Passengers stunned and stranded at Cape airport

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Tuesday's terrorist attacks left passengers stunned and stranded at airports nationwide, including the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport where passengers on a flight from Nashville, Tenn., spent the morning watching the horror on television.

The FAA ordered all planes grounded nationwide after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York.

The order caused Corporate Airlines to divert its flight from Nashville to St. Louis and land at the Cape Girardeau airport.

The plane landed around 9:15 a.m. with approximately 10 passengers.

Rebecca and Doug Davis of Mount Juliet, Tenn., were en route to St. Louis and a connecting flight for their vacation to Yellowstone National Park.

"It's awful," she said as she watched the news on television. "You never expect that."

Doug Davis, a retired Marine, said the terrorist attacks will mean added airport security, but they won't deter him from flying. "It's not going to make me more afraid to fly," he said.

Elizabeth Quintana of Tampa Bay, Fla., was returning home from visiting her fiance in Nashville. She sat dejectedly by her luggage in the airport lobby as she waited to learn when flights would resume.

Quintana believes the FAA had no choice but to ground all flights. "It is the correct thing for security," she said.

Bruce Loy, airport manager, spent the day in the largely deserted airport. "The FAA is not allowing flights in or out," said Loy, airport manager. "We're just kind of waiting now."

Loy said the FAA decision to ground planes is unprecedented. "This has never happened," he said.

The attacks prompted the city to station a handful of police and firefighters at the airport as a precatuion.

Security also was tight at the Federal Building at the corner of Broadway and Fountain in Cape Girardeau. Extra federal mashals were posted for safety, and street parking was banned around the building.

Ray Grant, a former Marine, was en route to Virginia Beach, Va., when his flight was diverted to Cape Girardeau. "It's unbelievable. You just don't expect something like that to happen at home," he saidn through a connecting flight in St. Louis.

"It's shocking really," he said.

Grant said he expects the United States government to track down the terrorist organization behind the attacks and retaliate militarily. "There will be some strikes," he predicted.

By late morning, Corporate Airlines announced no flights would leave Cape Girardeau for the rest of the day. Grant, the Davises and Quintana were given hotel rooms and the possibility that fliights might resume today.

Other passengers like Stu Gatley of Highland, Ill., grabbed a rental car ride to St. Louis. Gatley said he and the other passengers didn't learn of the terrorist attacks until they landed at the Cape Girardeau airport.

Like Grant, Gatley expects the U.S. to retaliate. "I think some country is going to be flattened," he said.

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