Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WCPO Radio Cincinnati / Cleveland Flight Landing

September 11, 2001, Associated Press,  Plane makes emergency landing, by Paul Singer

A Boeing 767 out of Boston made an emergency landing Tuesday at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport because of concerns that it may have a bomb aboard, said Mayor Michael R. White.

The plane was sitting on a runway at the airport's west end with approximately 200 passengers on board. The mayor had said earlier that the plane was being evacuated, but an airport spokeswoman said the passengers remained inside.

It was unclear whether any passengers had been taken off the plane.

A SWAT team and bomb unit were at the scene. However, White said, "As of this moment we do not know that this plane is in stress or duress."

The airplane landed at about 10:45 a.m., but the airport released no information about the plane's intended destination. Normally, planes of this size do not land at Hopkins.

"We have no confirmed information that this was a hijacking," the mayor said. But White said authorities are still concerned that there may be a bomb aboard the plane.

Cleveland police blocked off all entrances to the airport terminal, and bomb-sniffing dogs were brought in to the baggage pickup areas.

He said airport officials reported that a second airplane in distress had passed through Cleveland airspace earlier Tuesday morning before being handed off to Toledo. Officials at Toledo Express Airport did not immediately have any information about a plane headed from Cleveland.

Six other planes were diverted to Akron-Canton Airport, said airport aviation director Fred Krum. "They were told to get down," Krum said. The planes were bound for Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Boston when they were asked to land at Akron.

White said air traffic controllers said they could hear screaming within the Boeing 767. Additional details were not available.

WTAM radio reported that NASA had closed its Glenn Research Center, which is located near the airport.

The mayor ordered the evacuation of all major public buildings downtown, including City Hall, the Justice Center and the convention center. He has asked owners of large commercial high-rises downtown to evacuate. Federal buildings downtown also were closed.

Traffic in downtown Cleveland was backed up for blocks as people tried to get home.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jacobs Field, Gund Arena and Browns Stadium also were closed, and the mayor said he asked two downtown college campuses to close.

White said there would be a parking ban on downtown streets.

September 11, 2001, The Ohio University Post / Associated Press, No explosives found on Cleveland plane, by Paul Singer,

CLEVELAND - No explosives were found aboard a Delta flight from Boston that was forced to land at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport because of fears it had been hijacked, city officials said.

The Federal Aviation Administration had been informed at 9:45 a.m. of a possible hijacking of a plane headed for Cleveland, said FBI spokesman Mark Bullock.

Flight 1989 to Los Angeles was not hijacked but was grounded by Delta because it was in the same flight pattern as a plane that was hijacked and struck the World Trade Center in New York, Bullock said.
The plane landed about 10:45 a.m. today with 78 passengers aboard, airport officials said.

The Boeing 767 was evacuated and searched, said Della Homenik, spokeswoman for Mayor Michael R. White. Passengers were taken to a nearby NASA facility.

FBI spokesman Bob Hawk said that since the Delta plane left Boston about the same time as the hijacked plane, passengers were being interviewed to see if they saw anything unusual this morning.

After the plane landed, the airport was closed and bomb-sniffing dogs were brought to baggage pickup areas.

Meanwhile, White said a second airplane in distress had passed through Cleveland airspace Tuesday morning before being handed off to Toledo.

Officials at Toledo Express Airport did not immediately have any information about the plane.

At 11:43 am on the morning of 9/11 WCPO radio in Cincinnati posted an AP article titled "Plane Lands in Cleveland; Bomb Feared Aboard"1 concerning the strange occurrence of a commercial airliner making an emergency landing at Cleveland Hopkins Airport due to a bomb threat. AP reported that Mayor Michael R. White of Cleveland had identified the aircraft as a 767 out of Boston. Mayor White added that the aircraft had been moved to a secure area of the airport and evacuated. Why, one might ask, do I consider it strange that a commercial airliner experiencing a bomb threat would be diverted and landed before it reaches its destination? Strange because the AP article identified the aircraft in question as United Airlines (UA) Flight 93, the very Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Pa at 10:03 AM. In the third paragraph AP reports, "United identified the plane as Flight 93."2

Now as it happened Delta Flight 1989, a 767 out of Boston (Flight 93 was a 757) had landed at Cleveland Hopkins Airport at 10:10 AM3 due to a bomb threat and had been moved to a secure area of the airport, however this aircraft hadn’t been evacuated until 12:30 PM, forty-six minutes after WCPO posted the AP article.

In the fourth paragraph AP reports, "United said it was also "deeply concerned" about another flight, Flight 175, a Boeing 767, which was bound from Boston to Los Angeles."4 This paragraph tells us that AP was talking to UA about Flight 93 while UA was operating under the knowledge that Flight 175 was still in the air. Why? Because UA would have been tracking Flight 175 throughout it’s journey and immediately known through UA's Special Operations Center (see next three paragraphs) that it had crashed when it did at 9:03 AM in New York City.

In times when problems arise, managers at UA can use the Special Operations Center, located at UA's operations base in Elk Grove, Illinois, where they, "can use the a/v system to watch any flight from its takeoff to touchdown.They can have constant contact with that plane in the air, and they can watch anything that may be affecting the plane's environment as it travels."6 Therefore when UA says a flight experiencing an emergency situation has landed at a specified location, UA knows it has landed and where.

During such emergency situations, the Special Operations Center—also known informally as the crisis management room—was where "the appropriate personnel take their positions. These include the president and CEO of United Airlines, vice-presidents of most of its departments and whatever outsiders might be able to help. The room's computer and communications systems have a reach of global proportions..."7 So not only would UA managers know the exact location of Flight 93 at any time of the day, but so would the CEO and other executive officers of the company during an emergency.

Moreover, the company that installed UA's tracking computers in 1998—United Visual—also installed in each airline manager's workstation, to the left of the aircraft-tracking monitor, six TV monitors for 24/7 satellite cable news viewing.8 So when an aircraft impacted the south tower at 9:03 AM, at the precise time that Flight 175 disappeared from UA’s tracking monitors over New York City, UA's airline managers saw the impact, as did those of us who were watching television that morning. Immediately UA airline managers would have put two and two together, and known that the aircraft they just saw on satellite television news fly into the south tower was, in fact, their aircraft that had just disappeared from their aircraft-tracking monitors at the same time, at the same altitude (the aircraft’s transponder reporting a rapid decelerating from approximately 540 mph to near 0 mph in less than a second) and over the same precise location. Consequently the AP article would not have been a story that focused on a diverted aircraft, with a passing mention of another aircraft that UA was "deeply concerned" about, but instead a story where the spotlight would have been thrown full blast on the crash of Flight 175 over New York City (and a mention of the earlier crash into the north tower), after a short initial account of Flight 93's landing at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Since AP doesn’t mention the crash of a second aircraft in the article (and tentatively identify the aircraft as UA Flight 1759 according to FAA and UA sources) that proves that AP got the UA quotes before 9:03 AM.10 Why before 9:03 AM? Because as discussed above United Airlines would have been tracking Flight 175 throughout it’s journey and instantly known through UA's Special Operations Center that it had crashed when it did at 9:03 AM over New York City.

Therefore when UA CEO James Goodwin says in the AP article, "United is working with all the relevant authorities, including the FBI, to obtain further information on these flights [UA Flights 175 and 93],"11 this tells us that AP was talking to UA long before Flight 93 was known to have been hijacked, which was at 9:28 AM.12 Since UA would have had no reason to be discussing Flight 93 with AP before 9:28 AM according to the official 9/11 narrative, that leads us to the inevitable conclusion that the AP article does indeed confirm the landing of Flight 93 at Cleveland Hopkins Airport when it quotes UA saying, "United identified the plane as Flight 93".13

Interestingly, minutes after the AP article was posted at WCPO it was retracted with the following message as to why, "This story has been removed from It was a preliminary AP story, and was factually incorrect."14 No reason was given by WCPO as to why the article was "factually incorrect", however based on the article itself we can hypothesize where the "factually incorrect" came into place: To speed things up on that busy morning, the AP reporter took the spiked Flight 93 story he wrote-up earlier in the morning and copied and pasted it onto another word processing file for reediting to conform with the Delta 1989 landing that took place at 10:10 AM. Since the first two paragraphs would remain the same, except for two minor revisions in the first paragraph (767 for 757 and Boston Airport for Newark Airport) and the deletion of the word ‘evacuated’ in the second paragraph, the reporter then would only have to update the remainder of the article with the Delta 1989 landing. However the reporter must have gotten distracted in the chaos of that morning and neglected to 1. Delete the word ‘evacuated’ in the second paragraph, and 2. Replace the last four paragraphs that specifically mentioned Flight 93, UA and its CEO with the story of Delta 1989’s landing!

We can now begin to understand the true reason for Delta 1989's landing at Cleveland Airport. Delta 1989 was landed at Cleveland Airport because of the media's error in releasing the story of Flight 93's landing there. The Delta 1989 landing could then be used to explain away as an error the report that Flight 93 had landed at Cleveland Airport, an error due to a misidentification of one flight for the other.

So what happened to Flight 93? Thanks to the AP article we can say that Flight 93 took off from Newark Airport as scheduled at 8:00 AM (or close to it), and not at 8:42 AM as the official Flight 93 narrative claims, and landed safely at Cleveland Hopkins Airport no later than 8:48 AM. Why no later than 8:48 AM you ask? Because thanks to UA admitting it was also "deeply concerned" about Flight 175, we know that AP got the story by 9:03 AM, and it would have taken at least fifteen minutes for Flight 93 to have been, as mentioned by Mayor White, moved to a secure area of the airport and evacuated before UA and its CEO could have made their particular comments as reported by AP.

Further proof that UA and its CEO gave their interview to AP no later than 8:48 AM is the curious omission in the AP article of any mention of aircraft impacting the towers. Since Delta 1989 landed at Cleveland Airport at 10:10 AM EDT in the morning, one would expect some mention of these two disasters, which occurred at 8:46 AM EDT (Flight 11) and 9:03 AM EDT (Flight 175).
Also see the article 'United Awarelines', posted at DNotice January 7, 2009

1. Associated Press Article On Flight 93 Landing At Cleveland Airport
2. Ibid.
3. USA Today Article On Delta 1989 Landing At Cleveland Airport
4. Associated Press Article On Flight 93 Landing At Cleveland Airport
5. It should be noted that according to the 9/11 Commission Report, while "United 175’s transponder code changed, and then changed again" the transponder signal was never lost (see: 9/11 Commission Report, page 21).
6. United Visual
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid
9. According to Colin Scoggins, "the go-to guy at Boston Center for all things military", within minutes of Flight 175's impact into Two World Trade Center, United Airlines tells the FAA’s Boston Center that Flight 175 is down. Scoggins later recalls, "When we phoned United [after the second tower was hit], they confirmed that United 175 was down, and I think they confirmed that within two or three minutes." [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006]
10. If the AP reporter had contacted United Airlines after 9:03 AM, the AP article would not have been a story on Flight 93 landing at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, but instead a story on Flight 175 crashing into the south tower.
11. Associated Press Article On Flight 93 Landing At Cleveland Airport
12. Hijackers Attacked Flight 93 At 9:28
13. Associated Press Article On Flight 93 Landing At Cleveland Airport
14. Preliminary AP Story Removed By WCPO

Liz Foreman
Internet Site Director
Chosen as the first member of the team in July 1998, Liz came to CinciNow (now from in Atlanta.
Liz graduated with a BSJ from Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism.
WCPO: joined WCPO-TV in June 1998
Education: BSJ, E.W Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University

Plane diverted to Cleveland triggers alarm FBI finds nothing aboard flight to L.A.

The Plain Dealer -- Cleveland, Ohio
By Patrick O'Donnell - September 12, 2001 
Copyright The Plain Dealer 2001
Delta Flight 1989 - with 69 passengers and a crew of nine - was grounded at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport yesterday. It had left Boston en route to Los Angeles. There had been rumors a bomb was on board, but none was found.
A plane diverted to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport yesterday morning was kept sitting on a runway for a couple hours and its passengers were interviewed by FBI agents. But suspicions that the plane had been hijacked or had a bomb on board turned out to be unfounded.
Delta Flight 1989 made an emergency landing at Hopkins about 10:45 a.m., nearly two hours after the World Trade Center towers were hit by two hijacked planes.
Delta ordered the plane to land in Cleveland, according to Cleveland FBI Special Agent Robert Hawk.
He said airline officials wanted the Boeing 767 down because it was traveling from Boston to Los Angeles, the same flight path as two of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.
At one point, Hawk said, there was confusion about whether there had been an incident on the plane. Delta, he said, told the Federal Aviation Administration there was a problem with the flight.
Delta spokeswoman Cindi Kurczewski declined comment.
In a televised news conference at 11, Mayor Michael R. White first said there was an unconfirmed report that the plane might have been hijacked or was carrying a bomb. But in the middle of the news conference, he reported that it had not been hijacked, and later in the day he said no bomb had been found.
White's office later said that the plane landed as a precaution.
The plane sat on airport property between the terminal, the NASA Glenn Research Center and the International Exposition Center for about two hours. About 12:30 p.m. baggage cars and shuttle buses approached the plane. The 69 passengers and nine crew members then walked down a portable staircase and onto the buses, which took them to FAA headquarters nearby.
Hawk said the FBI did not want to let the passengers into the terminal because agents needed to interview them and search the plane before releasing them. The delay, he said, was needed to set up an interview site and arrange for buses and emergency crews.
All the passengers were released after none reported seeing anything unusual on the flight.

Thursday, August 15, 2002,  The Associated Press, Sept. 11 tension vivid to controller, Radio transmissions gave sounds of cockpit struggle, hijacker's voice, By M.R. Kropko,

OBERLIN, Ohio - Air traffic controllers believed they had a hijacked plane in the air over Ohio on Sept. 11. They just didn't know which plane.

During tense moments that morning at Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center, the first guess was that Delta Flight 1989 was hijacked, not United Airlines Flight 93.

“We knew right away we had a problem. The first thought was, "Is that Delta 1989?' ” said Rick Kettell, manager of the Federal Aviation Administration's busiest regional center.

Mr. Kettell talked Tuesday about the drama of the day for the air traffic controllers who had the last contact with United Flight 93 before it crashed in Pennsylvania.

The center, about 35 miles southwest of Cleveland, guides planes at high altitude as they fly over portions of seven states: New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

The center's controllers were concerned about the Delta flight because it had departed Boston five minutes behind United Flight 175, which crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York.

“We knew the magnitude of what we were dealing with,” Mr. Kettell said. “We knew what happened in New York before our involvement became very keen.”

Shortly after Delta Flight 1989 checked in with the Cleveland Center while over Syracuse, N.Y., the center's controllers heard two transmissions that sounded like a cockpit struggle.

Meanwhile, Flight 93 had climbed to 41,000 feet over the Cleveland Center, and then over nearby Elyria turned 120 degrees to the southeast, a move that surprised controllers.

“We were finally able to deduce by the airplanes talking back to us which was the airplane not talking to us, and that was Flight 93,” Mr. Kettell said.

While there was still no confirmed problem with the Delta flight, the center expressed concerns to Delta's headquarters in Atlanta, which instructed the plane to land at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. It was brought in moments before the Cleveland Center received an order to ground all planes.

Meanwhile, two more transmissions came in with a terrorist's voice speaking to passengers. By then, controllers knew for sure that it was the United flight that had been hijacked.

“What we don't know was whether one of the pilots keyed the frequency so we could hear it or if (terrorists) hit the wrong button not knowing the equipment,” Mr. Kettell said. “My thoughts are that probably the pilot was trying to help us.”

Later that tense day, after most planes had landed, Oberlin police warned the center of a small plane still flying and headed toward the center. That warning resulted in a brief evacuation except for essential employees. Mr. Kettell said that plane simply flew past and was never identified.

In June, the center dedicated a memorial on its grounds to recall those who died when the hijacked plane crashed. Etched in stone are the words: “In honor of the men and women of the Cleveland Center and those aboard Flight 93 for their heroic actions on September 11, 2001.”

Farmers from Stonycreek Township watch as a state police helicopter circles their fields, looking for evidence from the crash of Flight 93.  S.C. Spangler/Tribune-Review

September 11, 2001, WCPO9, Plane Lands In Cleveland; Bomb Feared Aboard

Reported by: 9News Staff
Web produced by: Liz Foreman
9/11/01 11:43:57 AM

A Boeing 767 out of Boston made an emergency landing Tuesday at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport due to concerns that it may have a bomb aboard, said Mayor Michael R. White.

White said the plane had been moved to a secure area of the airport, and was evacuated.

United identified the plane as Flight 93. The airline did say how many people were aboard the flight.

United said it was also "deeply concerned" about another flight, Flight 175, a Boeing 767, which was bound from Boston to Los Angeles.

On behalf of the airline CEO James Goodwin said: "The thoughts of everyone at United are with the passengers and crew of these flights. Our prayers are also with everyone on the ground who may have been involved.

"United is working with all the relevant authorities, including the FBI, to obtain further information on these flights," he said.

September 11, 2001, Akron Beacon Journal, Chaos Spreads to Ohio: Boeing Jet Makes Emergency Landing in Cleveland. Buildings Evacuated, Offices Shut, Meetings Cancelled,

BYLINE: Mary Ethridge, Beacon Journal business writer, Beacon, Journal staff writers Katie Byard, Jim Carney, Bob Downing, Bob Dyer,, Andale Gross, Kymberli Hagelberg John Higgins, Betty Lin-Fisher, Jim, Mackinnon, Doug Oplinger, Cheryl Powell, John Russell, Paula Schleis,, George Thomas, Thrity Umrigar, Stephanie Warsmith, Tracy Wheeler and, Dennis J. Willard contributed to this report.


The mind-numbing chaos that descended with the terrorist attacks on the Northeast United States spread this morning to Northeast Ohio.

Cleveland Mayor Michael White said at a news conference this morning that a Boeing 767 out of Boston made an emergency landing at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport because of fears a bomb was aboard.

He reported that air traffic controllers could hear screaming aboard the plane.

The 200 passengers were reportedly released from the plane at 11:15 a.m., though White said the pilot was still concerned that a bomb remained.

White reported that another plane was diverted from Hopkins toward Toledo.

The attacks terrified Akron area residents, forced the shutdown of area airports, major universities, government buildings and some schools. area business leaders were taking unprecedented and dramatic safety precautions.

A Boeing 757 crashed just north of the Somerset County Airport in Pennsylvania, emergency officials said.

The plane, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed about 10 a.m. about 8 miles east of Jennerstown, according to county 911 dispatchers, WPXI said. It was en route from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco.

The University of Akron and Kent State University and the College of Wooster were closed. Akron Public Schools remained open, but parents were allowed to pick up their children.

The Federal Building in downtown Akron was closed and extra guards were posted outside. The Summit County Courthouse closed about 11 a.m.

Summit on alert

The Summit County Sheriff's Department sent its bomb squad and SWAT team to Akron-Canton Regional Airport as an extra security precaution. The sheriff's department also ordered a lockdown at the Summit County Jail to get more deputies out on the street. "Our eyes are open," said Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander. "Everything could be a disaster."

Officials at Cleveland's Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building at 1290 E. Ninth St. ordered the evacuation of government offices about 10:30 a.m.

In Ohio's state capital, the state House and Senate sessions were canceled. Shortly after 10 a.m., downtown Columbus streets were noisy with a dozen or more police cruisers racing with sirens on toward City Hall.

Upon arrival, the cruisers began circling the building and redirecting traffic. City Hall, the Columbus police headquarters and the U.S. District Court are in the same area.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport shut down about 10 a.m., forcing travelers to leave the airport in droves.

No cars were allowed into the airport grounds. Airline passengers and crew members were walking onto the highway to find their rides as no cars were allowed into the passenger drop off and pick up areas. Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland was also closed.

Fred Krum, director of aviation for Akron-Canton Regional Airport, said this morning that airport officials have been told that no aircraft can take off for at least the next several hours. He said aircraft were still being permitted to land; the airport is prepared to accept diverted planes from the region including those scheduled to land at Pittsburgh International Airport.

The Ohio National Guard immediately increased security at all facilities but by late morning there had been no activation of units, according to spokeswoman Denise Varner.

Kathleen Chandler, vice president of the board of the Portage County commissioners, said the county had not decided to shut down its operations as of late this morning, but would re-evaluate as events unfolded.

"Something like this shows us how vulnerable we all can be," Chandler said.

Officials in Medina and Stark counties said they, too, were simply watching and waiting.

"At this point, we're not putting out any alerts," said Marc Warner, the Stark County Common Pleas Court's general division administrator. "We're keeping abreast of what's happening nationally, but we're not doing anything here yet."

Security at hospitals

Security staff at Akron City and St. Thomas hospitals were "in a state of heightened alert," said Thomas R. Neumann, director of corporate communications for Summa Health System, which owns both hospitals.

"The entire security staff has been made aware of the situation just to be sure nothing unusual is occurring," Neumann said. "We're still absorbing it all, the same as the rest of the world right now. We do have good security measures in place."

Richard Miller, chief financial officer of global jewelry retailer Sterling Inc. headquartered in Akron, said the company was tightening its security. "We 're taking some extraordinary precautions," Miller said. "Our security is already very tight, but we're taking extra steps."

Induction ceremonies for the National Inventors Hall of Fame have been canceled.

"Out of respect for what happened, we just can't go forward with the celebration at this time," Inventure Place spokeswoman Judi Shapiro said.

Schools groped to cope with the morning's events. At North Canton Middle School, officials turned the cafeteria into a counseling area, providing a place for students to talk with counselors.

At public places across the region, weeping viewers crowded around every available television to witness the horrors as they unfolded.

"There's a lot of chatter in the hallway, about friends who live in New York and relatives who might work for the airline industry," Neumann said. "It has everybody's top attention."

Many stranded travelers watched the startling news unfold from televisions in Akron-Canton Regional Airport. Instead of being angry about delayed or canceled flights, Krum said most people appeared to be relieved.

At UA, student Kyle Kiltau, 18, thought the news was a sick joke until she saw television news reports. Driving in his car, on his way to UA, he had heard irreverent radio personality Howard Stern talk about the two planes hitting the World Trade Center.

The predictable, but all true cliches were on the tops of peoples' minds at UA.

"I'm shocked. I can't believe this could happen right here . . . in New York, " said Chand Midha, chair of UA's statistics department, as he joined the others at the student center to watch CNN's Headline News.

"Lord God Almighty!" said UA student Christopher White, to no one in particular as he watched the TV news shift from New York to Washington, to broadcast the smoke billowing from the Pentagon.

NOTES: This was an EXTRA! edition

GRAPHIC: PHOTO: (2) Paul Tople (1) Lew Stamp, Akron Beacon Journal photos;
1) University of Akron freshman Shellie Blake of Green cries as she watches TV coverage of Pentagon explosion.
2) Airline passengers walk out of the terminal area at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Like all airports across the country, Hopkins was closed after the destruction in New York and Washington
3) University of Akron students said in unison, "Oh, my God," when news of the airplane crashing into the Pentagon flashed on TV screens at Gardner Student Center.

Traveling on Delta Flight 1989 on 9/11

[My thoughts about the day can be found at 9/11/2001 Thoughts. A detailed timeline of the events of the day at 9/11/2001 Timeline. I've also collected some pictures of 9/11.]

[This was written by a friend of mine and I find it interesting from a couple of different angles. I thank her for the permission to post it. As an aside, the Delta flight 1989 she was on was initially thought to be flight 93 since they were very close in the sky at the time that 93 was hijacked. Her flight was the only 8am flight out of Boston bound for LA that was not hijacked. It was also a 767 and full of fuel. Given discussions with some of the 9/11 skeptics/tinfoil-hat-types out there, I felt compelled to add some additional details and some comments from the author of this piece. I also have scanned in her scrapbook from the time. ]

Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 12:19:40 EDT

Subject: A close brush with death and happy to be alive

Dear Friends,

Many of you knew that [my spouse] and I and many [fellow] employees were on an 8 am flight from Boston to LA on Tuesday morning. I am happy to be alive and to be able to tell you of the events of our harrowing journey. Even though it has been only 48 hours since we departed Logan, it feels as though a lifetime has passed.

[My spouse] and I and six other fellow [...] employees were on the 8 am flight from Boston to Los Angeles on Tuesday, but we were on the Delta flight [1989], the one out of three 8am flights departing Logan that did not get hijacked. Instead, we were forced to make an emergency landing in Cleveland because there were reports that a bomb or hijacking was taking place on our plane. The pilot had radioed that there was suspicious activity in the cabin since one of the passengers was speaking urgently on his cellphone and ignored repeated flight attendant requests to stop using his cell phone while in flight. Also, there was an irregularity in the passenger manifest because there were two people [with the same middle eastern name] who were listed but only one aboard.

After our emergency landing, our plane was directed to go to an isolated area of the airport, and we waited for over two hours in quarantine before FBI agents and bomb sniffing dogs came out to the plane. Just after we landed, the pilot gave us permission to make one very brief telephone call before we were banned from any further telephone use. The sixty or so passengers were thus able to gather some alarming details of the unbelievable fates of the other two LA-bound planes and the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, the suicide bombing of the Pentagon as well as reports of other plane crashes in PA and LA (LA proved unfounded) before we were cut off from any further communication. Unfortunately, all this information only added to the alarm and confusion we felt as we waited for over two hours far away from the gates of the airport.

Finally, a caravan of cars bearing FBI and Treasury agents and bomb sniffing dogs approached our airplane. About twenty or so armed FBI agents and police officers boarded the plane and said there were concerns about our flight and that they were taking precautions to rule out any further danger. We finally were allowed off the plane, told to take all of our personal items and leave everything at the edge of the tarmac. While our personal effects were examined we were taken to a secure building at the airport where for three hours we were interrogated at length about any unusual or suspicious activities we observed at Logan that morning or during our flight. We were all alarmed and distraught about the dribs and drabs of information we were slowly getting from our telephone calls (none of us was able to see a TV or listen to a radio) and feeling unbelievably lucky to be alive.

The agents interrogated two of the passengers at length and we later learned that one of them had an expired drivers' license and that the social security number on his license did not match the one he gave. Despite these unusual circumstances, we were all eventually released and went back to the airplane to gather our belongings. We were then escorted out of the airport without going through the main terminal to avoid what the FBI called a "media circus" because the mayor of Cleveland was holding a press conference stating that there was a bomb on our plane and a hijacker in the cabin. Fortunately we were unaware of these goings-on at the time or it would only have increased our alarm. (By the way, the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper the next morning confirmed all of this and reported that the mayor retracted his comments later that afternoon.)

Because we were in protective custody or detention at the Cleveland airport for so many hours I was not able to make phone calls to let our children know we were okay, and child [...] spent a couple of extremely distraught hours after the school assembly announced the horrific events of the morning. S/he knew [my spouse] and I were on an 8 am flight from Boston to LA and when s/he learned that the two airplanes that crashed into the two WTC towers were 8am flights from Boston s/he feared the worst. S/he called home but there was no one to take the call. S/he had to wait a couple of agonizing hours before we were finally able to call the school to let [them] know we were shaken but alive. Fortunately, I was able to reach [my other child's] school and they pulled [her/him] out of class to reassure [her/him] that we were safe before making the announcement of what had happened that day. We were also able to relay information to [our other child] that we were safe before s/he learned what had happened.

Eight other of our employees, including my [sibling ...], left earlier that morning on another flight to LA, a Sun Air flight that made a connecting stop in Minneapolis. [My sibling] is feeling fortunate that the terrorists did not target their plane because it probably did not have the full load of fuel that a direct flight to LA would have, and it seems they targeted only nonstop flights filled to capacity with fuel. In all, there were 16 [company] employees on two flights to LA leaving at or around 8 am Tuesday heading for [the company's] semi-annual training in LA. The statistical odds of all of us escaping injury and harm are mind-boggling.

My [sibling ...], a [...] executive at [...], works frequently out of an office in the World Trade Center and we were unable to reach him because the telephone circuits to NYC were jammed. I knew s/he and [spouse ...] had vacation plans sometime in September, but I couldn't remember when they were supposed to be back in NYC. We later learned that s/he and [spouse] were just returning from a vacation to Paris and were over the Atlantic when the disaster struck and their plane was turned around to return to Paris, where they remain until they are able to get back home.

These have been the most devastating hours and days. Although it is only two days ago, I feel that a lifetime has passed by. So many people's lives are forever altered. Yesterday while I was watching Good Morning America I was stunned to see three members of [a] family from Onset/Wareham on the television and learned that their brother [...], whom I knew as a child, was on the American Airlines flight that crashed into the WTC. He was supposed to fly out on Monday, but events changed and he was delayed until Tuesday.

Our brush with death was frighteningly close. When our company made the travel arrangements for our trip to LA two months ago, [my spouse] told the staff to book us on the American flight 11, the flight we usually take to LA, but in the day it took for the travel agent to get back to us, the price of the flight had gone up several hundred dollars, and for economic reasons only, [my spouse] instructed the staff to look for a less expensive flight. Fortunately, Delta Airlines had a lower fare. With gallows humor we have all been expressing how grateful we are that [my spouse] is so economy-minded when it comes to travel expenses. Humor aside, though, we are all shaken by how close a call this was, and humbled by the realization that with all of these coincidences, Someone Above must be looking out for us.

In another ironic twist, I had not planned to go on the trip to LA because of my very full schedule of conservation work and the usual back-to-school activities at this time of year. [My spouse] has been very patient and supportive of all the work I've been doing even though it has interfered with our personal lives and was understanding but very disappointed that I would not be joining him on the trip to LA. So, I decided two weeks ago that I would surprise him and meet him in LA by taking another flight. Everyone at [the company] was in on the secret. His assistant [...] helped me explore other flights, and since I had a lot of frequent flier miles on American Airlines we were trying to book a flight on American. She got flight information, but was unable to reach me by telephone to finalize arrangement and e-mailed me. I mistakenly wrote back to her at her home email to tell her to book the flight, and our communications missed each other for a critical one day period. So she and [...], [the company's] operations director, decided in the meantime to use the Delta Airlines miles the company had accrued, since they had just enough for my ticket. Without that missed telephone call and e-mail, I very well might have been using my frequent flier miles on the fated American flight.

I can't tell you how many people on our flight had a similar story. One woman on our flight was an employee of TJ Maxx, and her 15 or so co-workers were on the American flight. She had been furious that her employer wouldn't let her fly with the others because the price of the flight had gone up so much before she booked it. That is how she ended up on our Delta flight.

Delta was very accommodating to us during our ordeal. They put us up in a hotel for the night and kept us updated on events. Unable, and frankly unwilling to fly back to Boston, we rented cars in Cleveland yesterday and arrived home in Boston at 3 am this morning. I am trying to contact all of my friends to let them know that we are okay.

Thanks for your many calls and your e-mails. We are extremely fortunate to be alive. Say prayers for the thousands of unfortunate people who have been lost in this senseless tragedy, and for their families and children.

With love and extreme gratitude,


9/11/2001 Thoughts.

Part of Gray Watson's propaganda.

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