reality tv

10 years before her audition on The Voice, Emma Sophina survived the Hudson River plane crash.


As US Airways Flight 1549 crash landed into the icy Hudson River, Emma Sophina was struck by how “strangely calm” it was on board.

Shortly after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport on January 15, 2009, the Airbus A320 struck a flock of geese and lost all engine power. Unable to reach nearby airports in time, pilot Chesley Sullenberger glided the plane into the Hudson.

As the plane went down, gliding less than 300 metres above the George Washington Bridge, Sullenberger commanded over the cabin address system, “Brace for impact” and the flight attendants relayed the command to passengers.

hudson river plane crash
Rescue boats float next to a US Airways plane floating in the water after crashing into the Hudson River. Image: Getty.

When they reached the river the impact was so strong that Emma, 26 years old at the time and the only Australian on board, thought they'd hit a building.

She recalled how calm the passengers were and the "orderly chaos" of escaping the cabin. Of course, there were tears and panic, but for the most part, the 155 people on the plane remained composed as they shuffled their way outside, onto the aircraft's wings and into life rafts.

It was not until she'd safely made it out of the cabin that Emma began to freak out - but it wasn't because the enormity of what had just happened had sunken in. Not yet. Emma had realised that her passport was still inside the aircraft.

"I almost went back on the plane to get it. My first thought when I was in the raft was 'I'm an Australian citizen with no ID,'" she told the Adelaide Advertiser days after the crash.

"Honestly, that was the only time I think I started to panic."

emma sophina hudson river plane crash
Emma being rescued. Image: YouTube.

She did not go back in to retrieve her passport, instead spending 10 minutes "cuddling up" to strangers to keep warm before a rescue boat arrived to take them to safety.

Ten years on from her near-death experience, Emma auditioned for The Voice Australia and revealed how surviving the plane crash ensured she never took any day for granted.

"I am so blessed to be here. Every day is such a gift," she said before her blind audition.

"That was an event in my life that has afforded me so many other precious gifts, like marrying my husband. I do not take it for granted.

"You can't live through an experience like the Hudson River miracle without thinking 'Wow I'm so grateful for every day'."


Emma sung Fleetwood Mac's Landslide at her blind audition, turning the chairs of coaches Delta Goodrem and Boy George. She chose to be on Delta's team.

Also known as Emma Cowan, she has had a lot of experience as a singer-songwriter and released her latest single, Golden, in April.

Emma wrote a song called Send Another Prayer to pay tribute to captain Sullenberger.