It must be luck, pilot Mike Michaelis thought as his early morning flight from Sao Paulo was cleared to land at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
Usually flights from South America are routed towards Cedar Creek, a navigational fix in Dallas, before heading to land at DFW, Michaelis said. But on Sept. 11, air traffic control told Michaelis’ Boeing 767-300 to head straight for DFW.
“We thought we were going to get our passengers home early. We were going to get home and it’s going to be great,” said Michaelis, who lives in Argyle. They were even given clearance to land on 17R which was typically used for departures only.
As they pulled up to the gate, Michaelis’ pager went off. And then his cell phone started ringing. His wife was calling to find out where he was.
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“She said, ‘You don’t know, do you?’ and I said ‘I don’t know what?’” Michaelis said. Walking into the terminal, he and the rest of the flight crew looked up at the television screens that had CNN broadcasting live news footage of the terrorist attacks.
Since Michaelis was an officer at the Allied Pilots Association, he went straight from the airport to the union’s offices in Centreport to help put together a response team and help American locate all of its pilots.
“After flying for almost 9 hours, I then spent the next 24 trying to find out where our crews were,” Michaelis said.