Leaders with Central Illinois Regional Airport reflect on how 9/11 drastically changed air travel

Local News

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Air travel changed drastically after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings.

Carl Olson, Executive Director of the Central Illinois Regional Airport, was working at an airport in Upstate New York the day of the attacks.

“I got a phone call that an airplane had crashed into one of the World Trade Towers, which I thought was unusual because it was a beautiful, beautiful, clear day,” said Olson.

“I went down and got ahold of a television, just in time to see the second tower get struck, and all of us that were kind of gathered there realized what had happened, and we all just kind of without saying anything just jumped into action, everyone had their own responsibility,” said Olson.

He said directly following the attacks, air travel was strict for passengers, as there were many uncertainties.

“There was so many unknowns about what was behind the attack [and] were there more attacks possibly planned? Everybody went on the defensive, and to have National Guard troops at the airport with guns and live ammunition was just a real tell-tale sign of the times,” said Olson.

And he said the industry was changed completely as a result.

“How terminal buildings are designed, how screening is designed and carried out for passengers and luggage, how aircraft are designed, of course, the advent of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration (TSA,) and Air Marshals, the industry fundamentally changed that day, really in just that morning itself,” said Olson.

He said current security measures are important to keep passengers safe and with peace of mind while flying.

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