Among The Heroes: United Flight 93 & The Passengers & Crew Who Fought Back

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On the evening of September 14, as the sun set over the flag-draped county courthouse in Somerset, Pennsylvania, fifteen hundred mourners gathered together as Governor Tom Ridge presided over a memorial to the passengers and crew of United Flight 93. In the hushed twilight, amid the toiling of bells, a candle was lit for each victim, and the flames were used to light smaller candles held by townspeople attending the service.

The hijackers had failed in their mission, Ridge said....

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Overview

On the evening of September 14, as the sun set over the flag-draped county courthouse in Somerset, Pennsylvania, fifteen hundred mourners gathered together as Governor Tom Ridge presided over a memorial to the passengers and crew of United Flight 93. In the hushed twilight, amid the toiling of bells, a candle was lit for each victim, and the flames were used to light smaller candles held by townspeople attending the service.

The hijackers had failed in their mission, Ridge said. They had not destroyed our spirit. They had rekindled it. By fighting back against the terrorists, the passengers and crew had undoubtedly saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. "They sacrificed themselves for others — the ultimate sacrifice. What appears to be a charred, smolerdering hole in the ground," said the governor, "is truly and really a monument to heroism."

Of the four horrific hijackings on September 11, Flight 93, which crashed into a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, resonates as one of epic resistance. A number of passengers phoned relatives and others on the ground to tell them of the hijacking and what they planned to do about it. Their battle to take back the plane brought consolation to countless confused and grief-stricken Americans. At a time when the United States appeared defenseless against an unfamiliar foe, the gallant passengers and crew of Flight 93 provided for many Americans a measure of victory in the midst of unthinkable defeat. Together, they seemingly accomplished what all the security guards and soldiers, military pilots and government officials, could not — they thwarted the terrorists, sacrificing their own lives so that others might live.

The culmination of hundreds of interviews and months of investigation, Among the Heroes is the definitive story of the courageous men and women aboard Flight 93, and of the day that forever changed the way Americans view the world and themselves.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Of the four American airplanes that were hijacked on 9/11, only one failed to reach its intended target: United Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Somehow, it seems, the passengers succeeded in thwarting the hijackers, at the cost of their own lives. Here is their heroic story.
Library Journal
New York Times reporter Longman, who covered the story of Flight 93, helps us relive the heroism and the terror of its final moments. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Two different yet effective treatments. The quality of the writing and the book's scope make Blue perhaps the best of the 9/11 anniversary volumes. Bernstein focuses on the World Trade Center attacks without slighting the disasters at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. His comprehensive view makes the connection between the Islamic fundamentalist hijackers in Pakistan in 1979 and enrollees in Florida flight schools in 2000 and 2001. Firsthand accounts of survivors' escapes from the WTC along with the self-sacrificing courage of others they witnessed mix with sketches of extraordinary lives violently cut short. Such sketches also fill Heroes, a virtual obituary/memorial to the 40 people who died attempting to thwart the actions of four hijackers. Eerily, Longman tells how some passengers opted for the flight at the last minute. His hundreds of interviews allow for both fact and speculation regarding the plane's eventual disintegration into a Pennsylvania field. Both books include photographs of the tragedies and the people involved, relate the last conversations of victims via cell or air phones, and are graphic in parts, all of which make them difficult to get through-but that's precisely why they should be read.-Dori DeSpain, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060099084
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/30/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeré Longman is a sports reporter for the New York Times whose books include the national bestseller Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back and The Hurricanes: One High School Team's Homecoming After Katrina, chosen by Slate magazine as one of the Best Books of 2008.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The sky on September 11 dawned cerulean blue, one of those unblemished skies that often appeared in late summer after heavy rains or hurricanes -- rinsed, cloudless, apparently cleansed of tumult. It was a week past Labor Day. The U.S. Open tennis tournament had just concluded, school was back in session, football season had begun, baseball had entered its stretch run. Casual fashion had faded to basic black. Autumn had arrived in the New York area, if not by calendar's decree, then by the urgent feel of resumption. Summer had been shaken away like sand from a beach towel.

Dressed in his navy blue uniform, the four gold stripes on the sleeves denoting his rank as captain, Jason Dahl entered United Airlines' flight operations center in a secure area of Terminal A at Newark International Airport. It was approximately seven a.m. on this Tuesday. Check-in occurred an hour before each domestic flight. The previous day, Jason had traveled to Newark from his home in the Denver suburb of Littleton, Colorado. He would pilot Flight 93 to San Francisco, having traded a trip later in the month for this one. This was a long-awaited week. Jason would stop by and see his mother in San Jose, California, during his layover. In two days, he would return home to begin his plans for the weekend.

This would be the fifth wedding anniversary for Jason and his wife, Sandy. It was the second marriage for both, and Jason liked to do things in a big way. He had proposed to her on a cruise ship, hiring a plane to fly over with a banner that read SANDY, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, WILL YOU MARRY ME? For their honeymoon, he told Sandy to pack for another cruise. They ended upin Tahiti. When he called on Monday night from Newark, Jason told Sandy that he had bought her a new Volvo. There would be more gifts. When it came to birthdays and anniversaries, Jason possessed the flamboyance of Monty Hall introducing a showcase on Let's Make a Deal. He and a family friend, Jewel Wellborn, had arranged for Sandy to receive a manicure, pedicure, facial and a massage on Friday afternoon. While she was distracted in her bedroom, deliverymen would arrive with a baby grand piano programmed with Jason and Sandy's wedding song. That night, Jason would cook a gourmet meal. On Saturday, he and Sandy would fly to London to celebrate their anniversary. "He was so thrilled, planning every intricate detail of surprise," Wellborn said.

In the United operations center, Jason signed onto a computer, verified his schedule, checked to see if there were any changes. From service representatives working in an open-window area, he received several printouts generated from company headquarters in Chicago. The paperwork told him of the general condition of the aircraft, whether there was a reading light out in first class, or a coffee maker on the blink in the rear galley. It gave him an update of maintenance service on the plane, a review of the weather, a manifest of the flight attendants, passenger load, an extensive flight plan, a reading of fuel levels, possible turbulence, runway data and estimated waiting times.

Flight 93 was scheduled to depart one minute after eight, but anyone who flew out of Newark regularly knew to expect delays. Planes could stack up like balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Given Newark's clogged taxiways and the crowded airspace above the three major airports in the New York City area, sometimes it seemed there was as much gridlock in the skies above Newark, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports as there was on the streets below. After reviewing the paperwork, Jason signed a release for the plane, placing it in his control. Next to his name, he wrote "C-3," indicating that he was certified to perform landings in as little as three hundred feet visibility, the highest qualification that United offered.

In the operations center, Jason met LeRoy Homer Jr., the first officer on Flight 93. The two had never flown together, but they had one thing in common: they caught the flying bug early and this was the only job they ever really wanted.

Upon completing his paperwork, Captain Dahl boarded the plane and began his pre-flight checklist. This was performed in a precise order known as a flow, moving up one row of switches and gauges and down another. He did an overall check of the cockpit, making sure that life vests, fire ax and fire extinguisher were in place and in working order. If the plane was "cold," all systems still shut down before the early-morning flight, he brought the jetliner humming to life through an external power source or an onboard auxiliary power unit. From his seat, he reached up and flipped the switch on three laser gyroscopes. He checked the electrical system, the fuel system, the navigational system, the communications system. He ensured that the flight-data recorder and cockpit voice-recorder were functioning properly. He examined the engine instrument indicators, the fire detection system, the hydraulic system, the anti-skid brakes, the cabin-pressurization system. He programmed into the computerized flight management system his current position, his routing and his destination. Later, the first officer would double-check that the proper positioning and routing had been entered into the computer.

The 757 had a "glass cockpit," meaning that computer screens had reduced the number of dials found on older planes. The jet, manufactured by Boeing and fitted with two megaphone-shaped engines that protruded from beneath the wings, weighed a maximum of two hundred fifty-five thousand pounds, or one hundred twenty-seven tons, as much as a diesel locomotive. It was one hundred fifty-five feet three inches long and had a wingspan of one hundred twenty-four feet ten inches. The surface area of the wings was equivalent to the floor space of a three-bedroom house. This particular jet, delivered to United in 1996 and registered as N591UA, was known as a 757-200.

Among the Heroes. Copyright © by Jere Longman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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First Chapter

 

Chapter One

The sky on September 11 dawned cerulean blue, one of those unblemished skies that often appeared in late summer after heavy rains or hurricanes -- rinsed, cloudless, apparently cleansed of tumult. It was a week past Labor Day. The U.S. Open tennis tournament had just concluded, school was back in session, football season had begun, baseball had entered its stretch run. Casual fashion had faded to basic black. Autumn had arrived in the New York area, if not by calendar's decree, then by the urgent feel of resumption. Summer had been shaken away like sand from a beach towel.

Dressed in his navy blue uniform, the four gold stripes on the sleeves denoting his rank as captain, Jason Dahl entered United Airlines' flight operations center in a secure area of Terminal A at Newark International Airport. It was approximately seven a.m. on this Tuesday. Check-in occurred an hour before each domestic flight. The previous day, Jason had traveled to Newark from his home in the Denver suburb of Littleton, Colorado. He would pilot Flight 93 to San Francisco, having traded a trip later in the month for this one. This was a long-awaited week. Jason would stop by and see his mother in San Jose, California, during his layover. In two days, he would return home to begin his plans for the weekend.

This would be the fifth wedding anniversary for Jason and his wife, Sandy. It was the second marriage for both, and Jason liked to do things in a big way. He had proposed to her on a cruise ship, hiring a plane to fly over with a banner that read SANDY, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, WILL YOU MARRY ME? For their honeymoon, he told Sandy to pack for another cruise. They ended up in Tahiti. When he called on Monday night from Newark, Jason told Sandy that he had bought her a new Volvo. There would be more gifts. When it came to birthdays and anniversaries, Jason possessed the flamboyance of Monty Hall introducing a showcase on Let's Make a Deal. He and a family friend, Jewel Wellborn, had arranged for Sandy to receive a manicure, pedicure, facial and a massage on Friday afternoon. While she was distracted in her bedroom, deliverymen would arrive with a baby grand piano programmed with Jason and Sandy's wedding song. That night, Jason would cook a gourmet meal. On Saturday, he and Sandy would fly to London to celebrate their anniversary. "He was so thrilled, planning every intricate detail of surprise," Wellborn said.

In the United operations center, Jason signed onto a computer, verified his schedule, checked to see if there were any changes. From service representatives working in an open-window area, he received several printouts generated from company headquarters in Chicago. The paperwork told him of the general condition of the aircraft, whether there was a reading light out in first class, or a coffee maker on the blink in the rear galley. It gave him an update of maintenance service on the plane, a review of the weather, a manifest of the flight attendants, passenger load, an extensive flight plan, a reading of fuel levels, possible turbulence, runway data and estimated waiting times.

Flight 93 was scheduled to depart one minute after eight, but anyone who flew out of Newark regularly knew to expect delays. Planes could stack up like balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Given Newark's clogged taxiways and the crowded airspace above the three major airports in the New York City area, sometimes it seemed there was as much gridlock in the skies above Newark, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports as there was on the streets below. After reviewing the paperwork, Jason signed a release for the plane, placing it in his control. Next to his name, he wrote "C-3," indicating that he was certified to perform landings in as little as three hundred feet visibility, the highest qualification that United offered.

In the operations center, Jason met LeRoy Homer Jr., the first officer on Flight 93. The two had never flown together, but they had one thing in common: they caught the flying bug early and this was the only job they ever really wanted.

Upon completing his paperwork, Captain Dahl boarded the plane and began his pre-flight checklist. This was performed in a precise order known as a flow, moving up one row of switches and gauges and down another. He did an overall check of the cockpit, making sure that life vests, fire ax and fire extinguisher were in place and in working order. If the plane was "cold," all systems still shut down before the early-morning flight, he brought the jetliner humming to life through an external power source or an onboard auxiliary power unit. From his seat, he reached up and flipped the switch on three laser gyroscopes. He checked the electrical system, the fuel system, the navigational system, the communications system. He ensured that the flight-data recorder and cockpit voice-recorder were functioning properly. He examined the engine instrument indicators, the fire detection system, the hydraulic system, the anti-skid brakes, the cabin-pressurization system. He programmed into the computerized flight management system his current position, his routing and his destination. Later, the first officer would double-check that the proper positioning and routing had been entered into the computer.

The 757 had a "glass cockpit," meaning that computer screens had reduced the number of dials found on older planes. The jet, manufactured by Boeing and fitted with two megaphone-shaped engines that protruded from beneath the wings, weighed a maximum of two hundred fifty-five thousand pounds, or one hundred twenty-seven tons, as much as a diesel locomotive. It was one hundred fifty-five feet three inches long and had a wingspan of one hundred twenty-four feet ten inches. The surface area of the wings was equivalent to the floor space of a three-bedroom house. This particular jet, delivered to United in 1996 and registered as N591UA, was known as a 757-200.

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2003

    Sorry.

    It is nearly two years after this tragedy that I finally read this book. I have had it on my shelf since it's release date and finally read it. I have to state that the stories of many of the individuals on this flight would be a better read than the final product I read. I am not in ANY manner saying these people were not courageous. I honestly believe their courage averted an ever greater tragedy had their aircraft hit a target other than Pennsylvania farm land. But as a review for a book...which is what this is. I found it to be pure supposition and the rehash of the 6 o'clock news. I am sure the author had good intentions...and his intention was to make a few bucks. Thanks, but no thanks.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2003

    A great book

    This book is a great story about the passengers who died. It was writen by such a great man ironically who cares about his family (He is my best friend's dad). His work will keep all the people who died in everyone's mind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2002

    Through their deaths they brought life

    These Freedom Fighters are America. This book will always keep them alive to the NOW readers and future readers. The author shows compassion of the small town I know. He brings history to the reader. This book will be a future textbook, naming names of the fighters of terrorism, as we do with the past patriots of America. It showed to me that these heroes had been working toward September 11 all their lives. Some knew or felt something was to change them and their families. I hope I could be as courageous and calm in a similar situation. It brought reality to me that the terrorists had many years to plan for these events. When these passengers of Flight 93 signed on as Citizen Soldiers they had but minutes to prepare for the fight. This book showed that the terrorists fought for evil, our heroes fought for love. I am using this text as a NOW history book at my alternative school in Monessen, PA

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2002

    Among The Heroes: United Flight 93 & The Passengers & Crew Who Fought Back

    Jere Longman took names from a passenger and crew list of United Flight 93 and made each and every one of them into real life heroes. He tells their story with a poignancy that is sometimes disturbing, but before you put this book down you will come to the realization that each and every one of those people stood for what America stands for; freedom and the right to make your own choices. Mr. Longman took those names and made them into your neighbors, the person you sat next to in church, your co-workers. He took them from that list and made them into people you would have been honored to know. You will close this book with a sense of pride in our heroes and a new sense of pride in being an American. God Bless the passengers and crew of United Flight 93. They live on in Among the Heroes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2002

    Among The Heroes: United Flight 93 & The Passengers & Crew Who Fought Back

    Newspaper accounts have left the passengers and crew of flight 93, heroes, but obscure heroes. Jere Longman brings them to life and when you close the book, you see them as the person who sits next to you in church, or stands with you at the checkout counter in the grocery store, people you know because their lives are very much like your own. He leaves no doubt they're heroes and we should all feel a debt to them, an obligation to keep their memories alive, and remind anyone who doubts it, that freedom rings and America still stands. Thank you Mr. Longman....this is a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2002

    'Heros' is not a big enough word

    This was an absolutely spell-binding experience. Each of the passengers and crew were unbelievable in their composure and sacrifice. The book will hold your attention and make you want to cry for what these people must have gone through. God bless each and every one. They are ALL my heros and won't be soon forgotten.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2002

    They Gave Meaning To America

    The author will take you right into the lives of the people who flew Flight 93 into American myth and legend. Some of the myth gets dispelled, but the legend will grow as the reader turns each page. While I disagree with the author's thought that 'these are extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances,' I do appreciate everything else said. I also have to say that the book hasn't made me weep, it's made me proud of Americans and angry at the people and situations that led 4 young Muslims to believe the answer to their cultural problems was to take life. I think this should be part of the required reading in every household!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2002

    Straight to my heart!

    This book was an incredible account of real people, true Americans each a hero in his own rite! I had to stop reading so many times to reflect on each precious life lost and to say a silent farewell.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2002

    'They were more than heroes on that tragic day'

    This book tells you about the heroes on flight 93. When you start reading this book you will be unable to put it down. It makes you realize how important your friends and family are to you. It makes you realize how each person on that plane was really a true heroe. They died so nothing else could be struck that day. Read this book you will not let it go.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2002

    Amazing

    I went to two different bookstores searching for this book and finally found it. I see now why it was sold out. I have to take breaks in between reading because my tears are too heavy to finish the page. I feel as though I personally know each person on that ill-fated flight. Everyone needs to read this book!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2002

    Wonderful book about my Niece and other passengers that were on that flight

    I lost my niece Nicole Miller on Flight 93 that day and this book is a wonderful way for everyone to understand what happened on the flight that day and also about the passengers and who they were.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2002

    No greater LOVE than this.

    When I was part way through this the scripture no greater love than this, is to lay down your life for another, rang, and rang and rang again. This is heart shaking and realization of the sacrifice that was given for us all. The book itself is well written and compiled from actual data. The pages jump to life and give complete awareness, much here I absolutely did not know.

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