Hello A.net members;
As you all know, six months ago, was a terrible day in not only American history, but World history as well. I work at St. Louis International Airport, and my friends asked me what it was like that day. There were so many requests that I just sat down and wrote a letter to them all. E-mail and convetionally. I wanted to share it with you all as well.
I have had some friends of mine ask me recently what things were like at St. Louis airport on September 11, 2001. So, I decided to just write down what my day was like and share it with you.
I, like many other people that day, was just watching TV and drinking my coffee. I was about to turn off the TV when "breaking news" was about to be announced. The initial report was that an aircraft had crashed into one of the World Trade Center Towers. I, like everyone else, was stunned at the site. But I was also confused. I saw smoke billowing from the tower, but I also noticed that the weather in New York was beautiful that day. I asked myself, "how the hell could that happen?". So I continued to watch, wondering. Then, I saw the second aircraft. To me, it looked like it was just flying by to take a look or something. I know there are several airports in the New York area, so I really didn't think to much of it. But then that fireball appeared that has been etched into everyone's memory forever. In case there are kids reading this, I won't repeat exactly what I said. But I did yell out, "that was a @#* airliner!!". I was completely stunned. After it hit, I remember one of the reporters stating that we can now rule out that this is an accident. I continued to watch. I just couldn't seem to move. A little later, reports were coming out that all the New York area airports were shutting down. I decided to call in at work and see what the situation was there. A had been talking to one of my coworkers for a couple minutes. Another coworker had just received a call from our Air Trafic Control Tower saying that the entire national airspace system had just been shut down. I didn't even ask if I should come in. I told him I was on the way. Even though there was no true emergency at St. Louis, I drove as if there was. The radio was flooded with news reports now. There was no normal programming that I could find.
When I arrived at STL, I ran towards my office area. As some of you know, it's at the end of one of the concourses in a mini tower. So we have a good view of the entire airfield. As I was running through the airport, I could see nearly everyone, including airport workers, glued to the TV's around the airport. Not believing what they were witnessing. I arrived at my workplace, greeted by ringing phones, blarring radio's, and just controlled chaos. It was the that I looked around the corner to our back office where we have a TV. The first toewr had just collapsed. I recall saying, "oh my God, It collapsed! It just freaking collapsed!!". That was the last footage I got to see for quite sometime. Right then we go the order to set up our emergency communications bus in front of one of our Fire Stations on the airfield. It basically a bus filled with communications equipment. Our duties were to provide escorts for any airlie that needed to transport crews to and from thier airplanes that a had been grounded at St. Louis. The airlines personnel were over loaded with thier own problems, they didn't have the manpower for the escorts.
Aircraft were flooding in. Airlines we never see. Aircraft we never see. At one point, I was actually excited because a 747 was coming in. Then I remembered why it was coming in, and almost felt ashamed of my excitement. The bus was located close to the ramp area of the Missouri Air National Guard base at the airport. They were parking large trucks and placing large concrete barriers to the entrance of thier ramp. The soldiers that weren't working on these tasks were holding M-16's. I knew then that things would be different for a long time. This was going on after the Pentagon had been hit.
After a few hours, we stopped receiving airplanes, and we were told to secure the communications bus. I don't even remember what time it was. Our duties were then focused inside the terminals. Everything but the ticket lobby was shut down. Walking through the airport and not seeing a soul during broad daylight was sureal. Nerve racking. We were locking down concourses, telling airline workers to get out. I remember glancing at the flight information screens, and seeing every single flight cancelled. Yet another sureal sight. I got back to our office area and things were actually slowing down. No airplanes, no people, not much for us to do at this point. But the reality was sinking in of what had happened.
It was very slow the rest of the night. My coworkers and I were watching the reports, they were playing the scenes over and over. I got home about midnight that day. I had talk to my wife a couple time from work, but I still woke her up and gave her a hug when I got home. I had been watching the news for a long while at work, but I just couldn't help but turn it on again. I think I slept two hours that night. Just lying awake, wondering what was going to happen to the world. I knew one thing already. nothing would ever be quite the same again.
That's my story of September 11, 2001.
Someting in me just wanted to share this story with all of you.
I'm not a real aeronautical engineer, I just play one on Airliners.net.