Flight 93 Pilot's Wife Recalls Terror of Recording

April 13, 2006 — -- The wife of the captain of doomed United Airlines Flight 93 wanted to talk about her husband's final moments but wasn't allowed to because of the legal issues in the case of the so-called "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui.

Now that jurors deciding the death penalty case of Moussaoui have heard the cockpit recordings of Flight 93 -- which went down in a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001 -- Sandy Dahl, wife of Capt. Jason Dahl, can speak freely and does not want anyone to forget her husband and the crew members on that plane.

"The thing I wasn't able to speak about for so long is that Jason actually stayed in the cockpit alone with the hijacker-pilot, injured but not dead, for quite a long time," she said today on "Good Morning America."

"They fussed at him to stay down, sit down, no more, you know. They fussed at him for a good six to 10 minutes to stop touching that."

Absolute Terror

On Sept. 11, 2001, Flight 93 took off from Newark, N.J., at 8:42 a.m., bound for San Francisco. Within 46 minutes, it was hijacked.

On Wednesday, jurors in Moussaoui's case heard the last moments of Flight 93 when prosecutors played cockpit recordings. Dahl first heard the tape four years ago, but she was not allowed to speak about it because of Moussaoui's pending trial.

Dahl first heard the tape with Melody Homer, the wife of LeRoy Homer Jr., the plane's first officer. They held hands, she said, and tried to figure out which voices they recognized and what was happening on the plane.

Dahl said she felt "sheer panic, sheer fear, absolute terror listening to what Jason maybe had to go through."

Dahl has a theory that her husband -- a standards captain who was in charge of training and testing other pilots -- put the plane on autopilot just before he lost consciousness. On the tape, you can hear the hijackers trying to work a knob.

"I believe he is laying on the floor, behind the seat," she said. "There is a bus fuse and it can be pulled. He knew everything about that airplane."

Husband Hailed as a Hero … but Don't Forget the Passengers

Jason Dahl, Sandy Dahl said, "squawked the emergency frequency" during the ordeal. When one of the hijackers announced there was a bomb on board and everyone should stay seated because they were returning to the airport, Dahl's maneuver enabled the message to go the air traffic control towers and not to the passengers.

Although Jason Dahl has been hailed as a hero, Sandy, who has been a flight attendant for 20 years and returned to work again at United after taking a three-year break, says she doesn't want the others on the plane to be forgotten for their courage.

"I don't want to forget the brave passengers, either," she said. "For a long time, I had been upset that the crew had been forgotten. I am a flight attendant myself, and I just didn't want that to happen."