It was a day off from my duties as a B-777 first officer.

I was in the library at Texas A&M University, where I was doing graduate study.

My wife called my cell phone from her workplace, and said that somebody had just flown an airplane into the World Trade Center in New York City. She didn’t say “airliner.” I told her it was probably some light airplane pilot who made a tragic mistake.

Half an hour later, she called back. She said it happened again.

I left the library and went over to the student union building to watch TV. I stayed glued to the television all day, until a graduate seminar that night, where the professor suspended the normal instructional routine and we discussed what happened. The professor and I were the two oldest people in the room, surrounded by a lot of young, impressionable, traditionally college-age kids. I was able to answer a number of questions about airline operations, but knew very little about terrorism.

I hope we helped them make sense of this. Ten years later, I haven’t done that for myself.

Captain Dave Nelson, Continental