‘Heroes Of Flight 93’: In the shadow of 9/11, we are forever family in new documentary
The terrible trauma of 9/11 made us family.
Images of two hijacked airliners crashing into the World Trade Center in New York City and the aftermath Sept. 11, 2001, are indelibly burned into our memory.
We recall a third plane slamming into The Pentagon in Arlington County, Va.
And we remember the fourth plane burrowing into a field in Shanksville, Somerset County.
“9/11 And The Heroes Of Flight 93” by The Media People, whose executive producer is Scott Stoneback of Alburtis, completed in April 2017, has received two international awards, the Hermes Creative Platinum award in the category of education, and the 38th annual Telly Bronze award in the category of documentary. Videographer and editor was Gregory Roth of Emmaus.
The documentary is especially “family” for Stoneback. The basis for the film is the story of Mahlon “Mal” Fuller, watch supervisor of the control tower and radar room at the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport. Fuller is brother of Francee Fuller, Stoneback’s wife.
Copies of “9/11 And The Heroes Of Flight 93” are available for sale in the book store at the Flight 93 National Memorial, on the memorial web site, and at talks by Mal Fuller. The 49-min. documentary is based on Mal Fuller’s research, the 9/11 Commission Report, and information from the Executive Summary.
The 16th anniversary of 9/11 will be commemorated at the Flight 93 Memorial by The National Park Service, National Park Foundation, Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, Families of Flight 93 and the public at “Soundbreaking,” 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Sept. 10, initiating the final phase of memorial construction on the Tower of Voices. The ceremony will include remarks, an audio airing of a chimes simulation, and a ceremonial ground-turning. When completed, the Tower will contain 40 pitched chimes, representing voices of passengers and crew of Flight 93.
The 9/11 Ceremony is 9:30 - 11 a.m. Sept. 11 at the Flight 93 Memorial. The open-air service will include remarks, music, reading of the names of the 40 passengers and crew members of Flight 93, and ringing of the Bells of Remembrance.
The Flight 93 Memorial is presented as “A common field one day. A field of honor forever.” On Sept. 11, 2001, four commercial airliners hijacked in coordinated terrorist attacks by Islamic terrorist group, al-Qaeda, resulted in the deaths of about 3,000. On Flight 93, actions of the 40 passengers and crew are believed to have thwarted a crash into the fourth target: the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Mal Fuller was an air traffic controller for more than 40 years after completing service in the Air Force in 1974.
“He retired after 9/11. It burned him out,” recalls Stoneback. Fuller retired in January 2002. Stoneback continues:
“It crashed right off his radar screen. He felt an emotional connection to the people on board the flight. Mal said, ’We’re here to protect people and keep people safe. And there wasn’t a thing we could do for those people.’”
Fuller went to the Flight 93 crash site within one month.
“He was there when people were leaving remembrances,” says Stoneback. “He was on the original board of the Friends of Flight 93. He would give presentations.” Fuller’s honorariums were donated to the Friends. In his talks, Mal Fuller recounts those on Flight 93 who fought back.
“I’ve been videotaping his events for five years,” Stoneback recalls.
Stoneback suggested making Fuller’s presentation into a video for those who couldn’t attend his talks. The National Park Service approved the project, commissioned by the Friends of Flight 93. An estimated 400,000 annually visit the Flight 93 Memorial, a 400-acre site with 1,800 acres as a buffer, with some 1,100 daily, since its opening Sept. 11, 2011.
Stoneback and his son, Ellis, videotaped the memorial service and interment in 2011 of the Flight 93 crew and passengers who were buried in three caskets.
“It was one of the most challenging and emotional shows that we ever produced,” Stoneback says of “9/11 And The Heroes Of Flight 93.”
“The reason for that is I wanted to make sure we told the story accurately so that future generations could understand what happened that day.”
Flight 93 National Memorial, P.O. Box 911, Shanksville, Pa. 15560. nps.gov/flni/index.htm; 814-893-6322