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Social Media in Action: Heroic US Airways pilot commended by thousands

The story about how US Airways pilot, Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger, successfully executed an emergency landing in the Hudson River and personally ensured that all passengers were safely evacuated is remarkable for many reasons and undoubtedly front-page news throughout the country and a top news story throughout the world.

The part of the story that catches my professional interest is how social media (new media, Web 2.0, and so forth - pick your favorite) has been employed to recognize Captain Sullenberger's heroism. Within hours of the accident, a Facebook page dedicated to the captain was created. As of this writing, he has 13,050 fans (an increase of over 5,000 fans in the hour from when I first looked at the page and growing by hundreds every time I click it).

In a quick tour of some other major social networking sites, I found only a LinkedIn profile with currently five connections. I can only speculate about how many invitations might be waiting, but I suspect his safety consultancy Safety Reliability Methods, Inc. will benefit. An AP article stated that his inbox at the company was full on Thursday.

As expected, the blogosphere has tens of thousands of entries (including, now, this one) about him. Twitter has hundreds of tweets about him, in many different languages. The first was posted just over two hours after the crash.

He now has his own Wikipedia page.

I did not take the time to read the reader comments on the traditional media sites, other than a quick skim to note that many praised the captain and crew.

According to the articles I looked at, Captain Sullenberger has not accepted media interviews at this point. He may be a private person, he may feel that he was just doing his job, or any number other reasons for this that I can only guess at. Despite not seeking a spotlight, however, he's earned attention, along with well-deserved praise, that has nearly eclipsed the story of the crash itself and is likely to live on longer.

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