September 11, 2001. Every pilot
remembers where he or she was that morning. It is a moment
etched in our memories that we will truly never forget.
While every American shares in the pain of that day, it was
different for airline pilots. For us, it hit far closer to
home. It is a rare day when we show up for work and donít
think of what happened 10 years ago. Signs of it are around
us everywhere, from the TSA agents in their government
uniforms to the reinforced cockpit door that we lock before
every pushback. It is impossible for us to escape the
reminders of the terrible events of September 11th.
Like all of you, I remember
that morning like it was yesterday. I was scheduled to catch
a noon flight from my home in Orlando to an MEC meeting in
Philadelphia. I turned on the TV to CNBC at about 8:30 a.m.
and gave my attention to getting ready for the day as the
news played in the background. Overhearing a reporter
mention that there had been an incident at the World Trade
Center, I dropped what I was doing and watched the horrific
events unfold on live television. First described by the
reporter as a small plane accidentally hitting the North
Tower, it quickly became obvious that this was no accident.
American Airlines Flight 11 had struck the North Tower, and
I watched in disbelief as United Airlines Flight 175 struck
the South Tower.
As Iím sure many of you did,
I remained motionless for quite some time, trying to process
the shock of what I had just seen. And then, like so many
people have done in the 10 years since, I began to ask
myself how and why. As the dust settled in New York and
Washington, D.C., I pondered what the attacks would mean for
our profession. Before this ďday of infamy,Ē our profession
as airline pilots seemed relatively secure from hijackings,
or at least so I thought. I was jolted by this sudden attack
on our nation. September 11, 2001, snapped me out of a false
sense of security. Every time we don our uniforms and enter
an airport to go flying, we are constantly reminded of that
dreadful day 10 years ago.
As we approach this 10-year
anniversary, I want to take a moment recognize all of our
fellow pilots who work to keep our country safeóto make sure
that we donít have to wake up to another horrific morning.
From the many military veterans in our ranks and the FFDOs
who protect our cockpits to the safety and security
volunteers in our union who work to make the skies safe for
us and our passengers, our fellow pilots are constantly at
work to make sure that while we will never forget that
horrible day, we also will never have to relive it. Please
thank your union brothers and sisters who do this important
work. We owe all of them a debt of gratitude.
First Officer Linden Hillman, AirTran