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A Commercial Pilot Reviews "Flight 93"

Tue Jun 06, 2006 12:37 am

I received this from an email correspondent today,and wanted to share.

"Susie and I just got back from seeing "UAL Flight 93", it was absolutely gripping, and as a former airline pilot who was flying a trip that morning on a Boeing 767 from Cincinnati to Orlando it was almost too horrific to was very disturbing!

For you pilot types, the attention to detail, the cockpit, the preflight, the crew, pilots and flight attendants boarding the aircraft and making small talk was OH, so real and routine...just another day in the office! Likewise the views from central flow control, NY and Boston ARTCC and the NORAD command center were very realistic.

Should anyone have any doubts about our response, or lack of that morning you need to view this movie. Watching all the various controllers and their supervisors trying to get their arms around the problem and to come to grips and connect the dots is so very real. The movie appears to almost happen in real time and you can really sense the problem that the commanders had in thinking outside the box and realizing that we were really at war.

Fighters are scrambled, late, and in the wrong direction, as threats are suppose to come from over the water to the east not from over land to the west; the planes are not armed, can they ram, and who has the authority to give that command...the command is given but not relayed to the pilots. ; The lack of communications, or rather the disbelief and lack of coordination is stunning but easy to understand. Even the pilots of UAL Flt 93 are given a data link message that the Towers have been hit and to beware of cockpit intruders...they brush it off in I'm sure any pilot would have prior to that date.

The time line given at the end of the movie and the confusion over what planes were involved, and which flights were being hijacked is very revealing...we just couldn't get it together quickly enough.

As pilots and crew members we had never been trained to deal with suicidal hijackers who were prepared to die, it was simply inconceivable at the time. A key point, though not belabored, was when the supervisor of the FAA Central Flow Control ordered that all aircraft in US airspace land immediately, (there were over 4200 in the air), that no planes from overseas would be allowed into the country and would be turned back, and that there were to be no over flights...he realized that we were at war but didn't know with was a very bold and brave move and he was thinking way outside the box...I believe that it was also his first day on the job as the boss!

All Americans should see this movie as it may help them get a grip on the terrorist threat that we are up against vs. the radical Muslim world. I don't know if we belong in Iraq or how we should deal with Iran or North Korea or the Sudan, but I know that there is a real threat to our way of life from the radical Islamic fundamentalists.

I continually hear that this is not a true reflection of the Koran or true Islamic beliefs. Well that may be true, and it might not be, but there would appear to be plenty of Muslims in the world that have an entirely different and radical interpretation of the Koran which we cannot ignore.

What was probably as disturbing as watching an airline crew, that could have been me or any of my friends, seeing their world and their life taken away, was the hijackers preparing to die, washing themselves and praying to their god as if they were doing his will. They looked like ordinary young men, and to think that they could sit next to all these people on that plane that they were going to kill, who had nothing against them or done nothing to them, was beyond words.

I guess if nothing else it gives you insight into the minds of suicide bombers, which to our Western way of thought is beyond comprehension.

This movie will make you angry, very angry.

My experience on 9/11:

We were just ready to close the door for our Delta767 flight from CVG to MCO when the gate agent came on board and asked if we had heard anything about a small plane hitting the World Trade Center, we had not, so she said goodbye and closed the door. Shortly thereafter we were airborne climbing out on a beautifully clear crisp fall morning heading to Florida with not a cloud in the sky or a care in the world.

I heard a bizjet ask for a reroute since he could not get to New York and I thought that was strange. Then another bizjet said "well I guess we won't be going there either" and asked for a clearance to an alternate. At that point I asked center what was going on. There was a pause and then the controller came back in a very excited voice and said "they have hit both of the Trade Center Towers, they have hit the Pentagon, they have hit the Capitol and the White House"...well you can imagine it got really lively on the frequency.

I turned to my Co-Pilot and said "I don't know what has happened, but I do know that things will never be the same", and I think I got that right! Within seconds the controller had composed himself and said all flights on this frequency standby, and it was dead quiet. He then said all flights are to land immediately and went down the list of the planes under his control..."American 235 turn right heading 230 you're landing at Pittsburgh, Continental 456 turn left heading 180 for Cincinnati, Delta 235 (that's me) turn right to 250 and descend to 8000, you're landing at Knoxville, airport your 2 o'clock 40 miles....etc" It was the best, fastest and most efficient handling I have ever had from ATC...they had everyone on the ground all over the country in minimum time.

After all the initial confusion, their professionalism, and that of all the flight crews was exemplary! We spent two days in Knoxville and then ferried an empty 757 back to Atlanta and I believe were one of the first flights to land back at our main hub.

Our arrival at ATL was one of the most moving experiences of my flying career. The airspace was totally empty, there was no talk on the radio, and we were the only plane in the sky over ATL, the busiest airport in the U.S., but we did have, unknown to us until informed by the controller, an F-16 right on our tail, but we never saw him.

When we taxied in the normally frantic ramp area was dead quiet, all the ground equipment, tugs, baggage carts, tugs, fuelers etc. were lined up in military precision and the ground crews were standing at attention and, I'll never forget that. They needed a sign that things were getting back to normal...that we were moving and flying again.

Reflections (note this is the commercial pilot,still speaking.)

As you may know I was on a United Flight several weeks ago from Chicago to Sacramento that had a passenger who tried to open the front cabin door, allegedly claimed to have a bomb, and took a swing at the flight attendant. We'll yours truly was sound asleep in the last row of coach and missed all the action, but suffice it to say that before he got very far he was rapidly subdued by the first class section and we diverted to Denver.

Unlike Flight 93 he couldn't have gotten into the cockpit as the cockpit door is now armored and no passenger is going to sit still and let anyone interfere with the flight. I always felt that with the improved cockpit door that I would be totally safe, and that all my passengers in the cabin would act as Sky Marshals...I was and they did...they remembered 9/11, lets hope that we never forget!

I would also like to mention that all the crew members on my United flight as well as all the ground rescue folks in Denver and the United station personnel did an absolutely marvelous job in handling this incident. It made me proud to have once been a part of this profession."
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RE: A Commercial Pilot Reviews "Flight 93"

Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:35 am

I went and saw this movie with my best friend... She was crying, I was shaking. It felt like I was living the moment. It didn't feel like a movie at ALL. Very gripping... It is also one of the highest rated movies that have come out.
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Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2006 6:32 am

RE: A Commercial Pilot Reviews "Flight 93"

Tue Jun 06, 2006 3:32 am

I don't know if I can come up with the courage to see this movie.
I lived in New York from 1999-2003.
I was in school in White Plains at the times of the attacks,my dad was working at wallstreet (about 100m direct distance from the WTC) and saw the whole thing live.
My sister and I drove to our home in Rye after we heard the news at a school assembly. The information was sketchy and uncertain, at times wrong and horrorfying. I still feel that cold shower running down my spine and that cold went deep into my bones. I was like in a trance, it was like a dream. I remember just walking around my school trying to find a map from Manhattan to find out how close my dad was really working to the WTC. I don't know why i did that, but I guess it was important to me that I have atleast something to do.
It's not just the attacks that were so unreal and petrifying. It was as well the ambient afterwards...the absolute silence in the sky. People coming home from the trainstation, covered in dust, crying, rejoycing with family.
The way people would talk to you in the weeks afterwards. If you met someone they wouldn't say "How are you?" any more, because they knew you weren't doing fine. They would say "How are things going with you?". Everybody looking up to the skies to make sure the airplane flying over had would not be coming directly at them. So much grief and so much bonding together.
Really a whole nation as brothers.
This experience is so overwhelming that for a long time i couldn't talk about it, not because i didn't want to, but i just couldn't grasp the whole thing in words. I didn't know if i should be feeling sad or angry, and for weeks CNN and ABC just aired the scenes over and over and over and over again of the two planes crashing into the WTC. It was impossible to move on. And my oh so peaceful and almost perfect life came crashing down. It was a bright shiny day and yet, i was in a warzone.
9|11 for me is something I will/can never forget. Everyday since then the thought of it crosses my mind. By some weird coincidence i always find myself now looking at my watch exactly when it's 9:11am, never done that before that day.
I can so feel with what this commercial pilot says, cause so many of his feelings i shared. It's an amazing text.
And not matter how screwed up the politics of the US might be now with Iraq etc., I will never lose my deepest respect for all Americans (politicians or normal citizens) coming together and getting through this horrible event hand in hand, as a nation. It helped so much to cope with it.
I don't want to go watch the movies with friends I have here in Switzerland, where I live now again. Simply because they don't know what people there have been through. They will never understand.
May the victims of 9|11 rest in peace and be remembered.
~reach for the sky!
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Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2005 1:56 am

RE: A Commercial Pilot Reviews "Flight 93"

Tue Jun 06, 2006 4:46 am

Meanwhile, back in "the States" there are STILL mentally challenged-but-anally gifted people (I think there might be a few who post on this site) who insist: "Oh, no ! Flight 93 was shot down !" and "A cruise missile hit the Pentagon", and " The WTC was blown up by Mossad operatives",and Lord knows what-all.

They say these things because it fits some peculiar political outline in their thought processes-and what a wild mixture of people they are !

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