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Mixed emotions today…Bills opener + 9/11


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I was living in California working with my ex in her gardening business. On 9/11, we were to go to a client's house for a major landscape install, and we were overseeing it. When we got there, the husband and wife were in shock. They had just come home from NYC to visit their son in college. The husband wanted to get a good night's sleep and fly out the next morning, but the wife wanted to be there for the installation so they took a red-eye back to San Francisco. The flight the next morning was flight 93. 

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As horrible as the 9/11 attacks were, for about 15 minutes my best friend and I were thinking the "unthinkable" happened.

It was surreal.


My best friend Dave and I were hunting near Gunnison Colorado.  We hunted hard Saturday, Sunday and Monday and decided to take

Tuesday morning off and sleep in.  I can't remember exactly what time (Mountain Time Zone) we got up and I started to make a big

breakfast in the camper while Dave mixed a couple of Bloody Mary's.


Dave (a big baseball fan) decided to get his old analog tuner radio fired up to try get some scores.  Reception in the Rockies is iffy at best.

As the radio reception went in and out, we just heard reports of NYC sealed off and a cloud over Manhattan along with an attack on the

Pentagon in DC.  The radio news reporter was also reporting that all commercial planes are being recalled and fighter aircraft are being

scrambled across the country.


You can only IMAGINE what Dave and I were thinking!  I will never forget Dave's look at me (a kind of horrified questioning look) and both of

us being Air Force vets, I said what we we're both thinking.  I whispered a one word question, Nukes?


I will admit we were somewhat relieved when the next report recapped exactly what had happened.  We cleaned up and drove off the 

mountain to Gunnison to call family and friends.  Those 15 minutes were the most terrifying moments of my life.



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2 hours ago, sherpa said:

I was a check airman on the 767 for one of the airlines involved.

I had a brand new copilot on his first trip in the 767. We had flown from NY to San Francisco the day prior, and this was a 6am departure from San Francisco going back.

I had just finished the required PA mentioning to keep seat belts fastened any time in the seats. 

A message came on the cockpit console printer from our company dispatch stating "Numerous cockpit incursions.  Do not allow anyone to enter."

I read it and put it aside, A few minutes later I got another one stating numerous cockpit incursions, suggest immediate divert. We were the only airplane on the FAA control frequency as it was really early on the west coast. I told them I was going back to San Francisco and turned the thing around. I was just west of Las Vegas, and since I was a west coast Nay pilot in a former life, I was familiar with all the military bases. I planned to go in Navy Fallon if the door was breached.

I got the flight attendants construct a minor barricade to the cockpit using service carts.

I got a bunch of really bizarre messages on the return asking me to verify if I was still in command.

I knew it was really serious when they asked me to send verification data that was personal.

Eventually, I told them we were OK but that I was too busy to respond anymore. 

Started down over Modesto, and by now the pax had figured out we had turned around and were descending, so I made a PA stating that the airplane was fine, we were returning to San Francisco and they would be informed of an issue once we landed.

By now I had learned that we had lost two airplanes.

Bay approach cleared me for an approach called the "Quiet Bridge," which is an eastern arrival noise abatement approach to avoid overflying the east bay.

The told them I was not going to do that, but that I was going to point the airplane at the the end of runway 28L and land the thing. I also told them that if someone tried to come through the door I was going to put the thing in the Bay and they better come get us.

A bit of a pause and the approach controller said that if I out the thing in the Bay they would get us.

Came over the San Mateo Bridge, about five miles from landing, and saw about 30 emergency vehicles on the taxiways near the runway. No airplanes.

Landed and they all chased us to the gate, and when I parked I saw about ten guys on the ramp with automatic weapons out.

Found out after landing that the flight that I had clown almost exclusively for the two years prior to getting the check airman position, the morning Dulles to LA had hit the Pentagon.

I knew I'd know the folks flying it, cockpit and cabin, and sure enough. I knew them all.

Horrible day. Horrible week. 

Got home Saturday and went to two memorial services, one for the captain who was buried at Arlington, and one for a husband/wife flight attendant couple that were killed at the Pentagon.


Wow, I never considered that with every other flight diverting, every single plane in the air became off course and suspicious on top of the actual terrorist flightpath diversions 

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Definitely a somber day for a football opener. 9/11 will always be a day of remembrance for all of us. 

My high school girlfriend and I had both moved on after 6 years of dating, and I remember us talking on the phone that day like it was the end of the world (it truly felt like it). In a strange way, 9/11 helped bring us back together. We'll be married 20 years in October with two beautiful kids. 


We visited the 9/11 memorial last fall. I strongly encourage people to visit, but be prepared....there is a tangible heaviness in the air.

No one speaks, all you hear is the occasional sniffle. My daughter and I just stood there at the pool in silence because, well, it's hard to talk when you're ears are full of tears. 

It's important for all of us to remember those innocent people who lost their lives that day in such a horrific way.

We carry on for them, and we will never forget. 


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4 minutes ago, wakingfane said:

Wow, I never considered that with every other flight diverting, every single plane in the air became off course and suspicious on top of the actual terrorist flightpath diversions 


It wasn't quite that way.

If airplanes were responding to communications, and their transponders were working, there was no threat.

On the other hand, there was nearly instantaneous profiling done by the two companies involved.

Type of airplane, transcon and another factor I'm not going to mention.

If a flight was in that three criteria profile it was flagged.

That's why I got so much company dispatch com during the event.

The air traffic controllers said nothing to me, in fact, the only other transmission I heard was a TWA, (still around at the time) diverting to Sacramento.

What I learned subsequent, was that the FAA was concerned because I had gone from mach .8 to mach .83. They don't don't see mach, but they do see groundspeed, and we had gone from about 475 to about 560. It was one of those really unusual days where we had winds from the east, at altitude.

So, they saw us turn around and significantly increase airspeed, thus their concern.

Still, they never said a word.


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I was 19, living in Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. I was on my way to work as a server at a barbecue joint and stopped at the Sears store downtown to buy... vacuum bags. Walked past the wall of TV's showing a disaster movie with no sound on. Got my bags, looked back at the tvs thinking, that's weird, they have been showing the same movie scene since I walked in...   wait a minute, no... No!!! This is real...  By the time I got to work, the second plane had hit. Still worked the whole day and I'll never forget it. So quiet, the only sounds were what the cooks made in the back... The TVs on all day but after a few hours, no volume in the restaurant either, every interaction with customers, taking orders and providing food, included a quiet, reverence for the shocking moment we were sharing, unspoken thoughts for everyone down there and a shared fear for ourselves, even as far away as we were. 

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I gotta say, all these years later and the emotions I felt that day (I was 37) just rush back so vividly - even today. It is just so sobering. Unlike any event I’ve encountered. 

Reading through each posters recollections really is quite striking. Thank you to those who shared. 

Tonight’s game suddenly just doesn’t seem that important. 

God bless - Go Bills!

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I was at high school (would be middle school age in US terms), and we were studying the press. We had a lesson on the morning of the 11th - being five hours ahead of New York - where she said, "I wish something big would happen so we can compare front pages of the papers."


The next day, she came in with the papers and simply said, "I didn't mean that."

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I was in sixth grade history class.. teacher got a call and then they started telling us they were going to  call our parents to go home. Really hate the month of September 9/11  because I lost my dad 12 days later... I appreciate being able to share that with you guys though. Rip dad ( huge bills fan ) and go bills. 

Edited by Kenosha2Buffalo
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My sojourn wasn't as wild as Sherpa's, but I also had adventures in air travel.  I was in Perth doing some training when I called my wife to check in.  It was night time there.  "You need to turn on the TV".  Wow.  Gloves off.  And...like...NOW WHAT?  I knew standard procedure would be to seal off the airspace, so I scrambled as fast as I could with the travel agent (yeah, we used those back then).  Too late.  US airspace closed.  Tried to get back via Vancouver.  Too late.  Canadian airspace closed.  Didn't even contemplate trying to get back through Mexico.  I was slated to travel back from Sydney to Los Angeles the next day, but the idea of being on an overwater trip with a US flag on the fuselage didn't seem like a good idea.  So the next morning I went down to the local travel agent in Perth and rebooked on neutral carriers.  Singapore Airways from Perth to Singapore, connecting to London Heathrow.  Heathrow was an insane mob scene.  I mean - everything was locked up.  I just ended up grabbing a hotel and called the company and said "See you when I can see you".  It took a week to get home.  Booked an Air Canada flight to Ottawa, rented a car, and drove across on the Ogdensburg bridge.  I've never been so happy to hand my passport to the border patrol in my entire life.

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