Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11, 2001

The hijacking of passenger aircraft attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Towers occurred on Tuesday September 11, 2001.  In Bishop it was just before 6:00 o’clock am when the first attack occurred.

I was still a Fireman then, and that day I was the “Duty Officer” which meant that I would be responsible for managing any activities that the firefighting resources on the Inyo National Forest might be called on to perform.

At about 6:30am the phone rang.  I was already up, even though I didn’t go on duty until 8:00am.  It was your Grandma, Deborah.  She told me that there had been an accident in New York – a plane had flown into a building.

We did not have cable TV in Bishop, and there were are no broadcast stations there at that time, so I turned on the radio and also logged into the internet to find out was going on.  I wasn’t overly concerned as I knew that, sometimes, especially in bad weather, inexperienced and/or careless pilots sometimes did foolish things.

It didn’t take long listening to the radio and reading on the internet before I knew that there was much reason to be concerned.  I immediately called our Dispatch Office and they were freaked out.  The FAA had called them and wanted to know how many airliners we could park at the Bishop Airport.  The FAA was considering not letting any aircraft fly near big cities and direct them to land at smaller airfields where the were few, if any, tempting targets for the terrorists.

The Bishop Airport was built as a training base for WWII bomber crews, so the runways are long and wide, easily big enough for jet airliners.  I went to the Airport and consulted with the Airport Manager trying to determine where, how and how many aircraft the field could handle.  As you can imagine, the timeframe was very short.  Before we had made any determination the FAA canceled the request.

I then went back home for a while as we were worried about your Aunt Doris who was living in Brooklyn at the time.  She could see the towers from her apartment.  She was never in any danger.  Our cousin John Meade, a FDNY Fireman, was off-duty that day.  He did lose his Father-in-law and a Brother-in-law.