Wings Magazine

Features Operations
A Day of Infamy

September 11

October 24, 2007
By Doug Morris



Halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, flying from Frankfurt to Toronto, we
began hearing escalating chatter over the air-to-air frequency of
123.45 MHz. Two days before, the topic of conversation was rather
mundane, pertaining to the turbulence encountered over the mid-Atlantic
heading eastbound, and as usual it was mostly dominated by American

that day – September 11 – the topic of conversation was surreal. Could
I believe what I was hearing: a plane crashed into the World Trade
Center and possibly one another 15 minutes later? More and more
conversations verified this as datalinks from their respective
dispatchers began pouring into the flight decks. We listened to
President George Bush's short speech on BBC via HF radio, acknowledging
the attack as an act of terrorists.

Nearing landfall, we learned
that American airspace was closed. We too datalinked a message to our
dispatch asking to confirm that the events that happened were true, as
it still didn't seem to be sinking in. The events were verified,
followed by instructions to avoid American airspace and to lock the
flight-deck door. The 'in charge' was briefed, followed by the flight
attendants. and it was decided not to tell the passengers as mayhem
could have broken out. As westbound flights were identified by Gander
radar they were told they had to land in eastern Canada. One could see
airplanes making sharp turns to places like St. John's, Stephenville,
Gander and Halifax.


While enroute the captain decided to move
the fire axe closer to make it readily accessible. I'm not sure if he
meant to use it or to hide it from a potential intruder. He asked me if
I could or would use it if need be. I said probably not, although one
never knows what one would do when backed into a corner.