While waiting in La Guardia airport for his flight back home to Charlotte, North Carolina, on January 15, 2009, Ben Bostic happened to notice Laura Zych, a chic, pretty brunette. She ended up on the same plane, but not the same row. “I would have totally forgotten about it,” he said later, “if it weren’t for the things that happened.”
What happened, of course, was that Ben and Laura’s flight, US Airways 1549, collided with a flock of geese shortly after taking off and suffered engine failure. Forced to make quick decisions, Captain Chesley Sullenberger steered the rapidly descending plane onto the Hudson River. He made a spectacular, flawless landing. Within minutes, the passengers and crew had filed out on the wings, and ferryboats of all types were en route to rescue them. Everyone survived. It was, as Governor Paterson called it later that day, a Miracle on the Hudson.
Bostic and Zych were on separate rescue boats; they didn’t formally meet until 60 Minutes arranged a tearful reunion with many of the passengers, along with Sullenberger and the crew, down in Charlotte in February. At that time, many passengers were still suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic-stress disorder, but the gathering helped. Then, in July, Kristy Spears (seat 8A) hosted a reunion in her home outside Charlotte. Zych (seat 17B) met up with Amy Jolly (seat 14C), whom she had befriended through a survivors’ Facebook group. Bostic hung out with them, but had to leave early and drive out of town for another party. Late that night, they persuaded him to drive back, and Zych offered to let him crash at her place. “I didn’t think of it until the next day, but it was the second time I crashed with them,” says Bostic, who calls going back into town that night “one of the best decisions I’d ever made.” He and Zych ended up talking on her porch until six in the morning. “I had to work the next day. And I didn’t care! At that time, that’s exactly what I wanted to do.” The couple have been dating ever since.
The Flight 1549 gang, whose stories have been collected in the new book Miracle on the Hudson, has become very tight-knit. “Even the first time you meet someone from that flight, it’s like you’re instantly bonded,” says Zych. “You can’t be around this group of people and not feel good.” They are planning a big reunion next month in New York. The 1549ers calls their gatherings “celebrate life” nights, and in the same vein, Zych and Bostic have adopted the habit of dancing to their favorite music every night before they go to bed. “We do that as part of our decompressing and loving life,” she says. “Just so that your day ends on a good note.”