9/11 From My Perspective – FO Tom McGuinness
To My Fellow Aviators:
This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of a cowardly terrorist attack that took the lives of 2,977 Americans in one day on US soil. Of those 2,977, we remember four active American Airlines Pilots who heroically and tragically lost their lives that day.
AA Flight 77: CA Charles Burlingame and FO David Charlebois
AA Flight 11: CA John Ogonowski and FO Thomas McGuinness
As Pilots for American Airlines, we have all been around long enough to have lived that day, most as professional aviators. We all remember where we were and what we were doing that day. We all remember individually how 9/11 affected us. We all have our story.
Those that know me know I don’t typically lead my introduction with my personal connection, however, I was 14 years old when 9/11 happened, and the FO on AA 11 was my dad.
The reason I’m writing this memorial, though, is not to focus on the sadness of that day or even the terrible effect that it had on our industry. The way our country came together, the way our crews treated each other and our passengers, and the way my dad lived his life are all shining examples of what we want to remember this weekend.
My dad had a calm, intelligent, witty presence about him that radiated to his crews and his friends. He was the type that had an accomplished Navy career, retiring as a Top Gun Tomcat Pilot, but his humility kept that close. My dad was the man that always put his family and his faith first in his life and didn’t let the stresses of daily life de-prioritize why he lived.
As we remember our own stories this weekend, take a few minutes and be thankful for what we have. For those with kids, spend time showing them examples of compassion and kindness. This type of remembrance would honor our pilots and exemplify what my dad stood for.
For those flying this weekend, thank you for staying vigilant and reminding your crews to never be complacent about what could happen. Together, we remember what happened 20 years ago on board our aircraft, and we will never forget.