By Pete Kotz
By Michael Musto
By Michael Musto
By Capt. James Van Thach told to Jonathan Wei
By Kera Bolonik
By Michael Musto
By Nick Pinto
By Steve Weinstein
Was the crash an accident or an act of terrorism? I didn't consider either one at first. Instead, I thought about the people on the plane and on the ground. The media rushes to fill the news cycle, but I think that if you turn off the TV and wait awhile, you'll get the necessary information. There's a lot of impatience. The government should hold a daily news briefing where everything is explained.
Do you believe what you're being told about it? Planes crash. I don't have a big conspiracy theory about this one. It won't help the airline industry during the holidays, but I don't think the NTSB is going to bail out American Airlines by saying one thing or the other about the cause.
Are you more nervous about flying? I recently had a kind of terrorist experience. On my flight from Madrid, they arrested an Algerian man with a fake passport. They put him in a straitjacket and took him off the plane. I'm not afraid of flying, and I'm not worried about screening. On the plane they give you metal forks and knives, some of which are so sharp you could cut someone's throat with them. Do you really think that terrorists are going to use regular means to carry out their agendas?
Was the crash an accident or an act of terrorism? Right away, the first thing I thought was that it was terrorism. I thought they'd brought a bomb onto the plane, and that they meant to just blow the plane up. They didn't care where it was going, or who was on it. I felt shocked, with this happening so soon after the World Trade Center.
Do you believe what you're being told about it? No. They're hiding information. They think it's better to say it was an accident, because people would be less scared than if they admitted it was terrorism. Personally, I'm still dealing with the anthrax thing. I pick up my mail at the post office. It seems safer to me than having it delivered.
Are you more nervous about flying? Yes. I was going to go to Santo Domingo to get liposuction. Not on that flight, but a group of friends and I were going down there because it's cheaper to get it done there. I just had a baby and I wanted to get rid of my little stomach. Now we're thinking whether to go.
Was the crash an accident or an act of terrorism? I've missed all of these things, including the attack on the trade center, because I've been out of the country for the last four months. I just got back from Montserrat. They had television and radio, but there wasn't a lot of information. Now I'm back and I feel like I'm in Kosovo with all these armed guards everywhere. My friends in the Caribbean liken the effects of the attack on New York to their own volcano eruption. All that steel melting and devastation. I really think that news coverage of the crash is what it is because of the events of September 11. If you look at coverage of other plane crashes, it wasn't nearly as extensive.
Do you believe what you're being told about it? No. There's two sides to every story. My mother always says, "If you point the finger, there's always three fingers pointing back." The airline industry is worried about its stock. Whatever they're telling the American public, you're know they're saying something else on the DL.
Are you more nervous about flying? No. I just flew in. I don't think it was in God's plan to have all those people die in the World Trade Center or in the Rockaways, but I do think when it's my time to go, so be it.
Was the crash an accident or an act of terrorism? I gave the authorities the benefit of the doubt. I'm very optimistic. Maybe I have too much faith. I had a different feeling about this crash than I did about Flight 800. We were all hurt so badly so recently. We're so vulnerable. Numbness would be a way to describe my reaction. You deal with it by denying that it could be an act of terrorism. I think it was an unfortunate accident with very bad timing.
Do you believe what you're being told about it? If it was terrorism, they wouldn't tell us. They don't want people to panic in the streets. Americans get the information, then go into denial. It may be a form of self-protection. The press and the government also think that the less Americans know, the better off they'll be. I watch Portuguese news, and it presents a much more neutral kind of news. It's the facts. Here, the media pushes a position that's basically, "We're good, everyone else is bad." The events of September 11 should have been a wake-up call for us.
Are you more nervous about flying? No. I flew to Savannah for business and it was fine. I'd fly anywhere right now.
Was the crash an accident or an act of terrorism? I think it's too random and not well-enough planned to be an act of terrorism. It's a creepy coincidence. Unless it was a matter of wanting to just blow up a plane, I think it lacked coordination.
Do you believe what you're being told about it? Not really, but there are a lot of instances like that now. I have a British friend who told me about people being detained by the FBI in Texas. We don't read about that in the American press. There's no information about American casualties in Afghanistan, either. On the other hand, coverage of the anthrax scare seemed OK. The general public was as informed as they could be. The press has sort of agreed to minimize coverage of things critical of the U.S. Maybe some of the ugly details will come out in a year or two, but I understand wanting to protect national security. The banning of certain songs on the radio seems like an overreaction. Like John Lennon's "Imagine." It's censorship, to a certain degree.
Are you more nervous about flying? I haven't flown in two or three years, but I'm not scared. It's a matter of statistics. There's always a chance that you'll crash, just as there's always a chance that you'll be struck by lightning.
Was the crash an accident or an act of terrorism? I may naturally be a little paranoid, but I wonder if anything that happens now isn't an act of terrorsism. It wouldn't surprise me if people had been able to walk onto that plane with something like a bomb. They might have had help from employees at the airport. The fight over airport security is pathetic. The airports claim they've made improvements, but increased security measures can't be that extensive. They were bad before, and it's only been two months since September 11. How much could they have gotten done in that short a time?
Do you believe what you're being told about it? No. We're not getting information. When I speak to my friends in Europe, they're hearing completely different things. I do think that our lack of information was self-created; we're such isolationists, and we don't really care about the rest of the world. There are members of Congress who are proud of never having left the U.S. That is sad.
Are you more nervous about flying? I haven't flown since September 11. I wasn't scared of flying before, but I know that when I do I'll be scared and nervous. We don't have a choice, really. When it's your time, it's your time. You could go outside and a brick could fall on your head and kill you.
Was the crash an accident or an act of terrorism? I thought immediately that it was terrorism. Several days later, I'm still not sure that it wasn't. There are many cells of this organization operating inside the country. We may have missiles and tanks, but they have hijackers willing to die for their cause.
Do you believe what you're being told about it? It's highly unlikely that we're getting any real news. I get the same piece of information over and over again. For better or worse, this is the news we're getting. The positive aspect of it is that information doesn't get leaked. The CIA and FBI are all we've got to fight terrorism. On the other hand, the result of having no facts is that we are living in a haze. And if after the events of September 11 people are willing to say of this recent crash, "It wasn't terrorism," we're going to continue to live in a haze.
Are you more nervous about flying? Yes, but I was nervous before September 11. I haven't canceled anything as a result of the attacks. I'm bound to New York. Flying is man's attempt to control nature, and I don't like it.
Was the crash an accident or an act of terrorism? That it might be terrorism crossed my mind, but I think the media was trying to get people to believe it was terrorism because that's the better story. Even as the NTSB was saying it probably wasn't terrorism, the networks were refusing to let go of the idea. I think it was an awful accident. Any crash is scary.
Do you believe what you're being told about it? I don't think the American media represents what's now going on in the world. I don't know that it ever did. For most people, the amount and quality of the news they get is enough for them. And I think it's what they want to hear. For instance, the war coverage in Iraq during the Gulf War was designed to appeal to people who wanted to know that we were going to "get them," and it didn't matter what the rest of the world thought. Most foreign media is much more critical of American foreign policy than American media ever is.
Are you more nervous about flying? No. I'm thinking of traveling, maybe to Israel in December. Security is better than it's ever been.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city