Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Are You Ready? Okay, Lets Roll.

The Flight 93 Memorial

Where do heroes come from?

On September 11, 2001 Captain Jason Dahl and First Officer LeRoy Homer Jr. joined flight attendants Lorraine Bay, Sandra Bradshaw, Wanda Green, CeeCee Lyles and Deborah Welsh in boarding a Boeing 757 aircraft in Newark NJ bound for San Francisco.

These career United Airlines flight professionals had no way of knowing the flight for which they were preparing was destined to become a resolute and enduring symbol of heroism in its most pure form. Flight 93 would come to symbolize two of America's most cherished values - democracy and self-sacrifice.

As the passengers boarded 4 were hijackers with the goal of weaponizing the flight. They entered the plane intent on using Flight 93 to destroy symbols sacred to Americans.

At 8:00 AM Flight 93 backs away from its gate. It is delayed, held due to airport congestion. 

At 8:42 AM  Flight 93 lifts off.

At 8:46 AM  Flight 11 flies into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

At 9:03 AM  Flight 175 flies into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

At 9:24 AM  United Flight Dispatcher Ed Ballinger messages Flight 93 warning of hijack risks. 

At 9:26 AM  Flight 93 confirms receipt of Ballinger's warning.

At 9:28 AM  First Officer Homer radio's "Mayday, Mayday! Get Out!" amidst the sound of violence in the cockpit. It is followed 35 seconds later with "Mayday! Mayday! Get out of here! We're all gonna die here!" 

Hijackers move all passengers to the very rear of the aircraft.

At 9:30 AM  Passengers, now grouped in the back of the aircraft, begin the first of 35 calls using the airplane's airphones along with 2 cell phone calls. Tom Burnett makes several calls to his wife. His wife tells him airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center.

At 9:31 AM  As the pilot and first officer lay wounded and / or dying, the plane is now under the control of one of the hijackers.

Before losing control of the cockpit, however, Captain Dahl is able to activate the aircraft's autopilot system and switch radio communications to be heard by Cleveland Center.

The hijacker's first announcement meant for the passengers is instead broadcast to Cleveland Center. In the background of that transmission flight attendant (believed to be Debbie Welsh) is heard struggling with a hijacker who chillingly announces "Everything is fine. I finished".

At 9:35 AM  Flight Attendant Sandra Bradshaw calls United maintenance to alert them of the hijacking and that a passenger and member of the flight crew have been stabbed.

At 9:37 AM  Flight 77 hits the Pentagon.

Passenger and crew calls confirm for them the fate of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Flight 93's few minutes of ground delay has allowed its passengers the ability to surmise the true knowledge of its intended mission.  All now understand their aircraft is part of a suicide mission.

At 9:37 AM Mark Bingham calls his mother telling her the plane has been hijacked by men claiming to have a bomb. Simultaneously Jeremy Glick calls his wife telling her his flight has been hijacked. Glick's call remains connected until the plane crashes. During the call he tells his wife the passengers and remaining crew have voted to "rush" the hijackers.

At 9:43 AM  Joseph DeLuca calls his father and Todd Beamer attempts to call his wife. Instead Beamer reaches GTE operator Lisa D. Jefferson. 

The hijackers reprogram the plane to fly toward Reagan Airport.

The Route of Flight 93

At 9:50 AM  Flight Attendant Sandra Bradshaw calls her husband telling him she is preparing scalding water to throw at the hijackers. She passes the phone to Honor Elizabeth Wainio.

At 9:55 AM  Bradshaw returns on line to tell her husband that "Everyone is running up to first class, I have to go. Bye"

At 9:57 AM  Wainio tells her stepmother "I have to go they are breaking into the cockpit, I love you". Tod Beamer, during his call with Operator Jefferson, asks her to contact his family, recites the Lord's Prayer and 23rd Psalm, ending his call with the muffled words to his fellow passengers "Are you ready? Okay, let's roll"

The hijacker's now realize a revolt has begun and start maneuvering the plane violently. 

At 9:59 AM  The cockpit recorder captures sounds of a wounded hijacker outside the cockpit. Passengers and crew are now battering the cockpit door with a food cart.

At 10:01 AM  The hijacker pilot repeats "God in Great" several times and asks the other hijacker in the cockpit "shall we pull it down?" 

At this point the second hijacker appears to wrest control of the yoke from the main hijacker pilot who begins yelling "Give it to me!" repeatedly.

At 10:03 AM  Flight 93 plane accelerates, flips upside down, crests a hilltop and then crashes upside down into an empty field in Stonycreek Pennsylvania.

The crash site becomes a crime scene netting the FBI much of the critical evidence allowing for the 911 plot to be discovered.

The Memorial
Crescent of Embrace

A common field one day. A field of honor forever.

At the top of the hill portals composed of tall curving concrete walls frame the sky. 

 The Portals and the Final Flight Path

A walkway tracing the final route of Flight 93 slices through the portals culminating in an overlook of the crash site. Now, forever, a field of honor.

The Overlook

From the portals a large circular walk emerges a crescent of embrace, a walkway extending down into the bowl (passing 40 memorial groves along the way). The groves serve as living, growing tributes to the passengers and crew of Flight 93 whose lives were cut short.

At the Field of Honor individual white stone panels are each etched with only one name. Each panel is part of a whole, yet slightly separated from each other. 

Solidarity and individuality.

A Wall of Honor

The Price

The actual impact site is simply designated with a large boulder at the point of impact. It is ceremonially gated and made accessible only to family members of the victims.

 The Gates
(The boulder in the distance is the impact site) 

A future final element completing the memorial is yet unbuilt. A Tower of Voices, to house 40 chimes representing the last voices heard from the flight activated by the wind. 

The Memorial Architect's Quotes

How do you convey hope?
This project has changed me as an architect. 
It has deepened my resolve to value what we do.  
What we do as architects is unreasonable. 
We try to bring something positive through many barriers.
But, it is worth it.

Paul Murdoch AIA
Flight 93 Memorial Architect

Where do heroes come from?  

Here, in a field of honor, we know this is where one journey of heroes ended.

Visit and you will depart changed, having found tears you did not know you had.

Roadboy's Travels © 2016

PS I couldn't help but wonder why this memorial took so long to be built, and remains incomplete. 

It turns out this $60 million dollar memorial was held hostage for years by a tea party congressman who demanded that any Flight 93 memorial be cheaper and built primarily using private funds (despite nearly $7 million dollars - raised from private donations). 

The same congressman fully supported a $600 million dollar "Road to Nowhere". 

His story is here.

1 comment:

beachdaddy said...

Wow ... you did an amazing job telling this story!!!! As always, great writing .... and I'm happy and proud to know ya!!!