Pilot who took ‘evasive actions’ to avoid colliding with hijacked planes remembered as unsung hero of 9/11
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A passenger plane pilot who took ‘evasive actions’ to avoid colliding with hijacked 9/11 planes is being remembered as a great unsung hero.
On 11 September, 2001, 2,996 people lost their lives after al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners, two of which crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.
The pilot, who commanded Trans World Airlines (TWA) Flight 3, was forced to take action twice before safely landing in Dayton, Ohio.
TWA Flight 3 took off from JFK in New York around the time the first plane hit the Twin Towers.
A New York-based flight attendant, who was on the crew, claimed 'there were two near-misses'.
"We were scissoring up and down," she told the New York Post.
The first near miss was with United Flight 175, the second plane which struck the World Trade Center, and the other was Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania.
After learning of the first plane crashing into the Twin Towers, flight attendants reportedly acted quickly and pushed food carts up against the cockpit door, to avoid another potential hijacking.
The pilot also told the crew 'he’d be standing behind the door with an axe', according to the flight attendant.
A chilling warning also came through the speaker: "This is a national emergency. By order of the federal government, any plane still in the sky in 20 minutes will be shot down by friendly fire."
The pilot told ABC at the time: "Well, he was up there when we were coming from New York.
"So what we had to do was - they [flight control] were not talking to him, and he was changing his heading and his altitude, so they cleared us to deviate however we had to stay away from him.
"We had him in sight - it was a nice day in New York. We were out of the clouds, which helped a lot. We just, you know, dodged him."
The pilot has never been publicly identified, however, other passengers have also spoken out about his heroic actions.
Taking to X (Twitter), Retired FDNY Lt. Charlie Hubbard said that he and his late brother Jim were on the flight.
He explained: "On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was onboard a TWA flight from New York bound for St. Louis.
"My itinerary schedule was to then board another plane to Honolulu.
"My brother Jim, my girlfriend Kate and I witnessed smoke coming from the Trade Center as our flight from JFK gained altitude just past 08:47 on that clear morning.
"About twenty to thirty minutes later, we nearly had a mid air collision with one of the hijacked planes.
"After the frightening, dramatic maneuver our flight crew executed to avoid the other aircraft, we were grounded in Dayton, OH."
"He saved our lives, without a doubt," Hubbard said.
TWA was a US airline that operated from 1930 until 2001 when it was taken over by American Airlines.
Featured Image Credit: ABC News/YouTube/Kevin Westley
Topics: US News