time to be scared.

sethamphetamine8 karma

When you say you felt the plane shake, was it similar to turbulence or was it entirely different? I have a bad fear of flying and every time I experience turbulence I think the worst. Did you know it was something different, more serious?

MicheleWinegar24D17 karma

It's was like a shack then drop. I have been very lucky to not really have experienced to much turbulence when flying. Even this one after the drop it was pretty smooth till we hit.

H4WKEYES3 karma

every time I experience turbulence I think the worst

I'm exactly the same. It sucks.

MicheleWinegar24D10 karma

To be honest I have never had a flight with bad turbulence. I've been lucky in that way;) It was more of a shake and drop feeling.

rrasco097 karma

How do you feel about flying now?

MicheleWinegar24D15 karma

Scared out of my mind but I want to be able to travel so I have to suck it up. Also a few beers and a/or an anxiety pill seem to help a bit.

0rangePod799 karma

What did you lose? Did you ever get your luggage back? Did the airline compensate you for your lost items?

MicheleWinegar24D1948 karma

At first I had lost everything but what I was wearing. I eventually got my luggage back it had been cleaned, packed back meticulously. Every bobby pin was itemized. I was compensated for my lost luggage before I even got back to Seattle. My purse was the only thing not recovered.

KawaiNeko26774 karma

Hi. I'm a flight attendant. Would love to know. Did you head to back galley? Did flight attendant back there open door or did passenger? That was controversial. Did you hear the flight attendants do their chants for bracing for impact? Something similar to brace. Brace. Brace. Or bend over heads down.

MicheleWinegar24D1028 karma

I did but only got as far as the bathrooms. It's my understanding that it was a passenger not the flight attendant. Oh boy I heard their chants! They said Brace Brace Heads down! repeatedly.

vinylsquares559 karma

In the trailer for the movie hearing them do their chants made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. So scary. Glad you are ok!

MicheleWinegar24D626 karma

Thank you, that's sweet of you to say!

That part is were I started shaking and tearing up watching it.

hockeyrugby129 karma

Can you explain these brace chants to me?

MicheleWinegar24D142 karma

The comments below pretty much nailed it. They kept repeating that till we hit.

Black105699 karma


MicheleWinegar24D1528 karma

People were wonderful, helping each other. I only remember push once and it wasn't even that hard. Don't get me wrong we were all panicked and yelling, But no one seemed to put the own life before an others.

tomgabriele534 karma

Do you wear a women's size 11? Did you lose a high heel that day? Because the Carolinas Aviation Museum has it on display...

MicheleWinegar24D527 karma

Oh really. I didn't know that. I haven't made it to the flight museum yet. I really need to get out there and check it out. I know sometimes they let the passengers actually get on the plane. That would be intense.

sporkintheroad433 karma

Have you ever, when in unfamiliar company and hearing someone talk a lot of bullshit about the incident, broken in to set the record straight?

MicheleWinegar24D1385 karma

Yes. I'm a bartender and a guy sitting at my bar was saying that the movie "Flight" was about Capt. Sully and he was drunk when the plane crashed. I shut that down quick.

doubbg399 karma

Are you going to see the new Sully movie? Do you think the event will make a good movie?

MicheleWinegar24D957 karma

I am going to see it. I have been doing a little facebook campaigning to see if maybe Tom Hanks can get me to the premier in Los Angeles. I think it will be a great movie. I'm sure it will be very emotional for me but I also think it will be oddly therapeutic.

CaptainAmortgagica50 karma

What actress would you recommend play your role?

MicheleWinegar24D171 karma

A friend of mine and I decided Emma Stone would do a great job. I'm a bit goofy awkward and we think she could defiantly pull off that bit of my personality.

wheeldog2 karma

share Facebook link?

MicheleWinegar24D5 karma

Am I allowed too? It's a shoot out to a celebrity and I thought that wasn't allowed. My facebook is the same name as here minus the 24D part and it's public.

agenthl395 karma

Have you flown in an airplane since the incident, or how long did it take for you to fly in an airplane?

MicheleWinegar24D1265 karma

After the crash I waited a week to fly home to Washington. I have flown 27 times since. It's still terrifying but I want to go place and see things so it's a must.

andersonty319326 karma

Michele! I remember you from elementary school! Crazy to see you here. Thanks for doing this AMA. Great reading your side of things!

Remember this picture???

MicheleWinegar24D75 karma

Oh my goodness! I do remember you. How are you? I totally need that picture.

windycityhipster295 karma

Do you/did you stay in touch with any other passengers from Flight 1549?

MicheleWinegar24D441 karma

I do on facebook. There are also a few different reunions, but I have only made it back to one.

walter_neft251 karma

Have you had the chance to meet with Capt. Sullenberger after the event? If so, what did you say to him?

MicheleWinegar24D629 karma

I meet him at a book signing he did her in Washington. My Mom really wanted to hug the man. He was wonderful. Asked how I was doing after the whole ordeal. I was a bit shy and didn't say much more then THank You.

DataKeeper231 karma

Are you going to start an amazing line of gourmet vinegar?

MicheleWinegar24D176 karma

hahaha this question is most defiantly a first. I guess i'll have to look into it.

Maxtrix07178 karma

Hi Michele, I was curious.. do you have any form of PTSD from the incident? Meaning, do you get flashbacks, or unexplainable jolts of fear in minor situations? Im curious how the near death experience would affect a mind, even 6 years after said incident.

MicheleWinegar24D401 karma

I do have some PTSD. A big trigger for me is the smell of something burning that is out of place. Electrical burning is the worst. Get emotional really fast hen that happens. I have gotten better at calming myself quickly. Also flying is till hard for me but I have flown 27 times since.

spartansnverdie172 karma

i just want to know, how fuking cold was that water, it was January 15th in NYC, that had to be the worst part!?

MicheleWinegar24D308 karma

I didn't realize how cold I was till we got back on land and in the Ferry:) terminal.

RogueSpartan166 karma

Do you believe Captain Sully made the right call landing in the Hudson instead of going back to the airport?

MicheleWinegar24D453 karma

I trust his call. He said he couldn't make the airport and to have tried and failed would have endangered A LOT more lives.

TheSeeker00161 karma

When bracing for impact you bend forward, how do you not get the top of your head knocked senseless on the seat in front of you?

MicheleWinegar24D197 karma

It did hit a little, had a nice little bump there for a day or too.

moosehungor140 karma

What was the process after you were rescued? How intense was dealing with media?

MicheleWinegar24D323 karma

They did a triage in the ferry terminal. Most people were alright, just wet and cold. The red cross brought blankets and changes of sweats for us. I was there for a few ours. When I left the building the media was nuts, a few reporters followed us down street. My mom back in Olympia WA had most of the media come to her not me. I didn't return for a week but when I did there was a whole crowd of reports. I got offered to go on a bunch of shows the day after but I wasn't up to it, still very much in shock.

LzrdKing70122 karma

Hi Michele,
Thanks for doing this AMA.

When you realized/were told that the flight was going down, do you recall what was going through your mind?

Do you keep in contact with any of the passengers or crew of flight 1549?

MicheleWinegar24D249 karma

Thanks for asking questions. In a way it is helpful for me to talk about it and get it out. I appreciate the interest and am thankful for how sweet and supportive people are.

First was fear, then sadness. Never seeing my Mom, I knew me dying would break her heart. I would hate to be the one to cause her pain. Then i was angry, it wasn't fair. I'm 23 I have so much more life. I didn't realize all the different emotions till I reflected after. At the time it was a blur and mix of all.

We keep in touch on facebook. I have gone to one of the reunions and had dinner with one of the guys when he is in Seattle for business.

GhanimaAtreides109 karma

How open was the cabin crew about what was going on? Did you guys realise that the plane was going down? Assuming you did realise the plane was going down, what was going through your head before it hit the water?

MicheleWinegar24D438 karma

The only words from the Captain were, "this is your captain brace for impact." Which I can understand those guys were a bit busy. After that I was scared, sad, angry even. They say when you're about to die your life flashes before your eyes. In my case in was the future I was about to lose, the people I would never see again. I felt every emotion I have ever had in those few sec.

nancyaw106 karma

What was it like in the cabin when you were going down? Crying? Silent? (Other than the flight attendants)

MicheleWinegar24D446 karma

There was a lot of muffled talk, then when the captain said "Brace for Impact," there was screaming then it got much quieter. The girl next to me kept say, "We'll be ok there are angels on this plane."

wolark124 karma

Tell us about that girl, if you wouldn't mind

MicheleWinegar24D23 karma

We didn't really talk when we got on the plane. Her and the other guy in my row were having a conversation but it didn't sound like they knew each other either. We held each others hands after the Captain made his announcement to brace. That's when she started talking about angels and praying. I remember I had cuts on my hand from her nails, I'm sure she had some on hers too from me. I wish I would have stayed in contact with her but I don't remember her name from when I talked to her after.

rockhardgelatin78 karma

Did this experience affect your personal level of spirituality/religion? If so, in what way(s)?

MicheleWinegar24D38 karma

I thought about that a bit after. I always thought in something like that I would talk to "God" or ask forgiveness. The girl next to me was praying and talking about angels but it never really crossed my mind.

thenascarguy89 karma

Did it ever go through your mind, "How will I tell my family I'm safe?" And then, how did you?

MicheleWinegar24D327 karma

My mom was the first thing in my head. Lucky for me a man in the life raft I was in had a cell phone that was working. He let me use it to call my mom. when she answered (poor momma I wasn't very articulate and still very much in shock) I just said "Momma, Momma! My plane crashed! I'm ok and can't talk. I'll call again you as soon as I can." ... That didn't calm her as much as I had hoped ;) but it was something.

Zzazu79 karma

How did you feel in the days following the crash? Like how it affects your sleep and stress levels? What were your thought processes like after?

MicheleWinegar24D342 karma

Numb at first. Then it started to hit me. I had terrible nightmares for a while. I was staying with my Mom after the flight for a bit and even crawled into her bed. I got overwhelmed quickly but things. Getting frustrated over the smallest things would bring me to tears. Then I would be upset for being so upset. A month or so after out flight a plane crashed in up state New York,everyone died. The guilt I felt was crazy. Then I felt selfish for being guilty. I had to learn to calm myself and try to rationally think through my emotions. Which has come in handy in my adult life haha. I can tell a boyfriend I know why I am being a bit of an irrational girl and say I know it's not his fault BUT give me 5 mins because in my head right now emotions are telling me you are so wrong mister :)

loveisahigherlaw40 karma

In the movie "Friends with Benefits" one of the big jokes is how Justin Timberlake thinks the whole event was blown out of proportion because "the planes practically land themselves!"

If you saw the movie, what did you think of that running bit? Does it bother you that some people actually feel that way? Or rather, are you more thankful that planes are equipped with that kind of "intelligence" as it made it that much easier for the captain to land it and keep you safe?

MicheleWinegar24D78 karma

When I saw that I thought it was fantastic! It was poking fun at the whole thing which I get. And Justin Timberlake just talk about me in a SUPER round about way;) Pilots having what they need to keep people safe, and keep themselves safe for that matter is all that I care about. I don't know much about what goes on in the cockpit so anything other then a bit of a surface discussion about that subject I dont have a strong opinion on.

nymax1229 karma

What has changed in your life since that day?

MicheleWinegar24D100 karma

This question is always hard for me. I was 23 when it happened. At that time in peoples lives they are evolving almost every day into a new person. Pushing their limits and trying to figure out who and what they are. So i know it has changed me but I can't really say in what way... If that makes any since.

Beaker31828 karma

Serious question.

Have you learned the difference between ferry and fairy yet?

MicheleWinegar24D53 karma

Haha yes and thank you. You'll be happy to know I have my there, theirs and they're down.

Maseycakes21 karma

Did the thought cross your mind that "I'm going to die?" What was it like walking on land after that flight? Do you still go on planes?

MicheleWinegar24D96 karma

I had many thought and that was defiantly one of then. To this day it's still surreal to think I was on that flight and how close I came to dying. I didn't realize a feeling or reaction from walking on land after. I have flown 27 times since. I am very much looking forward to the invention of teleporting.

deneuralizer15 karma

How soon did you realize that something was wrong? And how did the pilots and crew announce it?

MicheleWinegar24D29 karma

I realized after the boom (us hitting the birds) but I figured we just took off so we are probably just going to land again right. Then the smoke... The when the Captain said "Brace for Impact," my heart sank.

avipars8 karma

Did any carry-on and checked-in baggage survive?

MicheleWinegar24D25 karma

I never got my purse back but I did get my checked bag after a few months. They cleaned everything (well as good as they could) and itemized every item down to my bobby pins.

nextgeneric6 karma

I can't imagine how terrifying it must have been. How did you bring yourself comfort, if any, during the emergency?

MicheleWinegar24D16 karma

I don't know if I ever felt comfort but part of me was telling myself "This isn't it, this isn't how you die." Not that I believed it but it was there.

zgreen054 karma

When did you notice something was wrong?

MicheleWinegar24D13 karma

After the boom smoke started to come into the cabin. I tried to rationalize it to my self like they left a empty coffee pot on the burner or something.

doeskidparties2 karma

How many fingers do you have?

MicheleWinegar24D22 karma

I have 8 fingers and 2 thumbs ;)

ilovetheshowlost2 karma

Did this incident effect your ability to fly? I feel like I would be terrified to ever get on a plane again after something like that.

MicheleWinegar24D5 karma

I am absolutely terrified when I fly but I like going places and traveling so i have too. I have flown 27 times since. I have found having a routine almost ritual has been helpful for me.