Notes; First flight after September 11, 2001

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by John J, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. John J

    John J Line Up and Wait

    Feb 24, 2005
    Tilghman, Maryland
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    My bride and I, last night, were talking about the first flight I made after 9-11. This came up for we had met earlier in the day another writer who wanted to know when I began to put my book together. My bride answered, "He began the book project just after he first was able to fly after the 9-11 ban was lifted"

    I looked at my log and scrapbook and found notes about that flight. It was a short flight from OWD to EWB and back. My bride wanted to come but she was home with daughter who had come with her husband to stay with us. They had to leave NYC for they lived less than .5 miles from ground zero. Needless to say they were still very much on edge. My bride and I just let them hang out and catch up. At the time all of GA had to fly IFR and VFR would come a little later. I wanted to fly for I knew the world had changed and I wanted to see just by how much. Also I wanted to "stretch my wings" for it had been over 2 weeks since I had flown. The day was like many that month very clear and very little wind to speak of.

    I prept my plane and called Flight Service. The voice on the other end of the line seemed very robatic or very nervous or both. I sensed he was being listened to as he gave me more than a thorough briefing. Plus he gave me all the new regulations TFRs and gosh knows what for the short 31 mile flight. I filed the flight plan with him plus the return flight plan. I felt right away the easy matter of talking to briefers was at an end now.

    Soon I was in the plane and calling Ground Control for clearence. Not the same as a few days before, all very tense and curt. The taxi out seemed to take forever. I was the only plane moving at the airport. I almost could here a pin drop. Ready to go I called the fellow in the Tower and he too was tense but not like the fellow on Ground. As I lifted off I took a deep breath as I climbed out off runway 10. "Contact Boston!" I switched over and called. The voice on the other end immediately came back with a revised clearence. He gave me a heading that I had never seen before that took me due east toward the Atlantic not to the south. I flew this heading until I was over the old Weymouth Naval Air Station. He was very curt and seemed again to be being watched over. I could feel his sweat come through the head set. He then cleared me "Direct Nefor" the LOM for EWB. I was 30 miles away but the ADF was getting a weak signal with some pointing and the GPS I had it already dialed into Nefor. I made my turn carefully for I was very close to down town Boston. One of my old flying buddies who had flown for years in the Air Force told me just before I took off to make all turns standard rate and no more. He emphisised that the guy on the ground will be looking for sudden moves or off course flying. He said; "Keep it tight" over and over and said he would be there when I got back.
    I got on heading immediately and the control asked for an ETA for Nefor. I checked my timer and stop watch and gave him an ETA which the GPS was agreeing with. Soon I was switched over to Providence and they were again had that tense feeling in their communications with me. The Controller told me to expect the full ILS approach and to call him when I got to Nefor. Humm I knew right way knew there would be no vectors to final; another first.

    As I flew out to the outer marker I picked up the localizer and as I hit the marker outbound I gave him a call. He asked me to report procedure turn inbound. I felt a millon eyes were on me and my little plane. I flew the procedure turn called inbound and he told me to call him not the tower when I got to the LOM. Humm another change. I called as the light, sound and the ADF needle swung. I was switched to the Tower and again that same tense voice came on and said "Cleared to land" Soon as I landed the tower told me not to shut off my transponder but to leave it on. I taxied over to my favorite fueling FBO and was very relieved to get out of the plane. The gang at Sand Piper were really glad to see me. They told me that I was the first plane was getting fuel since 9-11. We had a nice "reunion" and then it was time to go home. I had been going to them for a long time for the fuel there was 50 cents cheaper than at OWD.

    The flight home was more what I had been use to;Radar Vectors; Direct OWD. Again the Controllers were tense and I felt the million eyes on my as I flew home. As I flew along I remembered in my early flying years of how the folks on the ground and pilots worked as partners and trusted one another but now it had changed. As I apprached OWD I was given a Visual Approach which made it easy. Again I was told not to turn off my transponder until I was parked. Again I felt the million eyes.

    As I cimbed out of the plane I was relieved to see my airport buddies and they all wanted to know what it was like. I told them it was much different and we as pilots had a lot of work to do to help put Aviation back into a positive light. We all agreed as pilots we knew we all might be told soon that we may not be able to fly like we had before. As I pushed the plane back into the community hanger, I felt like a new fledging bird for I knew I was flying in a very differant world. It was a little scary but I wanted to keep learning and flying as long as I could. I began to work on my book ideal that night as I reflected on my experience that day.

    Thank you for reading

    John J