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  • Sharon Harrington
    Posted July 7, 2022 at 2:12 pm

    Post 9/11 Paranoia

    Air travel used to be fun or at the very least adventurous, at least it was before 9/11 happened. But 9/11 changed everything when it came to flying; whether it was security, boarding a flight, or even what you could do once you were in the air.

    I remember being on a plane just weeks after 9/11 and feeling really nervous about it. I was living in NYC and had to fly to DC for work. It was a relatively short flight, and I had some control over where I departed. Since I was living on Staten Island, I chose to fly in and out of Newark (I could actually see the Newark air traffic control tower from my apartment complex). The flight into DC was pretty uneventful if you call attacks after each little rough air bump uneventful. It was the trip into back into Newark that is etched into my brain.

    The memorable part actually started in the gate area at DCA of the flight. It was a smaller plane, so its gate area was on the lower tier of the A/B terminal where you had to walk down the stairs to get to the 10-12 seats allotted for our actual flight. It was such a small gate area that there wasn’t even a jetway to the plane, a shuttle picked us up and ferried us to the tarmac where we accessed the rollaway stairs to the plane. It was in the gate area where we were all nervously waiting for the boarding announcement when we all noticed a young man of Middle Eastern descent waiting in the gate area with us. One by one, we each in turn noticed him and tried so hard to look at him closely while pretending to NOT look at him at all.

    He looked so nervous (but who wasn’t given the climate in Newark and New York City), which made us all nervous. I could see each of us surreptitiously peering over the tops of our books, magazines, and newspapers at him. In retrospect, I am sure that us trying to look like we weren’t trying to look at him (and failing miserably at it, I might add) is what had him so nervous.

    Finally boarding was announced and you could cut the tension with a knife. The plane was so small that it only held 30 passengers: there were ten rows with a single seat to the left of the aisle and double seats to the right of it. My seat was 9A which was the next to last row on the left of the aircraft directly across from the tiny little restroom. Since I sat in the back, I was able to see where each of my fellow passengers sat, especially the young nervous Middle Eastern man. He was a few rows in front of me in an aisle seat.

    You have to remember that this was in the early days after 9/11 and none of us knew what to expect. One of the things we all seemed intent on was carefully following all crew instructions to the letter. Because we were leaving DC for Newark, the Captain informed us that we must remain in our seats for the first hour of the flight, that leaving our seats could result in the flight being returned to DC or even arrest!

    After that announcement, he added,” There’s some rough air between here and Newark, so be prepared for a bumpy ride! Now just sit back and enjoy the flight!” The first pocket of rough air had us all dropping in altitude abruptly and then climbing back up to altitude. There was a collective gasp from all of us on that first one. After that, the little plane was buffeted around the sky like VW Beetle in a hurricane. We would drop and then climb, drop, and then climb – I was not the only person white-knuckling my seat arm rests as we rode that roller coaster of air.

    Finally, we could feel the slight change in altitude as we started our initial descent into Newark. “This is your Captain, and we apologize for the bumpy ride. We have started our initial descent into Newark, so just remain seated and we’ll get you on the ground as soon as we can!” We all let out an initial sigh at the thought of finally getting off that plane.

    That is until the young Middle Eastern man jumped up out of his seat and bolted towards the back of the plane. It happened so fast he was only a few seats away from me before I could think to even act! My brain was screaming, “It’s a little plane, you can’t do anything with such a little plane! It’s just a little plane!” Hyperventilating, I stuck my foot out into the aisle to at least trip him before he got all the way to the back of the plane. But that wasn’t necessary as a couple of the other passengers tackled him and held him down just almost right beside me. He was fighting to get free of them when he lost all control and vomited all over the aisle! The men holding him finally let him go as he squeaked, “I’m air-sick, I’m air-sick!” and vomited yet again. And indeed, he did look rather green around the gills.

    The flight attendant helped him up and tried to clean him up a bit, but he remained on board as we taxied toward the gate and finally deplaned. I am not really sure what happened to him, but he didn’t get off the plane with the rest of us. As we all made our way off the plane, on to the jetway, and into the terminal hall, none of us spoke. We kept looking at each other, when finally, one man caught my eye and gave me an artificial laugh. “Ha ha.”

    It sounded very forced and not very jovial at all. Then someone else did the same thing, they laughed in a way that sounded like they were trying to convince themselves that it was a funny (ha-ha) event. One by one, every one of my fellow passengers did the same thing, until someone said exactly what we were all really thinking, “Well that just scared the shit out of me!” I was glad to know I wasn’t the only one!

    • Lauren
      Posted July 12, 2022 at 11:05 am

      Thank you for sharing, Sharon. That was an intense moment and glad everyone was okay!

  • Orah Zanur
    Posted July 9, 2022 at 8:54 am

    Here is my story on The Friendly Skies

    By Orah Zamir
             The first time I ever flew was from Boston to Chicago. It was January of 1964, and I was on my way from home to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. The flight was on American Airlines. I sat next to a executive with a large Midwestern company that I had actually heard of. He was a typical executive, middle aged, hair graying, handsome. I was nervous. Whenever the plane shook, even a little bit, I would look at him, a seasoned traveler. He was sitting nonchalantly reading a magazine, so I assumed we were OK.
             When we arrived at O’Hare, we were taxying in. My seatmate looked out the window and saw my Ozark Airlines flight to Champaign-Urbana. He laughed, “A DC3. I haven’t seen one of those since 1936.”
             Then, I was more nervous. I deplaned and looked around to see where I would catch the DC3. Unfortunately, the gate I was at was at one end of the airport, and I had to go all the way to the other end. I was getting confused and more anxious. When I got to the Ozark gate, however, I encountered a young woman who was also on her way to Champaign, Urbana. She was short like me, short brown hair, brown eyes, a pleasant smile and welcoming personality.
    “Don’t worry, she told me. I will show you around and help you get to your dorm.”
             We got on the plane. I did not tell her what the executive had said. As we sat down together, she informed me, “By the way, I have never flown in one of these planes without getting sick.” Well, at least I could not get anymore anxious. The flight was beautiful, perfect. No great wind out of Chicago, no cloud cover. We flew over the fields of Illinois, all green as an emerald and squared like a chess board. She did not get sick. We landed without incident.
             She took me to where I needed to sign in, and then we went to my dorm, the Pennsylvania Avenue Residence, a new dorm and –coed. There were four buildings with sleeping rooms and a common area at the center where there was a cafeteria and lounge rooms. These rooms were coed. Eventually, I would spend most of finals week playing bridge there. Every day a group would gather to watch a soap opera. I don’t remember which one. The rooms were not claustrophobic. I did have a roommate. There was enough room for a bed, a desk, and a closet on each side.
             I was at the University of Illinois for two years. I had completed my first two years at Boston University living at home. I discovered I could go to the University of Illinois, get away from home and get a Journalism degree with a much better rating. I had a boyfriend there. I also had a cousin of my mother’s stationed at a nearby airbase. His wife fixed me up with every new Jewish officer on the base, one of whom was anxious to get married, too anxious. I said no. He was engaged to someone else within a few months. I enjoyed being with my cousin and his family. I got away from school, and they were nice people. I skipped school every Friday afternoon because I had one class, Economics, and it was too hard to go all the way back to campus. I dated the Economics Teacher’s Assistant and passed the course. I also lost my virginity to him one night in his coed dorm where coed was allowed in the rooms.
             My dad flew out for my graduation. My mother did not. I have always had good feelings about him doing that. I did not go back to Boston for a year. I stayed in Chicago, learned about people cross country skiing to work. I walked from the Near North Side. I lived a block from Lake Michigan. I hated my first roommate and nearly got engaged. My second roommate thought I had brain damage,

  • John William Roche
    Posted July 9, 2022 at 9:29 am

    When I transcribe, I always include my brainstorming. There is nothing “touched up.” That comes when I rewrite the story.




    American Airlines Flight # 3                                          C-123
    USAirways Flight # 427                                                   C-130
    F4C Crash                                                                           St. Croix
    Seattle – Yokahoma                                                         Eastern Express LGA- BOS
    Hawaii on 9/11                                                                    B-52 coming at me.
    Pgh – San Juan 1st Class                                                KC-135 hung ordinance
    TWA PIT – Vegas                                                              Jamaica Bay
    TWA Vegas – Chicago                                                     Boston last month
    Dallas underground railway                                           Amsterdam last month
    Brooklyn – San Antonio  Braniff                                  Detroit last month
    It was September, 1966. I had just failed out of college with a D- average. But I had a helluva good time during my freshman year. I’ll just give you a nickname, but I met a girl called “The Puma” at homecoming during the fall of 1965. We dated and partied during the remainder of the school year. We were quite the item, but neither of us made it to our sophomore year.
    Since her family was on the Jersey Shore and I lived in Brooklyn, dating became tougher. During the summer of 1966, her parents decided that she was going to move in with her brother in San Diego. They felt she needed a change of scenery. After she left, we kept in touch and I scheduled a trip to see her for about ten days in September. I had never flown before.
    Since I rode my bicycle everywhere, I cycled out to JFK, where I stumbled into the American Airlines terminal. I often rode out to JFK (formerly known as Idlewild Airport) to go up to the tower. The airport had a viewing area and I loved watching planes take off and land. I walked up to the counter and told the agent of my plans. I had $75 in my pocket. In 1966, students could fly round trip for $75. I cycled back to Brooklyn with round-trip tickets to San Diego.
    On 10 September 1966, my parents drove me to the AA terminal.

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