Hudson crash co-pilot hopes to fly again in weeks

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The co-pilot who helped to safely crash-land a passenger plane into the Hudson River hopes to fly again in a few weeks and praised everyone involved in the rescue.

Jeff Skiles, of Oregon, Wis., was in the cockpit of the US Airways plane assisting pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger when it landed in the river Jan. 15 after bird strikes apparently knocked out its engines. All 155 passengers and crew were rescued.

Skiles, 49, said he and the rest of the plane's crew were lucky that things turned out as well as they did.

"I'd just like to say we were all very fortunate that things went our way and there were a lot more people involved than just me," Skiles said. "Flight attendants in back who evacuated the airplane, all the first responders who were there with the boats, the New York Fire Department, the New York Police Department, all had a role in the successful outcome. We were quite fortunate."

Skiles visited the state Capitol on Wednesday to receive a commendation for heroism from the state Senate. He also appeared as Gov. Jim Doyle's guest at his State of the State address Wednesday evening.

After receiving his award, Skiles told reporters he can fly commercially again immediately and hopes to get back in the air by the end of February.

Asked if he wished he'd done anything differently the day of the crash, he replied: "No. Not really."

Skiles, his wife, Barb, their three children and Skiles' parents stood along the side of the chamber as the Senate chief clerk read the commendation. Skiles seemed a bit uncomfortable with the attention, clasping and unclasping his hands and looking down at the ground and up, smiling at times.

He did not address lawmakers. When it was over, the entire Senate rose and gave him an ovation. Senators then went over to him and shook his hand. He and his family posed for photographs by senators' aides as well as a photographer for the Wisconsin Blue Book, a biennial directory of state lawmakers and agencies.

Doyle ended his State of the State speech by introducing Skiles as a hero who exemplified a never-say-die attitude and thanked him on behalf of the state.

"Jeffrey, your heroism and heroic actions of your fellow crew members have made all the difference in the world for your passengers and all their families," Doyle said.

The packed state Assembly chamber gave Skiles a bipartisan standing ovation marked by cheers and whoops. Skiles, flanked by his wife and Doyle's wife, Jessica, in the balcony, stood up quietly in acknowledgment.

Last week, Skiles attended President Barack Obama's inauguration.

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