NORTH CAROLINA (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Flight attendant Charleen Jones put on her uniform to work Flight 11 hundreds of times.
For more than 20 years, she was based in Boston.
Jones often flew coast to coast with her friend Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney.
“Betty and I knew each other from training,” Jones said. “Betty was in 87-42, I was in 87-43.”
Betty Ong flew for 14 years and was a purser, known for carrying her infectious smile down the aisle of any plane she worked.
She had a calm, cool demeanor that shined — even on the day our country fell into darkness.
The moment terrorists took over Flight 11 on September 11, 2001, Betty Ong picked up the air phone and dialed American Airlines reservations.
Her call was routed to the Raleigh, North Carolina call center. Her calm voice described what was happening.
“Okay, my name is Betty Ong, I’m the number three on flight 11. Our number one has been stabbed, our number five has been stabbed. Can anyone get up to the cockpit?? Can anyone get up to the cockpit??”
“She passed all the information along and that’s when they knew the plane had been hijacked,” Jones said.
From her jumpseat in the back of the plane, Betty Ong relayed invaluable information about the men who strong-armed their way onto the flight deck after murdering two flight attendants.
Flight attendant Amy Sweeney also made calls. She relayed info to her flight service manager in Boston.
Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on September 11th. 87 of those were on board American 11.
Everything changed that day for Charleen, but it’s what she held on to that’s given her strength for the last 20 years.
“It’s the pride and responsibility she carried with her — every time she put on the uniform. She told herself — do it for flight 11,” Jones said.
The 25 flight attendants and 8 pilots lost on September 11th are remembered here at the World Trade Center Memorial in lower Manhattan.
But — the crew of flight 11 — they will always be remembered for their voice of bravery… for being the first to tell America it was under attack.