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  • On an emotional level at first

  • it didn't really sink in. And I think uhÉ a lot of people that are close to an event

  • like that, you know, you're kind of in a sort of a dream state for a little bit

  • and uh you kinda

  • try to figure out what happened and uh...

  • I finally started to piece it all together

  • uh... later on that evening. Megan: And when he finally did get a hold of me he just

  • kept saying "It wasn't me...

  • Don't worry; it wasn't me."

  • Well I've been with American Airlines since 1991, so we're coming up on my

  • twentieth anniversary

  • with American.

  • I have been a pilot a little bit longer than that. I was first

  • employed by the Navy; I flew P-3's

  • uh... out of Brunswick, Maine and uh... I was on active duty for eight years.

  • I got about 35 hundred hours of P-3 time in those eight years.

  • and then I got hired by American Airlines and currently I fly the boeing 757

  • and 767 airplanes.

  • It's interesting 'cause you don't know what's gonna happen September 11th

  • when you're living september 10th. And i just remember september 10th because

  • September in New England is beautiful.

  • It's not quite fall

  • but it's it's cooler then it would be other places and I'd taken them to the

  • library and I was sitting outside drinking a coffee while they were in the library

  • and for the first time really thanking the Lord because I felt safe I thought, "Wow,

  • we're all here and it's

  • safe and what in the world could ever happen

  • in Georgetown, Maine. Steve: September 10th is a date that means you know great deal to

  • me because

  • uh... i did what I normally do on September 10th.

  • The day before I become available to go flying.. And my flying is in blocks of days

  • of availability.

  • So I was available to go flying on September 11th.

  • So at about three o'clock in the afternoon on September 10th I

  • sat down at the computer and I logged in like I normally do... to check to see

  • if there was any unassigned flying for the next day.

  • And sure enough there was one trip that was available on September 11th it

  • was American Airlines..

  • uh flight 11 out of Boston's Logan Airport

  • to Los Angeles.

  • It was a two-day trip got back on the second day

  • left at I think about uhÉ 7:40, 7:45 in the morning

  • something around that timeframe.

  • And I looked at it and there was no uhÉ pilot assigned to it yet.

  • so the next thing that I do is I go and check and see

  • if there's any reserve pilots available. Now i know i'm available but there might

  • be some other guys available.

  • And it just so happened that on September 11th, 2001

  • uh... there was only one guy available to go flying on that day and that was me.

  • So i've been through this drill a lot of times over the years uh... I went and I...

  • in fact i told my wifeÉ I said,

  • "So i'm going to Los Angeles tomorrow."

  • I went out to the car, opened up the trunk I got my

  • my dirty luggage out of the trunk, and I threw it in the washing machine, and I packed my

  • bags with the new clean stuff and took it back out to the car and I said, "I'm going to LA."

  • And at three o'clock in the afternoon, in fact in those days uh... uh...

  • what's called crew scheduling at American Airlines would actually

  • assign

  • my name to that trip.

  • I ironed his shirt which I always do

  • put his epaulets on his shoulder and found the ID, and...

  • you know made sure he had everything packed he needed and we just prepare.

  • uh...

  • When you're a military family

  • you prepare in a certain way. When you're airline family it's the same thing. There's

  • just a routine

  • and kind of a checklist you go through to prepare for dad to leave on a trip.

  • The... the final assignment comes from via the phone call. So they make,

  • you know, positive contact communication with you. It's not just in the computer

  • they'll call and they'll say, "Hey, just wanna let you know you've been assigned

  • a trip."

  • Now I might know that already by looking into the computer. I could already

  • see that. But a real person will call you and say, "Scheibner, it's now your trip." And now

  • at that point once you have that phone conversation,

  • even if a line pilot wants to they can't bump you off that trip so

  • they've only got a 30 minute window of opportunity once that phone call gets

  • made it's a done deal.

  • I waited for the phone call.

  • And the phone never rang.

  • Which is not

  • completely unusual.

  • It's not the norm but it's not completely out of the question either. In fact, I

  • didn't even think about it for a while

  • uh... it was later on that evening I thought, " You know, they never assigned that trip to me." And I

  • really didn't give it another thought because, well, what that means is i still

  • get paid but I've got tomorrow off. I'm still available to go flying, but

  • you know they were finalized the assignment so I guess I can, you know, brush off my

  • ambitions to do something else that day.

  • What was taking place uh...

  • unaware...

  • I was unaware of

  • was the fact that a fellow by the name of Tom McGuinness

  • who was one of those line holding pilots little bit senior to me

  • uh... Tom was celebrating his birthday

  • on september 10th

  • with his wife and his children

  • and Tom did what i did that afternoon about three o'clock in the afternoon.

  • He went over to the computer

  • and he logged in and he looked and he saw that that flight was open but my name

  • had been

  • penciled in.

  • And he knew he was is still in that 30 minute window of opportunity.

  • uh... so Tom called down to American Airlines and said, "Hey you know I

  • just one check with you am I legal to take this trip. In other words can I

  • bump Scheibner off that trip."

  • and uh... they did what they do with the computer down there and they got back to

  • him and said, "Yep you're legal for that trip but you gotta give us a call back

  • in the next, you know,

  • 20 minutes

  • uh... or else we're gonna finalize the assignment."

  • I assume that Tom had some sort of conversation with his wife

  • and he called back,

  • he called American Airlines and he said, "Yeah I'll take that trip."

  • So at that moment they erased my name off the trip,

  • they assigned it to Tom; I didn't know any different 'cause they never called,

  • and uh... Tom showed up for work that day on september 11th. As you recall

  • on the east coast it was a beautiful day that day.

  • They pushed back off the gate on time and

  • uh... they took off on time and they uh...

  • Tom was actually flying; it was his leg to Los Angeles that day

  • and uh... they flew up to about twenty three thousand feet and Tom engaged the

  • autopilot to take them the rest of the way to Los Angeles.

  • And at that moment uh...

  • all hell broke loose on the airplane.

  • I mean, there's not another way to

  • to express it.

  • I didn't have a TV on, I didn't have a radio on. We were just doing our schoolwork.

  • And um... and pretty soon

  • the head

  • contractor called me uh... his guys had called him

  • because they realized that Steve wasn't home. And he called me and said, "You know, where's Steve

  • today?"

  • And I said, "Well he's in at the Navy." He had gone to work for the Navy that day since he didn't get an

  • airline trip.

  • and itÉ the problem with the contractors was they were scared they thought he had

  • been on that flight they were gonna be dealing with this

  • distraught woman who had just lost her husband.

  • uh... It really

  • started to come home to me the emotional gravity of what happened when my

  • cellphone started to ring.

  • But uh...

  • a secretary at a school that I used to attend,

  • uh looked up my cell phone number and she was the first person to call.

  • And uh... I answered the phone

  • and Evie was on theÉ end of the phone.

  • and she heard my voice and she started crying.

  • And when she started crying I started crying

  • and uh...

  • so uh...

  • she was just happy to hear my voice, and it wasn't two minutes after I got off

  • with her that somebody else called,

  • friends of ours from down in Texas, And I thought, "I need to get ahead of this and make some phone calls.

  • I called home, and I called to different places.

  • I still didn't realize

  • that that was a flight that

  • I was supposed to be on.

  • You know, I'm watching on it on TV like everybody else.

  • And it didn't click with me.

  • I knew the flight number and everything; it still didn't click with me. When it

  • finally clicked with me was later on that evening I thought, "You know, I wonder

  • who was on that flight."

  • And I thought, "Well maybe I can go find out the names. 'cause the media wasn't gonna

  • give you the names for a few days.

  • but maybe there's a way through the login process through American to find out the

  • names.

  • And so I did. I did what I did the day before on September 10th. I logged in and when

  • the screen

  • came up in front of me

  • it looked exactly like it did the day before when it had that trip and it had

  • my name penciled in,

  • except this time it had this trip sequence,

  • my name wasn't there,

  • and it said these three words:

  • Sequence Failed

  • Continuity.

  • That's code

  • at the airlines for

  • 'the trip never made it to its destination'.

  • Wow what an understatement.

  • Sequence Failed Continuity.

  • And at that moment when I got that visual look at the screen,

  • I was overwhelmed.

  • It uh...

  • I said, "You know what, I packed my bags to go on that trip."

  • And then I was even more curious,

  • who had bumped me.

  • But uhÉ Words can't describe

  • that moment

  • of realizing that you should have been some placeÉ

  • You asked me about guilt a little while ago.

  • Yeah, you do have a twinge guilt.

  • 20 years ago

  • I wrote a life objective.

  • And my life objective goes like this:

  • It's to seek, trust, and glorify God

  • through humble service

  • and continual prayer.

  • To raise up qualified disciples as quickly as possible.

  • So someday I might hear

  • God say,

  • Well done my good and faithful servant.

  • The events of September 11th

  • took that life objective that I already had

  • and it intensified it for me.

  • The fire just keeps gettin' hotter

  • as I get older.

  • But someday I want to stand in the Lord's presence

  • and I want him to say, "Well done."

  • I would hate to get in God's presence

  • and have Him say, "Oh, yeah,

  • ScheibnerÉ I see you're name's down here. Well,

  • you know, have a seat.

  • I need to hear the Lord say, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

  • That's what's on my plate

  • and that's what's driving me these days.

  • uh... Why does God take one and leave another? It's not because uh... I'm a

  • better person,

  • or God wanted to do more with me that he wanted to with Tom.

  • I think in God's providence

  • uh... that's obviously His choice.

  • What has stuck with me all these years

  • is the fact that he did leave me behind.

  • Is that i need to act like I'm living on borrowed time

  • because i am.

  • I can look and see my smoking hole

  • and it was a national TV.

  • And I saw where

  • I should have died

  • but I didn't

  • and now

  • there's an obligation that comes with that.

  • I've gotta live my days

  • with a sense of urgency.

  • I have to make sure I get the most out of itÉ and not the most for me.

  • That'sÉ I think we live in a world where everybody's kinda out to get the most for

  • them. This is not about me.

  • This is about the distinct privilege I have been given

  • to know that Somebody died in my place.

  • What I know is that

  • somebody died in my place not once but twice.

  • That's where God comes into the whole thing for me.

  • See Tom sat in seat that I was