|I do not have a dramatic
story, I was not in NYC, but I will never forget that day .
Well, I am an airline pilot
now, but at the time I was a flight attendant just getting
my pilot’s license, dabbling in arts on the side. I flew
down from Ottawa to Toronto Island in a small plane, as I
had an audition in Toronto on the morning of the 11th. After
showing up ready to win the part, I couldn’t figure out why
I wasn’t being “tended to”—the TV studio was a mess, no one
had a second for me, and eventually hours had passed, so I
left and figured “who needs that part, anyway?”
It wasn’t until I tried to
get back to the plane (at City Centre Airport) that I
realized something was wrong. Then as I walked to the bus
station, amidst the bustling of people in a state of
controlled panic, I was handed the evening edition of a
newspaper. My heart broke, devastated that my friends and
colleagues were up there that day. I’d traded shifts with a
close friend to get to my audition.
I think the entire bus was silent on the ride back to
Ottawa. The next day, the gravity of the situation really
hit me. I watched as the news replayed the horrible events
of the day.
With my father and sister
both working in the airlines, and both my mother and other
sister in aviation, we had a gut-wrenching feeling that
something more than the immediate tragedy of lives lost and
a wonderful city in distress was about to hit the industry.
Jobs were lost, thankfully not ours, but many close to us.
My newly minted commercial license was not to be used for
years as thousands of pilots, much more qualified than I,
were all hoping to gain the very few jobs available.
Once back at my flight
attendant job a few days after the event, we saw the best of
our passengers come to our attention. They were patient and
kind, always understanding that our aviation family is
indeed small, and a very close-knit one at that. When we
lose one of our brothers or sisters, we all feel it very
Eventually, I did finally
get that elusive first flying job. Every September 11th, no
matter where I was employed, in the bush or in the city,
everyone remembered and stopped to pay tribute to the lives
lost that day. We all love what we do, and in a way, do it
for those who can no longer, due to circumstances too tragic
to have imagined at one time. No one should ever go to work
and not come back home. I will never forget.
First Officer Nina Johnston, Jazz