Touching History: The Untold Story of the Drama That Unfolded in the Skies Over America on 9/11

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Simon and Schuster, Jun 3, 2008 - History - 320 pages
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On the azure blue morning of 9/11 the skies were pronounced "severe clear," in the parlance of airline pilots; a gorgeous day for flying. Nearly 5,000 flights were cruising the skies over America when FAA Operations Manager Ben Sliney arrived at the Command Center for his first day on that job. He could never have anticipated the historic drama that was about to unfold as Americans who found themselves on the front lines of a totally unprecedented attack on our homeland sprang into action to defend our country and save lives.

In this gripping moment-to-moment narrative, based on groundbreaking reporting, Lynn Spencer brings the inspiring true drama of their unflinching and heroic response vividly to life for the first time, taking us right inside the airliner cockpits and control towers, the fighter jets and the military battle cabs. She makes vital corrections to the findings of the 9/11 Commission Report, and reveals many startling, utterly unknown elements of the story.

As a commercial pilot herself, for whom the attacks hit terribly close to home, she knew that the true scope and nature of the response so brilliantly improvised that morning by those in the thick of the action -- with so little guidance from those at the highest levels -- had not at all been captured by the news coverage or the 9/11 Commission. To get to the truth, she went on a three-year quest, interviewing hundreds of key players, listening to untold hours of tapes and pouring through voluminous transcripts to re-create each heart-stopping moment as it happened through their eyes and in their words as the drama unfolded.

From the shocking moment at 7:59 a.m. that American 11 fails to respond to a controller's call, until the last commercial flight has safely landed and military jets rule the skies, all Americans will find themselves deeply moved and amazed by the grace and fierce determination of these steely men and women as they draw on all of their exquisite training to grasp, through the fog of war, what is happening, put their lives on the line, and mount an astonishing response.

This beautifully crafted and deeply affecting account of the full story of their courageous actions is a vital addition to the country's understanding of a day that has forever changed our nation.

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Touching History: The Untold Story of the Drama That Unfolded in the Skies Over America on 9/11

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Commercial airline pilot Spencer shows how, with an American public stupefied by the unimaginable airline attacks on its homeland on 9/11, civil aviation and military circles joined forces quickly to ... Read full review

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Before reading this book, readers should understand it focuses on a very specific and narrow subject: the single day of September 11, 2001. The majority of the book is spent detailing the communications among military personnel, FAA flight controllers and commercial aircraft. It can at times be tedious reading. But if someone cares about learning how those in charge did their best to keep Americans safe that day, it's a worthwhile read. 


Skies Severe Clear
American 11 Do You Hear
No Ordinary Hijacking
Confusion in the Cockpits
The Unfathomable
A Nation Under Attack
Secure the Cockpit
Chaos in the Skies
ShootDown Authority
A Tightening Grip
The Longest

NORAD Responds
No More Takeoffs
The Pentagon Is Hit
Every Plane Out of the Skies
Generate Generate Generate
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Page 15 - If you try to make any moves, you'll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet.

About the author (2008)

Lynn Spencer is a pilot for ExpressJet Airlines as well as a certified flight instructor.  She has been a commercial pilot for eleven years, and in that time has held the coveted position of Instructor for the airline.  She graduated from Duke University with honors, before following her dream to become a pilot, and she completed her high-altitude training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.  She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her three children.

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