Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

9/11 – How Did You Mark The Day?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

I was working for an airline (and about to board a flight) when the tragedy of 9/11 happened.  I saw numerous stories of remembrance and how people were acknowledging the 11th anniversary of the event, so I posted the question on the AOPA Facebook page.

We received 34 comments. I’m a student pilot, and I felt the best way to mark the day was to fly with my flight instructor, Alyssa Miller.  Most of the commenters said they were going to fly.  Below are some of the more interesting posts.

Wayne Vaughn I am doing my first cross country solo. I will enjoy my freedom to fly in the nation that is still the most free in the world to show that the terrorists did not succeed.

Denton Finley Celebrating my freedom to fly.

Zak Margolis Flying. I try to make sure I have a log book entry every 9/11.

Joseph Turnbach I have to work today, building Dreamliners for the commercial airlines. I may fly this weekend though and enjoy some South Carolina fall weather.

Douglas Swain Farnam Giving flight lessons. And enjoying the freedom of flight!


The sound of silence

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Sept. 11, 2001, was a day of turmoil for most Americans. After all the stress and anxiety of the day, it was great to get home to family. Only then did the last surprise of the day really hit home to me.

At home, outside, the crystal-clear blue sky was silent. No airplane noise. No contrails. No nothing.

How unusual is that? Here’s how the airspace shakes out above Frederick, Maryland: At the lowest altitudes are the Robinson R22s from our local helicopter school. They’re almost always flying, and frequently get far enough west of the airport to overfly our house. Above them is the fixed-wing traffic going to and from Frederick Municipal Airport. Next are the airliners heading south to Dulles; and a couple of thousand feet higher, eastbounds for Baltimore-Washington International. Higher still are the contrails of flights making their way up and down the East Coast.

Of course, they all were grounded that night. The only airplane noise came when the fighters flying combat air patrols above Washington, D.C., occasionally strayed in our direction.

Today, 10 years later, all the normal traffic was present and accounted for–although we did hear fighter jets, just once or twice. I much prefer the airplane noise, thank you very much.

What almost happened on 9/11

Friday, September 9th, 2011

As we reflect on the events that transpired 10 years ago Sunday, I was both intrigued and surprised to read a story I don’t recall hearing about previously: that of the first F-16 sortie scrambled to protect Washington, D.C., from United Airlines Flight 93–the fourth airliner presumed hijacked that clear September morning.

Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney had just returned from two weeks of air-combat training in Nevada. She and Col. Marc Sasseville quickly launched to intercept the airliner. Not one of their squadron’s aircraft was armed, however–no missiles, no bullets. Their only plan, if they found the jet, was to ram it. Like high-tech kamikazes.

There are many places I was thankful not to be on Sept. 11, 2011. The cockpits of either of their fighters just shot to the top of my list.

Hours later, they learned that the passengers on the flight had accomplished their mission for them, causing the plane to crash in Pennsylvania. Penney’s story, recently printed in The Washington Post, is a short but compelling read.

That unselfish willingness to sacrifice all for the greater good has been seen in–and sadly, demonstrated by–so many of our military personnel and first responders in those dark days, and the days since. That’s what I will remember and honor this weekend. It’s also a fair bet that was the last morning there were no armed jets on alert in Washington.

Remarkable tales from 9/11: Tammy Duckworth

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Thinking about the 9/11 anniversary, it’s hard to grasp the impact that the events of that day have had on so many.

Among those whose lives would be severely impacted is Tammy Duckworth. You’ll recall that we profiled her in AOPA Pilot in the March 2010 issue. The story and video includes her remarkable tale of surviving a helicopter crash in Iraq, losing her legs, getting back into flying, and starting her life over again.

She is among 40 people that TIME Magazine interviewed about the impact of 9/11. A remarkable Web site. Her story is here:,32068,1139568115001_0,00.html