Early on the morning of September 11, 2001, White House Chief of Staff Andy Card briefed President George W. Bush. "I remember literally telling him, 'It should be an easy day,'" Card recalls. "Those were the words. 'It should be an easy day.'" Only hours later, the largest attack in US history plunged the country into war. President Bush spent much of the day on Air Force One, circling over the Gulf of Mexico in case he was a target.
Aboard Air Force One, the president, his staff, and the press struggled to learn what was happening on the ground. With only intermittent broadcast news signals, President Bush had to watch the Today Show to find out what was happening in New York. No one knew if Air Force One was safe. As Assistant Press Secretary Gordon Johndroe says, Air Force One "was the safest and most dangerous place in the world at the exact same time."
These first hand accounts reveal what it was like on Air Force One on September 11, 2001.
Secret Service Pushed The President To Get On Air Force One, Worried A Plane Would Crash Into The Elementary School
The Secret Service Meticulously Checked People's Credentials And Baggage Before They Were Allowed To Enter The Plane
During Take Off, The Plane Gained Altitude At An Alarming Rate
Everyone Was Cautious About Other Potential Threats In The Sky
Many Were Afraid That Every Location They Could Take The President Would Be A Potential Target
The President Authorized The Air National Guard To Shoot Down Hijacked Planes