Many people have done courageous things, but the story of Flight 93 on September 11, 2001 shows what courage really is and makes me proud to be an American. Todd Beamer and a few others have been recognized, but most people on that plane haven't been.
Around 7:20 a.m., Flight 93 began boarding for its 8:01 departure but it left late, around 8:42 a.m. According to the 9/11 Commission staff report, at 9:29 a.m., the Cleveland controller and the pilots of aircraft in the vicinity heard "a radio transmission of unintelligible sounds of possible screaming or a struggle from an unknown origin."
Tom Burnett called his wife and told her to call the authorities. That was a very risky action, but his call made it possible for the FBI to know what was happening on Flight 93. Burnett called his wife two more times to tell her what direction he thought the plane was headed. In his final call, he told her there was a plan to overpower the terrorists.
Todd Beamer made a call to an operator in Oak Brook, Illinois and told her he and other passengers were going to jump the hijacker with the bomb. After that, the connection was broken.
As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the final report of the Commission includes a transcript of conversation captured by the cockpit voice recorder on the hijacked jetliner that shows the uprising started at 9:57 a.m. after passengers onboard learned through cell phone conversations with family members that three other hijacked planes had been flown into buildings in New York and Washington, D.C.
As passengers began beating on the cockpit door, the report says, hijacker Jarrah rolled the airplane left and right, attempting to knock the passengers off balance. At 9:58:57, the report continues, Jarrah began to nose the airplane up and down to topple the passengers outside the cabin door.
Around 10 a.m., an auto mechanic on the ground, Rodney Peterson, saw the plane just before it crashed. He said it was dipping left and right as though it were out of control. Later, with information they had gathered, federal prosecutors put together a scenario of what they thought happened: The passengers had used a food cart as a battering ram to get into the cockpit. Soon after 10 a.m. the plane crashed just 20 minutes flying time outside of Washington, D.C. President Bush named everyone on Flight 93 a hero.
All the people on Flight 93 were courageous. They stopped something that could have ended even more tragically. The passengers and crew on Flight 93 saved hundreds of lives.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.