Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who successfully ditched his Airbus A320 in the Hudson River, famously told the US Congress soon afterwards that US airline pilots were so badly treated that they didn't want their sons and daughters to follow them into the profession.

But he has just been in London to receive from the Duke of Edinburgh the highest award presented by The Air League - an organisation dedicated precisely to the aim of encouraging young people to become pilots and engineers.

Sully was given the Air League's Founders Medal at an event which also marked the centenary of the organisation and at which more than 100 flying and gliding scholarships were handed to aspiring young aviators.

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and Capt. Sullenberger

Air League chairman, and former chief of the air staff, Sir Brian Burridge, said: "The centenary reception marks the high point of The Air League's celebrations. To have such commendable aviators as Captain Sullenberger at the reception is inspirational for those youngsters keen to pursue a career in aviation."

He thanked sponsors including BAE Systems, Thales, Marshall's of Cambridge and the Swire Charitable Trust for contributing £100,000 to support the scholarships under the Air League Educational Trust (ALET) banner.

Air League president Sir Michael Marshall added: "Thanks to the ALET schemes, there are no financial barriers to experiencing aviation at first-hand and enjoying the benefits that it brings in terms of personal development. The skills developed by piloting light aircraft and gliders - self-confidence, improved situational awareness and sound judgement - will equip those who partake in the schemes with skills for life."

  • Sir Richard Branson guest edited on June 8th. He chose this story because

Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson:
Sully deserves the highest honour and it’s great to see him being recognised. He would be welcome at any airline, and I hope he can offer his advice and knowledge to pilots, young and old, for many years to come. America should be proud of him.