MOSCOW — A Russian pilot was being hailed as a hero Thursday for safely landing his passenger jet in a corn field after it collided with a flock of gulls seconds after takeoff, causing both engines to malfunction. While dozens of people on the plane sought medical assistance, only one was hospitalized.

The quick thinking of the captain, 41-year old Damir Yusupov, drew comparisons to the 2009 “miracle on the Hudson,” when Capt. Chesley Sullenberger safely ditched his plane in New York’s Hudson River after a bird strike disabled his engines.

Russian television stations showed passengers standing in head-high corn next to the plane, hugging Yusupov and thanking him for saving their lives.

“It was quite a feat to keep the plane from stalling and quickly find a place to land,” Viktor Zabolotsky, a former test pilot, said in televised remarks.

The Ural Airlines A321 was carrying 226 passengers and a crew of seven as it took off Thursday from Moscow’s Zhukovsky Airport en route for Simferopol in Crimea.

Russia’s Rosaviatsiya state aviation agency chief Alexander Neradko told reporters that the crew “made the only right decision” to land the fully loaded plane immediately with its wheels up after both of its engines malfunctioned.

“The crew has shown courage and professionalism and deserve the highest state awards,” he said, adding that the plane was fully loaded with 16 tons of fuel. “Just imagine what the consequences would be if the crew didn’t make the correct decision.”

The airline said Yusupov, the son of a helicopter pilot, is an experienced pilot who has logged over 3,000 flight hours. Yusupov worked as a lawyer before he changed course and joined a flight school when he was 32. A father of four, he has flown with Ural Airlines since his graduation in 2013. He became a captain last year.

Russian officials immediately rushed to shower the pilot and crew with praise. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, hailed the pilots as “heroes” and said they will receive state awards.

The Emergencies Ministry said that 74 people asked for medical assistance after the incident.

Bird strikes on planes occur regularly around the world even though airports use bird distress signals, air cannons and other means to chase birds away from runways. Plane engines are designed to withstand occasional bird strikes but a collision with a flock of birds can result in serious trouble.

Vladimir Isachenkov is an Associated Press writer.