However, I flew into Pittsburgh last night and while driving east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike today, I noticed the sign for the Flight 93 Memorial. I found it was about 18 miles north, and that I could continue from there on a 'back-road' to Gettysburg. Thus, I decided to visit the site of the crash of flight 93 on 11 September 2001.
Only part of the memorial is built so far. There are plans for a Visitor's Center, but work there has not yet begun. A lot of tree planting has taken place in the last few months. A ranger told me that each of the 40 passengers would be memorialized in a grove of 40 trees for a total of 1600 trees in the groves. The crash itself was on a field just on the edge of a grove of mostly hemlock trees. Extending out from there are mostly barren fields, resulting from strip mining that occurred up until around 1995 (from what the park ranger said). In the far distance are giant wind turbines which were oddly beautiful as the blades rotated very slowly in the almost non-existent breeze.
There is a walkway out to the crash site, and a wall with the crew and passenger names engraved on it. The walkway itself defines the edge of what was the official "crash-site", and there is a large boulder placed where the cockpit hit the ground nose first at a speed of almost 600 miles/hour. Apparently the flight recorder was found at a depth of 25 feet, and crash debris extended 40 feet into the ground. I hadn't known that they had found enough remains of all 40 passengers to identify each of them.
|Flight 93 Memorial Wall|
It was a sunny day today at the memorial site, much like the day in Seattle (where I live) of the 9-11 attacks so far away. I will never forget the blue sky that Seattle day and the eerie knowledge that there were no airplanes in the sky with the exception of the military jets. There is something about the blueness of that sky, and the silence that will stay with me forever.
All in all, it was a moving experience to see the crash site and re-experience some of the emotions I felt that day almost 11 years ago.