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magsview

While driving to work on 9/11 I heard the woman on our local NPR station say that they’d just received a report that a plane had hit the WTC. I could swear that she said it was a small plane, with the implication that it must have been an accident. It had just happened and there was initial confusion.

As my job at the time involved working with professional pilots, student pilots and pilot instructors, I just knew something didn’t sound right and my heart began to race. That was something that just doesn’t happen, pilots don’t ‘accidentally’ hit buildings, and certainly not such tall, visible, buildings like the twin towers.

I was agitated enough that I passed a van on a residential road that was going too slow, crossing the double yellow line. Its driver angrily gestured to me as I passed, but I didn’t care, I needed to get to the airport asap.

I dashed into the parking lot, practically running into the building, going directly to our waiting room, where I knew there was a tv, and found one of our instructors glumly watching tv, eyes wide, clutching a pillow against his chest.

He looked over at me and said that a second plane had just hit. I sat next to him on the sofa then we just stared at the tv for many minutes. Obviously that information took away any doubt about whether or not it had been an accident.

More instructors & other pilots began to gather, all of us silently watching. By then all flights had been grounded indefinitely by the FAA of course. The pilots had nothing else to do but watch tv.

When one of the towers collapsed in a pile of dust I had to leave the room, with images of the tiny figures we had just been watching on the tower’s roof burned into my memory. Watching those people from the helicopter’s camera I remember wishing that the helicopter would just land on the roof already! And scoop them up. But it was too late for that.

Some of the pilots came into my office and sat across from me in shock, one just kept repeating, “Things will never be the same.” I didn’t know about “things”, but I knew that WE would never be the same.

Eventually I returned to the waiting room, until the second tower began to lean. I went back to my office to shuffle papers around. There would be no flights being scheduled that day.

magsview

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