Aug. 18-- In the summer of 2001, about the same time 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui was attending the Airman Flight School in Norman, a dozen Middle Eastern students asked Deanna Robertson about pilot training at Robertson Aviation.
"They wanted a special deal, a better price," said Robertson, owner of the flight school and fixed-base operation at Jones Riverside Airport. "They had private (pilot) licenses. They wanted to have 50 hours (flight time) by Sept. 1. We got one of them 48 hours before Sept. 1, and he had to go home -- to Saudi Arabia, I think."
A couple of weeks later, Robertson and other flight school executives realized how easy it had been for the 9/11 terrorists to receive flight training.
"Before 9/11, they just had to prove they could pay us and had medical clearance," she said.
Airman Flight School filed for bankruptcy in 2005, but executives at other flight schools said it is a different story today.
Federal regulations require foreign students to submit a passport or proof of citizenship, photo identification, specify the school and training program they want to attend and receive approval from the Transportation Security Administration, officials said.
"You need to double- and triple-check who you are dealing with in the case of foreign students," said Bill Christiansen, owner of Christiansen Aviation at Jones Riverside. "We have to keep (student) records for five years. Each flight instructor has to go through yearly security awareness training. Everybody's more vigilant, on their toes and aware of their surroundings."
TSA officials visit flight schools and FBOs to educate employees about activities that may be suspicious and should be reported, industry executives said.
"Anybody that works around the flight training environment -- training pilots, fueling or other positions -- has to go through the TSA training process, and every year we do renewal training," said Damon Bowling, spokesman for Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology. "We also get a visit and annual audit from TSA for spot checks of employee files and student files to make sure we are in compliance with the process."
Christiansen said the FBI underscored the importance of awareness.
"They told us that if you know of any suspicious activity or have somebody come in that you have any doubts about, give us a call," he said.
A look at locals who have lost their lives in connection to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
BY AMANDA BLAND, World Staff Writer
Died: April 30, 2004
Marine Cpl. Scott M. Vincent died in Al Anbar province while conducting a combat mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
His death came on the day Iraqi troops began replacing U.S. Marines under a plan to end a month-long siege in the city, the Defense Department said.
Hometown: Fort Gibson
Died: May 3, 2004
Staff Sgt. Erickson H. Petty was killed by small-arms fire while providing security at a weapons cache in Salman Al Habb, Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Mark Juliano read tributes from Petty's fellow soldiers at his funeral. "He never complained," read one statement. "He never showed the slightest bit of fear. He was the bravest man I have ever known."
Died: May 5, 2004
Spc. James E. Marshall was killed when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Baghdad. Growing up, he had an interest in karate and enjoyed playing saxophone in the high school band, his mother said.
Pam Marshall said her son "liked to make people happy. If they needed help, he had no problem with helping them."
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FAA education ambassador began flying at age 12.