How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1)


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He was shaking hands. I told him the same thing. Dave Wilkinson , assistant agent-in-charge, U. Secret Service : Eddie Marinzel and I were the two lead agents with the president that day. The head of the detail was back in Washington. Brian Montgomery : There was this group of students, all young ladies in uniforms and teachers, all oblivious to all of this. They had no idea what was going on. Condi was holding for him. It was only a nanosecond, and then the principal opened the door and the president went into the classroom to meet the students.

Dave Wilkinson : We take everything extremely seriously, anything that could affect the presidency. We began speaking to experts back at the White House. No one knew anything. Sandy Kress : I was back in the media room. There was some buzz about the first plane, people were watching it on a TV. Then there was a stampede across the media room as they saw the second plane hit. Adam Putnam R-Florida : I was brand new.

I was a freshman [congressman]. We were clustered around the TV and watched the second plane hit. Master Sgt. Dana Lark , superintendent of communications, Air Force One : From all indications, it was going to be a simple trip. Mark Tillman , presidential pilot, Air Force One : We were all getting ready, based on the estimated departure time. All of us had already shown up at the plane.

I saw the second airplane strike. Staff Sgt. The Secret Service is principal protection. We protect the plane 24 hours a day, even after the president has left. One of the advance [Secret Service] agents had told us about the first plane. Then about 17 minutes later, I see the same guy sprinting across the tarmac. We started to increase security around the plane—made it a tighter bubble. Paul Germain , airborne communications system operator, Air Force One : We thought it was weird even just when the first plane hit. Then, as soon as that second plane hit, that switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree.

Mark Tillman : Everything started coming alive.

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Andy Card : Another plane hit the other Tower. My mind flashed to three initials: UBL. Usama bin Laden. General Assembly. Mike Morell : I was really worried that someone was going to fly a plane into that school. This event had been on schedule for weeks, anyone could have known about it.

Eddie [Marinzel, the lead Secret Service agent] wanted to get the hell out of there as fast as possible. We need to get him secure. Bush when he threw up on the Japanese prime minister. I was all business in that moment. I went down my checklist. Karl Rove : I remember [Andy Card] pausing at the door, before he went in, it seemed like forever, but it was probably just a couple heartbeats.

I never understood why, but he told me, years later, that he needed to spend a moment formulating the words he wanted to use. Andy Card : When I was standing at the classroom door, I knew I was delivering a message that no president would want to hear. I knew that my message would define the moment.


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I decided to pass on two facts and an editorial comment. America is under attack. The students were completely focused on their books. One of us always travels with the president. I always said I typed fast for a living all over the world. Ari Fleischer : For Andy to interrupt a presidential event, [we knew] it had to be of monumental consequence. Dana Lark : Everything started lighting up.

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It was chaos. All of a sudden, other reports start coming in—explosion at the White House, car bomb at the State Department. I was 35 years old. This was an extensive attack. Could this be a nation-state? He finished the book and went back into the hold room. Dan Miller R-Fla. We need to be inconspicuous quickly, so we went and just got in our vehicle in the motorcade.


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  6. You could see the windows and hatches of the motorcade open up, the visible expression of the armaments that are always around the president. Dave Wilkinson : We ended up with a compromise—Andy Card said we have a whole auditorium full, waiting for the next event. There was no imminent threat there in Sarasota, so we agreed [the president could give a statement before we left. Brian Montgomery : It was the fear of the unknown.

    He went to the auditorium. Andy Card : He gave a very brief statement, he started off and I cringed right away. We have this joke, mostly with the photographers—no running. No running to catch the president. Dave Wilkinson : The motorcade left there and in a very aggressive fashion we got to the aircraft. Intelligence information is always sketchy.

    That ratcheted things up. It was a very fast limo ride. Dave Wilkinson : We asked for double-motorcade blocks at the intersection. Double and triple blocks. Not just motorcycle officers standing there with their arms up, but vehicles actually blocking the road. The whole way back, we were using the limos as a shell game, to keep the president safe.

    Mike Morell : When we got back to the plane, it was ringed by security and Secret Service with automatic weapons. They re-searched everyone before we could reboard, not just the press. Buzz Buzinski : You never lose the excitement of seeing the motorcade. What are they doing to make it happen? You could feel the tension. You could see it on their face—Andy Card, Ari Fleischer, the president. Sonya Ross : They brought out the bomb-sniffing dogs. They were drooling all [over] the luggage. I had dog spittle all over my bags. Buzz Buzinski : Everyone other than the president and his senior staff enter through the back stairs, so about 80 percent of the passengers came past us.

    You could see fear and shock. Sandy Kress : Getting on the plane was different than it ever had been. There was a lot of attention to our credentials, who we were. We had to show ID and our badge, not just the badge. And this even though the crew knew most of us. Eric Draper , presidential photographer, White House : The Secret Service wanted to get him on the plane as quickly as possible.

    Mark Tillman : President Bush comes up the stairs in Sarasota, now you watch him come up the stairs every day, that famous Texas swagger.

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    He was focused that day. No swagger. He was just trucking up the stairs. He was a man on a mission. As soon as the passengers are on board, I fire [engines] 1 and 2. I remember a Secret Service agent running down the aisle; they opened the back stairs, he ran down to move the truck. He never made it back on board. Gordon Johndroe : We took off and it was something out of [the movie] Independence Day. That thing took off like a rocket.

    Karl Rove : [Col. Tillman] stood that thing on its tail—just nose up, tail down, like we were on a roller coaster. Dana Lark : It was the uncertainty. Your head was spinning, trying to figure out what had actually happened. That trust was still coming. Those guys were still trying to put their government together. Everyone was excited because they were just coming back from the summer vacation and felt that they were going to hit their stride.

    Andy Card : I really think President Bush—I know President Bush took office on January 20, —but the responsibility of being president became a reality when I whispered in his ear. I honestly believe as he contemplated what I said, I took an oath. Preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. When you pick a president, you want to pick a president who can handle the unexpected. This was the unexpected. He recognized the cold reality of his responsibilities. Is someone sitting around with a Stinger missile?

    Was someone waiting for us at Andrews? Mark [Tillman] was reluctant to fly us back to Washington. Karen Hughes , communications director, White House : September 10th was my anniversary, so I had stayed back in Washington. When the attacks began, the vice president sent a military driver to pick me up and bring me to the White House, because D. Being an airline pilot, an air defense pilot, and the operations officer for the th, this was something that intrigued me. I wanted to stay up to see what happened.

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    Then when that second plane hit, it eliminated any doubt. I had to get back to work. Other cabins house the White House Medical Unit, staff, guests, security, the press and crew. That all changed when we heard there was a plane headed towards Camp David. I made the takeoff, climbed out, probably 25, to 30,—I gave it to the backup pilot.

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    I had three pilots on board that day. I said just keep flying towards Washington. They broke for commercial. A hair-loss commercial comes on. Ari Fleischer : We got a report there are six aircraft still flying in the U. Karl Rove : Andy and I are there with the president.

    He closes off the conversation. I witness the president authorize the Air National Guard to shoot down the hijacked airliners. The conversation was sobering to hear. Every kind of communication that day was challenged. Even the president talking to the Situation Room was challenged. The communications network did not hold up. Dana Lark : All the comms that we would normally have, some of them are no longer available. I started to have tunnel vision: What the hell is going on? Did someone sabotage our comms? It was all the same systems the airplane pilots were using at the same time, talking to their dispatchers.

    Mark Tillman : We started having to use the military satellites, which we would only use in time of war. The training and the thinking of the military and the Secret Service is just so profoundly different, but that was the psychology and mood that took hold aboard Air Force One.

    Scott Crogg : It was very somber [at the air base]. We got these cryptic messages from Southeast Air Defense Sector. I asked maintenance to put live missiles and arm up the guns. Then the plane hit the Pentagon, and it was about our seats of government. That was a big deal to me. It was time to hunker down and get some good weaponry.

    We put a cop at the base of the stairs. No one was allowed upstairs. Then he stayed up there, providing security at the cockpit stairs. That got us thinking: Is there an insider threat? You train for nuclear war, then you get into something like that. All the money they pumped into us for training, that worked.

    We gotta get the president back. Talking to him, I was confident we were safer in the air than we were anywhere on the ground. Mark Tillman : I took us up to 45, feet. I figured I wanted to be above all the other air traffic, especially since everyone was descending to land. A lot of people were too nervous to sit down. Karl Rove : There was acrimony. But as we made it across the Florida peninsula, they [Andy Card and Tom Gould] kept raising objections [about returning to Washington]. At one point, Cheney and Rumsfeld called [and advised against returning to Washington].

    Ari Fleischer : Andy took the side of the Secret Service. You preserve the office of the president. It was pretty straightforward. Dave Wilkinson : He fought with us tooth and nail all day to go back to Washington. We basically refused to take him back. The way we look at is that by federal law, the Secret Service has to protect the president.

    The wishes of that person that day are secondary to what the law expects of us. He was visibly frustrated and very angry. I was just a few feet away, and it felt like he was looking through me. It was really intense. He just turned away in anger. The news would frustratingly come in and go out. So I was not aware of the punishing coverage that the president was receiving for not returning to Washington.

    That was our tiny window into the outside world. We just had two lines—one for the president and one for the mil aide. We were never out of touch entirely. Gordon Johndroe : [Putin] was important—all these military systems were all put in place for nuclear alerts.

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    Ari Fleischer : Putin was fantastic that day. He was a different Vladimir Putin in America could have had no better ally on September 11 th than Russia and Putin. Ellen Eckert : We were watching that second plane hit on a replay. Sonya Ross : Khue Bui [one of the photographers] was crouched in front of me and we were talking about our families, people we knew in New York.

    The room was really silent. Andy Card, Ari, and Dan Bartlett were there. Dan had a friend who worked in the Towers. He was very emotional. Everyone peeled off one by one and the president just stood there, alone, watching the cloud expand. Dana Lark : There were times when the emotion would just well up. Just that sick feeling, that sorrow. It was the overwhelming stress, like when a friend or family member is dying. I want a long runway, a secure place, good communications. They came back and said Barksdale AFB. We needed somewhere that had armored vehicles.

    He was really frustrated with me. It was controlled chaos. Andy Card : We were all thinking about the very credible idea that there was more to come. Is there a plane heading to Los Angeles? A plane headed for Chicago? Something on the train? Is there a truck bomb heading across the George Washington Bridge? We had lots of angst over the White House itself. We even had the fog of war trying to figure what was going on in the White House. Mark Tillman : We asked for the fighter support. They led us into Barksdale. The only benefit was that anything broadcasting was broadcasting the attack.

    We were trying to understand from those pictures like anyone else. It was a new age. Sandy Kress : There was a lot of discussion about who did it. There was nothing anybody knew. But it was lots of talk—and some fear. I remember the plane banking back across the Gulf. We knew there was a change of plans and direction, but something was diverting the plane. Adam Putnam : [Rep. They loaded all the bombers, put the submarines out to sea, put the ICBMs at nearly percent.

    It was routine, you did it every year. You could see smoke pouring out of the building. Karen Hughes : Since I was home, I saw quite a bit of TV coverage just like the American people were seeing it, and I realized that it looked like the American government was faltering. I was on the phone with my chief of staff at the White House when she was told to evacuate. I could actually see the Pentagon burning.

    But I knew that lots of government was functioning—planes were being grounded, emergency plans were being implemented. I thought someone should be telling the American people that, so I wanted to talk to the president. It was just chilling. For a split second, I was so worried. Gordon Johndroe : I was sitting across the table from Mike Morell in the staff cabin.

    We were going to be attacked all day long. Brian Montgomery : I asked [Mike Morell] who he thought this was. Mike Morell : The president called me into his cabin. It was packed with people. The Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestine had issued a claim of responsibility for the attack. Call George Tenet and tell him that if he finds out anything about who did it, I want to be the first to know. Got that? Sonya Ross : I got the first readout [report] from Ari. The answers we were getting there were pretty incomplete.

    Ari and his team were giving us the best answers they could. I was nervous. Gordon Johndroe : [Air Force One] was the safest and most dangerous place in the world at the exact same time. I reminded him of that several times that day. Ari Fleischer : One of the recurring themes of September 11th is how much of the initial reporting was wrong.

    I keep that in mind every day now as I watch President Obama and world events. In normal situations, there are many ranks and many filters in government, so that only that which is proven and vital reaches the president. No one in the security apparatus wanted to be negligent in not passing things along. The media was part of that too. All those filters broke down. Andy Card : The fog of war is real. You can be in a car accident and everyone in the car crash has a different perspective.

    Take that and multiple that a million times. The first estimates of the casualties were so way off. It got too crowded. Finally, someone came up and told everyone to get out. The only member of the staff that was up with us was Harriet Miers—she was sitting at one of the CSO seats, with a legal pad taking historical record. Dave Wilkinson : We called Mark Rosenker up to the front of the plane and told him to get us on the phone with the commander at Barksdale.

    He gave us full assurance that the base would be locked down. Andy Card : I was comforted to find Barksdale was already on alert. It was going to be secure. No random terrorist would have mapped that Barksdale was where the president was going to go. Everyone was already out. I said lock her down for real. My deputy came in, Lt. Colonel Paul Tibbets—his grandfather was the pilot who flew the Enola Gay [which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima]. I tried to refuse, but he insisted. So I was wearing my sidearm, which I never do. We got this radio request—Code Alpha—a high priority incoming aircraft.

    It wanted , pounds of gas, 40 gallons of coffee, 70 box lunches, and 25 pounds of bananas. It was clearly a big plane. That has to be on the record. The president cannot be found because of his own safety. That sent chills down my spine. The initial fighters were with us. I still remember the Fs starting in on this guy. Bearing, range, altitude, distance. They go out to their local military base. Strangelove , big guy, all decked out in a bomber jacket.

    He was straight out of central casting. It wanted , pounds of gas, 40 gallons of coffee, 70 box lunches and 25 pounds of bananas. Buzz Buzinski : Barksdale was going through a nuclear surety inspection. They already had these cops in flak jackets and Ms. They were all locked and loaded. But you still knew that this was going to be different. As soon as we landed, they surrounded the aircraft. Everything just had changed in an instant.

    Because if it would happen that suddenly everyone wants to sit in the last row, I would lose my favorite seat, so I would be working against what I believe in, hahhaha! Me grateful. Some people do disgusting things with their feet. My understanding is that the safest seats are within 6 rows of the emergency exit. So the last row would have this covered as well.


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    Still not keep on taking the last row though. I think it is a different definition of safety… Sure, being close to the emergency exits raises your chances to get out of the burning plane first. But in general, it does not make those seats any safer in terms of experiencing a plane crash.

    Well, I would assume that at least. Where did you learn about 6 rows rule, and what was the argumentation? In my books last row is worst ever seats on the plane. My reasons: 1. Unless you manage to be first passenger at gate you will be getting to your seat for ages. Toilets with associated queue, smell and slamming doors.

    Nuff said. Often last seats have very limited recline. If it happens to be turbulence tail of the plane is the last place where I want to be. Because of bending of plane fuselage toward the tail last row often shifted and you cannot lean on window to snooze. Also overhead storage tend to be smaller toward the end of the plane and if you arrive later you may find that all already occupied and you have to store your stuff ten rows apart from you. I am never getting to the last seat for ages. I come in and sit down. Also, entering the plane last leaves you the option to seamlessly change your seat to any other empty one, in case you like it.

    As for disembarking, being the last person to leave the plane is really not guaranteed. It really depends on the plane, but many open their last doors too. But even here you present it as if disembarking the last is a tragedy — I am the person who deliberately sits until others are crowding in the aisle and wait for minutes in contortionist poses. I actually do get up when almost everyone already disembarked. So what was their rush actually benefitting from? Am I late for somewhere?

    I will wait for my bag on the baggage belt anyway, so trust me, traveling relaxed is much better than rushing. We are all on the same journey, and nobody comes earlier. I am actually often the first person to leave the airport building! There are many other tricks for ensuring this, and maybe they deserve a special article. Thanks for inspiring me to make one!

    True, people waiting in the aisle, in the toilet queue, leaning on your seat, is not fun. But also, this is more of an urban legend. But even if it does happen, well, no choice can be perfect flight attendants can solve this problem, by the way, the same way as they solve the problems of passengers leaking rear winds in the middle of the plane ;. There is always plus and minus for every decision one makes. I would say that last seat sometimes has limited recline.

    But then again, this is what I confirmed in the article as well. Personally, I never recline my seat, even when I sit in the middle of the plane. Being served last is also the legend. Often last rows are being served first well, depending on the number of carts going through the plane. Then again, ordering a special meal is a secure way for being served first. It is true turbulences affect the tail of the plane more than its body.

    I guess my stomach is in good shape to disregard this disadvantage too. Turbulences are turbulences. If you dislike them, you will have an equal problem anywhere in the plane. Not being able to lean on the window means there is more space around you, no? Also, having problems with feet under the seat in the front is also a very particular problem of certain planes. For this, the solution is seatguru. Always check your plane map if you are sensitive to different standard seats.

    As for the overhead storage, it is true that these parts are often used by flight attendants for storing their own luggage and other aircraft stuff. If it is really important to store your stuff above your head, I guess you should not board the last. I usually store my hand luggage under the seat in front of me anyway so I can access it more easily, without always having to stand up and depend on turbulence. Oh, did I say I store it under the seat in front of me? So how do my feet AND my hand luggage fit into this mythically restricted space?

    I am cm tall by the way! There, my choice of preferring the last seat has not been shaken yet. But thank you, Sam, you really pointed out many valid concerns travelers have, and I believe this brainstorm will produce more articles on this matter on Pipeaway. Keep reading and inputting! Flying with a toddler in 2 weeks and for now the back side on the plane is empty. Looks very fascinating as it will give my toddler lots of space to play and less people getting annoyed.

    But …….. Generally, first rows have much more space for kids to play. Try to look for resources online on how to keep him occupied. I know that the peace of other passengers will reflect on your own sense of relaxation too. And it is nice indeed you care enough about it. I hope this helps! I will be flying from New York to Idaho in December with my daughter. When I bought tickets I was unable to reserve seats, but since my daughter is 5, Delta is usually pretty accommodating if you call far enough in advance and just ask that you be placed together.

    We will be taking 6 planes total and the woman on the phone placed us in the last row for 5 of them…the second to last on one because the last row was already taken. I was sort of dreading all that back-row time, but you have me convinced it may be okay! Oh wow! Safe travels! And if you sit in the last row, nobody is crowding you to depart the plane. That is definitely one of my pet peeves. Thank you for the excellent story and advice. I actually had no clue that there were certain areas reserved for people with kids. I have a 7 year old and have never been seated there.

    But since my kiddo is pretty good at just playing on her tablet or reading the whole flight she doesnt need room to play. I promise my kid wont bug you lol! I always feel so bad when i look around and see these ppl that are 6 ft tall trying to cram into airplane seat. Looks really uncomfortable! Well, those mentioned seats are not reserved per se for families with kids, as anyone can book them. But if they are available, check-in personnel will definitely try to move the family to the front.

    Thank you, technology! Also if there is not enough space for your handluggage, the handluggage will be always in front of you. So no need to fight your way back to get it. No issues with that in the last row.

    Passengers’ sweet dreams becoming your worst nightmare

    Plus if you take the middle row aisle seat, there are two exits to the aisles…. And strategic position close to the galley is really worth considering.

    How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1) How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1)
    How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1) How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1)
    How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1) How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1)
    How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1) How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1)
    How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1) How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1)
    How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1) How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1)
    How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1) How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1)
    How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1) How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1)
    How To Think about God on a Plane (How To Think about _______ on a Plane Book 1)

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