I remember it all too well. I was working for National Airlines, based out of Las Vegas as the airport deployment engineer. Basically, I was the guy in charge of setting up the ticketing and baggage areas for all the airports that National Airlines flew to. I was getting ready to fly to New York for the reopening of our facilities at the remodeled International Terminal at JFK when we got the news of the first plane colliding with the WTC. Our Flight Security Officer (a former Air Marshall) was in the flight training room and got the big screen up on the live feed from NYC. We all watched the second plane collide with the second tower and then watched as both towers collapsed. What a sickening feeling. There was not a dry eye in the room and those of us that were former or retired military were wondering if we could get back on active duty. Some of the comments made on that day are not politically correct so I will forego repeating them. Within six months of the first grounding of all aircraft, National Airlines declared bankruptcy and closed it doors. Interestingly enough, the only airline to successfully get any money from the Airline Stabilization Board (chaired by Senator John McCain) was America West, headquartered in Phoenix AZ. Imagine that. I worked for the court appointed receiver for a couple of months after that and got to turn the lights out in several of the National Airlines facilities. Very depressing! Found out that Unemployment insurance stinks and paying for COBRA is not an option on $256.00 a week.
On that day I was with a team of people in the Everglades doing water sampling in the canals west of Homestead and Florida City. The people in one of the trucks were listening to the radio as we drove from one sampling station to the next and heard what was happening. At first we weren't sure it was true (another Orson Wells "End of the World" story?) but eventually realized it was. Then the question was do we keep on sampling (was there really a need to?) or pack up and head back to Gainesville? After confirming the client (US Army Corps of Engineers) was not cancelling the project we decided to stay and finishing doing our work. Besides, we figured we were a lot safer on the back roads of the Everglades with no one else around than driving back on the Florida Turnpike!
We, Linda and I were living and working at AUTEC on Andros Island, Bahamas. My schedule that day was general Safety and Environmental base roaming. I stopped in the Contractor Administration Building to buy some cold water and saw some people gathered around a small TV the first plane had hit the first tower. I immediately went to my office to see if I had any messages from NUWC. I checked my email and saw where all Government Employees were dismissed UFN. I went back to my quarters and found the TV on and Linda setting on the couch looking very scared. We held on to each other and watched the rest of the attack unfold.