Friday, September 10, 2021

9/11: Four Flights

If you want to prevent something from happening again, you have to understand how it was allowed to happen the first time. That is as true for Covid-19, despite the CCP’s best cover-up and censorship efforts, as it was for the 9/11 hijackings. On a micro level, we clearly learned lessons from the terrorist hijackings. On a macro level, perhaps not so much—at least not anymore. It is important to remember what happened for many reasons, so History Channel’s special 9/11 twentieth anniversary programming is timely and useful. The fateful hijackings are chronicled and a number of brave passengers and crew are profiled in 9/11: Four Flights, which premieres Saturday (9/11) on History Channel.

It is hard to watch this special, because of the perverse cruelty of fate. There are scores of stories regarding passengers who decided at the last minute to take an earlier or later flight, with tragic consequences. It is important to keep in mind the fourth hijacked flight, United 93, took off just before the first, American Airlines 11, crashed into the World Trade Center. It was also the pre-smart-phone era, when flying necessarily implied disconnecting from media and communications.

As the on-camera experts explain, the airports security systems did not really fail. In fact, they duly flagged the terrorists for extra screening. The problem was nobody properly envisioned a kamikaze-style attack of such magnitude.

Hearing tapes of the air traffic controllers that awful day will give viewers an appreciation for their dedication and professionalism. The same is true of the Air National Guard pilots who were scrambled. It seems like a handful of passengers have received the majority of media attention. We do not begrudge them any posthumous tributes, but it is nice to hear more about some of their fellow passengers here.

Perhaps the most notable is American-Israeli internet entrepreneur Daniel Lewin, an Arabic-speaking former IDF commando, who is considered the first person murdered by the al-Qaeda terrorist, killed in the aisle of American 11. We also hear touching remembrances of the great muckraker Barbara Olson, from her husband, former Solicitor General Ted Olson. Yet, perhaps the most heartbreaking were the DC elementary school children, who had won scholarships to a marine biology camp.

Four Flights
is smartly edited, deftly balancing poignant personal stories with a riveting tick-tock of the hijackings and the response on the ground. It is important to remember and study what happened. This special can be helpful towards that end. History Channel’s 9/11: The Final Minutes of Flight 93 from last year was also a credible treatment, but the focus of Four Flights is both broader and deeper. Very highly recommended for general audiences—especially younger viewers—9/11: Four Flights premieres tomorrow (9/11) on History Channel.