Gina Andre — staff member at Des Moines International Airport

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Gina Andre drove her kids to grade school before heading to work at the Des Moines International Airport where she works as an executive assistant for the aviation department.

Andre was listening to the radio when she heard about the first plane hitting the north World Trade Center tower.

"It was right before 8 o'clock," Andre said. "I was listening to KGGO [radio station] and the morning DJs weren't sure if it was true. I had a terrible feeling that something bad happened."

About 20 minutes later, a second airplane hit the south World Trade Center tower. Two other planes also had been hijacked, one crashing into the Pentagon and the other crashing into Shanksville, Pa.

"As that day unfolded there, was just more and more truth that it was terrorism," Andre said.

Andre was at the Des Moines International Airport when the plane hijackings were confirmed to be terrorism.

During that week, Airports Council International-North America was having a conference in Montreal, Canada. The Federal Aviation Administration immediately ordered that all aircrafts be grounded.

"It was the first time in modern history that that has ever happened," said Tim McClung, planning and outreach manager of the Iowa Department of Transportation Office of Aviation. "It was unprecedented. There was virtually no aviation activity in the United States."

Everyone who was at an airport at that time was stranded.

"The aviation director and board chairman were in Montreal at the airport conference," Andre said. "It took them nearly a week to get back. They had to charter a bus to get out of that country and get home."

All employees of the Des Moines International Airport were evacuated from the building after confirmation that it was terrorism.

"We were only allowed back in if we had an Airport ID badge," Andre said. "Prior to Sept. 11, an ID badge was required if you worked airside. Everyone needs an Airport ID badge now to work anywhere at the airport."

Eric Asbe — president of Flying Cyclones

Eric Asbe, senior in kinesiology and health, was elected president of the Flying Cyclones this year.

The Flying Cyclones is a student-run organization that takes in members of the ISU community who have an interest in aviation.

"I started taking lessons my freshman year," Asbe said.

Asbe has been around airplanes since he was young. His father not only flew airplanes, but he built them as well.

"My dad has been a pilot since I was young, so I was always around them," Asbe said.

Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, Asbe had never been worried about flying.

"After the effect of 9/11, it's never been a concern being a pilot," Asbe said.

Asbe remembers exactly where he was during the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

"I was in my sixth-grade classroom," Asbe said. "A TV was rolled in, and we were told what had happened. I was horrified and couldn't believe someone would fly jets into buildings as part of an attack."

Despite what happened that day, it didn't change Asbe's opinion on flying.

"I guess I have never taken into consideration what happened on Sept. 11 when it comes to flying because it was commercial," Asbe said. "Most of the flying we do is private. I've flown overseas since then and I have to say I really wasn't concerned about it."

Asbe hopes the level of security at airports won't loosen up in the future.

"Because of what happened I would hope that they wouldn't decrease security," Asbe said. "People think that the TSA are overstepping their boundaries, but once you find one weak link it can be used against us."

Paul Slaughter — airport manager of Estherville Municipal Airport

Paul Slaughter has been the airport manager at Estherville Municipal Airport for 14 years, a pilot for 23 years and a flight instructor for Iowa Lakes Community College.

Slaughter said things will always be different after Sept. 11, 2001.

"The Department of Homeland Security changed the atmosphere of aviation for the whole country in a way that it will never go back again," Slaughter said. "Things will always be different than they were before Sept. 11, naturally."

Since Sept. 11, 2001, Slaughter has been vigilant when it comes to airport security.

"After Sept. 11, all employees have to go through recurrent security training every year," Slaughter said. "Everybody who works at the airport involved in flight instruction has to do that."

Slaughter was at the airport when he heard the news about the plane hijackings.

"That morning it was all over the news," Slaughter said. "Things were gearing up for the day. As this happened in the media, nobody took off for flying."

The Federal Aviation Administration sent out a flight restriction preventing all airplanes from flying.

"It was the initial reaction from the FAA that stated that all aircraft be grounded," Slaughter said. "Meaning they can't take off from ground. It caused a lot of inconveniences."

Slaughter remembered feeling sympathy for the people who were in the planes and in the World Trade Center, as well as wondered what motivated the event.

"I felt pity for the people who died, and I wanted to know why this happened," Slaughter said.

Sept. 11 changed Slaughter as an airport manager more than it did as a pilot. 

"As far as the way I fly, it hasn't changed me," Slaughter said. "As an airport manager, I'm a little more cautious about who people are. I wouldn't say I'm suspicious of everybody, but I am more diligent on coming up to people and being acquainted with them."

After Sept. 11, charter services — in which a person rents an entire aircraft — were the last thing to be reinstated as far as being able to fly again.

"It's such a wide open area," Slaughter said. "A charter airplane can be easily taken over."

Air charters were eventually allowed to fly again. In fact, they picked up business. 

"The changes in that Sept. 11 made to commercial flying made it inconvenient to fly commercially, making air charter services pick up in business," Slaughter said.

Although they are more expensive, air charters do offer advantages over commercial flying.

"Certainly a theme we heard in the next several years was, because of enhanced security from some business aviation users, some personal users were beginning to move to the personal use of aviation," said McClung, of the Iowa Department of Transportation Office of Aviation. "You don't have the passenger screening because you're not getting on a large aircraft."

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