September 11, 2001
I was 40 on September 8th 2001 and I had just moved out of London to the sea with my young family. I was still working in London. I had recently sold my company, NetNames, that had an office on West 14th Street in New York where I had spent a lot of time over the previous few years. I came back from lunch to be told that a plane had flown into the WTC. We had no television so we spent the rest of the afternoon searching for websites with live feeds. Most of them had crashed under the load. People started to leave the office and by mid afternoon I decided to make the log trek home. It was as if a blanket had settled over the city, nobody was talking but we all felt as if we had a big secret that we couldn't talk about. As far as I know, nobody I knew in New York was killed in the attacks. I've only been back once since 2001 although I still love and miss the city.
September 11, 2001
On that morning, I was working in LA on a story for The San Jose Mercury News, where I was a reporter. I received a call from my editor after 8am who told me to turn on the TV. When I saw the smoke billowing out of the World Trade Tower, it was shocking. I knew my assignment that day had changed. There was a report that the Los Angeles airport had had a bomb threat. I was to go there along with another reporter to see what I could find out. When I made my way to the arrival terminals, the scene was surreal. A sea of police and security blanketed the airport, which was deserted except for hundreds of passengers spilling out of the gates. Passengers didn't know why their planes had all been grounded. They had been heading to vacations in Australia or,business meetings across the country. I was, in many cases, the first to tell them about the attacks.
I interviewed a pilot from one of the grounded planes. He was told of the planes hitting the towers only after he'd landed. I remember even this experienced pilot seemed rattled. There seemed to be a general confusion among most people at the airport about what would happen next and a hunger for answers about the cause if the attacks.
There was a palpable sense of relief when the authorities confirmed there was no bomb.