Teaching the Next Generation Resiliency Lessons from 9/11’s Aviation Heroes

By Tom Murphy, Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University

Today’s young employees at airports and students studying aviation will be tomorrow’s leaders. Undoubtedly, they will face challenges.

The Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University, which also offers Edge4Vets, is partnering with Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) to build upon progress made in 2023 with the “Reclaiming the Sky Resiliency Project” to give our industry’s young professionals (age forty and under) an opportunity to learn resiliency lessons from the aviation heroes of September 11. 2001 and develop tools to meet those challenges.

The program, which was also introduced this spring to include aviation students studying in the University’s Aviation Association’s 128 member schools, is being supported by leading aviation organizations, including SSP America and others committed to developing the next generation.

Participants in the program will have a chance to read the stories of airport and airline employees who went to work in New York, Boston and Washington, DC on the morning of 9/11 expecting a normal day, only to find that “just doing my job” was to become the creed of heroes. Their stories are chronicled in Reclaiming the Sky, by Tom Murphy, an aviation consultant and Director of the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham. He saw first-hand how his aviation colleagues responded with courage, selflessness and resiliency to 9/11 to rebuild their lives and reclaim hope.

The young professionals in the 2024 program will have a chance to read Reclaiming the Sky and attend an online workshop on July 19 to discuss what they learned with their peers and aviation executives. Participants will be invited to write an essay to share how they can apply the resiliency lessons as “tools” to meet challenges in their lives and be eligible for cash awards ranging from $250 to $1000. The top award will be called the “Susan M. Baer Award.” In addition to cash prizes, first, second and third place essay winners will  receive a complimentary registration to ACI-NA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition in Grand Rapids, Michigan in September and will be recognized for their achievement.

Participation in the young professional program is open to employees of ACI-NA member airports/organizations, that are age 40 and under. There will be 25 openings.

Register here.

For full details on the program, visit ReclaimingTheSky.com.

For more information, please contact Tom Murphy at Tom@edge4vets.org.


The “Reclaiming the Sky Resiliency Project” gives today’s “Young Professionals” at airports a chance to learn resiliency skills from the example of 9/11’s aviation heroes. The project is offered for airport employees under 40 by the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University and Airports Council International – North America and with support from major aviation companies, such as SSP America and others. Full details at ReclaimingTheSky.com.