2012-05-10 / Local & State

Cellphone Tour Now Available At Flight 93

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) – Visitors to the Flight 93 National Memorial will now be able to use their cellphones to tour the southwestern Pennsylvania site, which an official said is appropriate given the role that cellphones and mobile air phones played in the revolt by passengers during the Sept. 11 attacks.

National Park Service officials say that with the number of visitors on track to triple this year, the tour will also ease the workload for staff and volunteers who have been having trouble providing information to everyone.

“We wanted to make the site more self-guided,” Jeff Reinbold, park service superintendent in western Pennsylvania, said during Saturday's Flight 93 Advisory Commission meeting in Somerset.

“Folks are increasingly hungry to learn more about the story and the memorial,” he said, according to The (Johnstown) Tribune-Democrat.

Parks service archivist Barbara Black told the panel that visitors will be able to use phones to orient themselves at the memorial and to hear the story of Flight 93 and a description of the memorial's design.

Visitors driving into the park will also see new interpretive panels, one giving the history of the land as farms and then as mining sites and the next relating the story of the attacks.

“ The most frequently asked question, since I was first there on October 12, 2001, is `Where is the crash site?” Black said, according to the ( Somerset) Daily American. “Orientation panels will show people where they are in relation to the crash site.”

Future recordings may include accounts from relatives or witnesses interviewed as part of the memorial's oral history project or special messages from key figures in the story. There are also suggestion for cellphone tour points in Somerset, Shanksville and other locations outside the park's borders, Black said.

Reinbold said he believed that the cellphone tour would help students understand the story.

Assistant Superintendent Keith Newlin made a similar point in noting the actions of some of the 600 volunteers who helped plant trees on 20 acres, part of a reforestation project that will cover 200 to 250 acres.

“Students were taking their cellphones with GPS capability and recording the site where the trees that they planted were because they plan to come back in a few years and see their trees,” Newlin said.

The cellphone tour notes that 37 phone calls were made by 13 people on Flight 93 between the 9:28 a.m. hijacking and the 10:03 a.m. crash, and those calls helped passengers and crew learn what was going on, noted Architect David Hollenberg, the commission's newest member.

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