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On September 11, Another Pilot Died in His Seat


I ironed Steve’s shirt and made sure that all of the parts of his uniform were ready. Steve packed his airline kit bag and double-checked that he had all of the necessary maps and publications. He loaded the car and we settled in to spend the evening doing family stuff with the kids. Strangely, however, he never received a phone call from American Airlines confirming that the trip assigned to him via the computer had been finalized and locked in as his trip. ... So that evening, back into the closet went the airline uniform and instead, we prepared Steve’s Navy uniform. The unexpected day off from the airlines provided an opportunity to spend time working on the Navy base. …

I can only speculate about what was going on in the McGuinness household that evening. Their lives looked so much like ours on paper: military background, airline pilot, active in the church. I picture them going through the same pre-trip rituals that Steve and I performed. I’m sure Tom was in bed early; he would have to be at Logan early on Tuesday morning to pre-flight the airplane for Flight 11 to Los Angeles. Like us, they would sleep the sleep of the unaware.

Unaware that Monday night would be their final family night together.

Unaware that Tom’s 42nd birthday would be his last.

Unaware that life, as they knew it, was about to change — forever.

-- Megan Scheibner

The next morning, September 11, 2001, Mohammed Atta slashed Tom McGuinness’ throat in the cockpit of Flight 11 and piloted the plane into the the World Trade Center.