This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Pilots have experienced a public-relations see-saw this year.

First, in January, Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III carried out the emergency ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 people onboard.

But then, in October, two distracted Northwest pilots overshot Minneapolis by 150 miles before turning back.

In the music world, pilots are slowly but surely redeeming their good name, considering the success this year of the talented Portland band Blind Pilot.

The band was founded by singer and guitarist Israel Nebeker and drummer Ryan Dobrowski in 2005 and can sometimes expand to have as many as nine members. The group toured behind its debut album, "3 Rounds and a Sound," throughout 2009. The indie folk-pop band attracted quick attention from other bands and soon became touring partners with Langhorne Slim, Gomez, The Hold Steady, The Decemberists and Counting Crows.

In a year of many highlights, one was when the young band was invited onstage during a concert by Counting Crows at London's famed Wembley Stadium, which seats 90,000 people. "I played ukulele to 'Rain King,' " said a still-amazed Dobrowski. "I made my singing debut at Wembley ."

Blind Pilot -- the members of which, it should be noted, aren't likely to ever pilot a plane -- got its start when Nebeker and Dobrowski met as students at the University of Oregon. The two friends spent a summer abroad in Newquay, England, in the coastal county of Cornwall. To earn some extra money, they began busking on street corners, Dobrowski said.

After graduating from college, the band began as a rustic bassless duo, thanks to the friends' musical chemistry. "I feel musical things the same way, and we have the same goals," Nebeker said.

To save gas money, the avid bikers began touring, first on bicycle. Once they recorded a demo CD, the two left Oregon without a map or any shows scheduled and biked down the West Coast, playing wherever they could. The first Blind Pilot bike tour ended suddenly in San Francisco after their bikes were stolen, Nebeker said. But it was worth it, as "that whole experience spawned a lot of good ideas," he said.

After the two started playing together more and imaging larger, more full-bodied songs, the band recruited friends from the bustling Portland music scene. When the band arrives in Salt Lake City, six members will arrive in a "big, kind of a gross" 15-passenger Dodge van, Nebeker said.

To prevent their legs from atrophying, Nebeker and Dobrowski have resorted to jogging around music venues to stay in shape.

After all, Sully himself wouldn't be able to save those legs after months of riding in a van.

Following your nose

Blind Pilot performs, with opening acts Laura Veirs & The Hall of Flames and Mimicking Birds.

When » Nov. 29 at 8 p.m.

Where » Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City

Tickets » $12 in advance, $14 day of, at SmithsTix and 24Tix