Airport rendering of the proposed administration building.
BY FREDA MIKLIN
Capt. Sully Sullenberger talked mostly about citizenship. Photos by Freda Miklin
A highly distinguished group of 600 government, business, and community leaders gathered at the Marriott DTC May 24 for an inspired address from Capt. Sully Sullenberger, the hero of U.S. Airways flight 1549 Jan. 15, 2009.
Most people know the story, which Sully recounted. He told the crowd that, “One hundred seconds after taking off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport,” with a full complement of 150 passengers and five crew, as they were traveling “316 feet per second, a flock of Canadian geese filled the windshield” and were sucked into the jet’s engines. He soon realized that “The thrust loss was sudden, complete, and symmetrical. Both engines stopped making any sound whatsoever.” At an altitude of 3,000 feet, the airplane had no power. Unable to turn back to LaGuardia or reach any other nearby airport, Sullenberger, who had 20,000 hours of flight experience gained over 40 years, made the decision to land the aircraft in the Hudson River, where the water was barely above freezing and the air temperature was 21 degrees. The plane hit the water at a speed of 150 miles per hour. Everyone survived. Clint Eastwood made the movie in 2016. Tom Hanks playing the hero in, Sully: Miracle on the Hudson.
South Metro Fire Rescue chief Bob Baker and assistant chief of operations Troy Baker hosted a table of SMFR personnel.
Sullenberger, from Dennison, Texas, played down his image as a hero. He talked about the values of civic duty, service above self, and the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good. He emphasized the importance of independent critical thought and said that “citizens must make decisions based on facts, not falsehoods and lies, even if they’re told loudly and often.” He talked about living a life that reflects one’s values, not announcing them. He left the crowd with this thought about what it means to be a citizen. He said we should all ask ourselves, “Did you speak up when it mattered? I hope your answer will be yes.”
This event celebrated the evolution of Centennial Airport (APA), the second busiest general aviation airport and the 22nd busiest of all U. S. airports. After the presentation of the colors by the Buckley Air Force Base Honor Guard and a beautiful rendition of the national anthem by Tech. Sgt. Kristin Johnson, the airport’s CEO Robert Olislagers told the crowd that APA has an annual economic impact of $1.3 billion and employs 7,000 people. He also said that the airport’s asset value has tripled in the past 15 years and that it is debt-free for the first time.
Olislagers announced that a new airport administration building will be built in the northwest corner of the main parking lot on South Peoria Street, to be called “the hangar.” It will include interactive kiosks and flight schools and will host Saturday open houses.
Retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. John Barry, Sullenberger’s classmate at the Air Force Academy and former superintendent of Aurora Public Schools, who plans to start a chartered aviation and aerospace-focused middle school at APA, introduced the keynote speaker.
Among those celebrating Centennial Airport and Sullenberger were Rep. Mike Coffman, Mayor Stephanie Piko and city council member Carrie Penaloza of Centennial, Mayor Jackie Millet and council member Wynne Shaw of Lone Tree, commissioners Nancy Sharpe and Jeff Baker of Arapahoe County and Lora Thomas of Douglas County, Arapahoe County Assessor Marc Scott, and South Metro Fire Rescue Chief Bob Baker.
Drew Testerman, VP of Cordillera Corp, Greg Anderson of Wings Over the Rockies, Lynn Myers, Exec. Dir. Of Denver South EDP, Larry Ulrich of Denver jetCenter and Lauren Masias of Denver South EDP came out to support the cause and hear Capt. Sully Sullenberger.
Long associated with the Centennial Airport Roundtable, former GV city council members Karen Blilie and Bette Todd, with Alison Biggs, roundtable secretary.
Centennial Airport is important to Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet.
Maj. Gen. John Barry, USAF (Ret.) and Arapahoe County Commissioner Jeff Baker work closely with Centennial Airport.
Robert Olislagers is the chief executive officer of Centennial Airport.
Rep. Mike Coffman represents Colorado’s 6th Congressional District.
Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Sharpe was seated at the “VVIP” table.
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