Twenty-seven inspirational true stories of people who expierence God's miracles.
A United Airline pilot over the Pacific on 9/11, an Alaskan fisherman adrift, and a survivor of the Hyatt Hotel's skywalk collapse share their stories along with twenty-four others. Available at Amazon.com.
My Unforgettable Night
Grant Besley’s Story
as told to Sally Jadlow
Our United Airlines flight #815 climbed into the night sky from Los Angeles International Airport at 11:30 p.m. As usual, our schedule set us to arrive in Sydney, Australia at daybreak. I was the Captain of this 747 jet this night of September 10, 2001.
Four pilots and eighteen flight attendants stood ready to serve our passengers on this fourteen-hour flight. The fuel situation was tight. We were at the top of our weight limit. If the winds didn’t behave as forecast, we might have to land in Fiji for a refuel.
We got underway without a hitch. The two relief pilots went to their bunks to sleep for six hours while my co-pilot and I flew the first leg of our journey.
At the end of our six-hour shift, we switched places with our relief pilots. I settled into my bunk across from the first class bathrooms. Sometimes I found it hard to fall asleep because of the sound of flushing toilets and air rushing by the fuselage. Often when we passed over the equator, turbulent thunderstorms woke me.
If anything bad happened while I was asleep, it was still my fault. I was the one responsible. I had to put my trust in the relief pilots— even though I met them only a couple of hours before. In spite of these distractions, I fell into a deep sleep.
I awoke when someone shook my foot.
“Skipper. Better get up.”
“Is the fuel low? Do we need to land in Fiji?”
Theodore, the relief pilot, thrust a paper toward me. “Isn’t about the fuel. Look at this.”
I squinted at the paper. A printed tape from our dispatcher read, “11:14 a.m. EDT - U.S. is on high alert. Experiencing a rolling terrorism event. Your cockpit door should be kept locked with no access to anyone.”
Nodding I said, “Sure. We can do that.”
“There’s more.” He handed me a second printout. It read, “Terrible day. Flight 93 Newark to San Francisco crashed Western Pennsylvania. Flight 175 Boston to Los Angeles missing. Two American Airlines crashed.”
What in the world was going on? I scrambled out of my bunk and met with the other pilots in the cockpit. We had to decide just how much to tell the crew. Several of the flight attendants were from New York. After much discussion, we chose to spare them most of the details.
I called for our chief flight attendant. She was a young Scandinavian who was very new to international flying. Despite this fact, she turned out to be a gift from God. She immediately had suggestions on how to deal with the crew and passengers.
Punching the intercom button, I got all the flight attendants on an All Call throughout the cabin. I chose my words with care.
“We have had some terrorist activity in the States. We’re taking it seriously. Going on a high security alert. Be very watchful for any suspicious activity, no matter how trivial it seems. There will be access to the cockpit only by urgent need.” I gave them two special codes. One for normal access, and one if they were being forced.
Thirty minutes later, we got a call from a coach section flight attendant. She wanted access to the cockpit. By the code she gave, I knew she wasn’t being coerced.