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Area 6 : News & Views

AIR TRAVEL : WE THE PEOPLE

The longest journey starts with a single step .....................................................ancient Chinese proverb

The following letter was forwarded to us by e-mail - we thought it should be on line somewhere. Feel free to forward this page to anyone travelling by air.

... the longest journey starts with a single step ...


Sent: Monday, September 17, 2001 4:41 AM

The following is from a letter by a professional friend and her return flight to D.C. this week.

I just wanted to drop you all a note and let you know that I arrived safe and sound into Dulles Airport tonight [9/15] at about 6:00. It was an interesting flight. The airport in Denver was almost spooky, it was so empty and quiet. No one was in line for the security check point when I got there so that went fairly quickly, just x-ray of my bags and then a chemical test to be sure nothing explosive was on them. Then I waited 2 1/2 hours to board the plane. What happened after we boarded was interesting and thought I would share it with you. The pilot/captain came on the loudspeaker after the doors were closed. His speech went like this:

"First I want to thank you for being brave enough to fly today. The doors are now closed and we have no help from the outside for any problems that might occur inside this plane. As you could tell when you checked in, the government has made some changes to increase security in the airports. They have not, however, made any rules about what happens after those doors close. Until they do that, we have made our own rules and I want to share them with you. Once those doors close, we only have each other. The security has taken care of a threat like guns with all of the increased scanning, etc. Then we have the supposed bomb. If you have a bomb, there is no need to tell me about it, or anyone else on this plane; you are already in control. So, for this flight, there are no bombs that exist on this plane. Now, the threats that are left are things like plastics, wood, knives, and other weapons that can be made or things like that which can be used as weapons.

"Here is our plan and our rules. If someone or several people stand up and say they are hijacking this plane, I want you all to stand up together. Then take whatever you have available to you and throw it at them. Throw it at their faces and heads so they will have to raise their hands to protect themselves. The very best protection you have against knives are the pillows and blankets. Whoever is close to these people should then try to get a blanket over their head - then they won't be able to see. Once that is done, get them down and keep them there. Do not let them up. I will then land the plane at the closest place and we WILL take care of them. After all, there are usually only a few of them and we are 200+ strong! We will not allow them to take over this plane. I find it interesting that the US Constitution begins with the words 'We, the people' - that's who we are, THE people - and we will not be defeated."

With that, the passengers on the plane all began to applaud, people had tears in their eyes, and we began the trip toward the runway. The flight attendant then began the safety speech. One of the things she said is that we are all so busy and live our lives at such a fast pace. She asked that everyone turn to their neighbours on either side and introduce themselves, tell each other something about your families and children, show pictures, whatever. She said "for today, we consider you family. We will treat you as such and ask that you do the same with us."

Throughout the flight we learned that for the crew, this was their first flight since Tuesday's tragedies. It was a day that everyone leaned on each other and together everyone was stronger than any one person alone. It was quite an experience. You can imagine the feeling when that plane touched down at Dulles and we heard "welcome to Washington Dulles Airport, where the local time is 5:40". Again, the cabin was filled with applause.

Merrill Dean


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... the longest journey starts with a single step ...

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