9/11…An Airline Passenger’s Story

  • I was on a flight from Detroit to Denver when it happened. We were told by the pilot of the first crash. It was tragic, but not without precedent, as a B2 bomber once crashed into the Empire State Building. When he told us of the second crash, and that we were being re-routed to Milwaukee, we knew we had been attacked. I turned to the guy seated seated next to me and blurted, “We’re now at war with SOMEbody. This is our Pearl Harbor.” We were on an American Airlines flight, and our flight attendants knew that friends and/pr colleagues had just been killed. They fought bravely through their tears, and heroically did what was necessary to get us on the ground and to safety. (I’d like to take a second to thank the often-unsung heroes of 9/11, the Air Traffic Controllers who got every plan in the USA down safely within what seemed like minutes. THANK you!)
    Once on the ground in Milwaukee, we were confronted with the grim task of retrieving our bags and figuring out what to do next. The airport was a strange mixture of grim-faced passengers who knew what had happened, and loud, impatient travelers who were upset by the inconvenience of landing at an unscheduled airport and being deplaned without further explanation. One by one those irate travelers demeanor changed when they noticed the news being broadcast on the monitors.
    I made it home to Indiana. The next day, I went outside and was struck by how beautifully blue and cloudless the sky was. Then I noticed….there were no airplane vapor trails. The late Summer sky was unmarred blue from horizon to horizon. It occurred to me that a sight like this probably hadn’t been seen in the USA for 50+ years. I took in the beauty, then prayed this sight would never be seen again.

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