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Monday, September 5, 2011

Banjo Remembers 9/11

Please go to this page.  This page has been updated and includes additional stories from other family members.  I'm keeping this page here as some other sites have linked to this page.

I was home on 9/11 in order to change our cable TV over to a different service provider.  While waiting for someone to show up, my wife called from work to tell me that a plane had flown into a tower - she thought it was a traffic spotter plane; at the time, I understood that she was talking about an event in downtown Atlanta.  I said I didn't know if we had a TV signal yet, but would check...I remember wondering how a small plane could have flow into a tower in Atlanta, as the weather was pretty clear.

I checked the TV, and we had a signal!  Apparently, the cable company had been able to hook everything up from outside and never rang my doorbell.

I watched on NBC as Tom Brokow reported about the event of a plane flying into a tower in downtown NY.

I'm an instrumented-rated pilot, and the first thing I noticed, after realizing the tower was one in NY, not Atlanta, was that it was "severe clear" in pilot lingo.  Not much chance for a weather related visibility problem, so this was a real mystery....

I called my wife back to let her know that it wasn't Atlanta, but was in NYC, and explained my confusion about how this could happen with the weather being so clear...I was beginning to suspect the pilot had become incapacitated while flying.

While my wife was on the phone, I saw the 2nd plane banking into a left hand turn.  I thought I was seeing a replay of the original impact. I was truly stunned to realize this was a full size commercial jet aircraft, and that it was in a turn heading at the tower!  So that meant the impact had not been due to a pilot being incapacitated, so I was now doubly confused.  I watched as the plane impacted the tower and exploded through it....and I saw the first tower, and realized there were two towers involved, and this wasn't a replay, but was a new impact; two planes, two towers!!!

I thought "there's no way that second impact was a mistake", and I told my wife, who I had been giving a play-by-play, that she was to get out of the tower she was in and get home NOW, that we were under attack!  She later said she told her manager she was leaving because of the attacks on the towers, and that dumb-ass woman treated my wife like she was goofy, saying "it's just a small plane flying into a building for christ sakes", but my wife did tell her she was leaving and she was leaving now.  Bless my wife ability to take action when it is needed and override dumb-ass corporate managers.

So my wife headed home.  I called my office to let them know what I was seeing on TV, and that I would not be coming in.  My wife showed up at our house about a half hour later.

I called our youngest daughter, who was in college at Kennesaw State University, which is located next to an Air Force base, and told her to get out of that area now; if we're under attack, then that base may be a target.  I told her it was OK to bring her boyfriend home too if she wanted to, as he was from out of town and no way to get back to his home.  So she headed home with him.

My oldest daughter had just started a new job as a programmer the day before, on 9/10!  She was in training when they got the word, and all training was stopped and they were told to go home, so she came home as well.

We spent the rest of that day and the next several days watching TV and feeling sick - news accounts were saying the death toll could be as high as 30,000 people!

I remember one really different thing - everyone stopped blowing their horns at other cars - for weeks!  If someone was slow ahead of you, no one honked their horn.  If they made a mistake, they were just waved on.  Jay Leno canceled his Tonight Show appearances, saying this wasn't the appropriate time to be telling jokes.

And, for a while, we were all Americans, liberal as well as conservative, with a common, unified goal - get the SOBs that had done this to us.  And I remember thinking, as a Southerner - they've killed our Yankees, and I hope we bust their ass for it.

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