So I’m back from my vacation and I wanted to share with you guys my favorite stop. We visited the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania. My apologies if I explain things in this post that you already know. I know that a lot of people know about the attacks on September 11th, 2001, but they may not know some important details (I know I didn’t!). I also know I have quite a few followers from other countries, and considering I am not a student in another country, I’m not sure how informed you guys are of the attacks! If this is something you are interested in, go ahead and read my thoughts! If you aren’t interested in this type of thing, this post may not be for you.
So in my school, we watch videos about 9/11 every year. Most of my teachers chose the film 9/11. This film is quite spectacular and captures so much of the “behind the scenes” if you will, of the attacks. Originally this film was going to document a man’s experience as a firefighter. During the filming, the World Trade Center was struck by a plane. This film turned into a documentation of what we now know as 9/11. The film shows the procedure of the firefighters and the police inside and outside of the towers. It’s a thought provoking film. These people had no idea that anything like this would happen, they were simply living their lives. You can see the pure terror on the citizen’s faces as they realize that the second tower had been hit as well. I will admit, there are a few moments in the film that were quite hard for me to watch. You occasionally hear loud ‘smacks’ in the film. I didn’t really pay attention to them until my teacher pointed out that they were bodies hitting the cement, as many people chose to jump to end their lives that day. The documentary is raw and never loses edge. It’s reality, and that’s what I like about it!
Now, onto my point. This film that all my teachers chose to show, mainly focuses on the Twin Towers. Understandably so! But there were two other planes hijacked that day. One hit the side of the Pentagon, and one hit a field in Pennsylvania, Flight 93. I think we tend to leave out Flight 93 when we think about 9/11 because around 3,000 people died in the attack, but on Flight 93, it was only 40. 40 seems like a small number compared to 3,000, but it’s still a lot of people who passed away tragically.
Here’s a bit of background on Flight 93:
Seven crew members were assigned to Flight 93. Thirty-three passengers were traveling for ordinary reasons. The terrorists targeted domestic flights that; normally had few passengers so they would have less resistance, used the type of aircraft that they had been trained to pilot, were non-stop, coast-to-coast flights with full fuel tanks that would cause the maximum amount of destruction, and were departing at approximately the same time so they could make a coordinated, surprise attack.
The hijackers on September 11, 2001 were terrorists on a suicide mission. This was the first time hijackers used commercial airliners as weapons to destroy symbolic targets, commit mass murder, and spread terror.
On that morning, three of the four hijacked flights departed on schedule. However, Flight 93 was delayed more than 25 minutes due to typically heavy morning traffic. Just four minutes after Flight 93 departed, hijacked Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. At 9:03 a.m., a second hijacked plane, Flight 175, hit the South Tower.
At 9:37 a.m. hijacked Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. The Federal Aviation Administration, at 9:45 a.m., ordered all aircraft to land at the nearest airport. An estimated 4,500 aircraft landed safely without incident. This was the first time such an order had been given in United States aviation history. By that time, though, Flight 93 was not responding to any orders.
At about 9:28 a.m., after 46 minutes of routine flight across Pennsylvania, the terrorists on Flight 93 overtook the cockpit, turning the plane on a course directed toward Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital. The passengers and crew were forced to the back of the plane and told to be quiet. Using airfones, passengers and crew began making calls to report the hijacking. They soon learned the shocking news about the other hijacked planes and quickly realized that Flight 93 was part of a larger attack on America. This realization led to a vote and a collective decision to fight back.
In just over 30 minutes, this diverse group of people on Flight 93 developed a plan and put it into action. The cockpit voice recorder captured the sounds of their struggle: shouts, screams, calls to action, and sounds of breaking glassware. To stop the uprising, the terrorist piloting the aircraft began to roll it to the left and right, and pitch the nose up and down in attempt to get the passengers away from the cockpit. In its final moments, the plane turned upside down as it passed over rural Western Pennsylvania. The terrorists remained in control of the plane and chose to crash it rather than risk the passengers and crew regaining control of the aircraft.
At 10:03 a.m., Flight 93 plowed into an empty field at a speed of 563 miles per hour. Upon impact, the 7,000 gallons of jet fuel on board the aircraft exploded, creating a ball of fire that rose higher than the trees.
Recovered evidence and responses to interrogations revealed that the terrorists’ intended target was most likely the United States Capitol Building, where the nation’s legislators were in session. Flight 93 crashed only 20 minutes flying-time from Washington, D.C.
Because of the quick and determined actions of the passengers and crew, Flight 93 was the only one of the four hijacked aircraft that failed to reach the terrorists’ intended target that day. The passengers and crew showed unity, courage, and defiance in the face of adversity.
The Flight 93 Memorial is a fairly new National Park in America. They are still finishing up building the visitor’s center. It’s a very calm and beautiful place. It’s quiet, and gives you a lot of space to sit and show your respects to the brave passengers aboard Flight 93.
These people were from multiple different countries, backgrounds, races, ages, political standpoints, religions, but they all came to a uniform agreement that they needed to try to take control over the plane. It seems nearly impossible, doesn’t it? Differences are always getting in the way of us getting along. These 40 people realized after calling their loved ones and hearing about the previous attacks that morning, that they were going to be a part of something much worse if they didn’t take action. They set up a plan, to barge into the cockpit and take back the plane. Recordings from the voice recorder in the cockpit capture the sounds of their struggle. The terrorists whipped the plane around, throwing these people back and forth in attempt to get them to give up. They didn’t though. One man can be heard saying, “We need to get in there, if we don’t we will die.”
I think this says a lot about the faith of these people. They truly believed that they could get in there and take control of the plane. They believed that they would make it to safety and survive.
One man, Todd Beamer, called an operator, which is the last phone call made from Flight 93. At the end of this call, he turned away from the phone and said to the passengers, “Are you ready? Let’s roll.”
This quote became very famous. That was the start of a revolutionary decision made by the passengers and crew to charge the cockpit.
What really gets me is that they planned to charge it over a rural area, so that if the plane were to crash, there wouldn’t be as many people injured/killed. Now I’m not sure about you guys, but if I was in this position, I’m not too sure I’d be thinking about the people on the ground.
When the terrorists decided that the passengers were too close to getting into the cockpit and taking over, they turned the plane upside down, and the last words heard on the cockpit recorder were “Allah is the greatest,” said by one of the terrorists.
Nobody survived this crash, but as the passengers had planned, no one in the surrounded area was injured.
The terrorist’s target for Flight 93 was the Capitol Building. That day, the Capitol Building had around 5,000 people in it, not including visitors. Not to mention, the tourists that would’ve surrounded the area.
The passengers of Flight 93 took action and saved thousands of lives. They surely had time on their side considering their flight was 25 minutes late. If it was on time, they wouldn’t have even known about the previous attacks on the World Trade Center or the Pentagon.
The 40 people on this flight are surely considered heroes in my eyes. They fought back against terrorism, which is a scary thought on it’s own.
This is the wall of the names of the victims at the memorial. One woman was even pregnant with her first child, as her section said, “Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas and her Unborn Child.”
There were sections on the wall lining the field where people could put flowers or flags or whatever they wanted to show their respect. I liked this one because someone had put a little statue of the Capitol Building, the intended target.
It was hard to get a good picture, but the cut grass is the plane’s flight path. The boulder (which is hard to see) is the estimated impact point. Only family is allowed to go past the gate I was standing behind.
After the wreckage from the plane was cleaned and the FBI had all the evidence they needed/could find, everyone planted grass and wildflowers in the field to make it look like nothing ever happened. This provides a peaceful environment for the eternal resting place of these heroes.
Here’s another picture I got of the boulder. It had American flags by it, which you probably can’t see in the picture!
Well, that’s my spiel on Flight 93. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Source (or what I remembered from the lecture I attended at the memorial! I apologize if any information is off!)