Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Commemorating 9/11 at Renton Municipal Airport's Clayton Scott Field

Hi Colleagues,

I turned into Renton Municipal Airport to photograph the flags at half mast, the planes on the tarmac, the touch-n-goes, and the Pathfinder Monument of Clayton Scott:

Even the parking lot is pretty! (above)
Before 9/11 I contracted with The Boeing Co. as a technical writer with their engineering group.  I learned of 9/11 when I walked into my engineering office that morning.  I wondered at the heavy ambiance with people not at their desk.  They had gathered in the conference room.  At first I thought they awaited a meeting I hadn't heard about.  I wondered why they sat hands to mouth as they watched a TV with smoke on the screen.  I inquired, they told me, it registered as the haze on the screen.  I called my dad, who also worked at Boeing.  

For the next month I continued my contract work.  I did not mind the long lines waiting to drive onto campus.  I said "Good morning" and "thank you" to the guard who confirmed my ID badge and permitted me to pass.  I worked until my lead called me and let me know they had to lay off their contractors.  I worked until my last day, when my lead and her cohort visited my station to relinquish my badge, remove my data, and turn of my computer.  Then they escorted me out of the building.  Their empathetic smiles told me, no, I hadn't done anything wrong even though being escorted out of my workplace made me feel as though I had.  My lead told me they wanted to hire me full-time and would have, if...

On my way out I said goodbye to my cubicle mate, and tugged on the bill of his black cap.  If I have any regret of that time, it was that I wish I would have appreciated what I had.  As it was, I experienced my own inner tumult.  Learn from regret and be a different person.  "Write a new story, and just go do it," as my friend said.  Who knows? You might make history.

Aviation History

Nothing sounds as familiar to home as the drone of an airplane.  Growing up, when teachers asked whose parents worked at Boeing, half the class raised their hands.  I fly in Boeing planes when I fly at all; sorry Airbus, I'm a Boeing girl.  I don't worry about noise at the airport, either, as some residents (many on Mercer Island, not Renton).  An Airbus, now that was noisy.  Lots of rattles.  The plane dropped a pocket with the landing gear ga-grhh!  Boeing product? Smooth as butter. When the plane in the above photo took off, I felt amazed at how quiet the sound only confirming in my mind that if and when I fly, it will be in a Boeing product if I can help it!  I'm thankful for Boeing's commitment to Renton and positive influence on my family.

Municipal airports are special.  Renton honored Scott in 2005, on his 100th birthday, by renaming the airport Clayton Scott Field.  Scott was a pioneer aviator, Army Air Corps pilot during World War II, Boeing test pilot, and Bill Boeing's personal pilot, and flew his last flight at 100 years old.  Scott died at 101.  I appreciate our access to a nearby aviation hub and the ability to produce quality product with global scale, which helps the GDP and creates local jobs.  

Healthy cities grow via building infrastructure around innovation that solves problems and serves a social purpose in a socially just and healthy way. To that end, learn about Renton Municipal Airport's award from Centennial of Women Pilots, and read about how energy links to transportation infrastructure, participatory leadership, and environmental sustainability.  Learn more about Renton's Aviation History.

Making Amends Means Making Peace and Restoring Pride (the Good Kind)

The American "culture code" for health is keep moving (Rapaille, 2006).  I turned into the airport at the last minute when I saw the flags at half mast.  After a cause for pause, it felt good to see people move and go.  I thought, what a good way to acknowledge 9/11.   After 9/11 a decade ago, the jet planes dwindled.  Now jet liners lined the tarmac proud in their green skin awaiting their owners.  Single engines approached for a landing, one did touch-n-goes (landing and taking off again), and two more took off towing banners.  I walked along the grassy knoll dotted yellow by dandelions and enjoyed the 360' view.  People walked their dogs, jogged, and rode their bicycles on Airport Way.  Nearing the lunch hour, drivers began to drive to-and-fro on Renton Avenue.

One of the most painful things for my community was that terrorists used a product of which the locals were proud to harm others--us.  I saw that pain in my co-workers' eyes ten years ago on 9/11.  They used our product to kill people and oops, now I lose my job.  I shielded my eyes and looked north toward Lake Washington, again admiring that shiny line of green along the tarmac.  I realized then that a community at peace flies in peace.  I felt safe even as aircraft buzzed over my head readying to land.  I felt connected later when I posted that I watched touch-n-goes to commemorate 9/11.

A free community at peace permits its citizens to engage in expert skills.  A happy community interacts and acknowledges each other.  Every day folk trained to fly and maintain their aircraft here.  I felt proud of them.  I felt proud of us.  That pride replaced the hurt.  The connectedness expanded my reach with 9/11. People hold hands and proverbially sing Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" in multi-modal ways now.  We share stories of where we were when... and now.  That sense of isolation and despair spread out like the blue canopy overhead.  Grandpa would be proud, too. He used to fly here.  Some traditions must continue.



Rapaille, C. (2006). The culture code.  New York: Broadway.

"History lives here:" Renton centennial marker walking tour. (2001). Childers & Brewer: Renton, WA.

Renton: The first 100 years 1901-2001. (2001). Produced by The Boeing Company, Renton Reporter, and City of Renton: Renton, WA.