Patrolling the skies: 2002 report gave exclusive look at fighter jets on duty on 9/11

9/11: 20 years later

Twenty years after the 9/11 terror attacks, PIX11 reporter Marvin Scott looks back. Below is an editorial.

Looking back on the events of Sept. 11, 2001, resuscitates a kaleidoscope of images, so deeply ingrained in our psyche. As a reporter, this wasn’t a story of a terror attack in some distant land. It was on the land where we live – our home. That made us part of the story and a painful one to cover. I’ll never forget standing at ground zero in disbelief, with my eyes scanning the void where two colossal buildings once stood and the experiencing the painful void in my heart.

I have many reflections of that day and of the multitude of stories I produced. The one I feature here was created on the first anniversary of the attacks in 2002.

Through contacts I had in the Air Force, I managed to secure a ride in the back seat of an F 15 fighter jet that was part of the U.S. Combat Air Patrol on duty that sunny Tuesday morning.

“Nasty,” his military code name, was one of the first pilots to scramble as passenger jets were zeroing in on the World Trade Center. I suited up and we were airborne with the 102nd Fighter Wing out of the Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod.

Flying at 21,000 feet at supersonic speed, we were 153 miles from lower Manhattan, a flight that should take between 12 to 15 minutes. By the time “Nasty” had taken off at 8:46 a.m. on that fateful morning, American Airlines flight 11 had just slammed into the north tower.

During our flight, I asked the pilot if the order had been given, could he have shot down a commercial jet being using as a weapon. His answer was an unequivocal “yes.”

In the video above, watch my exclusive report that ran on the PIX11 News on Sept. 11, 2002.

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