GLENN: Yesterday on U.S. Airways Flight 1549, there sat a passenger. His name is Don Norton. He was on board. Don was up working in the New York area and flying home, if I'm not mistaken, Don, is that right?
NORTON: Yes, that's correct. I was up there on business for my company, Lending Tree, and we were flying back home yesterday.
GLENN: So -- and you've made this flight before?
NORTON: Not this exact one. I've been to New York many times but not this exact time flight.
GLENN: Right, right. And at what point did you sense trouble?
NORTON: Well, as soon as, you know, we had taken off from LaGuardia and we were a few minutes in. Then I heard a loud bang. You know, the engine -- I mean, I was sitting on the wing approximately. I was in 11F. So I was right over the wing. I heard a loud bang from that engine. So we knew something was wrong, and the engine looked like it had stopped working. We actually smelled something burning, but I didn't see any fire. So we didn't, you know -- the pilot started banking to the left and we -- and it just seemed, he still seemed to be in complete control. So it didn't -- we really weren't -- most of the passengers weren't really that nervous at that point. And it was probably a few minutes later as he started to, I guess try to gather his bearings and figure out where he was going to land, you know, we saw water over the right side and I was like, okay, what are we going to do. And then he -- at that point he got on the radio and he said, you know, he said, this is the captain speaking; brace for impact. And then as soon as he said that, you know, I put my head down like they told us and then --
GLENN: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. You skipped some parts here. Wait a minute. There was the bang? Did they -- the stewardess say, you know, we're going to land, did anybody say that there was problems?
NORTON: There was no communication from the flight attendant or the pilot until he said "Brace for impact."
GLENN: Then what did they say?
NORTON: The flight attendant kept chanting over and over put your head down, brace for impact, put your head down, brace for impact. They chanted it over and over again. I assume that's what they were trained to do. That's why I didn't skip anything because there was no communication. I'm assuming that the pilots were trying to figure out what they were going to do.
GLENN: So there wasn't any panic because you guys didn't even know you were going to land in the water. You didn't know that you had lost both engines.
NORTON: No. I mean, I think the passenger, put the two together, the passengers on the left side said they saw flames shooting out of their engine but I don't think we put two and two together that we had lost both engines.
GLENN: So at what point did you -- I mean, did you have a moment like I'm flashing through my life or anything like that before --
NORTON: After he said brace for impact, not so much that but I was saying, please, God, don't let me die; please, God, don't let me die. But also I was looking at the instructions on the door because I knew I had to open it because I was the one closest to the door.
GLENN: Holy cow. Holy cow.
NORTON: I'm surprised I had the wherewithal to think about that and then as soon as we hit, it was jarring but it really wasn't that bad, all things considered. And then I got up out of my seat, I opened the door and I threw it out the hole and then we started streaming out onto the wing.
GLENN: Did you -- let me ask you this: Did you listen to the instructions when they were talking to you about the door before you took off?
NORTON: No. I mean, I've heard that. You know, I think we all gloss over it, you know. When we're on planes, we hear it over and over again. I did not listen to the instructions at all. I mean, we don't think it can happen.
GLENN: So were you the first out on the wing?
NORTON: I think I was because we were all, we were trying to get out and because I had to go out the door a little bit in order to throw the door out, you know, into the water. So I was the first one on the wing. And then I mean, it was very, very, very slippery. I almost fell in the water a couple of times. I started, you know, inching down the wing a little bit and others followed behind me. We tried to -- there was an emergency chute that didn't come out, but it was flipped over and upside down and we couldn't get it flipped back over. So -- because we wanted to but we couldn't. But I mean, there wasn't a lot of panic because they had ferries coming at us from all directions, we saw helicopters. The water was freezing cold.
GLENN: Did you -- I've heard two stories. I've heard that people were pushing and shoving inside, that there was chaos inside. And then I've heard that it was calm and orderly and kindly.
NORTON: Yeah. I mean, it may have been some pushing and shoving in the back because I mean, from what I heard that, you know, the back part of it was under water. They may have been panicked a little bit more. But at that time I was already out of the plane. There wasn't a lot of panic on the wing, I think partially because we just, if there was, I think people would have just all fallen in the water.
GLENN: How long were you on the wing?
NORTON: Probably, it felt like an eternity but it probably was a couple of minutes.
NORTON: The ferries were coming. You know, they were coming close. We're like, come on, come on, come on. I guess they didn't want to come that close because they were afraid to clip the wing and knock everybody off. One by one we started jumping in the water and climbing on the ferry ladder.
GLENN: Don, is anybody a hero or did everybody just do what they were supposed to do?
NORTON: Oh, that pilot was an absolute hero. I mean, he did a phenomenal job. The fact that we're all alive can all be attributed to him.
GLENN: I'm wondering, did you meet him afterwards?
NORTON: No, unfortunately. I saw him but they kind of, they whisked him away pretty quick. But I didn't -- I'd like to meet him. I think a lot of the passengers have said that. I want to give that guy a hug.
GLENN: The speculation is on my part at least that he didn't land in Teterboro because they are equal distance really. I mean, where he landed and where he could have landed on land is pretty much the same distance, at least it looks like that to me. I have a feeling that he chose in case things really get bad or in case something happens, I'm not going to kill a bunch of people; it will just be us that go down. Do you have any idea as you've been thinking about it in the overnight that maybe that --
NORTON: I suspect that maybe he didn't think he would be able to keep control if he veered off too much. He stayed pretty -- once he made that turn, he made that sharp turn and then we were going down over the Hudson, I'm guessing he probably didn't think he could really make another turn that easily.
GLENN: Have you had bumpier landings on the ground?
NORTON: I wouldn't say that. I mean, it was bumpy, you know. I've had bumpy landings but this is probably the most jarring. It wasn't that bad, though.
GLENN: How long did it take you to stop?
NORTON: You know, probably a few seconds. Maybe, you know, five, ten seconds max. I mean, the plane did, it did turn a bit and then at one point it did turn actually leaning more toward on my side of the plane. So the wing did go in the water and I could see water on my window and then it leveled off. And that's when we -- when that happened and that's when we were all -- you know, we went into action, you know, get out of this plane.
GLENN: Were you worried that the plane was going to sink right away? Did that cross your mind?
NORTON: It did cross my mind but once we were on the wing and I saw that the wing really was staying afloat for, you know, for a decent amount of time and I wasn't worried too much because we saw, immediately we saw the ferry boats. I mean, as soon as we looked out the door, there were ferry boats everywhere.
GLENN: Yeah. They're heroes, too. All right, Don, thank you so much, and thanks for being somebody who's like, "Wait, I can't read the instructions. I don't know how this works."
GLENN: Thanks, man, I appreciate it. Best of luck to you.