This story was originally published in The Avery-Journal Times on Sept. 20, 2001.
Sandra Bradshaw’s father-in-law said that they didn’t know many of the details yet, but one thing is for certain. Gene and his wife Virginia Bradshaw of Banner Elk will never forget Sept. 11, 2001.
Sandy was a flight attendant aboard United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark on Tuesday morning. This was the Boeing 757 that crashed in the Somerset County, Pa., countryside in the wake of what appears to have been a struggle between hijackers and passengers. It was the last of four airline flights that changed the face of America last week.
“My son called us that morning,” said Gene Bradshaw of Bluejay Court in Banner Elk. “He had gotten a call from Sandy on her cell phone on the plane. She told him that three guys had taken over the plane, and some of the passengers were going to try to take the plane back.”
What happened next aboard the aircraft is unknown, but the tragic aftermath has been splashed across television screens worldwide ever since.
Sandy, 38, and the Bradshaws’ son, Phil, a pilot with US Airways, lived in Greensboro with their daughter Alex, age 2, and son, Shenan, who has yet to turn 1. She has been described by friends as active in their church and the children’s ministry, and devoted to her family.
The part-time flight attendant was scheduled to be back in Greensboro after her last flight of the month, the ill-fated Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco, was complete. It was scheduled as her last flight of the month. There were 43 others aboard the flight. No survivors have been discovered.
“Really what we’d like to do for a memorial in lieu of flowers is for people to send a donation to the American Red Cross local branch in Boone in memory of Sandra,” said Gene Buchanan, who with his wife owns Specialty Furniture at the base of Beech Mountain Parkway.
The address for the Red Cross is 842 W. King St., Suite 18, Boone, 28607.
As details continue to emerge, it becomes more and more apparent that the passengers who took action against the terrorists on Flight 93 are true American heroes. Reports out of Washington have not indicated that the plane was bound for the nation’s capital. Possible targets mentioned have included the White House and the Capitol building.
Transcripts of several cell phone calls like Bradshaw’s have indicated that some passengers were aware of the explosions at the World Trade Center, and that a small group of them resolved to retake the plane from the hijackers.
One name that has been mentioned among the passengers is Jeremy Glick of West Milford, N.J. The Washington Post spoke to Glick’s brother-in-law, who said that Glick had called his wife from the plane.
“They were going to stop whoever it was from doing whatever it was they’d planned. He knew that stopping them was going to end all their lives. But that was my brother-in-law. He was a take-charge guy.” Glick told his wife that he hoped she had a good life, and asked her to take care of their three-month-old baby girl.
Glick also described how the passengers and crew had been herded to the back of the plane. He described the hijackers as Arabs, and said that one had a red box he said was a bomb, and one had a knife.
In another call, passenger Thomas Burnett told his wife,” I know we’re all going to die — there’s three of us who are going to do something about it.”
CNN said that it had obtained a partial transcript of cockpit recordings on which someone could be heard saying, “Get out of here,” through an open microphone while the plane was at 35,000 feet over Cleveland.
The transcript also quotes pilot Jason Dahl of Denver as saying, “This is the captain speaking. Remain in your seat. There is a bomb onboard. Stay quiet. We are meeting with their demands. We are returning to the airport.”
The plane then made a 180-degree turn. There were no survivors of the subsequent crash.