Brace for Impact, a documentary written and directed by USC Annenberg professor Dan Birman about the 2009 landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, will air Wednesday at 10 p.m. on the cable channel TLC. (Check listings for other airings at http://tlc.discovery.com)
Narrated by actor and pilot Harrison Ford, the documentary features interviews with Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III as well as passengers, air traffic controllers and some of the boat captains who assisted in bringing the passengers to safety.
First-person accounts create a well-rounded perspective of the fateful event that attracted nationwide attention nearly one year ago on the afternoon of Jan. 15, 2009.
“TLC’s audience is in for a fantastic ride,” said Birman, who teaches classes in nonfiction television and advanced broadcast news production. “We got some great footage flying the route that puts viewers right in the pilot’s seat with Sully, capturing his story in gripping detail.”
The story centers on Sullenberger, whose heroic actions during the incident enabled him and his crew to save the lives of the 155 people on board the flight.
In the documentary, Sully boards a helicopter flying along the path of Flight 1549 from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to the Hudson River. During the flight, Sully explains what happened and takes the audience through the choices he made within seconds after striking a flock of Canada Geese while navigating a crippled aircraft over Manhattan.
“I’m honored and gratified by the attention I’ve received as a result of this event. On Jan. 15, we had a remarkably good day, and I’m proud that my crew and I were up to the task,” Sullenberger said. “I am sure that this documentary will convey the ongoing power of this story and its ability to touch and inspire people around the world.”
David Eisenberg MA ’06, the associate producer, edited the first rough cut. Adriana Padilla MA ’08, one of the production coordinators, helped locate the plane. Megan Chao MA ’08 assisted with research, including helping to build a database on the flight’s 150 passengers.
“It’s pretty cool that we can bring Annenberg graduates to a high-profile project like this,” Birman said. “It says a lot about our program.”