David Shayt
September 11 Collecting Curator
Museum Specialist, Division of Cultural History

"Airplanes made this happen, so we could not ignore the airplanes..."
Airplanes made this happen, so we could not ignore the airplanes. I met with officials from the FBI to examine the airplane parts recovered at the World Trade Center, identified several that had meaning to me, and that hopefully would have meaning to the museum. Parts that were small enough for us to cope with, and yet that had recognizable aspects.

When the planes hit the World Trade Centers much of the planes were melted by the fire that occurred afterward, once the planes were inside the buildings. However, parts sheared off on impact and fell into the streets. These were some of the parts we looked at.

I've come back with a seat belt from one of the planes with its buckle, three or four pieces of fuselage skin, a piece of fuel tank from one of the wings of an airplane and a strut. All of these crushed and smashed and dusty, but indisputably parts of the airplanes.

This was a government transfer from the FBI to the Smithsonian, providing a continuous government ownership of these objects. That's what made it possible for us to do it this way.