Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight Years Ago

I was home that day. I was watching the horror unfold on TV. The towers had been hit, and the Pentagon, too. I heard the “thump-thump” of sonic booms as interceptors arrived, a little too late. Commercial air traffic had been grounded, but there were rumors of a fourth plane, a missing airliner, one that hadn't checked in. Maybe it was flying low, to avoid radar, they said.

While I was watching, a loud roaring noise was building up outside. I ran out on the back porch to see what the hell it was. I looked up, but the first thing I noticed was the smell of burning rubber. The Pentagon is only about five miles away.

The roaring noise got louder until two jets appeared, at an unusually low altitude. One plane was a blue and white federal Gulfstream. The other, flying wingtip-to-wingtip, was an Air Force F-15. We see F-15s in the area quite frequently, Andrews Air Force Base is nearby, but this was the first time I had seen one fully combat-ready, with the weapons pylons packed with air-to-air missiles.

Later, the press said the Gulfstream was carrying federal officials to Washington National Airport from Denver, where, ironically, they had been holding a conference on emergency management. The F-15 was flying escort to insure that other air defense assets didn't go ape and try to shoot down the Gulfstream.

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