A big convention had downtown Philadelphia booked solid. A hotel by the airport would have to do, serving as home base for a weeklong honeymoon of shopping and sightseeing. The date: Monday, Sept. 10, 2001.
In the morning, as the horrific events unfolded on the television, a strange sound greeted the Charleston couple. Actually, it was the absence of sound. No whine of jet engines. No rumbling roar of takeoff.
"We looked out the window and the airport was abandoned, just desolate," recalled Shelly Treadway. In the days that followed, "I noticed I was looking up a lot, and seeing nothing for the first time."
For most Americans, jet trails crisscrossing far overhead are as normal as the sky itself. When air travel was halted one year ago today for the first time in U.S. history, the vacant sky was a reminder that something was terribly wrong.
Days later, when the planes returned, who didn't look to the first low-flying plane and feel a slight cringe?
"I was at a meeting in Charleston in the Atlas Building downtown, and from the window I saw a plane taking off from Yeager [Airport]," said Treadway, an area teacher. "I couldn't help but watch it until it was gone. It made me nervous."
Like many, Treadway has a fear of flying. Planes' being used as weapons hasn't done much to ease fears.
The latest figures from the Air Transport Association show domestic and international air travel down more than 10 percent when compared with last year.
This week's numbers are likely to draw those percentages even lower.
Charleston-based National Travel books, on average, about 250 airline passengers a day. Today, that number will be 111, said CEO Ted Lawson.
"It's weak all week," he said. "It comes back up on [Sunday and Monday], but not back up to normal."
At Yeager Airport on Tuesday, a smattering of passengers waited near the gates. As Karen Chapman prepared to board her flight home to Chicago, she shrugged and said, "What will happen will happen," but let on that she was a little nervous.