The Russian pilot who pulled a Sully, landing a plane with 233 people safely in a cornfield after a flock of gulls hit both engines, said Friday that he kept his cool. "I didn't feel any fear," Damir Yusupov told reporters in a televised interview from Yekaterinburg, CBS reports. "I saw a cornfield ahead and hoped to make a reasonably soft landing." The government said 23 people were taken to hospitals, but only one had to be admitted. One engine quit working after the bird strike as the plane took off Thursday from Moscow. Yusupov's first thought was to circle back to the airport and land. But then the other engine stopped. "I tried to lower vertical speed to make the plane land as smoothly as possible and glide softly," he said.
Yusupov was awarded the Hero of Russia medal on Friday by President Vladimir Putin. The flight's second pilot, Georgy Murzin, also received the medal, per the AP, and Putin honored the other crew members. Yusupov also praised his crew for its work evacuating the passengers, and he apologized for not being able to take his customers to their destination in Crimea. Asked about the new attention for himself, he said, "It feels odd and I'm shy." Yusupov, 44, joined a flight school at 32, after working as a lawyer. He's flown for Ural Airlines his entire career, tallying more than 3,000 flight hours. Twenty-three people were taken to the hospital after the landing, but only one was still there. "I wish a quick recovery to all those injured," he said in the interview, "and I wish them not to be afraid of flying." (Read more plane accident stories.)