It was premeditated mass murder, almost flawlessly executed, and civil aircraft were the weapons of choice. A civil airplane was also the battlefield for the first retaliatory strike, when the passengers of a United 757 most likely aimed at a Washington landmark took matters into their own hands and fought back, causing the Boeing to fall short of its intended target.
American Airlines Flight 11
Plato may have been correct when he said, “Only the dead have seen the end of war,” but apparently that does not apply to flight instruction. At least not according to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
No one believed for a moment that any hijacked airline pilot would fly a fuel-laden Boeing into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, even with a gun to his or her head. So it was assumed from the beginning that hijackers had to fly them, and the hijackers had to be trained pilots.
The chaos that erupted on the morning of September 11 brought a flood of questions. Where were these airplanes coming from? Who was flying them? Why were they crashing into skyscrapers? In short, what on earth was happening?
The image of mature “sleeper” hijack pilots living in Florida with their wives and children is a false one. What The New York Times described as “a remarkable set of circumstances” led the FBI, local investigators and news media to all but convict several men as hijackers, when in fact they are innocent, alive and well, in some cases having returned to their native countries before the attacks. The U.S.
“To be honest, I had a problem with Atta the first time I talked to him. I didn’t like his personality,” Rudy Dekkers, president and owner of Venice, Fla.-based Huffman Aviation International, said of suspected World Trade Center terrorist Mohamed Atta. “But what are you going to do? I’m going to deny someone flight training because I don’t personally like him?”