Loss of Innocence



I arrived at the Windsor Flying Club in the fall 1971 at a time of innocence in an air of optimism. I was sixteen years old, and despite what some negative naysayers might have said I believed that anything was possible, and all was good. Even I, this young curly haired kid, might have a chance at learning to fly an airplane. As I said, I was sixteen years old at the time.

The beauty and symmetry of the aircraft was obvious to me then as now. Graceful lines of metal that might be used to draw arcs in the sky! One could only imagine the greatness of those who not only flew them, but those who fixed, those who designed them, and those who served on them.

Talk around the flying club was always pleasant and upbeat. The commercial flight school next to the flying club I had joined, seemed to be pretty similar in terms of optimism and positive expectation.  I was in love, with a dream. It was an adventure just to go out to the local airport and hang out with other like minded souls, who pretty much shared that same dream….


Across the frequency came a most welcome call from the La Guardia Ground Control. ”Air Canada 721, Ground, check your close to being about number 25 to go…. Air Canada there is a small hole in the weather to the northwest, and you are the only one going that direction. If you can get fired up and be ready to go in about 5 minutes or so, we’ll pull you out of sequence and release you now…. Are you able and are you interested?”

I replied, “Affirmative, we’ll be ready to move shortly” “Ok Air Canada, make a hard right onto Charlie Yankee, left turn on Zero Four, cleared to backtrack one three… monitor tower now 118.7 and advise them ready in position… Have a nice trip”

There was a ground stop in LaGuardia and almost the entire New York airspace had been shut down due to the large numbers of thunder storms in the area. I had called my wife and advised that I would be not be home and that crew sched had already made arrangements for the downtown hotel on this stormy evening, September 10th, 2001.

I was tired and it had been a long day already, we were late and it was getting later. The thoughts of a morning coffee at my favorite Star Bucks in the World Trade Centre sure seemed appealing to me at the time. Let’s see… fight thunderstorms now, or, wait for weather to clear by morning, and be reassigned a trip home after a nice stroll through the WTC with my Star Bucks Java and a newspaper, seemed like a no brainer to me.

An immediate decision was needed at almost thirteen hours into our duty day. The flight attendants had notified me that they expected to be at home in Toronto before their duty time ran out, or they would be wanting to make their way to a hotel in downtown New York.

But duty called, and the passengers wanted to get home, as did we all, and we could now complete this flight just within our duty time limits if we left promptly.   Likely some were wanting to get home to be with family or friends.  Perhaps others had an important appointment early the next morning at their planned destination of Toronto. They were all on that airplane for a reason.

Their destiny would be altered by my decision to act now, i.e., to get out of town, or stay. The company operations would also be affected. The controller said there was a hole and a window of opportunity opened that only we could take advantage of… I chose to fight the weather, our fate was now sealed.

Quickly we did the cockpit checks, and started the engines again on the taxiway where we were parked. The engines had been shutdown to save fuel, and I was not really expecting to get airborne out of New York that evening at all, so might as well save fuel until it was time to head back to the gate because our time ran out.  Shutting down engines on the taxiway, that was and is common practice when faced with long departure delays.

When the limits of our duty had been exceeded, we would proceed with a taxi back to the gate and deplane the passengers and the crew. Then we would be among the many who had been sitting in that line-up to depart who had gone nowhere. Fighting terminal crowds, owly passengers, and a van ride downtown, arriving to a much needed rest in an air conditioned hotel room, and that would be the end of a long day.

A quick call to dispatch was made to advise them of our status change and for them to advise the schedulers and others as required. Just like that, we were off, and working to get through the weather window before it closed.

On the takeoff at just about the most critical moment , V1, ( the flight decision on speed ) heavy rain began to pelt down on the windscreen. We were committed. The heavy rain had been obscured by the thick smoggy haze and the darkness after that evening’s unseen sunset. I wondered briefly if the rain would be heavy enough to snuff out the fires in burning in the engine, turning us into a 100 thousand pound glider. The aircraft radar did not indicate that much weather immediately along the path of departure, and the Air Traffic Controller stated the same. I wondered anyway.

Once in flight, we were in cloud but therein was not a bump to be felt. After leaving the New York area, it was clear sailing the rest of the way home. Quite a contrast from the takeoff. Risk management is the name of the game. The decision made that evening changed the destiny of many, especially my own. I wonder often if my former crew members or passengers on board that fateful evening reflect on how close they came to becoming first hand eye witnesses to the events of 911 in New York that next morning.

That next morning the nature of life for not only all who called America home, but all who call the planet home found that  their existence here on Earth had been radically altered. Life changed forever for most, and not for the better either. I watched the genesis of the change take root on the Television screen from afar, in an old farm house in central Ontario that September morning, instead of up close and personal from downtown New York as might have been.

People are creatures of habit and I likely would have strolled from the hotel near where WTC Building 7 been, into a WTC Star Bucks that fateful morning, a regular haunt of mine, had it not been for a break in the weather that spared my aircraft the evening before. So I watched the towers fall, all three of them, which began a series of events that have left the world damaged and lives destroyed, and an innocence lost that once existed in the minds of the people of our Western, and North American society in particular. Because we all knew that “Terrorism” existed over there, not here, not really. Countless lives have been lost in a “Fight for freedom” that cannot be won, as the first causality of war is always truth   Because there is a lack thereof, there can be no justice, in a never ending war of terror,  and no closure for the people who have had their lives turned upside down and destroyed.

I now realize that because instead of developing a clearer idea of who are the bad guys, and seeking justice, we, i.e.,  the West, have participated in wars which cannot be won against unseen and unknown enemies. Few people even realize a third skyscraper fell that day, without having an aircraft crash into to it like Buildings One and Two. Building 7 of the WTC (https://youtu.be/Mamvq7LWqRU ) was a 47 story high rise that fell at almost the free fall rate of gravity, like the other two in its own footprint. Really? How convenient.

I don’t know what happened, and likely we will never really know. But what I do know is that since then, our war time use of depleted uranium munitions used to get the ” bad guys in caves” located in distant and remote lands has caused the birth defect rate in that part of the world to soar. In Iraq for example, where the weapons of mass destruction were never located, parents no longer ask if their newborn child is a boy or girl, but has the newborn have all its limbs. (http://www.globalresearch.ca/depleted-uranium-far-worse-than-9-11/2374 )

My mom, a WW2 vet, a retired nurse, use to tell me about all the evil the Nazis did in the name of their Fatherland, i.e., their Homeland. In World War 2, they, the common folk of the Third Reich prior to being liberated by the Allies, would be stopped and asked for identification papers by storm troopers and secret police possibly anywhere and everywhere they went.

Much to the distaste of my mother, the Nazis also used to torture it’s POWs as did the Japanese. She was under the impression that we, the Allies, were the good guys and that we NEVER EVER did or NEVER EVER would resort to such barbarian behaviors. We were better than that on principal. I grew up thinking that too.

All this of course relates to the state of the world as it exist today. Syria is at risk to a fate not unlike that which has already has happened to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, all apparently justified by our fighting for freedom and peace, and of course democracy. This war for “freedom and democracy”  really had it’s beginning in earnest on September 11, 2001. Listen to song “Lest We Forget” I wrote before the 911 event. I had an inkling that we could forget those lessons learned from the atrocities of WWII, and apparently we have forgotten.

Our innocence has been lost, and we are afraid to seek the truth let alone speak the truth, in fear that someone will think we are a crazy conspiracy theorist; but the Bible says that when you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. I think that within this scripture is embedded an important principal that has universal application. As a society we cower in fear, time to release the fear and engage the truth, and once again live in freedom.


Lest We Forget,

Words and Music by Dave Metcalfe




When was it said it couldn’t happen again.  It could happen again.

It could happen again..

They did suffer the loss, they did suffer the pain.

Lest we forget,

Oh, Lest we forget


Take the lives of the virile young men,

Away to the front they will be sent

Always on guard ’til the last bullets spent

Lest we forget,

Oh, Lest we forget


Sisters Soldiers Flyers and Sailors

All who had lived the valour the horror,

All who gave all in their own country’s honour

Lest we forget,

Oh, Lest we forget


As time passes by our memories dim

History re-written, truly a sin,

Lessons not learned be repeated again

Lest we forget,

Oh, Lest we forget


When was it said it couldn’t happen again.  It could happen again.

It could happen again..

We would suffer the loss, We would suffer the pain.

Lest we forget,

It will happen again


E5  G  D  G  A  G  A  Asus4  A  Aadd2 E5

( “Sisters” refers to Nursing Sisters of WW2, ie Nurses as my mother had been during this time, and who was part of the inspiration for the song )


8 thoughts on “Loss of Innocence

  1. Great observation, Dave. I’ve been following the Syria situation at infowars .com. Alex Jones says the “freedom fighting” rebels the U.S. is backing are actually Al Queda and have beheaded people in Christian villages they have “liberated”. They also may be the ones that used the sarin gas. And, yes, 12 years on we are still looking for the WMD in Iraq.

  2. Such a good blog, not to mention song! Sadly it seems there are those who live for war and the power and money it can produce. It’s the “little guys” who suffer the consequences.

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