Air traffic around the nation was paralyzed Tuesday as stunned travelers watched television screens in horror over the smoking wreckage caused by apparent terrorist attacks at New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The Federal Aviation Administration ordered all outbound flights grounded following the fiery twin disaster at the World Trade Center. Runways were kept open for incoming flights.
``Anybody that is planning on going somewhere isn't going anywhere at least for now,'' said James Kerr, deputy director at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee.
Heightened security measures also were put into effect. At Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, passengers were asked to provide tickets and identification before they entered the metal detector area that leads to passenger gates.
Two airplanes crashed into the twin 110-story towers in New York around 9 a.m. Explosions later rocked the Pentagon and the State Department in Washington.
A Boeing 757 plane crashed in the Pittsburgh area later Tuesday morning. It was not immediately clear if it was related to the other attacks.
The unfolding scene of billowing smoke, running crowds and the collapse of the trade center tower stunned passengers, some of whom watched the tragedy from television sets at airports.
``I was pretty shocked,'' said Rob Taylor, 32, of Colorado Springs, Colo., a traveler at Denver International Airport. ``I mean, it's turning into anger pretty quickly. I hope they take this as a final sign that they need to be a little more hard-handed and take the gloves off and go after these people.''
June Locacio, 58, watched the horrific scene on television in a standing-room-only bar at Lambert Airport in St. Louis. She heard the news after she got off a plane from Atlanta, Ga. as she was heading to Sioux Falls, S.D.
``It's absolutely stunning,'' she said. ``I think it's an act of war. I can't believe they hit the Pentagon as well. ... I hope we're up to the task.''
At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, hundreds of people were stranded after federal officials canceled all flights in the United States. There were long lines at airport pay phones as family members called friends and family.
``Someone is trying to make a serious statement and I hope we do likewise,'' said Scott Gilmore, 55, who had planned a trip to Washington, D.C.
At the Hyatt Hotel in New Orleans, Kelly Lenox returned from the airport where she had been scheduled to fly home to St. Louis. She said security officers told her to leave the airport, and police were not even allowing people to get out of taxis.
``You think you're safe, but you're not,'' she said. ``Who would have thought the Pentagon ....'' Her voice trailed off.
Lenox said she would rent a car to get home.