The new Clint Eastwood film “Sully” isn’t flying with at least two people who were involved in the events that inspired it.
National Transportation Safety Board veteran Robert Benzon, who led the investigation into the 2009 water landing that inspired the film, told Bloomberg that his agency might be “getting the dirty end of of the stick” with the film, which stars Tom Hanks as pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. Benzon says the film portrays the NTSB as antagonistic to the hero pilot — which he says wasn’t the case.
“I think we’re getting the dirty end of the stick here,”Benzon said. “From what I hear, this is somewhere between ‘Sharknado 2’ and ‘Sharknado 3.’ I just hope it isn’t as bad as everyone is telling me it is.”
In promotional footage for the film, investigators criticize Sullenberger for his decision to land the plane on the Hudson River. Benzon told Bloomberg that the investigators actually gave the pilot kudos for his life-saving decision.
In a statement, the board noted that it was not consulted in how it was portrayed in the movie, which opens this week.
While calling the water landing itself a “a movie-worthy moment in aviation history,” the board added, “The NTSB was not asked to contribute to or participate in the production of ‘Sully’ and as such we were not afforded an opportunity to ensure our actions and words were portrayed with accurate context or reflected our perspective.”
Another NTSB veteran who was among those who first interviewed the pilot after the landing also emphasized that the board didn’t treat Sullenberger harshly over his decision.
“There was no effort to crucify him or embarrass him,” Malcolm Brenner told Bloomberg. “If there were questions, it was to learn things.”
In the film, Tom Hanks plays Sullenberger, who made the landing — dubbed the Miracle on the Hudson — after a flock of geese damaged the engines of his jetliner shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport.