Captain Sully given award in Tampa for achievements in aviation

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Nearly 10 years after he famously landed a plane full of passengers on the Hudson River, Captain Sully received a special honor from the Tampa Bay aviation industry.

Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger received the Tony Jannus award in Tampa Thursday for his achievements in aviation. The award is named for the first pilot to fly a commercial plane between St. Petersburg and Tampa in 1914.

Aviation leaders say Sullenberger embodies what the award stands for, as a pilot concerned primarily for the safety of his passengers following his “Miracle on the Hudson” in January 2009.

“I think that this was a very rare event, an unanticipated one that we never specifically trained for. But that's really the challenge now that aviation has really become so ultra-safe,” said Sullenberger.

A lot has changed since Captain Sully landed in the Hudson River after a bird strike took out both plane engines. He said it’s important to pass on lessons learned from accidents to the newest generation of pilots.

“Now, as accidents have become more rare, their cause have become somewhat more unique, and it becomes harder to predict and to protect against what the next accident might be,” said Sullenberger.

He said advances in aviation pass on to other transportation areas like self-driving cars, and that’s a concern for him regarding who is trained to operate those vehicles.

“My greatest concern is the unknown unknowns, the things that we don't know yet that we don't know and also the transitions that will have to be made,” said Sullenberger.

But what he does know is that as technology keeps advancing, future pilots can’t solely rely on it to do the work for them.

“It requires one to remain vigilant and avoid complacency and not just follow rules but have a deep understanding,” said Sullenberger.

There were also high school students in the audience who got scholarships to study aviation. Captain Sully said he hopes to encourage the next generation of aviation workers.