Alan Greenspan – The Age of Turbulence
On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, I was flying back to Washington on Swissair Flight 128, returning home from a routine international bankers’ meeting in Switzerland. I’d been moving about the cabin when the chief of the security detail that escorted me on trips abroad, Bob Agnew, stopped me in the aisle. Bob is an ex-Secret Service man, friendly but not especially talkative. At that moment, he was looking grim. “Mr Chairman,” he said quietly, “the captain needs to see you up front. Two planes have flown into the World Trade Center. ” I must have had a quizzical look on my face because he added. “I’m not joking.”
In the cockpit, the captain appeared quite nervous. He told us there had been a terrible attack against our country – several airlines had been hijacked and two flown into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon. Another plane was missing. That was all the information he had, he said in his slightly accented English. We were returning to Zurich, and he was not going to announce the reason to the other passengers.
“Do we have to go back?” I asked. “Can we land in Canada?” He said no, his orders were to head to Zurich.
I went back to my seat as the captain announced that air traffic control had directed us to Zurich. The phones on the seats immediately became jammed, and I couldn’t get through to the ground. The Federal Reserve colleagues who had been with me in Switzerland that weekend were already on other flights. So with no way to know how events were developing, I had nothing to do but think for the next three and a half hours. I looked out of the window, the work I’d brought along, the piles of memos and economic reports, forgotten in my bag. Were these attacks the beginning of some wider conspiracy?