In the days, weeks and months after 9/11 the aviation industry came together in a powerful if quiet way to get America flying again. Airline and airport workers put on their uniforms and went back to work to take back what some sought to undermine – they came together out of duty and pride to reclaim the sky.
I've been an aviation trainer for twenty years. For the past several years I've been working with aviation colleagues, including members of the WINGS Foundation (www.wingsfoundation.com) which assists American Airlines Flight Attendants, and the CAUSE Foundation (www.thecausefoundation.org) which supports United Airlines Flight Attendants, and others, to glean the principles of "resiliency" from the stories of courageous aviation workers who rose up in the aftermath of 9/11 to chart personal paths to recovery.
What was it about these ordinary Americans that allowed them to meet the challenges? Where did they find the strength to perform in such extraordinary fashion under pressure?
I set out on a journey to learn these answers, a journey that became a book, Reclaiming the Sky. What I learned on my journey is this: we move forward after loss by doing for others.
After the book was published in 2006, a group of us set out to put the themes of resiliency from the stories into action. All profits from the book go to nine aviation charities, and many from those charities have worked with me to advance the themes of courage and resiliency and find innovative ways to support aviation employees in challenging times.
This effort led us to Fordham University and to an invitation from Dr. James Hennessy, dean of the Graduate School of Education, to create the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham in 2008.
The mission of this institute is to conduct research and develop programs to expand our work in support of those who keep America's great air transportation system moving forward.
Read a letter from Dr. Hennessy upon the creation of our Institute. Also, we invite you to follow our progress. Click here to register for our monthly newsletter and we'll send you regular updates on our work to explore new ways to support workers to increase their productivity and perform at their peaks in challenging times.
We seek to work with all parties within the aviation industry to achieve these goals, including ACI-NA, ATA – and most recently in partnership with AAAE to offer the institute’s lead program, “Resiliency Edge,” through AAAE’s network.
Community is our strength. Working together we can make a difference.
Director, Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University, and President, Service Institute
Contact Tom at: TomMurphy.org