Flight 93 centers to open in 2015

By Joe Napsha Trib Live News

The National Park Service and the Friends of the Flight 93 National Memorial are focused on completing a visitors [sic] center and a learning center, both estimated to cost a total of more than $20 million, at the Somerset County crash site of Flight 93 during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, officials said.

The construction of the two separate buildings at the crash site near Shanksville is on schedule to be completed by September 11, 2015, the 14th anniversary of the attacks on the United States, Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of the Flight 93 National Memorial, told more than 40 people at the annual meeting in Somerset of the Friends of the Flight 93 National Memorial.

Opening the centers will be the main focus of the year for the Friends of the Flight 93 National Memorial, said Lladel Lichty, president of the Friends of the Flight 93.

After the new year, there will be a “fundamental shift” in operations at the crash site. The shapes of the buildings are taking form and will be under roof to allow for work during the winter, Reinbold said.

The visitors [sic] center is built between two curving walls that give visitors a sense of the path of Flight 93 as it crashed.

An elevated pathway — 15 feet off the surrounding ground — opens up to a view of the crash site.

Reinbold promised that the learning center will feature exhibits related to Flight 93, with constantly changing programs.

The Park Service wanted to make the learning center separate from the visitors [sic] center to make it relevant to youth who were not living at the time of the attacks, as well as future generations, he said. The learning center will feature skylights and a glass window offering a stunning view of the crash area.

“As the immediacy of 9/11 passes, that (learning center) becomes more important. It helps us make sure it doesn’t just become relevant to those people who lived through 9/11,” Reinbold said.

To help tell the story of Flight 93, the Heinz Endowments has agreed to continues its financial support for the Friends of Flight 93’s oral history project, Lichty said. More than 830 people have been interviewed.

“We want to see it finished and present the work and have the public use this information at the learning center,” Lichty said.

Rebecca Kuzar, executive assistant for Friends of Flight 93, said they want to “reach the youth who are now learning it [9/11] from a textbook.”

Since the Oct. 3 fire destroyed three of the four office trailers at the Flight 93 National Memorial that housed temporary offices for the staff and the Friends of Flight 93, as well as some 330 photographs and original items linked to those flying in the plane, Reinbold said the staff is working out of a new trailer. A special team of National Park Service came to the fire scene to salvage what they could.

“We are back up on our feet and hope to be fully functional in the next couple of weeks,” Reinbold said.

Investigators from the state police and National Park Service have said the cause of the fire is unknown, but have ruled out arson.

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