By Ned Barnett
RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - Many of the crew and passengers of the US Airways flight known as the "Miracle on the Hudson" will reunite in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday to celebrate the plane's arrival at its intended destination two-and-a-half years after it took off.
The Airbus A320 plane -- which hit a flock of Canadian geese upon takeoff from New York's LaGuardia Airport, lost power and made an emergency landing in the Hudson River -- will be on permanent display at the Carolinas Aviation Museum starting January 15, the third anniversary of the water landing.
Among those planning to attend a reception at the museum Saturday night will be Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, whose cool-headed but daring decision to land his stricken plane in the river resulted in the survival of all the flight's 155 passengers and crew.
"I look forward to seeing the airplane once again and reuniting with the passengers and crew who are able to come," Sullenberger told Reuters by e-mail.
The 60-year-old former fighter pilot recently became an on-air aviation consultant for CBS News.
To the plane's brief but storied journey in the air and into the water has now been added a long and remarkable trek on land.
This week, a massive trailer carrying the plane's fuselage traveled from a Newark, New Jersey warehouse to Charlotte.
The plane's wings were shipped separately.
Throughout the trip, onlookers gathered along highways and on overpasses. They waved American flags and cheered the plane that has become a symbol of good fortune and heroic action.
"I'm moved to see and hear about the large crowds following the transport of the aircraft," Sullenberger said.
"It's one thing to remember what happened on January 15, 2009 in the Hudson River, and quite another to see the aircraft and allow others to take part in this story that I hope will continue to offer hope for years to come."
Shawn Dorsch, president of the Carolinas Aviation Museum, traveled with the convoy from New Jersey. As the plane neared Charlotte on Friday, he said the crowds of onlookers grew.
"It's overwhelming. There are thousands of people at every exit," Dorsch said by phone.
Throughout the journey, Dorsch sent out a steady stream of Tweets alerting people of the plane's approach. Thousands more followed its progress online as the convoy signaled its location through GPS.
When the convoy's GPS stopped working briefly, Dorsch said hundreds of people called the company that donated the transport services, J. Supor & Son Trucking & Rigging Co. of Kearny, N.J., to find out where the plane was.
Some 700 high school and middle school students in Braxton County, West Virginia, lined up along I-79 on their last day of school Wednesday to see the plane as it came south.
The plane sighting was a major event in the rural county, said Dawn Dooley, principal of Braxton County High School.
"We don't have many kids who ever leave the county," she said. "To see an airplane in person is not very common for the children here."
And this wasn't just a plane but also a message for her students, Dooley said.
"There are not enough heroes," she said. "It was great to be able to say there are things you can do when you don't think you're doing something great, but you are really. We were able to teach a lot with the fuselage coming through."
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton)