STONEY CREEK TWP. (KDKA) — Most people who were in Stoney Creek Township on Sept. 11, 2001 at least heard Flight 93’s full-power engines or felt the impact as it shook the countryside like an earthquake.
But there were two men who saw the flight’s final moments.
At well over 500 miles an hour, Flight 93 flashed across the terrain no more than a couple hundred feet above the ground.
“When the plane came through here, I could see the wingtips were vertical,” Eric Peterson said in 2002. “I could see the roof of the plane and the tops of the wings.”
“It only took a couple seconds to get from there over to there – I mean it was probably two seconds at the very most.”
Nine years ago, Peterson told KDKA-TV he was just about fed up with a year of strangers coming to quiet Stoney Creek Township in search of the crash site.
“People want to come see other people’s tragedy, you know it’s a shame, but that’s the way it is,” he said back then.
Now as the 10th anniversary approaches, it’s a bit different.
“I came to grow with it I guess, grow with the 10 years … I just came to accept what’s going on and there’s nothing I can do to change it,” Peterson said.
Nevin Lambert can’t change that he was the last person to see Flight 93 airborne, going inverted as it dove to its destruction.
“It was going upside down and all at once it made the 45 degree angle and it went right down where that big tree is, right where my finger is pointing,” he said in 2002.
On that first anniversary, Nevin said what he saw kept him awake at night. He’s coped by spending many years since then at the crash site as a Flight 93 Ambassador, telling his story to visitors from all over the world.
Today, Lambert doesn’t want to appear on camera and told KDKA-TV that 10 years later, he remains close to the Flight 93 families, the nightmares are gone, but he is no longer an ambassador and is less-than-pleased with how the site is being handled.
Peterson rushed to the crash site on 9/11 – one of the first to arrive.
“When I got up there, the mail was still falling out of the sky – that’s how much mail was in the bottom of that plane,” he said.
He’s still amazed how little was left of the jumbo jet – hardly enough to identify it as an airplane.
Like Lambert, Peterson isn’t happy with what the National Park Service has done to Stoney Creek Township.
“I think they’re going to extremes,” he said. “They deserve something up there, but I don’t think they deserve a $50 million memorial.”
To this day, there are conspiracy theories about Flight 93. The most common is that the U.S. military shot it down.
Peterson says that’s not true.
“The conspiracy people can say what they want to say – there are always going to be that kind of people in the world [who] are not going to believe,” he said, “but I know what I saw that day and that’s enough for me.”