Clint Eastwood Recounts How A Near-Death Experience Inspired Him To Direct The Movie, 'Sully'

Date February 27, 2018 17:34

Recreating the dramatic ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson River would be a challenge for any film-maker. But Sully: Miracle on the Hudson director, Clint Eastwood, had a head start. After all, he’d once survived a crash.


Based on real-life events.

Sully is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Todd Komarnicki, based on the autobiography, Highest Duty by Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow.


The film follows Sullenberger's January 2009 emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, in which all 155 passengers and crew survived with only minor injuries, and the subsequent publicity and investigation.

On January 15, 2009, it struck a flock of Canada geese just northeast of the George Washington Bridge and consequently lost all engine power. Unable to reach any nearby airport, pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles glided the plane to ditch in the Hudson River off Midtown Manhattan.

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The accident came to be known as the "Miracle on the Hudson," and a National Transportation Safety Board official described it as "the most successful ditching in aviation history.

Clint's near-death experience.


In 1951, Eastwood was drafted by the United States Army and assigned to Fort Ord in California as a lifeguard and projectionist of training films.

On 30 September 1951, while returning from a prearranged rendezvous with a girlfriend in Seattle, Eastwood was on the operator's compartment radar of a Douglas AD-1Q dive bomber that crashed into the Pacific Ocean off the Point Reyes Peninsula near San Francisco.

The aircraft had departed from Sand Point Naval Air Station near Seattle, bound for northern California. During the flight, the rear door would not stay closed, the oxygen system proved inoperable, and the navigation systems and intercom failed.

Eventually, during the late afternoon, the plane ran out of fuel, and the pilot was forced to ditch the aircraft in the sea several miles off Point Reyes.

Both Eastwood and the pilot were uninjured, and Eastwood was able to swim to shore using a life raft. After some difficulty getting onto the beach, Eastwood made his way past Abbotts Lagoon and over a high fence towards a bright light that was nearer to him than Point Reyes Lighthouse.

This turned out to be the KPH RCA receiving station. The single operator at the station initially had trouble understanding Eastwood's explanation of the plane crash, but ultimately called the Coast Guard. He was taken to a "Coast Guard Station" and reunited with the pilot, who had drifted further north.

The next day, Eastwood was taken to the San Francisco Presidio and told that he would likely have to testify to an inquiry, which in the event was not the case. He later reflected on his thoughts during the crash.

I thought I might die. But then I thought, other people, have made it through these things before. I kept my eyes on the lights on shore and kept swimming.

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After his military service, Hollywood came calling.

During his military service, Eastwood became friends with future successful TV actors Richard Long, Martin Milner, and David Janssen. After his discharge in 1953, Eastwood wound his way down to Los Angeles, where he took classes at Los Angeles City College and worked at a gas station.


Tall and handsome, he landed a screen test with Universal and signed a contract despite minimal acting experience. His first roles were bit parts in films like Revenge of the Creature and Francis in the Navy, both released in 1955. In the 1960s, Eastwood traveled to Italy to star in a trio of Westerns directed by Sergio Leone.

The role Eastwood took—the cold, laconic "Man with No Name"—had been turned down by James Coburn and Charles Bronson. Nicknamed "spaghetti Westerns" due to their Italian production, these films gained worldwide popularity, and Eastwood became internationally known.


Eastwood has been recognized with multiple awards and nominations for his work in film, television, and music. His widest reception has been in film work, for which he has received Academy Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and People's Choice Awards.

He managed to keep his life top secret for the first three decades of his celebrity which is a huge feat.

What is your favorite Clint Eastwood movie?

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