Virgin Air's Branson keen to recruit US Airways pilot hero Sullenberger

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New York, Feb.2 (ANI): Virgin Air billionaire Richard Branson wants to poach the "Miracle on the Hudson" U.S. Airways pilot Captain Chesley Sullenberger III.

"I'd like him to come fly for us. We'll make him the best-paid pilot at Virgin - we'll give him double [the salary of] anybody else. He also can become one of the astronauts in my intergalactic spaceship company. The man can write his own ticket with me," the New York Daily News quoted Branson, as saying.

Sullenberger sounded interested when we conveyed Branson's offer.

"That's amazing," said the man who saved the lives of 155 people when he deftly landed a jetliner in the freezing Hudson River on January 15.

Sully, whom we reached at his home in Danville, Calif., wouldn't say what his next move would be, but he's been getting offers. A lot.

"I will be happy to entertain all the things that are coming my way," he told us.

But for the time being, Sullenberger, who's due to appear with the rest of the Flight 1549 crew at today's Super Bowl, has asked his spokesman, Alex Clemens, to put aside all media and business proposals.

Clemens said he didn't know Sullenberger's current U.S. Airways salary. AirlinePilotCentral.com estimates that the 58-year-old Air Force vet, who's been flying for more than half his life, makes around $138,000 per year. He also has income from his two-year-old consulting firm, Safety Reliability Methods, Inc.

Branson seems eager to get out his checkbook. He recently called Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich to ask him to pass along his congratulations to the hero, whose hometown honored him last weekend. (ANI)

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