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Living History
Last Updated: Sep 19th, 2011 - 19:28:10


World Trade Center Terrorist Act - As I've Seen It From The Air
Aug 14, 2011, 1:30pm

World Trade Center Terrorist Act - As I've Seen It From The Air

Please note: All images are copyrighted and cannot be used without the photographer's permission. He was kind to let us post these in our archive for educational purposes. Please contact him for permission before any use.



That morning I took off from my field in Northern NJ to just bum around as usual in a rented Cessna 172SP and was planning to do the VOR approach at FWN and an ILS at MSV to keep my instrument skills in check, when I climbed out to about 2500 and leveled out to stay under Class B airspace floor, I was right about over Lincoln Park airport (N07) when I glanced back at the city and saw the smoke coming out of WTC (it was a VFR and a million morning, so you could really see far out), "damn! wtf?" I thought as I hit the throttle and went direct to Alpine Tower where I joined the Hudson VFR corridor, and tuned in to the self-annoucement UNICOM freq 123.05. There was all kinds of talk about a "commuter plane gone into WTC", so I also tuned in to 1010 WINS AM newsradio on the ADF receiver and listened in, they hadn't had a clue either, all they were saying that a plane went into the building. Meanwhile I was just heading down the corridor at all the speed that a fully-shoved C-172 throttle can afford and annoucing myself as usual "Spamcan 123, one thousand feet, GWB, southbound", and by the time I made it to about Holland Tunnel I saw a bunch of helicopters around the WTC, smoke billowing out of the #1 tower and the atmosphere of some real big things happening.

As I'm flying closer, almost opposite the WTC, right next to the Harborside Center in Jersey City, I see this airliner coming down in a steep bank, my first thought was, WTF is this guy doing!??? Why is he diving so steep to take a look at the fire! And it's an airliner! (looked like a 737 to me at the time). I muttered something along the lines "Jeez, this guy is gonna get so fired by his airline, it's not even funny!" The next moment.... it hits the building.... I felt like I was inside a cartoon or a movie, maybe that "Independence Day" flick, at the moment I thought I was seeing things, like this can't be, this isn't real... But I had my camera in hand and snapped virtually a split second later after the impact, I was simply too awestruck when I saw the plane, so it didn't click in me to actually shoot the thing (but if I had a Stinger SAM with me, damn, I wish I did and I would)

Next... I didn't know what to do, but I headed out towards Sandy Hook, called the approach and begged them for flight following, just GET ME OUTTA HERE... they kept me on following until about Colts Neck VOR where they said "unable" and told me I was on my own.... I tried to go back to my field, tuned in the tower... they couldn't hear me, but I could hear that TEB was closed and they were about to get closed and told every aircraft to land.. gave up on the thought of going back to my field and landed at a first field in sight, , where a bunch of other awestruck pilots where trying to get a grasp on what's going on.... After couple of hours it calmed down and airport manager shutdown the place and gave me a lift back to my airport, where I picked up my car... the FBO was closed...
HECTOP 9/12/01


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