Sunday, September 11, 2016

Throwing rocks

This is a nice piece of journalism: Two pilots in unarmed fighter planes intending to take down Flight 93 by raw impact. All of it seems unbelievable, but I believe it absolutely.

I was about two weeks into my first reporting job, and, having no idea how to respond to any of it, was driving the outer loop around Columbus on my way to the state emergency response center, which I had previously visited. From the outer loop you can see the skyline, of course, and the remarkable image was the city's police helicopter--hovering in fixed position over the capitol building.

Fourteen years ago I interviewed those guys in the helicopter, and it was essentially the same story. They had no idea what they were going to do, but that was one thing they were thinking. Putting aside the courage that would be involved and overcoming the self-preservation instinct, I have to think it would have been technically a hard thing to do; I can't imagine ordinary flying experience gives you the ability to bring two paths together; rather the opposite.

Two or three times during the day the FAA ordered all traffic down, including police helicopters. I'd love to know if that order was universally followed, and what our American pilots were thinking.

My own mission ended in failure. I could not gain admission at the emergency response center. But I did get an indelible image: While I sat in the parking lot watching the locked doors, one person did drive up and gain admission: A delivery driver from Papa John's.


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