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A Pilot Recounts His Story Of September 11th

Every person has a story of where they were and what they were doing on September 11th, 2001. It was a tragic day that we all remember and still reflect on each anniversary. Robert Burton was a pilot flying transatlantic on a Boeing 767 inbound to New York’s JFK International Airport. Here is his story: ( More...

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brenec 7
I"ll never forget that day... I was flying my Piper Dakota (N4364W) from Albany, NY to Beverly MA on that beautiful Tuesday morning and was nearing Boston airspace when I heard them call "American 11, how do you hear?" several times. They ended up asking me (and another plane) to try reaching American 11, but with no luck. The time was about 8:45 AM when a garbled scream came over the VHF radio on the Boston frequency. It wasn't heard on on the ground because the plane was seconds from impact with the first WTC tower. Slightly later, the Boston controller asked a biz jet on the frequency whether they "had a TV onboard". They said yes, and after a short time said "oh my God!". I was passed to Beverly MA tower and landed normally. The ramp attendant remarked to me "did you hear? A DC-3 ran into the Trade Center!" Fog of War information garble. The day got worse from then. I ended up taking a train back to Albany two days later, and finally retrieved my plane a couple of weeks after that.
Byron May 2
Wow. I was working at United Airlines in the jet shop in San Francisco. CFM56-3s were my engine fleet. Had just arrived at work a little past 6 AM PST and when I walked in the 20 acre building, someone said a DC-3 had just flown into the world trade center. Obviously then not sure how in the hell that happened (thinking to myself, “A DC-3?!) but then the tragic day unfolded. Your post is the first I’ve ever read or heard about someone else getting that same information about it at first being a DC-3. Would’ve been tragic as well, but how I wish it had been just that.
brenec 2
That's really interesting! The garbled pre-impact war cry radio call on Boston Center frequency still haunts me - plus the fact that AA 11 had overflown my route earlier in the opposite direction! It headed towards Albany from Logan and turned left down the Hudson to Manhattan. They obviously weren't talking to TRACON, so that's probably why their main COM radio was still tuned to Boston Center frequency right up through impact...That's the only reason I can think of why I could hear it. (Airborne line of sight to NYC from the Boston area is well within VHF capabilities, and I was still at 5,500' I think. My plane shows up on one of the radar image graphics of planes in the air in the 911 report.) Creepy.
Nick Daffern 4
I was a check airman giving a LOE. We came out of the sim for a break before doing the second period and somebody told us a plane hit WTC. At first we thought it was a private plane until we saw a video of an airliner hitting a tower. The captain I was checking was very concerned because his daughter worked in one of the towers and she wasn't answering her cell phone. I gave him the option of incompleting the ride and rescheduling but he just wanted to get it over with. So, we got back in the box for a, shall we say, very quick 2nd period. I checked back with the captain the next day to see how he was doing and found out his daughter was ok - she had a dentist appointment that morning and wasn't in the tower.

My wife, however, lost two of her friends from B school. Ironically, one of them died in the plane that slammed into the tower where her other friend worked and died.
Ken McIntyre 3
Here's another tidbit. What non military airport in the USA had the most take-offs/landings on 9/12/2001? Answer? Grangeville, Idaho. There was a large forest fire going west of the town so there was a lot of airborne fire fighting activity. All overseen by F-15s over head.
Ken McIntyre 1
And that day might have been 9/13/2001. That was 20 odd years ago and I can't quite remember all the details.
Jeremy Truesdell 3
6 years old, coming out of my room to find my parents watching TV, seconds before the second plane hit.
Jeremy Truesdell 2
This was intended as a reply to Christoff
Bob Varma 3
I was on a business trip in Lexington, KY. After leaving a board meeting I took my rented car and drove back to NY, traveling into the night. I recall the night drive being clear skies with no moving lights from airplanes. Got back to NY only to find out that I lost 3 good friends who worked with me in the World Trade Center. Let's never forget 9/11. Rest in peace my friends.
aceclark 4
I was on my way from Ohio to Colorado at 26,000 feet when the controller came on the radio and said, ( All Aircraft on the Frequency TRACON As closed Down the Airspace and Everyone Has to Land ) without explanation she started to tell each one of use where we were to land and land NOW. I landed in Manhatten KS, spent 2 days there and I was the first plan allowed back in the air on Thursday morning and I went back home to Ohio, the Radio was very quiet and I kept asking the controller if he was still there and he said it’s just you and me out here this morning. A real eerie feeling not seeing any other aircraft around.
Bill Fox 2
I flew from Boston Logan 8 am 9/11 to Heathrow. How close is that as two planes took off about the same time heading to the towers. As we approached the UK the captain came on and said we would land in Wales, using some excuse about the airport being busy. That was the clue, Heatherow is always busy. We learned the truth after landing in Wales. An hour later we took off for Heathrow, and a roller coaster week to follow.
Bill Fox 2
oh yeah, many of the National Guard jets scrambled for Burlington VT, currently my US base, I see the F35's all the time I am in their flight path, love the sound
Mike Monk 2
Just coming out of a supermarket in Exeter UK. Heard of a plane crashing into a building in NY on my car radio and, thinking it must have been a light aircraft thought how the hell can they do that.
I was utterly gob-smacked when I got home and saw the real story on TV. Sad, bewildering and angry time. :-(
DonDengler 1
I was home scheduled to fly that afternoon LAX-BDL. It was a rough week attending vigils but we had each other to grieve the losses of our flying partners who’s lives were taken on 2 of our airplanes.
Alan Dahl 1
I was at the SCCA national autocross (a form of car racing) championships in Topeka Kansas. I saw the planes hit the towers (one taped, one live) but then needed to get to Forbes Field, which was also the base for the Kansas National Guard arial refueling wing, for the race. I was in grid with the race tires on my Miata when the order came through that we had 30 minutes to bug out, including everything in our pit areas. I raced back and tossed everything in the Miata (a tight packing job on the best of days) and headed out on my race tires to a nearby shopping center to pack up and swap back to street tires. Later we found out that not only had the refueling wing (a dozen or so tankers) left but that the reason for our abrupt departure is that Forbes was identified as a possible landing spot for Air Force One! We completed the racing a couple of days later and then I drove back to Seattle which was weird with no planes in the sky and packed vehicles of all shapes and sizes with east coast license plates heading west.
Christoff du plessis 1
Come on guys/girls post where you were on that day...
Tom Slaght 1
I had just woken up to practice the change of command ceremony for the base commander at Travis Air Force Base CA. I was immediately place in Alpha Alert and pre-flighted/sealed my KC-10 tanker. Later that night, my crew and I flew to Denver, CO. to refuel two F-16s from Buckley AFB, CO. We orbited for six hours as the F-16s were protecting the Denver Mint and NORAD. After taking off from Travis AFB, the Oakland, CA. air traffic controller asked us if we wanted direct to Denver...that never happens.
Supercool Marmol 1
I was a freshman in college. I walked through the student union building and noticed a larger than normal crowd around the big tv. I didn't pay much attention to it, I just wanted to get back to my room.

As I'm sitting there, my roommate comes in saying they blew up the towers. Turned on my TV to see the 2nd plane come in. Ended up going to my buddy's room for the rest of the day as he was from Queens. Just kinda sat around for the rest of the day.

Some years later I was working with a lady who said she was in Norway or Sweeden when it happened (on a business trip) Said she got a vacation out of it. But was rough not being able to come home and know what was going on.
Rick Welsh 1
True the day lives on in infamy just like JFK’s assassination. I was flying MAN YYZ that morning also on a B767. By the time we arrived at the east coast of Canada Gander informed us the 4 airports CYYT, CYQX, CYYR and CYHZ were already full and that we might choose to land at CYUL or CYOW. After some deliberation I decided to proceed to and land CYYZ our original destination. It seemed we were the aircraft in the sky, very eerie indeed. The RCMP met us and boarded the aircraft before anyone could deplane. That was definitely a point in history that changed each and everyone of us from that point forward. Amen
rastapoodle 1
I was packing and almost ready to head to SDF for training/meeting for 5X, UPS Airlines. It was still several hours before my flight. I was listening to the radio, NPR, actually when it was announced that a small plane had hit the WTC.

I turned on the TV and saw the smoke and huge hole in the tower. I thought to myself, that's not from a small plane.

Then, I watched the 2nd plane hit, live on TV.

My profession and our world (even on the cargo side) would never be the same.
Pranav mehta 1
I was working iin Pharmaceutical company and we wweey in the meeting on that morning. One of our nurse came in a d informed us about the attack on world trade center. We all were shocked andno body say a single word. We will.nevwr forget that day and moment.
Mike Williams 0
Some years ago in Moosonee, Ontario, Canada "hotel" at the end of a canoe trip I heard a joke about the 2 Newfies landing their airplane at the very wide and short runway.
Some of the New Founderlanders may not be very smart.


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