I fucking ducked Author: TriSecDate:09/13/2014 12:19:47
This past Thursday, I did something I have not done for thirteen September 11ths. I heard an aero engine overhead, and I looked up. I smiled at it, watched it in glorious flight, and continued on my merry way. I wasn’t sad, dismayed, or indeed…terrified.
There’s a long, convoluted story to this, as there always is with me. Just to recap…thirteen Septembers ago now, on that evening when all was said and done, I was lying in bed with Mrs. TriSec, staring at CNN, trying to comprehend what the hell just happened.
I heard the rumble of some GE F-404s overhead, but I wasn’t comforted by them. Those engines were powering an F-15C “Eagle” Air Superiority Fighter, flying Combat Air Patrol over the city of Boston. After everything that happened that day, that was what finally, truly, freaked me out. We were at war, and the military was defending MY airspace, right over my friggin’ house!
I don’t know what it was, but ever since that night I have made a conscious decision to honour the memory of what happened by not acknowledging an airplane on every September 11th since. I shouldn’t have to tell you about my lifelong av-dorkery. To me, this felt a fitting tribute to what had happened.
About 3 weeks back now, I happened to catch the daily jetblue flight from Ft. Lauderdale banking over my building on its way into Worcester. My building is at the top of the tallest hill in Worcester proper, directly under the approach to the airport on the hill about 4 miles distant. The planes aren’t very high when the pass by me. It wasn’t very long after that afternoon that I consciously decided that this was the year; I’m going to look up again.
And so I did. It wasn’t anything spectacular; I saw a miserable little turboprop scudding under the clouds on the way into Hanscom…I couldn’t even tell what it was.
But it felt like I got a part of me back this year.
Of course, the blog title has a story behind it. Some years after the events, I was working in Watertown, MA. It’s not that close to Logan Airport, but on that anniversary morn the planes were departing right over my building. I’m a bit of an avatar with airplane noise; I’m good enough that I can identify certain engines from their acoustic signature alone. While I proudly tell my brother that I can tell the difference between a GE and a Pratt & Whitney at takeoff thrust, it’s not because of any aural skills on my part.
I won’t ask anyone to watch it, but it’s because of that French documentary that was being shot on the morning of 9/11 that became the only footage of the first plane going in. Flight 11 was being flown by an American Airlines Boeing 767, and that unfortunate bird had General Electric engines slung under the wings. Once I got that engine note in my head, it became very difficult to shake.
On that morning in maybe 2005 or 2006, I was walking into the building from the garage and I heard that note coming up behind me…sounding very low and loud.
I fucking ducked.
I was 210 miles away from the event when it happened, but even just the sound of something I didn’t witness with my own eyes has stuck with me ever since.
So yeah, I looked up. I saw a plane. And this year…I didn’t flinch.