Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 - A look back in time

Excuse the line spacing, I typed it in word and pasted it.

The morning of 9/11 began like many other mornings that summer. I was living in Hondo, Texas, and working on a rainfall enhancement project with Weather Modification, inc, as a pilot on a Cessna 340.

Every morning, it was about the same routine for me. I would wake up, have some

breakfast, and go online to check my email and read online news, and also to have

television news channels on. I got online, and saw an news item regarding a plane

crashing into the World Trade Center. At first, I thought it was probably a small civilian

type plane. Back in 1945, a B-25 had crashed into the Empire State Building, when

flying in the wrong direction in clouds and fog.

But soon, it was obvious this was more, something much more. I turned on the television

and saw the tragedy that was unfolding before my eyes, with a combination of grief, and anger. The initial reports suggested possibly 30,000 had died, and some were saying up

to eight planes were hijacked, and that there may have been a bomb explosion outside

of a building in NY. Luckily, these reports were not accurate.

At 11am, it was time to go to the meterological trailer we had at the airport, that operations were conducted out of. We had satellite tv in there, and we all just watched

the news, without many words being spoken at all. Not much had to be said. Even

if suitable weather for cloud seeding operations had occurred, we would not have

been able to fly. All US civilian aviation was grounded until further notice.

Afterwards, I went back to my apartment, and continued to watch the news. One of

the world things is just a feeling of helplessness, over not being able to do anything at

all about what was going on. All I could do is just sit there, watching the television and

checking online news websites for the newest updates.

I did hear about a blood drive event in San Antonio, and I got my vehicle and drove to

San Antonio, to give blood. When I arrived, there were so many people who had

the same idea. Also, there were so many American flags on display too, and there was

donated food also. It just put a lump in my throat, and a bit teary eyed, that in this time

of tragedy and disaster at the hands of Islamic terrorists, that here were people coming

together, and Ol’ Glory was still proudly waving in the air, defiantly at that and in

large numbers.

Unfortunately, much of that donated blood did not end up being needed, since those

who were still in the WTC at the time of the collapse, died in it.

When I came home, I called my mom in Wichita Falls, discussing calamity of that day.

I know I do not call home enough, but on that day, it was just something that I had

to do.

For those of us of my generation, this is one of those life changing events like

what previous generations endured, such as the Pearl Harbor attack, or the

Kennedy Assassination, that serves as a pre and post frame of reference for events.

I find myself looking at time as pre 9/11 and post 9/11, in how I few that time in my


The summer of 2001 was a great summer for me, with aviation as a career being full

of promise, living near the Texas Hill Country, which is an area that I love. I was

doing plenty of dating, including a stewardess with Continental Airlines and just enjoying life. The main reason I had asked for this job, was that I was probably going to the

regional airlines afterwards, so this was my chance to have some fun and make

some better money, before going to the routine and boring life as an airline pilot.

But I was actually just enjoying life at this time. Early mornings were rare,

I was 30 minutes from San Antonio, and just having a blast. For one of the

first times in my life, I was really enjoying what I was doing and my life at

the time.

After 9/11 I was hoping to find a job in the San Antonio area after this project, so that I could continue living there. But unfortunately, the aviation sector was devastated, so that the only job I could find, was with an air ambulance company in a small New Mexico town. But, taking that job in NM exposed me to aerial forest fire operations, which is

what I want to do with my pilot career, with a stint in 2004 as a large airtanker pilot,

one of the most memorable events of my life. And of course, I have gotten to know

Chuck, the NM ANG F-16 pilot, whom I can count among my best friends.

What would my life have been like if 9/11 had not happened? Who knows, all I know is

the reality of life as I type this.

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