Polls & QuizzesPoll: Was Your Flying Directly Impacted by the 9/11 Attacks?By Editorial Staff - September 13, 20192PrintEmailFacebookTwitterLinkedin 911 PollWas Your Flying Directly Impacted by the 9/11 Attacks? Thankfully, I was on the ground that day. Yes, I was a passenger and got stranded. Yes, I was flying that day and got stranded. Not on 9/11, but the effects went on for weeks. CommentsThis field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. Δ
As a CFI, I was flying with a student in the local practice area when the tower called and told me all flights in the USA were ordered to to land immediately, so I RTB’d and landed. My income stopped that day until flight instructing was allowed again, several weeks later.
I was on my way to Hudson’s Bay in the King Air for some goose hunting. We saw the first building on fire before departure. In northern Minnesota, ATC came back with “Well, guys–things have gone from bad to worse out East–an airplane has hit the second tower as well–this is a national emergency, all aircraft will be grounded.
They started out with the airlines–“Northwest XXX, can you land at Aberdeen?” Response was “negative–and how do we know this is a valid directive?” ATC responded with “You are cleared Direct Minneapolis (no arrival)–and went on to do the same for every airline on the frequency before starting out on non-airline aircraft.
By this time, we were within 60 miles of the Canadian border–I altered course to the east as the border runs southeast–in order to get into Canada first–ATC usually hands off to Winnipeg about 30 miles south of the border. Each private aircraft received the same query–“Can you land at KXXX?” Finally, it was our turn–“Would you like to go to Grand Rapids, or Duluth?” I replied “stand by”–hoping he would take the hint and just hand us off to Winnipeg. ATC eventually came back with “The Air Force has decided for you–you’re going to Duluth.” On the way to Duluth, ATC contacted Air Force flight XXX–“you’re cleared direct Duluth”–to which they responded “Negative–we’re a Looking Glass flight” (the Air Force used to keep a command and control KC-135 airborne in the event of a national emergency–one wonders why it was in northern Minnesota that day?). ATC replied–“you MUST land Duluth–we have F-16s on the ready pad for an intercept.” Looking Glass replied calmly–“We need to go back to Offutt (Omaha–military field)–we have lots of fuel, we will hold while you work that out.” Fifteen minutes later, they had their clearance.
We landed at Duluth (on the approach, ATC sent the local police to escort the ILS construction crew off the airport). ATC thought the hold would last “a few hours”–and FSS took our new flight plan to Canada. Tower advised us to “contact us at 1400 local with engines running”–when we did, they told us “Sorry–they just cancelled your clearance.” We stayed in limbo for nearly 3 days–then rented a car and drove home.