Only One Plane Was Allowed to Fly After Flights Grounded on Sept 11th 2001

September 8, 2011 at 2:00 am 25 comments

By Chad Upton | Editor

After the planes hit the twin towers on 9/11/2001, all commercial air traffic was grounded. But, a cross country flight was the only thing that could save one man’s life.

A couple hours after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Lawrence Van Sertima, a snake handler of 40 years, was about to get his first snake bite. He was handling a Taipan snake, one of the most deadly in the world, when it became uncooperative and bit his thumb. He instantly knew he was in trouble.

Since air traffic was grounded, he could not be taken to the hospital by helicopter. It took 40 minutes to get to Miami’s Baptist Hospital by ambulance.

The venom from this particular snake attacks the blood, muscles, kidneys and heart. It’s one of the worst possible scenarios. Within hours he was in critical condition and soon bled from his eyes and mouth.

Miami-Dade’s Fire Rescue has a snake bite unit called “Venom 1.” They had 5 vials of a polyvalent antivenin, designed to treat multiple types of snake bites. It helped, and was barely keeping Van Sertima alive. He needed the monovalent antivenin, made from the venom of the Taipan snake, as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there were only two places that it existed: New York and San Diego.

The chances of getting clearance for a plane to take off from New York were unlikely, so they tried San Diego. The FAA in Washington granted permission for the flight, although it had to be  escorted by two fighter jets. Within 45 minutes of landing, the antivenin was being administered.

Van Sertima recovered and learned about the terrorist attacks a few days later.

Bonus: Anti-venom and antivenin are the same thing.

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Entry filed under: History and Origins. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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25 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ibneaters  |  September 8, 2011 at 8:19 am

    That’s amazing! I bet he feels like a very lucky man!

  • 2. Sam  |  September 8, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Holy crap never thought that would happen. This is amazing, I couldn’t imagine the backlash from the family if he couldn’t recieve the anti venom. This story is sort of like the one about the plane in the azors (?) which landed with no fuel, they could have crashed into the sea

    • 3. Jackie .E  |  May 24, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      Yaa ii know he very lucky ii wish ii could me him .!

  • 4. Nick  |  September 17, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Actually another plan flew on that day. Andrea Booher a FEMA Photographer flew on a private plane.

  • 5. I am not sure...?? - Page 2  |  September 19, 2011 at 8:17 am

    […] Re: I am not sure…?? Originally Posted by skynet Inland Taipan which has the most toxic venom but hardly ever comes into contact with people and apparently there's been no human fatalities recorded. Tangentially related; the only plane allowed to continue its flight on 9-11 was carrying Taipan antivenin from San Diego t… […]

  • 6. paul martin  |  July 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm

  • 7. chris moore (@kaydpea)  |  July 2, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    this story seems to be false, the entire bin laden family was allowed to leave on 9-11-2001 after the attacks.

    • 8. Chad Upton  |  July 3, 2012 at 12:26 am

      Most sources say these flights happened on September 13th, a couple days after 9/11.

    • 9. corynski  |  July 10, 2018 at 5:18 am

      That’s what I remember….. Maybe they wish us to forget that flight!

  • 10. al  |  July 2, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Your airplane art is from a 1969 lear jet, this article is bullshit.

    • 11. knight52146  |  December 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm

      the story is not bullshit. Just ask the family of the man that got bit. The picture may be wrong but the story is definitely true!

  • 12. abe  |  July 21, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    remember money trumps all

  • 13. Ali R  |  August 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    This was not the only flight NORAD allowed. I know of at least one other, a medical jet flew a patient from Anchorage to Seattle. Then before the ban was completely lifted charter pilots were allowed to fly to drop informational/care packages to hunters that had no idea what happened or why no one was flying to pick them up.

  • 14. Cullen Hallmark  |  April 21, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    There was yet another flight that evening, which picked up another snakebite victim in South Texas from a remote location along the Pecos River. The snake was a western diamondback, and the victim was taken to San Antonio.

  • 15. BOB  |  September 12, 2013 at 12:05 am

    I was flown that night from a hospital in WV to Pittsburgh VA hospital for emergency medical treatment. The snake bite was not flown out until the next day.

  • 16. MJ  |  September 12, 2015 at 11:00 am

    An emergency helicopter was allowed for a serious car accident in Georgia. The pilot of a rescue helicopter is begging for permission to pick up someone who is critically injured &.Ben Sliney-himself head of operations allowed it to fly All morning, Sliney has refused to make exceptions including a jet Attorney General John Ashcroft, was on trying to get back to Washington.

  • 17. Ten minutes, two stories. – Franco Files  |  April 7, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    […] Only commercial flight on 9/11.  […]

  • 18. simon cox  |  May 2, 2016 at 6:58 am

    This was not the only plane, the Saudi Royals were allowed to fly.

  • […] After flights were grounded on 9/11, one plane was allowed to fly. It carried anti-venom from San Diego to Florida to save the life of a snake keeper suffering from a deadly taipan bite. The only other taipan anti-venom was in New York.. Ref:… […]

  • […] TIL that after flights were grounded on 9/11, one plane was allowed to fly. It carried anti-venom fr… by KidLando in todayilearned […]

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  • […] Even though almost all planes were grounded during 9/11, there was one non military plane flying after the FAA ordered all planes to land. This one plane was carrying snake anti venom to Florida to save a snake handler’s life after he had gotten bit by a Taipan snake. Ref:… […]

  • 24. 9/11 Anti Venom | News Of USA  |  August 9, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    […] Only One Plane Was Allowed to Fly … – After flights were grounded on 9/11, one plane was allowed to fly. It carried anti-venom from San Diego to Florida to save the life of a snake keeper … […]

  • 25. Q Crumb #67 – Tagging Q  |  November 17, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    […] Members of the Bin Laden family.// The FAA in Washington granted permission for a flight from San Diego to Miami in order to deliver some snake anti-venom, although it had to be escorted by two fighter jets. SOURCE:… […]


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