Debbie Maitland-Roland needed to drop off some paperwork at the National Transportation Safety Board on Sept. 11.
Although she was an active flight attendant, she also worked with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants accident investigation team. And she had a report that she needed to give to a colleague at the NTSB.
While she was waiting in the lobby, a television was tuned in to the morning news and Maitland-Roland stood and watched, like so many others, as the second plane careened into the World Trade Center.
“Another colleague from the NTSB said, ‘This is your plane. We have to get you downstairs,’” Maitland-Roland said. “I was thinking at the time, this doesn’t make any sense. What I just saw was planes going into the World Trade Center and I’m thinking, why is our [Dulles-based] crew up in New York?”
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As federal buildings began to evacuate, Maitland-Roland was told to head home. But since she had taken public transportation to the NTSB, she was stranded. NTSB officials put her in a room with a landline and she spent the next several hours on the phone with APFA headquarters to help coordinate and set up a support center for flight crews that were in D.C.
“Flight 77 was a flight we all flew. I knew the captain. I knew all of the flight attendants. That was our flight,” Maitland-Roland said.