Remembering September 11

September 11, 2019

While I’m working behind the scenes for tomorrow’s and future podcasts, today’s only post is in memory of 9-11.

This day is always difficult, but so important to remember.

It’s part of our story – mine, my husband’s, our country’s.

While it will always be tragic and sad, I don’t want to evoke pity – instead, it’s part of my story, and it makes me so grateful for what we all are blessed to do and have.

That Day – Eighteen Years Ago

Eighteen years ago, our children were one and three years old.

Our oldest was at pre-school, our youngest was playing with her toys before a morning stroll.

Tom, my husband, was preparing for a trip to Los Angeles out of Washington Dulles International Airport.

I remember clearly, as he tied the knot in his uniform tie, we watched in disbelief on breaking news, the replay of the first airplane disappearing into the North Tower of the World Trade Towers.

We knew that no experienced pilot would fly so close to the city, and waited for more clarification. 

What followed was the same horror which unraveled before the world’s eyes that September morning in 2001.


My husband and I met working trips as flight attendants. 

You could say our extended family are the flight attendants and pilots we’ve worked with, flown with, and explored cities with.

Tom had plans to meet up in LA with Ken and Jennifer Lewis, the married flight attendant couple who were working flight 77 out of Washington Dulles earlier that morning.

Ken and Jennifer were two of our best friends. In the photo above, from left to right: Ken Lewis, Jennifer Lewis, and Tom Pakes, my husband on a trip before 9-11.

Ken was in our wedding.

He and Tom were in the same flight attendant training class together, then were roommates at their first domicile, DCA.

Our circle of flight crew friends are and were our family away from home.

Tom and I knew the entire crew of Flight 77, and flew with them on several occasions. They were all exemplary people and airline professionals.

Eighteen years ago, our day came to an abrupt stop.

The sky stopped moving, airplanes were grounded, and Tom stayed home with me.

We frantically picked up three year old up from pre-school, not knowing what to expect next, and sadly learned the news of our dear friends’ losses on Flight 77 later that morning.

Four peaceful and routine flights to west coast destinations, were brutally hijacked, and ended in tragedies beyond our comprehension.

American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles.

United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles. 

American Airlines Flight 11 from Washington Dulles to Los Angeles.

United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco.

No matter what divides us, remember, the people closest to you could be gone within hours.

While today is difficult to remember, it’s important to hold the memory of those we’ve lost with reverence, but remember the freedoms we enjoy because of their loss. 

Flight 77 Flight Crew: Ken and Jennifer Lewis, Captain “Chick” Charles Burlingame, First Officer, Dave Charlebois, Renee May, and Michelle Heidelberg, we love and miss you. 

To all those lost on 9-11, post-9-11, and all first responders and survivors, God bless you, your families.

One more note: Thank you to the safety professionals on the ground, in the towers, and in flight for keeping us safe every day.

While we may view security checks and precautions as an inconvenience, it’s reality.

Respect and comply with flight crew requests, and thank your flight attendants and pilots.

Timeline of 9-11-01

Credit: Newsweek, “9/11 Timeline: Revisiting the September 11 Attacks At World Trade Center, Pentagon, Flight 93”, by Jenni Fink, 9/11/19


Timeline of Events

5:45 a.m.: Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al-Omari board a flight at Portland International Jetport in Maine, later connecting to American Airlines Flight 11 at Boston Logan International Airport.

7:49 a.m.: Flight 11 takes off.

8:15 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Boston, bound for Los Angeles.

8:20 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Washington Dulles International Airport.

8:24 a.m.: Atta broadcasts a message to air traffic control, “We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you will be okay.” The captain of Flight 175, United Airlines pilot Victor J. Saracini, picks up Atta’s transmission from Flight 11 and informs the Federal Aviation Administration.

8:37 a.m.: Boston’s air traffic control center alerts the Air Force’s Northeast Air Defense Sector to Atta’s message. Air National Guard jets are mobilized to follow Flight 11.

8:42 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93 takes off from Newark International Airport.

8:46 a.m.: Flight 11 crashes into floors 93 through 99 of the north tower of the World Trade Center. Responders mobilize.

8:50 a.m.: President George W. Bush is notified of the attacks while visiting an elementary school in Florida.

8:52 a.m.: A flight attendant on Flight 175 informs a United Airlines operator that the flight has been hijacked.

8:59 a.m.: Port Authority Police Department Sergeant Al Devona orders the twin towers to be evacuated.

9:03 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into floors 77 through 85 of the south tower of the World Trade Center.

9:05 a.m.: Bush is informed a second plane hit the south tower.

9:12 a.m.: Passengers on Flight 77 call their loved ones to tell them the plane was hijacked.

9:37 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon.

9:42 a.m.: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounds all flights.

9:45 a.m.: The White House and Capitol are evacuated.

9:58 a.m.: Flight 93 passenger Edward P. Felt uses his cell phone to dial 9-1-1 and inform emergency operators of the hijacking.

9:59 a.m.: The south tower collapses.

10:03 a.m.: Passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 attack the hijackers aboard their plane in an attempt to seize control. The hijackers crash the plane into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

10:15 a.m.: The Pentagon’s E Ring collapses.

10:28 a.m.: The north tower collapses.

11:02 a.m.: New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani orders the evacuation of Lower Manhattan.

12:16 p.m.: United States airspace is closed.

12:30 p.m.: A group of survivors is found in the lower section of the North Tower’s stairwell B.

Brenna Pakes

I share a world of unique jewelry created by independent jewelers and designers with shoppers and readers.

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