Two and a half hours to our southwest, on September 11 2001, Passengers on board Flight 93 thwarted hijackers who intended to crash the plane into a building in Washington DC. Instead, the plane crashed in this field, killing everyone on-board, but undoubtedly saving the lives many others by keeping the flight from its intended destination.
On September 11 2001, Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco was schedule to depart at 8:00 am, at approximately the same time as the other three planes that would be hijacked later that morning. Heavy morning air traffic delayed the take off, and when flight 93 left the ground at 8:42am, well behind schedule.
At 9:03 am hijackers crashed flight 175 into the South Tower of the World Trade Center
At 9:17 am, as flight 93 approached Cleveland Ohio, terrorists broke into the cockpit and took control of the plane, turning it southeast towards Washington DC. The exact target is unknown, but is thought to have been the U.S. Capitol. Passengers aboard the plane were moved to the back of the plane, where they use service phones to call friends and family members, which is when the passengers learned about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center.
At 9:37 am hijackers crashed flight 77 into the Pentagon
10:07 am – After passengers and crew members aboard the hijacked Flight 93 contact friends and family and learn about the attacks in New York and Washington, they mount an attempt to retake the plane. In response, hijackers deliberately crash the plane into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all 40 passengers and crew aboard.
Because of the actions of the 40 passengers and crew aboard Flight 93, the attack on the U.S. Capitol was thwarted.
Visiting The Flight 93 Memorial
When you arrive at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, to the right of the parking area is a low building with a display in front. To the left of the display is a walkway back to what appears to be a large wall, but is in reality the Memorial Visitors Center. We stopped at the display in front of the restrooms, and listened to a very, very informative talk by one of the National Park Rangers.
After the talk, we followed the walkway out to the overlook. The walkway is marked with a time line. The guides recommend that you walk out and view the grounds from the platform before entering the visitors center, and we followed that recommendation.
From the platform, we turned to walk back into the visitors center.
The museum, or visitors center, is inside this structure that looks like a wall.
Inside the building are a variety of informative displays, and memorials.
A row of phones are installed here, where you can listen to the calls many of the passengers made to their friends and family.
Flight 93 struck the ground at a 40 degree angle almost upside down, hitting right wing and nose first, at a speed of between 563-580 miles per hour. It was carrying approximately 7,000 gallons of Jet A fuel at impact.
There is a viewing area inside the building, allowing you to view the field. To the far right, at the top, you can see the overlook platform that we walked out on before entering the building.
When exiting the Visitors Center, you can return to the parking lot, or you can follow the 2.3 mile long walking trail, which loops from the center past the crash site. This walk will take you past the memorial groves, and over a wetlands bridge. It's a wide, flat, path.
No food, no running, no pets, and no smoking, along this trail.
If you prefer not to walk, you can drive to a second parking area at the Memorial Plaza. The Memorial Plaza is the quarter-mile northern-boundry to the crash site, which is the final resting place of the passengers and crew.
Benches and seating areas line the walkway. There are many spots to sit and reflect here.
There are several spots along the Memorial Plaza designated for items visitors want to leave at the site.
The Memorial Plaza ends with the Wall of Names, which features forty white polished marble stone bearing the names of the passengers and crew members.
Looking up from the wall of names, to the overlook and visitors center
As you leave the park grounds, on your right will be the Tower Of Voices.
The chimes had not yet all been installed when we visited in the summer of 2019, but the description tells us it is a "ninety-three feet tall musical instrument holding forty wind chimes, representing the forty passengers and crew members. The intent is to create a set of forty tones (voices) that can connote through consonance the serenity and nobility of the site while also through dissonance recalling the event that consecrated the site."
"There are no other chime structures like this in the world. The shape and orientation of the tower are designed to optimize air flow through the tower walls to reach the interior chime chamber. The chime system is designed using music theory to identify a mathematically developed range of frequencies needed to produce a distinct musical note associated with each chime. The applied music theory allows the sound produced by individual chimes to be musically compatible with the sound produced by the other chimes in the tower. The intent is to create a set of forty tones (voices) that can connote through consonance the serenity and nobility of the site while also through dissonance recalling the event that consecrated the site. " https://www.nps.gov/flni/getinvolved/tower-of-voices.htm