Pilot to Recount His Experiences Flying on 9/11

TWA pilot David Friel

Peggy McGee

Quail Creek resident and retired Trans World Airline (TWA) pilot David Friel will be the keynote speaker at the Green Valley Chapter, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 25. The luncheon will be held in the Madera Room in La Vista on the La Posada campus. A social period will start at 11:30 a.m., with lunch being served at 12:10 p.m. The cost will be $22.

In the fall of 2001, David Friel, a former commercial and naval aviation pilot, was serving as a Captain with TWA. He started flying in May 1965, first gaining experience as a pilot for the United States Navy before transitioning to commercial aviation in the 1980s.

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Friel was assigned to fly from St. Louis to San Francisco, with a departure time of 8:35 a.m. CDT (9:35 EDT). While awaiting departure in the cockpit of his aircraft, Friel’s flight crew learned for the first time about the attacks on the World Trade Center. He will share with the attendees what happened in the next couple of hours and days before he could fly again.

Friel reported that as he approached the end of his flying career (20 years in the U.S. Navy and 17 years with TWA), his impending retirement inspired him to start maintaining a personal journal that detailed his professional background and the flights he piloted over the final 18 months of his career. He believed that would be better than some boring log books about his flying experiences. Log books typically note only the date, aircraft identification, flight time, and the instrument or visual flight conditions, along with to/from locations. A journal, on the other hand, gave him the opportunity to add things like the aircraft weight, number of passengers, and name of the copilot and expand on any notable events that happened during a particular flight. As the events of 9/11 unfolded, he noted them so that he could relate his experiences of that day to his family and friends.

In 2022 Friel decided to donate his personal flight journal to the 9/11 Museum’s permanent collection. He believed it would have more educational value in a museum, rather than in his family’s memorabilia.

One should make a reservation for the luncheon no later than Oct. 18 by contacting Quail Creek resident Peggy McGee at [email protected] (preferred) or by calling 520-207-6188. For information about the Green Valley MOAA Chapter, please visit www.greenvalleymoaa.org.