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    EADS takes group photo with F-16 that responded to 9/11 terror attacks

    EADS Members pose for photo

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Tiffany Scofield | More than 150 New York Air National Guardsmen, Canadian Forces members and government...... read more read more



    Story by Timothy Jones 

    New York National Guard

    Rome, N.Y. – As part of its 9/11 20th anniversary commemoration activities, the Eastern Air Defense Sector had a unit photograph taken on June 9 at the neighboring Griffiss International Airport.

    Two F-16s from the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing, in central New York for a training flight, added some firepower when they became available to serve as a backdrop for the picture.

    In a fitting coincidence, one of the F-16s had responded to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. EADS, one of the first military units to react to the attacks, had controlled and directed the aircraft that day.

    “This is the first ‘EADS-all’ photograph we’ve ever done,” said EADS Commander Col. Paul M. Bishop, who has served at the unit for 30 years. “Getting more than 150 New York Air National Guardsmen, Canadian Forces members and civilians together made the photo memorable, but including an aircraft that responded on 9/11 made it an historic keepsake.”

    “My uncle was the crew chief for this plane, tail number 89-114, on Sept. 11, so I knew its background,” said 1st Lt. Todd Copic, the aircraft’s pilot from the 180th Fighter Wing’s 112th Fighter Squadron. “When we learned that the photo was part of EADS 9/11 commemoration, I verified the aircraft’s history as soon I could.”

    Senior Master Sgt. Terry Copic, Lt. Copic’s uncle, said he was getting that F-16 ready for a routine flight the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

    The pilot and I went through the launch procedures and I had started to marshal the aircraft out when a co-worker pulled up and announced that an aircraft had hit the World Trade Center, Copic recalled,

    My plane powered up and taxied out to the end-of-runway, where it turned around and came back. The sortie was cancelled. All flights in the United States were grounded, the pilot told me and the pilot went to get more information, Copic said.

    After refueling 114, Copic walked to the maintenance hangar.
    When he stepped inside, everyone was huddled around the Maintenance Group Commander. The only words I heard were, “that’s what we know, let’s get to work,” he recalled.

    Airmen ran outside towards the flight line and somebody grabbed Copic. “Let’s go, they need your jet,” they told him.

    “I rushed back to 114, where weapons troops were pushing out Universal Ammunition Loading Systems (UALs) to load the guns with inert bullets – the only weapons we had on 9/11,” Copic said.
    “They pushed the UAL to aircraft 90-0700, just across from mine, and a pilot ran past me to that jet.”

    The crew chief stopped him, Copic remembered, because jet was broke, unable to fly.

    Copic said he realized there were only two flyable, fully mission capable jets on the ramp.

    “One was my jet. The other was being loaded right next to mine,” he said. “I rushed over to the broken jet and told everyone my aircraft was ready to go. I just needed the bullets. “

    We pushed the UAL to 114 and weapons began loading. As the pilot readied for the flight, I asked what was going on. A jet had been hijacked, he said, and was headed our way. We were going after it.

    Once loaded, Copic strapped the pilot in. “I have to get in the air now,” the pilot told him.

    Within a few minutes the pilot was taxiing towards the runway, going after what they would eventually learn was United Airlines Flight 93, Copic said.

    “I didn’t see the pilot again until about 1900 that night. He hadn’t made it to Flight 93, but he had intercepted several small planes who weren’t aware that every aircraft in the country had been ordered to land,” Copic recalled.

    “Flying this plane here wasn’t intentional,” Lt. Copic added, “but it was certainly appropriate.”

    Organizing the unit photograph had its challenges. More than 150 Airmen and civilians had to formed around the aircraft, which were added late in the planning process. The photographers had to be hoisted into the air in bucket trucks to get the proper angle.

    And an impending summer thunderstorm meant everything had to be done quickly. A photograph that was supposed to start at 2 p.m. was finished at 1:57 p.m.

    “It was hectic, but everyone cooperated and the result was an historic photo,” Col. Bishop said. “After it was all over, one of my officers told me ‘it was meant to be’ and I have to agree.”
    EADS plans to hang the photograph in its headquarters building and send a copy to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial in New York City.
    Earlier this year, the 9/11 Museum and Memorial presented EADS with a sapling from the Survivor Tree, which was found alive under the World Trade Center rubble in October 2001 and rehabilitated.
    In its initial 20th anniversary commemorative event, EADS planted the sapling at its Rome facility on May 26. The unit photograph was the second of the commemorative events, which will culminate with a memorial ceremony at EADS on Sept. 11.
    One of the first U.S. military units to respond to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Airmen from what was then called the Northeast Air Defense Sector took the initial calls from civilian air traffic controllers notifying them that terrorists had hijacked airliners. The Airmen then worked to vector fighter jets to intercept the hijacked airliners and coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration to track the four planes.
    For more information on the Eastern Air Defense Sector and the 224th Air Defense Group, visit For more information about the New York Air National Guard, visit

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    Date Taken: 06.17.2021
    Date Posted: 06.17.2021 14:28
    Story ID: 399194
    Location: ROME, NY, US

    Web Views: 1,336
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