Where 'dad' was on 911


#1 (In Topic #11)

A recollation of BL's father about his day on September 11, 2001

written September 11, 2018
During our early morning phone conversation this morning.  BL (my son) and I were discussing where we were 17 years ago.  This is my recollection of the first hours of my day.

I was at work in my cubical on the second floor of the Dielectric office building—in Raymond ME, a small town northwest of Portland .  My job was to design and code engineering computer programs to develop television station transmitting antennas and to produce proposals for our many TV station customers.  (Remember the conversion of the television broadcast industry was in the midst of the conversion from the analog to digital transmission system.)  

My boss was in his office approximate 40 feet from my cubical.  He was a fan of NPR and always had a radio on.

A few minutes after 8:45 AM, he came to my cubical (and the one next door) and told us that an airplane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York.

My boss told us that we could go to the cafeteria and watch the newly installed digital TV that had just been install during a recent remodeling of the cafeteria.  So all three of us went downstairs.

I watched for a few minutes and decided to go back to my cube.  However, my curiosity got the better of me within a few minutes.  I decided to go back downstairs.  I arrived just in time to watch on live TV the second plane fly into the other tower.

Within 20 minutes of the 1st plane flying into the building our phones began to ring.  Even though the buildings hadn’t collapsed yet, the TV stations had been knocked off the air.  The phone calls were from chief engineers of the stations asking questions about replacement equipment.

Ironically, most of the TV antennas on the WTC were Dielectric antennas, so we had very complete documentation of their equipment.

Within a couple of hours the large conference room had been converted into a ‘war’ room.  Huge pieces of paper had be taped to the walls so that we could tabulate our current parts inventory and what we thought would be needed to provide our customers with new equipment.  Calls were being made to our raw material suppliers to determine the estimated delivery times.

Dielectric has several antennas in production at the time.  The manufacturing engineers were hard at work determining what would have to be done to convert these antenna to operate on a channel for New York City.
Dielectric also had a plant at Palmyra MO.  They had an antenna that would require minimal modifications.  Within a couple of days a flat-bed semi-truck was loaded with the antenna.  The truck made another stop in nearby Quincy IL, at the Harris Broadcast plant and picked up a new TV transmitter.
With a tag team of drivers the truck struck out for NYC.  The antenna and transmitter were delivered to a site where there was a 400 foot tower that was to serve as a temporary location for this station.

I was told later, that there was a tower crew on site waiting to install the antenna on the tower and that within a couple of days the station was operational.

I believe that some of the other stations had secondary facilities at the Empire State Building and were able to return to the air within hours.

Robert L. Miers, PE
Registered Professional Engineer
Amateur Radio Operator KØWHF
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