Ever since I was a young boy, I knew I wanted to be a pilot. Both my father and grandfather were pilots. These men introduced me to aviation at the age of four, and I have been passionate about flying ever since. After a few years, my grandfather quit. I remember him telling me “Some people have very bad intentions, and put innocent lives in danger.” To this day I still do not fully understand what my grandfather’s intentions were. For the first time, I am piloting a flight, and as I put on my uniform I hear a deep voice call my name, “Sullivan!” As I turn around, I notice another pilot, seemingly in his 40s, tanned skin and very dark hair. “I will be the pilot assisting you on your first flight. My name is Yusuf Azzam but you can call me Azzam.” As we prepare for the flight, I notice he seems agitated. When I ask him if everything is all right, he tells me he does not enjoy flying with new pilots. This makes sense, as I would be nervous too if I had to put my life in the hands of a recently licenced aviator.
Later on during the day, I take possession of the microphone; “Hi, my name is Jacob Sullivan and I will be your pilot today. If you need anything, please refer to the hostesses who will be happy to help you. They will also show you the evacuation plan and measures of security, so please pay attention. I hope this flight is enjoyable for all and thank you for choosing Unified Airlines .” I sit in silence for several seconds and think to myself, “I am ready for this, I’ve been training for this since I was twelve. Everything will be all right. You are meant for this.”
As much as I try to calm myself down, I can’t help but be nervous. Azzam reassures me and tells me everything is going to be fine. I start the engine and do everything I am trained to do. Azzam is carefully watching me, which makes me even more concerned since he is not giving me any feedback.
“The flight is going well so far, good job,” says Azzam, which comforts me and bolsters my confidence. As I make my way through the clouds, I finally take in what is happening. I am doing it, I am a real pilot. My grandfather would be so proud of me and I cannot wait to tell my dad about this extraordinary experience.
After a few hours, I tell Azzam that I need to use the bathroom. He looks at me with annoyance and sighs, “Most pilots don’t take bathroom breaks but since this is your first time, I’ll take over for you. Go ahead.” I head out and make my way to the bathroom. I feel the plane move a little more than usual but I don’t give it too much thought. That is what the passengers feel all the time. As I return to the cabin, I hear Azzam speak with someone on the intercom. From the tone of his voice, I can sense that he is frustrated. Before I enter, I realize he is not speaking English. I slow down and lean in so that I may eavesdrop. I feel horrible for invading his privacy, but I do it anyways. I cannot translate a word he says, but it sounds as if he is becoming more frustrated with whomever he is talking to. When I hear Azzam scream, I knock on the door. He suddenly stops screaming and calmly answers: “Jacob, you do not have to knock you know. You’re the main pilot.” I give him an awkward smile as I enter. As I make my way to my chair, I think to myself, “Who was he talking to? Why was he angry?” I prepare to ask him if everything is all right with regards to the person on the phone but before I get the chance, he begins to speak, “The stupid employee at the control tower made a mistake in our GPS, and we were going the wrong way this entire time. He keeps apologizing but this is a rookie mistake, and we are going to have to deal with it when the passengers realize this flight is taking longer than planned.” I smile and reassure him. I ask him if he put us on the right route which is why I believed the plane moved a little, and he confirms. What would I do without Azzam? Probably keep going on the wrong route and end up having to deal with angry passengers on my first day.
After a while, I finally hear from the control tower that our destination is less than a few minutes away. Azzam tenses up when he sees that I notice. He relaxes but does not say a word. As I look at the GPS, I see Azzam’s hands fly in front of me. It happens so fast that I drop the controls. “What the hell dude?” I scream, “I’ll land it for you Sullivan. Do not ask why!” he says with an agitated tone. He suddenly takes control and abruptly makes a left turn. I look at him with panic rising in my chest but I manage to ask him relatively calmly, “Where are you taking this plane? The airport isn’t this way, Azzam.” He completely ignores my question and keeps flying in the wrong direction. Suddenly, I hear someone speak in our intercoms. It sounds similar to the language Azzam spoke earlier. The voice has a very strict tone as if he gives us orders. Azzam responds in the same language and he becomes a completely different man than the one I met at the airport. This man has evil beaming through his body. His eyes seem distant, but he knows where he’s going. I notice how Azzam flies the plane towards New York City.
Panic consumes my body, and I try to regain control of the plane. He continuously flies the plane lower, and I am certain that we will hit a building if I don’t do something to stop him. The main hostess comes in and warns me that the passengers are feeling very anxious from all this movement. She asks me if everything is all right. Before I even answer, she notices the terror on my face and immediately starts speaking through the intercoms. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is Sophia, our pilot seems to be experiencing a little problem. The emergency plan is in action. Please stay calm and listen to the instructions from the hostesses as we move forward. Thank you for your cooperation.”
As I look around, pressing different controls in attempts to contact our control tower, I realize Azzam is flying directly towards the World Trade Center. “Azzam, what are you doing? Are you crazy? We’re going to die, Azzam!” I scream. I cannot wrap my head around what’s happening. Today is the first time I’m flying a real flight. My grandfather would be so proud. Or would he?