One minute, Denise Lockie was chatting amiably with her seatmate in the first class cabin of U.S. Airways Flight 1549, as the plane headed out over the Hudson River on its departure from LaGuardia on a bitterly cold but clear Thursday afternoon.
The next, there was an explosion and the plane quickly tilted toward the water. Lockie, a Toledo native and Charlotte businesswoman, assumed the worst as flight attendants asked the 150 passengers aboard to tuck and brace. Before she tucked, Lockie turned to a passenger wearing a pilot's uniform who was sitting behind her.
"I asked if we were crashing. And [he] nodded yes."
Lockie,a frequent flier who has always been squeamish during takeoffs, felt hopeless.
"I was praying; I thought I was dead," she said. "And, then, we hit the water."