It is amazing how quickly a meme — in this case a “Mini-Meme” — propagates and persists. This New York Post article has been cited repeatedly to the effect that USAirways Flight 1549
appears to be the first time that a large commercial jet liner ever has made a successful controlled landing into a body of water.
Apparently this isn’t so per this Wikipedia entry on “water landings” (the survival rates section is here). In that section, I was struck by the ditching just short of Nouadibou International Airport. I had forgotten about that incident — it happened not long after I visited my folks in Mauritania. Never made it up to Nouadibou!