Aviation museum to be renamed in honor of Captain “Sully” Sullenberger

A rendering shows the Carolinas Aviation Museum.
A rendering shows plans for the future of the Carolinas Aviation Museum © Carolinas Aviation Museum

Captain Chelsey Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot behind the “Miracle on the Hudson” 13 years ago, will see the Carolinas Aviation Museum renamed in his honor. 

The museum, which for the past 10 years has housed the Airbus A320 Sullenberger piloted, is scheduled to reopen in 2023 in a new location at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, North Carolina, having closed its doors to the public two years ago. 

A plane on a massive truck as it is moved to a museum.
The Airbus jet that pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger landed on the Hudson River on its way to the Carolinas Aviation Museum in 2011 © Davis Turner/Getty Images

On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549, which was headed to Charlotte, North Carolina, struck a flock of birds upon takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Captain Sullenberger landed the aircraft safely in the Hudson River, saving all 155 passengers.

Red Ventures CEO makes donation in Sully's honor

One of the passengers on board the flight was Ric Elias, CEO of Red Ventures, the parent company of Lonely Planet. 

“I am forever indebted to Captain Sully and the crew of US Airways Flight 1549 for my second chance at life, and, for 13 years, I have been determined to find a way to honor them,” Elias said.

Elias personally donated $1 million toward reopening the museum which will host a permanent exhibit honoring both Sullenberger and the flight crew. 

The Points Guy Awards
Passenger of Flight 1549 and CEO of Red Ventures Ric Elias and Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger © Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images 

“We’re thrilled to honor Captain Sully and the heroic ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ crew and cement our city’s place in aviation history,” Marc Oken, Board Chair for the Carolinas Aviation Museum, said. 

Along with Elias's personal donation, Lonely Planet made a gift of $500,000 toward the reopening of the museum. 

“Heroes are made long before the day they are called to action. This museum will serve as an enduring tribute to the preparation, courage and dedication of the captain and the entire crew,” Elias said.

Museum to be located at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

The museum will be located at the site of the historic APW/Douglas Airport Hangar at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The current fundraising goal is $25 million. So far, including the donation from Elias and Lonely Planet, it has raised $11 million toward that goal. 

When it reopens to the public, the museum plans to have a new main gallery, visitor center, plaza, and newly restored historic hangar. Exhibits will include dozens of aircraft and interactive cockpits, flight simulators, and historic artifacts that chronicle the region's historic connection with aviation. 

Lonely Planet will also have a presence in the new museum. Details of the exhibit will be announced at a future date.

“With support from the city of Charlotte, Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, and generous private donors, we’re looking forward to establishing the museum as the new premiere aviation destination of the South,” Oken said.

On the anniversary of the "Miracle on the Hudson", Captain Sully is sharing memories from people who were impacted by the landing on his Instagram page.  One comment posted reads: “As passenger 25D, I thank you for every extra day I’ve been given - happy anniversary!”

Buy Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2022

Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2022

Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2022 ranks the world’s must-visit countries, cities and regions to provide a year's worth of travel inspiration.

Buy Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2022