Passengers onboard US Airlines Flight 1549 say they braced for the worst as their plane en route from LaGuardia to Charlotte touched down in one piece Thursday. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

It was a hard landing in the Hudson River for 150 passengers and five crew members Thursday onboard US Airways Flight 1549.

The plane had taken off from LaGuardia airport at 3:26 p.m., 45 minutes late on its way to Charlotte, North Carolina. About three minutes later the pilot reportedly radioed air traffic controllers that he'd had a "double bird strike", that the plane had hit a flock of birds, disabling both engines. He said he needed to return to LaGuardia.

"The engine blew. We thought we were going to circle around and maybe land on the other runway at LaGuardia or JFK but we didn't have time and we just went down," said Jeff Kolodjay, a passenger.

The pilot apparently considered making his emergency landing at nearby Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. But instead, he brought the crippled jet down in the Hudson at around 48th Street near the USS Intrepid. Somehow he managed to keep the plane in one piece and prevent any serious injuries aboard.

"Give all the credit to the flight crew. They made the quick decision, the right decision and they put the aircraft in the water in such a way that there were no injuries or no catastrophic damage to the aircraft," said Alan Yurman, a former NTSB investigator.

"The pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river and then making sure that every got out. I spoke with the pilot who walked the plane twice to make sure everybody got out," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

That pilot was identified as 58-year-old Captain Chesley Sullenberger of Danville, California -- a former US Air Force fighter pilot with 40 years flying experience and, by chance, a former safety instructor for pilots.

The passengers and crew who were rescued from the water were taken to the shores of New York and New Jersey.

"It was freezing, it was very cold, but fortunately we got through it," said one passenger.