The Year in Pictures 2009

The Miracle on the Hudson
Steven Day / AP

Passengers wait on the wings of US Airways Flight 1549, an Airbus 320 that was safely ditched in the Hudson River after a flock of birds knocked out both its engines. This photograph was taken by artist Steven Day. He recalls, "I have a freelance job on 47th street, on the 8th floor. I was working on my computer when someone passed by me and said, 'what is that?' So I instinctually grabbed my camera —I'm working on a series that involves recording the world around me — and went to the window and started shooting. My initial reaction was 'this must be an exercise.' It didn't occur to me that it was a plane until I zoomed in, because they were just moving down the river like a boat. I mean, you just don't see people standing on the wings of an airplane in the middle of the Hudson River. Alive...The river was moving so fast it was only a matter of seconds before the plane floated past us. The photo here is one of the first frames I took, there's actually a water taxi approaching that ended up being cropped out. Very quickly there were 4 or 5 ferries responding, and passengers were being taken on board. It was strangely calming. This was an incredible situation, and everyone was there and they knew what their job was and what their limitations were and they were just waiting to be rescued."

Get the Latest Photos from
Get TIME photos and pictures of the week delivered directly to your inbox.