MEMPHIS, Tenn. — 20 years ago on September 11th, the Memphis International Airport became one of the busiest in the country as flights were rerouted after the terrorist attacks.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered U.S. airspace to be cleared and planes were grounded. At 10:15 in the morning when the order came down, 40 planes were within 100 miles of Memphis. They were forced to land in the bluff city.
Because of our infrastructure and FedEx, the airport was able to handle the landings.
"We have a lot of runways, a lot of taxi ways, and a lot of apron, and so Memphis was a logical choice and a very strong choice to bring planes down because of that airfield infrastructure," said Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority President and CEO Scott Brockman.
Airline experts said the only city that had as many flights rerouted as Memphis was Indianapolis.
For days after the attacks, thousands were stuck at the Memphis airport because airspace was closed. Many slept on cots or on the floor at the airport.
Brockman issued this statement Friday about the 20th Anniversary of 9/11:
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks that forever changed the world. While we understand the significance of this anniversary, this day is a somber and painful reminder of many lives lost and our hearts go out to all of those who continue to be impacted by those terrible events 20 years ago. For the aviation industry, September 11 is particularly impactful, and we take time to honor our friends, colleagues and the heroic responders who lost their lives that day. In addition, we salute all of the brave and dedicated men and women who continue to work diligently to ensure the safety of our passengers and employees.”