A TWA pilot who narrowly prevented collisions with hijacked planes heading towards the assault on the World Trade Center and the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 11, 2001, stays 22 years later as an unsung hero.
These little-known incidents are buried within the historical past of 9/11, when 2,977 individuals had been killed on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on 4 planes commandeered by Islamist terrorists.
The pilot of TWA Flight 3 took “avoidant action” twice earlier than touchdown safely – first to keep away from colliding with United Flight 175, which hit the World Trade Center, then with Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, based on a flight primarily based in New York. attendant who was a part of the crew.
“There were two near misses,” she informed the Post.
The imperturbable pilot has by no means been commemorated, and even publicly recognized, within the September 11 Commission Report or different accounts.
Yet for the passengers of this fateful flight, it stays unforgettable.
“He saved our lives, without a doubt,” mentioned retired FDNY Lt. Charlie Hubbard, who was one among them.
TWA’s Boeing 767 took off from JFK for St. Louis at 8:47 a.m. – nearly precisely when hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower at 8:46 a.m. – the primary to hit the World Trade Center.
The cockpit commander was “George,” mentioned the flight attendant, who solely remembered his first identify.
As the TWA aircraft climbed into clear blue skies, passengers noticed a surprising sight: the World Trade Center on fireplace.
Minutes later, the aircraft collided with United 175 on its strategy to New York from Boston, the flight attendant mentioned. “We were scissoring up and down,” she recalled, referring to a defensive maneuver.
“I thought we were going to crash,” one of many terrified TWA passengers informed ABC News in a resurfaced message. Video clip.
The aircraft was “shaking” because it was “descending and ascending”, he mentioned. “And then you can just see, like the plane just circled around us really close.”
After studying that United 175 had struck the South Tower at 9:03 a.m., TWA flight attendants pushed meals carts in opposition to the cockpit door to protect in opposition to a potential hijacking.
The pilot warned the crew “that he would be standing behind the door with an axe,” the New York attendant recalled.
Brought into the cockpit to take away the pilots’ meals trays, she remembers a chilling warning over the loudspeaker: “This is a national emergency.” By order of the federal authorities, any plane nonetheless airborne inside 20 minutes can be shot down by pleasant fireplace.”
The pilot had initially deliberate to make an emergency touchdown in Indianapolis, however was diverted to Dayton, Ohio.
Passengers capable of name dwelling “started shouting that the Pentagon had been hit,” the flight attendant recalled.
American Airlines Flight 77 terrorists crashed into this constructing at 9:37 a.m.
Then, “proximity alarms” in TWA’s cockpit warned that one other aircraft was flying under 1,000 toes.
The pilot took evasive motion once more – to get away from Flight 93, from Newark, which was headed to Washington, D.C., the flight attendant mentioned.
Flight 93 crashed right into a area in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 10:03 a.m. after courageous passengers fought to regain management from the hijackers.
After Pilot George landed in Dayton, he neutrally confirmed that he had prevented a aircraft that hit the WTC.
“Well, he was up there after we got here from New York. So what we needed to do was they (flight controllers) weren’t speaking to him, and he was altering heading and altitude, in order that they allowed us to deviate, however we needed to keep away from him. he told ABC World News Tonightwho didn’t identify him.
“We had it in sight – it was a gorgeous day in New York. We had been out of the clouds which helped rather a lot. You know, we simply dodged it.
The TWA crew arrived on the St. Louis hub two days later to applause and realized how shut that they had come to the second hijacked aircraft. The flight attendant mentioned, “We missed their tail by 500 toes. »
“We’re lucky to be alive,” mentioned Hubbard, who had simply retired from Engine 5 on the Lower East Side and was heading to Hawaii together with his brother James, a nurse who died of most cancers there. is six years previous.
Hubbard recently told the harrowing expertise on X, previously Twitter.
The proven fact that no collision occurred explains why the close to misses had been forgotten, mentioned Mary Schiavo, a former inspector common for the U.S. Department of Transportation and one among a number of attorneys who gained a $500 million settlement with airways for the households of these killed.
Any flight crew that takes evasive motion to keep away from a collision must report it to their airline, which in flip would file a type with the Federal Aviation Administration, Schiavo mentioned.
American Airlines, which absorbed TWA later in 2001, didn’t return messages.
When requested for studies of 9/11 close to misses, an FAA spokesperson supplied none.
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