Retired Air Force One pilot recalls flying the President on 9/11 - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Retired Air Force One pilot recalls flying the President on 9/11

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - The 9/11 museum will be dedicated in New York City Thursday; it's a monument to how the terror attacks that day shaped history.

Along with debris and remnants of the fallen towers, the museum acts as a mausoleum, housing the unidentified human remains found at ground zero.

The museum opens to the public on May 21st.

One of the pilots on Air Force One said that their goal was to get off the ground and keep President Bush safe, that pilot now lives in Scottsdale.

The pilot was giving a tour of Air Force One as President Bush read to second grade students as the first plane hit the World Trade enter. He thought it was an accident, but when the second plate hit, he says chaos ensued.

He said that there was a concern they were a sitting duck by sitting on the runway in a 747 with 'United States of America' plastered across the side of the plane.

"We had heard in the confusion, in the chaos that Air Force One was a target, there was an unknown number of airplanes hijacked, so we basically were flying blind literally about what was happening. Our goal was to get airborne, get going fast, and make sure we weren't going to get hit by something," said Todd Beer.

Lieutenant colonel Todd Beer was one of three pilots on Air Force One on September 11th, 2001. The President was on the ground in Sarasota, Florida when the two planes hit the World Trade Center. His job was to keep the President safe.

"The 747 is set up where the pilots sit above where the President comes on, so he came up the stairs, we could see him come up the stairs, he goes into his office then it became a war room mentality where they were trying to figure out gather information," said Beer.

Beer said they flew along the coast of Florida, within an hour all ait traffic in the United States were grounded.

"Somewhere along the way the President decided he needed to get on the ground and talk to the American people and find some place to land, and Clarksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana was on our nose, so we headed in there as we were going in there F-16's joined us on our wings and escorted us and followed us for the rest of the way," he said.

Later that afternoon, they headed back to Washington D.C.; it was a sight Beer will never forget. "You could see the smoke rising up from the Pentagon about 100 miles out, it obviously got more graphic as it got closer," said Beer.

Beer says he plans to visit the national Sept 11th memorial museum when it opens.

"I definitely will go, it's something that's very important, something America needs, something people need to use to remind them of that day; both the good and the bad that came of that," he said.

Retired Lt. Col Beer credits his 20 year career in the Air Force along with his training that helped him fly successfully that day. He retired and 4 years-ago he moved to Scottsdale where he is a pilot for the Discount Tire Company.
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