Since the designation of Flight 93 National Memorial in 2002, the National Park Foundation (NPF) has supported the park in numerous ways. NPF’s Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign raised over $40 million in private support to establish, design, and construct the park, as well as helped establish the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, the park’s official charitable partner organization. This support has funded construction of the park’s Memorial Plaza, Wall of Names, a Visitor Center, 40 Memorial Groves, and Field of Honor, as well as reforestation efforts in the park. Recently, grants from NPF are helping the park continue to improve, from enhancing the storage of museum objects to visitor safety improvements, as well as investing in programs that help connect people to the site.
Upgrading the Park's Storage System
NPF recently granted the park funds to upgrade its museum collection storage and shelving system to properly store items recovered from Flight 93. On the morning of September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners in a strategically planned attack against the U.S. These terrorists intentionally flew two jet airliners into the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in New York City and a third aircraft into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. A fourth aircraft, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into an open field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all passengers, crew members, and terrorists on board. Today, that site is preserved as Flight 93 National Memorial.
The collection includes parts from both engines and sections of the fuselage, as well as objects from the cabin and interior of the plane. Signature objects also include beverage cart bottoms, a coffee pot, a portion of the Cockpit Voice Recorder, and Airfones. Proper museum storage is vital to ensuring the long-term preservation of these artifacts. The NPF grant guarantees that entire collection is being stored on appropriate shelving for future generations.
Improving the Visitor Experience at the Park
While NPF was instrumental in helping support the park’s construction, there are always improvements to be made as further needs are discovered and existing structures need repair. Funding from NPF is currently helping the park repair the façade of its visitor shelter. A gateway to the park’s Memorial Plaza, the visitor shelter provides park visitors a location to ask park rangers questions, leave messages, or temporarily escape any inclement weather.
Engaging the Local Community
Through a grant from NPF’s Junior Ranger Angler program, students from the Southern Fulton School District recently had an opportunity to visit the park as part of a fishing camp. The rural, remote school district is located in south-central Pennsylvania in a mainly agricultural community. With transportation limitations and financial constraints, many young people remain close to home. Through the Junior Ranger Angler grant, students were able to connect with each other and the angler community, as well as national parks, including Flight 93 National Memorial.
In a series of two-day fishing camps in June, students learned the basics of fly fishing, including fly tying and the lessons in the Junior Ranger Angler activity book, in an indoor workshop. Then students and program managers embarked on a day-long excursion to a site close to Flight 93 National Memorial to put their skills in practice, mentored by high quality instructors with diverse backgrounds, as well as a guided tour of the park’s grounds.
One instructor was a September 11th first responder and former Pennsylvania State Trooper, providing students with a unique perspective on the memorial, Flight 93, and the response of Pennsylvania during September 11th. Students with special needs worked one-on-one with an instructor to maximize successful fly-fishing casts and provide a supportive outside learning environment to encourage outdoor play and learning.
The funding from NPF also enabled the school district to purchase additional fishing rods and reels for students, as well as provide additional onsite staffing, including a nurse, and food and beverages to enhance community building over camp-day meals.
Through this fishing camp and their visit to a national park, the school district is helping students build relationships not only with the natural world around them, but with each other.
National parks can mean different things to different groups of people. From school children visiting a park for the first time to try their hand at fly fishing, to those looking to remember and honor the lives lost at Flight 93, national parks have the power to speak to all of us and connect us in new ways. Investing in our parks to ensure they can continue to preserve the stories that shape our history, as well as inspire the next generations of park visitors, is vital. NPF is committed to continuing our legacy of support to parks across the country, including Flight 93 National Memorial.
Junior Ranger Angler