Sunday, September 11, 2016

Reflections




I don't know about you, but I still struggle to comprehend (that) 15 years have passed so quickly.   
5 years ago I posted the following first-person account authored by a former Delta pilot.

I think his perspective was fascinating ... and, since I didn't 'know' many of you in 2011, I'd like to share it once more.



My experience on 9/11.

We were just ready to close the door for our Delta 767 flight from CVG to MCO when the gate agent came on board and asked if we had heard anything about a small plane hitting the World Trade Center, we had not, so she said goodbye and closed the door.

Shortly thereafter we were airborne climbing out on a beautifully clear crisp fall morning heading to Florida with not a cloud in the sky or a care in the world. I heard a bizjet ask for a reroute since he could not get to New York and I thought that was strange. Then another bizjet said "well I guess we won't be going there either" and asked for a clearance to an alternate.

At that point I asked center what was going on. There was a pause and then the controller came back in a very excited voice and said "they have hit both of the Trade Center Towers, they have hit the Pentagon, they have hit the Capitol and the White House"

...well you can imagine it got really lively on the frequency. I turned to my Co-Pilot and said "I don't know what has happened, but I do know that things will never be the same", and I think I got that right!

Within seconds the controller had composed himself and said all flights on this frequency standby, and it was dead quiet. He then said all flights are to land immediately and went down the list of the planes under his control..."American 235 turn right heading 230 you're landing at Pittsburgh, Continental 456 turn left heading 180 for Cincinnati, Delta 235 (that's me) turn right to 250 and descend to 8000, you're landing at Knoxville, airport your 2 o'clock 40 miles....etc" It was the best, fastest and most efficient handling I have ever had from ATC...they had everyone on the ground all over the country in minimum time.

After all the initial confusion, their professionalism, and that of all the flight crews was exemplary!  We spent two days in Knoxville and then ferried an empty 757 back to Atlanta and I believe were one of the first flights to land back at our main hub.

Our arrival at ATL was one of the most moving experiences of my flying career. The airspace was totally empty, there was no talk on the radio, and we were the only plane in the sky over ATL, the busiest airport in the U.S., but we did have, unknown to us until informed by the controller, an F-16 right on our tail, but we never saw him! When we taxied in the normally frantic ramp area was dead quiet, all the ground equipment, tugs, baggage carts, tugs, fuelers etc. were lined up in military precision and the ground crews were standing at attention and saluted...wow, I'll never forget that.

They needed a sign that things were getting back to normal...that we were moving and flying again.



... and the people said, "Amen."


Hugs from Phoenix,
Myra


28 comments:

  1. wow, this is awesome and so very touching to the heart. thanks for sharing it again, it has always been real but this kicks the reality up a notch.

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    1. That's a great way of putting it.
      I'm reminded of my parents and grandparents' recollections how they learned of Pearl Harbor. Hard to imagine, they hadn't instantaneous internet feeds that we've grown to depend on.

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  2. A very unusual perspective of that fateful day. The quick thinking and professionalism of the air controllers and others is admirable.
    It only seems like yesterday.....
    Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. I know, right? I can't wrap my mind around the sort of stress ATC endures everyday ... much less, on 9/11. There's no way I could remain passive and do what they did.

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  3. Wow, what an account of that fatefal day and time. We were in Montana at the time, I remember how people started flying their flags daily after that and how packed churches were. We were united then, I hope our country can be reunited again without such a tragedy.

    Betty

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    1. I remember sitting a ridiculous line of traffic after work, waiting for a complimentary (little) U.S. Flag ... one of hundreds being distributed by one of the radio stations.
      No horns, no complaints. We were one.

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  4. Thanks, I do not remember reading that. There were a lot of wonderful things happened in the USA following the attack. When the rubber meets the road, YOU CANNOT BEAT THE USA! Helping hands and cool heads, the professionals become more professional, the workers become more dedicated.

    I must thank you again. I set here moved and drowned in thought.

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    1. Thank you for your positive words and encouragement, Jack.

      Another of my blog friends - who happens to live in NYC - wrote a moving post this morning, I think you might enjoy:

      http://buttercupcountsherblessings.blogspot.com/2016/09/fifteen-years-later.html

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  5. Thanks, I do not remember reading that. There were a lot of wonderful things happened in the USA following the attack. When the rubber meets the road, YOU CANNOT BEAT THE USA! Helping hands and cool heads, the professionals become more professional, the workers become more dedicated.

    I must thank you again. I set here moved and drowned in thought.

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    1. When the rubber meets the road. I hadn't heard that one in years!

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  6. This was beautiful! I cannot imagine what it would have been like to have been in the air on that day. I remember the dead quiet that came over the Kansas State Fair (where Richard, Paige, and I were spending the day). Thanks for sharing this Myra. I hope our country can remember today and come together once again!

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    1. I do too, Paula. Everything's become so divisive ... it's wearying.
      Tom was only a few minutes from being in the air himself ... boarding ticket already in hand. I can't imagine being a passenger frightened and stranded in a strange city, not knowing how or when I'd get home again.

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  7. It's hard to believe 15 years have passed. We will never forget that horrific morning and, yes, it did change everything.

    Thanks for re-posting this pilot's perspective. Very interesting.

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    1. Thanks, Dayle. Being a first responder himself, I wonder of the impact on your hubby. I'm awed (how), when everyone runs out and away from danger, they suck it up and run in.

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  8. Wow. I really never thought about the amazing job the flight controllers had to do. They are certainly heroes too!

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    1. Wow, you're right! Like '911' operators, their professionalism is amazing. Who could imagine training for such a catastrophe? I couldn't do it!

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  9. Rainbows are a wondrous sign and sight for sure.

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    1. Yes, they certainly reassure us of a great covenant.

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  10. Glad to read this again. It is sobering to reflect on that day. I, too, am impressed with air traffic control and all they did to keep us safe that day. A rainbow, oh yes!

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    1. Thank you, Mary! Since I struggle with trust issues, I'm amazed at the pilots' unquestioning trust in the ATC.

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  11. Thank you for sharing this story. Love the rainbow!

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  12. I remember within a few feet where I was when I heard the news. And your right, things changed forever.

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    1. Like when JFK was assassinated.
      As the man wrote, 'twas the end of the innocence.

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  13. Nothing will ever be the same. A sad day in history.

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    1. But aren't we fortunate, in a way, to have experienced these events, together.

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  14. You're right. It seems almost unfathomable the it has been fifteen years already. The events of that morning are branded on all of our hearts, just like the day JFK was assassinated. Both events destroyed our innocence in ways that can never be fixed or forgotten.

    Thanks for reposting this account. As harrowing as that day was for those of us on the ground watching the horror unfold on television, it must have been even worse for those in the air, and for those charged with getting them safely to ground again.

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    1. You've such a gift for putting feelings into words, Susan.
      Working among those who barely remember, it's wonderfully reassuring coming here and feeling the empathy!

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Thanks so much for dropping by! Your words are like hugs from afar.... and who doesn't love a hug!