Remembering 911 - Were you in the Air?

DrEvil

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Calling all pilots that were in the air on 9-11. What was your radio call that informed you there was an event? More focused on the airliner types, but tell us your stories of how you were informed there was a problem and how you informed your crew.

If you were a passenger and the crew informed you of the incident, what was that intercom announcement?
 

DrEvil

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I'm sure we can all remember "that time" however, let's keep this thread on track and only hear the stories of those that were in the air at the time and got "that radio call."
 

Floyd94

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I had just landed in EWR that morning at aprox. 9am. We were suppposed to be there at 8:45. However we saw the first building smoking on our approach and, once we got out of the airplane, we could see both buildings smoking and they closed the airport after that. Little did I know that that morning my career and life changed forever.
 

avit0r

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I took off out of DCA about 15 min before the pentagon got hit. We heard about the Trade center while on taxi after they put all north departures on a ground hold. A UA guy told everyone on the freq about it via a cell call from his wife.

My captain made PA announcements.

We took off and departure ATC filled us in on the situation and told us it was large jets that had hit both towers. We monitored the ADF for more info and heard the reports of the pentagon on fire and also something on fire at the national mall (white house area). The mall report was eroneous.

Shortly thereafter every flight was asked to check in by ATC and following that we were diverted to RDU.

Spent the rest of the week there and then got furloughed at the end of the month.
 

EagleRJ

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Was at 17,000' inbound to DFW when ATC announced a nationwide ground stop. We were getting bits and pieces of what had happened on the company frequency and ADF, and we realized that it would probably progress beyond just a ground stop, so we were looking for the nearest place to land. The ATIS at the airport we diverted to was short and sweet. The recording didn't give the airport name or weather, but was saying, "Due to a national emergency, all aircraft are ordered to land immediately".
I told the passengers that there had been an apparent terrorist attack in New York City, but decided not to elaborate and give details.
 

Timebuilder

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I had an instrument student that morning. As we finished our preflight briefing, the receptionist remarked that her mother had called to say that she had heard that a plane had hit the WTC, but she had no other information. I had lived in manhattan during the construction, and from my dorm at NYU you could clearly see the steel and concrete rising into the sky. Surely, the building had received only minor damage...

My student asked me what a plane would do to a building like that. As he finished the preflight, I was imagining a 172 with its engine sputtering, making an emergency landing on one of the wide avenues in southern manhattan, and catching a wing on the corner of the building. I explained that if the pilot hadn't lost his head, it would be a survivable crash. After all, lots of small planes used the VFR corridor up the Hudson, and this was probably just another small incident.

We took off and shot two NDB approaches. As we went missed on the second approach, we requested the ILS 36, and ATC said that would be our last one, and the airport was shutting down. My first thought was some sort of tower problem, a power or radar outage. I asked ATC what was the reason. He asked if I was aware of what was going on in New York. There was all kinds of radio conversation in the background, and people almost shouting, which was unusual for our class D field. I said I had heard about a plane hitting a building. He said the whole country was busy landing airplanes, and the plane had been a large jet, and cleared us for the approach.

Back on the ground, we went into the conference room and turned on the TV. Soon, almost everyone in the building was standing there, glassy eyed, jaws open, watching the first building collapse. Along with what you know already, that impact has just about collapsed the school, my hope of flying for a major, and my credit rating. I haven't gotten food stamps yet, but I probably will, once I sell my six year old car.
 

pilot141

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I was finishing up a 4-day trip through Central America. We departed San Salvador on time at 9:05 AM and were headed to Miami. About 5 minutes after takeoff the ACARS spat out a message to call dispatch. I got on the HF and got a phone patch to dispatch in Dallas. They said "Be advised we have credible threats of hijacking out of New York. Take all necessary precautions."
What the heck are we supposed to do with that info? We called the F/As and told them to be on the lookout for something suspicious and pressed on. About 10 minutes later the ACARS told us to call dispatch again. While I got on the HF again, CENAMER (Central American ARTCC) called us and about 6 other flights to say that US airspace was closed, would we all please return to our departure airports. When pressed for details they finally said that 2 727s had crashed. What the...?
Dispatch had more info, and it was not good. They told me that two of our airplanes had been hijacked and that there had been "a loss of life". We discussed where we were and what ATC wanted us to do and agreed that returning to San Salvador was the best course of action. We turned around and I called the purser up to tell her what was going on. I will never forget the look on her face when I said "loss of life". I told her that she could tell the other F/As if she wanted to but to mention nothing to the passengers. The captain then made a PA stating that there was a problem with US airspace and we were returning to San Salvador. He mentioned that there was nothing wrong with the aircraft, and that once the airspace problem was fixed we'd be on our way in a couple of hours. (We still didn't know what had happened.)
On the way back to San Salvador one of our passengers decided that it would be appropriate to panic and start running up and down the aisle yelling that "This airplane has been hijacked! Don't listen to them! I'm a pilot! They are lying to you!" We get a frantic call from the back telling us about this maniac, who now has most of the other passengers in a frenzy. He's yelling in Spanish and only one F/A speaks Spanish. She's yelling at this guy to shut up and trying to calm down all the other passengers. After a couple of minutes of this the captain breaks out the flexcuffs and I'm ready to go in back and try to subdue this guy. Luckily one of the passengers is an AA employee and also a law enforcement officer and identifies himself to the F/As and offers to take care of the situation. He corrals the guy into a window seat and basically leans on him for the remainder of the flight. We have the local cops waiting for this nut on arrival.
We land and begin deplaning the passengers. We are still trying to figure out what has happened when the Spanish-speaking F/A comes up to the cockpit crying. She says one of the passengers called her family on her cell phone from the lav and told her that the World Trade Center is gone - both towers collapsed. We honestly don't believe her, say that it must be a translation problem, cell phone static, something. We walk into the terminal and see a United crew standing there, with two F/As crying. We ask them what is going on and they say they watched one of their 767s fly into the WTC, and then watched both towers collapse.
We went back to the hotel and spent the next 4 days watching events unfold before we finally got home.
 

TurboS7

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Very nicely done I enjoyed that. Luckly I was in London on the ground.
 

328dude

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Was on my last leg of a 5 day on my way back to PIT from a PIT- DAY-PIT turn. When we intially landed we heard about some type of plane that crashed in the WTC. My captain figuared it was a disgruntled stock broker in a Bonanza. After getting to the gate, did we find out the seriousness of the situation. However, we hadn't heard of the ground stop yet so we loaded and off we went. Got cleared to taxi then a "Cancel your taxi clearance in a span of 3 seconds. Went back to the gate. Didn't tell the passengers anything. I figuared they would find out soon enough.

I was listening to departure control telling people to land immediatly. A few guys asked what was going on and the TRACON told everyone that if they ever wanted to fly again, then they would land now. Next thing I know, Dayton looks like opening day of duck season. I'm sure everywhere else was the sameway.

Duration: 5 extra days in Dayton watching CNN.
 

dispatchguy

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I was in dispatch ground school for AA Eagle. My trainer and I had traded into a late show that day.

I was listening to the Bob and Tom show in Dallas and had just pulled up to the Flight Academy parking lot when Kristie said that "initial reports are that an airplane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center."

My first thought was a 172-type, lost, bad weather, no gyro, etc.

One of the on-duty dispatchers was on the telephone to a friend of his, who directed us to yahoo.com news, who already had a picture of the tower after AAL11 went in. I remember the holy $hit I said.

The day is a blur from there. My instructor and I started to do what we were going to do, but within 10-15 mins (I think) the SOC screen printer program went nuts with ATCSCC advisory messages. After ATCSCC Advisory 31 came out (the nationwide ground stop) he jumped in and helped the duty dispatchers get our flights on the ground.

I still have copies of the printouts from ATCSCC Advisory 31, and the order shutting the national airspace system down. Before we got sent home (I wasnt signed off yet), the last thing I did was enter cancellations into SABRE for the first part of the next days' operation, due to security emergency.

I didnt see the tapes of the impacts til I got back to my crashpad in Arlington later that morning.
 

DrEvil

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This thread is for Airborn only....

Please keep this thread in context. This is not a "recollection" thread, but recalling the radio calls of those that were airborn at the time of the tragedy. What the radio call was that you received, that you'll never forget.
 

DiamondJim

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The Day that will live in infamy

The radio call that I heard and will never forget was that of screaming on the radio of the crew of UAL 93 and then the voice of the terrorists anouncing that they had a bomb. I'm a corporate type so I didn't get a call from dispatch. I was climbed from FL370 to 410 and then vectored all around to stay clear of the hijacked plane. The order to land was rather bland compared to the rest of it. Was told to land at Cleveland but bargained for Toledo to get farther west.
 

Wiggums

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Ironically, I didn't find out what had happened until I was on the ground. When I dialed in Approach to return to the airport, the frequency was so jammed I had to circle for about 15-20 minutes until I could get a word in. When I finally got the controllers attention he didn't ask what I wanted, he just vectored me in. When I got onto the ground I listened to the ATIS and found that it had been changed to reflect the ground stop. Then when I got inside the FBO I got the whole story and saw the towers fall on TV.

Dr Evil: I like the all the stories so far, even if they are from people that weren't in the air they are still avation related.
 

jaybird

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In Daytona the controler said something like: "OK everybody listen up. For reasons of national security everyone must land immediately." They then began to vector everyone to all the local airports. The tower let people know that there had been two aircraft that had gone into the WTC buildings and that there was a nation wide ground hold.

I just sit here and wonder where we all would be if this had never happened. I hope those 19 bastards are feeling the heat if you know what I mean.
 

Ty Webb

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I had launched in a corporate jet out of Seattle, bound for FL, at about 5:30 a.m. After about an hour or so, I heard the controller release a King Air for an apporach into Rock Springs, WY, and tell him, "When you get on the ground there, you're probably going to be stuck for a while, there is a nationwide ground stop in effect for all departures".

I asked my F/O to query him, since I had never heard of something like that before. The controller said, "We're getting reports that the WTC was struck by a hijacked 767 and they've put a stop on all departures; airborne aicraft are being allowed to proceed to their destinations".

A few minutes later, he came on and said, "We're getting reports now that the second WTC tower has been hit by a another aircraft, and the first tower is down. We may have to divert all aircraft tot he nearest suitable runway".

I told him that we would be happy to comply, but that we would probably have to dump fuel to make our Max Landing Weight". He told us to stand by, but to plan for Denver (about 250 nm).

After a few more minutes, he came back on, and said, "We're getting reports now that a third aircraft has hit the Pentagon, and all aircraft are going to be diverted to the nearest suitable runways. Everyone stand by for diversion".

He then came back on and told us to go direct to Denver. We asked if we could go to Centennial, since the last thing I wanted to do at that time was head for an air carrier airport. He said, "great- that's approved", so that's what we did, and that's where we stayed for the next four days.
 

tjsatter

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We'd departed IND enroute back to ABQ in the Falcon. Wheels up @ IND as the first plane hit. Of course we knew not. Planned fuel stop at LIT. On vectors, then cleared direct LIT "and plan on staying there awhile"

What the heck does that mean? Immediately ATC then says a national ground stop has been ordered and all aircraft are instructed to land immediatley at the nearest airport. The radio comes alive as many other planes who had not planned on landing LIT are now heading there. I'm wondering what in the world is going on. The only thing I can think is a war and there was no war or threat of war an hour ago when we left IND. Nobody questions ATC and finally I say "What's going on?" ATC says "a plane has hit the World Trade Center" I have no clue that it was intentional but the freq is busy and it's obvious that I should not question instructions and just get this thing on the ground. (a crash into the WTC is horrible but what's that got to do with me, a 1000 miles away???)

The LIT ATIS is crazy: "National Ground Stop, Everyone must land NOW"

We're told to land, number 4 for the runway with 5 more close behind, expedite, exit the runway as quickly as possible.

Got out and into the FBO in time to see CNN both towers in flames and then collapse. Spent 5 days in LIT.
 

DrEvil

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I tell you, these stories are just bone chilling to hear. This is great information to see how the message was sent to those in the skies at that time, as we would never imagine how this would impact us, and how we could be used against our own nation.
 

Hawker rider

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Dr. Evil probably doesn't want to hear my story but i thought i will let hear anyway.

My wife was getting ready to go int o delivery around that time of septmeber and I fly for a little 135 operator as PIC in a lear24. right after midnight on the 11th of september i got a call from my wife that she had to go to the hospital because she wasn't feeling good and wanted to see a doctor. ( this is our first baby)

Since my boss approved it that if we had to go into labour that we would reposition back to the house even as soon as the news broke.

So we took to the air in the middle of the night. We landed at our home base around 4 am. went straight to the hospital and set there, when i turned the Tv on around 6 or so and saw all the events unfold.

We gave bith to a beatifull baby daughetr the 12th after a long an hard delivery.

I am just very glad that i got the call and flew home, just intime looking back on it!
 

Fr8DoggyStyle

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we also left IND on that morning for LIT but we were dropping off freight there in a LR35 then going empty back to ELP. About half way there right after a handoff (i think we missed the announcements on both freqs just by timing) we started hearing people getting diverted. At first we thought an airport that some of the planes were going to might have been closed. Then we heard a comair plane make an inquiry into it and the controller said "EVERYONE HAS TO LAND". So now we are really racking our brains trying to figure out what the heck has happened. Soon after i am able pick up the LIT ATIS and it said "there is a national ground stop in effect- ALL VFR and IFR aircraft must land as soon as possible" and then gave the stats. A lot was happening on radio so we decided not to pester the controllers with questions. At that point the captain and I were starting to get a little nervous. We both knew there had never been a national ground stop before even during a war. The thought of nuclear winter or some sort of MASSIVE attack on the US was the only explanation that either of us could come up with, so we were obviously hoping we hadnt thought of something. We were able to land in LIT because we were already close enough and when we called the airport in sight they told us we were #12 for the airport. The controllers and pilots were all calm and professional. We watched the buildings fall from the FBO pilot lounge.
 

surv1

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Was at the airport doing a pre-flight, when one of the guys came out and told me I needed to come see this on the TV. By the time I got inside and watched the unfolding events on the TV, the word came down that all air traffic was being halted.
 
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