The details came into
ANN at a furious pace for the first few emotional days and weeks
that followed 09.11.01... but few reports were as heart-breaking
or as brutally well illustrated as the ANN reader report filed
by GA Pilot Yury "HECTOP" Faktorovich, complete with pictures,
reproduced below just as it was in 2001.
We reproduce it below for one reason... so that the lessons of
that day remain fresh and prominent in the hearts and minds of all
those tasked with making sure that those responsible are brought
fully to justice and that such an event is never allowed to happen
An ANN Reader Eyewitness Account of "Terrible
By Yury "HECTOP" Faktorovich,
09-11-01: That morning I took off from my field
in Northern NJ to just bum around as usual in a rented Cessna 172SP
and was planning to do the VOR approach at FWN and an ILS at MSV to
keep my instrument skills in check. I climbed out to about 2500 and
leveled out to stay under Class B airspace floor. I was right about
over Lincoln Park airport (N07) when I glanced back at the city and
saw the smoke coming out of WTC (it was a VFR and a million
morning, so you could really see far out).
"Damn! wtf?" I thought, as I hit the throttle and went direct to
Alpine Tower where I joined the Hudson VFR corridor, and tuned in
to the self-announcement UNICOM freq 123.05. There was all kinds of
talk about a "commuter plane gone into WTC", so I also tuned in to
1010 WINS AM news-radio on the ADF receiver and listened in. They
hadn't had a clue either--all they were saying that a plane went
into the building.
Meanwhile, I was just heading down the corridor at all the speed
that a fully-shoved C-172 throttle can afford, and announcing
myself as the usual "Spamcan 123, one thousand feet, GWB,
southbound," and by the time I made it to the Holland Tunnel I saw
a bunch of helicopters around the WTC, smoke billowing out of the
#1 tower, and the atmosphere of some real big sh*t hitting the
As I'm flying closer (almost opposite the WTC) and right next to
the Harborside Center in Jersey City; I see this airliner coming
down in a steep bank.
My first thought was... WTF is this guy doing!???
Why is he diving so steep to take a look at the fire!
And... it's an airliner! (looked like a 737 to me at the
I muttered something along the lines "Jeez, this guy is gonna
get so fired by his airline, it's not even funny!"
The next moment.... it hits the building.... I felt like I was
inside a cartoon or a movie, maybe that "Independence Day" flick.
At that moment I thought I was seeing things... like this can't be,
this isn't real.
I had my camera in hand and snapped (photos) virtually a split
second later after the impact, but I was simply too awestruck when
I saw the plane, so it didn't click in me to actually shoot the
thing (but if I had a Stinger SAM with me, damn, I wish I did and I
I didn't know what to do next, but I headed out towards Sandy
Hook, called approach and begged them for flight following, just to
GET ME OUTTA HERE.
They kept me on flight following until about Colts Neck VOR
where they said "unable," and told me I was on my own....
I tried to go back to CDW, and tuned in the tower... They
couldn't hear me, but I could hear that TEB was closed, and they
were about to get closed, while telling every aircraft to land. I
gave up on the thought of going back to my field and landed at the
first field in sight, where a bunch of other awestruck pilots were
trying to get a grasp on what was going on.
After a couple of hours, it calmed down, the airport manager
shut down the place and gave me a lift back to my airport, where I
picked up my car.
The FBO was closed.
The airport was eerily quiet.
So I went off for a drink to calm down my nerves and try
digesting all that I'd seen in the morning...