Westmont Magazine My Hope Is in Christ
By Mike Karn ’88
On Sept. 11 I was waking early in preparation for a union meeting. An American Airlines pilot and first officer, I serve as administrative assistant for the Allied Pilots Association in Los Angeles.
When I turned on the television and saw the World Trade Center buildings, only one had been hit. At first I thought I was watching a bad movie. Then, on live television, I saw the second building struck. In disbelief and denial, I told myself this could not happen in America. Then I realized there were people on board those aircraft, people that I might know. I called and confirmed with our union headquarters that indeed one of the aircraft belonged to us.
The airlines are a small community, and we are bound to know somebody. I proceeded to get ready for our meeting. I knew there would be a lot of folks looking for answers and it was best if we were all together.
When I arrived at the meeting, we had about 40 pilots in attendance. The most helpless feeling was trying to find out who was on these airplanes. We did not know if they were based in Los Angeles or somewhere else. As the day progressed, it became evident that we had lost two aircraft and United had lost two as well. Our hearts sank.
This was hard for us as an aviation community; we were not ready to see our brothers and sisters lost in this manner. In the past, hijackers have taken over planes, then landed somewhere and negotiated. A suicide hijack had never been part of any scenario. The thought of having all these unwilling participants in the mad scheme of just a few made us feel sad and then angry.
A few days later I was asked to speak for the Allied Pilots Association at a memorial off the departure end of runway 25 in Los Angeles. Some folks from United and American came together to hold an impromptu service for remembrance, support and closure. About 2,000 people showed up in uniform: pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, ground personnel, police, fire, life guards, and the Coast Guard. Many tears flowed from the eyes of speakers and attendees. We all knew somebody on one of the flights.
I shared from Psalm 139. I know that if the Father’s thoughts toward us number more than the sands of the earth, then he was by each and every victim on that flight. I am saddened now that some kill themselves and others in hopes of what they perceive as eternal glory. It would seem that they have bought the lie that the enemy has been propagating since the fall.
My hope is in Christ. He will walk with us as we walk through and eventually out of this tragedy. One thing is for certain, we see the world in a different way now.
Mike is pictured above speaking at the memorial service, which was attended by many airline personnel.