(WTNH) — Each year, around Sept. 11th, John O’Connor remembers his own flight above the Twin Towers.
The Quinnipiac Coach of the woman’s golf team was flying his own plane that day. He was headed from Bridgeport to Maryland. As he neared john F. Kennedy Airport, he noticed something unusual in the skyline.
“When I flew by, the towers were still standing and smoke was coming out of the building,” said O’Connor. “Initially, I thought it was a fire in the building.”
He quickly switched on a radio in the plane.
“I think the first thing I heard over the AM radio was that a small plane hit the World Trade Center,” said O’Connor. “Once they identified them as terrorists and they were big planes, certainly you look out the window and see what you can see.”
O’Connor says usually each pilot is contacted directly about their flight plan, but on that day a blanket announcement went out for all planes to land. O’Connor hoped to land at his destination in Maryland.
“They said Washington control center would not permit you to continue because it was as the Pentagon that was hit.”
Diverted away from the DC area to Atlantic City, O’Connor landed safely and began to absorb the scope of what happened that day.
“The lives that were lost, the economy, our secure feeling in this country that was over. I knew things were going to change. It was something that worried me and I was thankful to be home with my family,” he added.