A common field one day. A field of honor forever.
The Boeing 757-222 roared down the runway in the early morning of Sept. 11, 2001, carrying 44 crew and passengers. This was United Airlines’ daily scheduled morning flight from Newark International Airport in New Jersey to San Francisco International Airport. The plane never made it to its intended destination.
On board that flight were four al-Qaeda terrorists who were reportedly assigned to fly the plane into the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., as part of the Sept. 11 attacks. Heading west across Pennsylvania, the terrorists took control of United Airlines Flight 93 and turned the plane back east in the skies above Cleveland. Several of those on board understood their fate, as they had received emergency calls from loved ones warning them that other planes had been flown into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia.
According to official reports, the passenger revolt began at 9:57 a.m. Few who remember the horrors of that day will ever forget passenger Todd Beamer’s heroic words to his fellow passengers: “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.”
While it is unknown if the passengers were able to breach the cockpit, they did, at the very least, force the hijackers to crash the plane far short of their intended target.
Rather than hitting the U.S. Capitol, Flight 93 crashed into a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Flight 93 tragedy, and many have been making a pilgrimage to the crash site located in southwestern Pennsylvania. The temporary memorial, which was a 40-foot (one foot for each victim) chain-link fence where visitors could leave notes and flowers, has since been replaced by the Flight 93 National Memorial, which opened on Sept. 10, 2015.
Visitors to the site today will view the memorial, a design submitted by a Los Angeles team led by Paul and Milena Murdoch. This includes the “Wall of Names” and the “Tower of Voices.” The tower is a 93-foot-tall monument containing 40 large wind chimes – one for each passenger and crew member who died in the crash. The tower was designed to produce a distinct musical note for each chime. There isn’t another chime structure like it in the world.
A full history of the doomed Flight 93 can be found at the memorial’s visitor center.
AAA to Visit Flight 93 National Memorial
AAA will be leading a tour of the Flight 93 National Memorial as part of its “Flight 93 Heroes & Pioneers” escorted motorcoach tour Oct. 28-29. The tour, which includes a local guide for two days, features visits to:
- Big Mac Museum, which is a tribute to McDonald’s Big Mac inventor Jim Delligatti
- Fred Rodgers Center, which celebrates the life and work of educational pioneer Mr. Rogers
- Highway Heritage Museum
- Flight 93 National Memorial
- Flight 93 Memorial Chapel
- Quecreek Mine Rescue Site
Departure cities include Worthington and Zanesville.