M’boro pilot recalls being in flight during 9/11 attacks

M'boro pilot recalls being in flight during 9/11 attacks (Image 1)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – As the ten year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, people all over the country are remembering a day that changed the world.

One of those people is state representative Rick Womick, who was flying an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Los Angeles during the first attack on the World Trade Center.

On the morning of September 11th, Womick geared up for another routine American Airlines flight.

“My flight was from Dallas to Los Angeles, and we were airborne, about halfway there over New Mexico, when we started hearing air traffic control telling flights you cannot go to the East coast you have to divert,” he recalled.

Womick remembered asking air traffic control for an explanation, but being told nothing about what was going on thousands of miles away in New York City.

An air traffic controller told Womick the LAZ airport was closed and they needed to land in Phoenix.

“He said, ‘By the way, God bless you guys.' When he said that, I thought oh my goodness, nuclear bombs have gone off on the East coast,” Womick told Nashville's News 2.

When their flight finally landed, Womick and the other crew members got in front of a TV and saw what was going on.

Womick said, “As we're standing there, the second one, the United plane hit the World Trade Center and that's when I said, ‘This is a terrorist attack, this is purposeful.'”

Womick was friends with two of the pilots who died in the attacks.

“Who would've thought Muslim terrorists would commandeer our airplanes, cut the throat of pilots and fly an airplane into a building?” asked Womick, “That's a movie thing, not something you think is a reality.”

Since 9/11, Womick said he has become trained in martial arts and went through a special program to be allowed to carry a gun in the cock pit.

“My focus is to make sure we don't let this happen again,” said Womick.

Womick is a retired Air Force pilot and represents the Rutherford County area in the state legislature.

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