Steve Scheibner was the pilot originally scheduled to fly American Airlines flight 11, the plane flown into the north tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
"I can look on my calendar," he told Glenn Beck on Thursday. "13 years ago today, I should've been one of the first victims of 9/11."
Scheibner believes his life was spared to help "change the American culture for the cause of Christ," and thinks the best way to do that is by connecting with parents.
"On 9/11, we were passionate about our family. [With] eight kids, you have to be," he said. "Now we're passionate about the American family. ... We really feel like the American family is in crisis, so we started a nonprofit called CharacterHealth.com."
Scheibner created a course for parents called "The Nine Practices of a Proactive Parent," which he said is actually based on a course he was asked to design for the U.S. Navy a number of years ago.
"Our aim is to transform the American culture by equipping parents to train a new generation of courageous, Christ-like, what we call 'character healthy' leaders. And by that I mean problem solvers," he said. "It's transforming the culture one family at a time. Forget about the mainstream media. Forget about going toe to toe with liberals and their agenda. Go straight to people."
More on Character Health, below:
Scheibner also told the story of how he was originally scheduled to fly American Airlines flight 11, but at the last minute, was replaced.
"On September 10 ... it just so happened I was the only guy on reserve, on call, to fill in for another pilot," he said. "In that instance, the computer will automatically assign your name to the trip. So at three o'clock in the afternoon, I went to the computer and ... when I brought up the page, there was my name already assigned to the trip. Typically, within two or three minutes, they'll call you and confirm the assignment. Once that phone call gets made, it's a done deal."
Scheibner recalls packing his bags, putting them in the trunk, and even setting his alarm clock for the next morning.
But the phone never rang to confirm the trip.
"What ended up happening was another fellow, a pilot by the name of Tom McGuinness, he was celebrating his 42nd birthday on September 10 with his wife and his children," Scheibner said. "Tom did what I did about the exact same time. About three o'clock in the afternoon, he logged in to see if there was any unassigned flying. Because he was senior to me, he could bump me ... and so just that quickly, they erased that name from the trip and they put Tom's on it. And now, as we know, the rest is history."
Scheibner was doing some work at the Navy base the next day when the news arrived, and all day, they were planning contingencies for war.
"It didn't really click with me that that was the flight that I was supposed to be on. Later that night, when I finally made it home, I was exhausted, we had a little impromptu prayer meeting at our house that evening. I snuck away afterwards to see if I could find the names of the crew that had been on that flight," he said.
"When I brought the screen up in front of me, it looked exactly like it did the day before, where it had my name on it. But now there were no names on it, and all it said was 'sequence failed continuity.' And what that means is, the flight never made it to its destination. And what an understatement."
Scheibner said the news hit him like a "ton of bricks," leaving an empty feeling that persists to this day.
"You can't be happy. You can't be sad," he said. "It's still just an empty feeling after all these years."
He said at first there was "a little twinge of guilt," but "guilt is most often associated with manipulation."
"If I had called in sick, or for some reason forced my way out of that flight, I think it would've been unbearable," he remarked. "I really do. But it was a circumstance outside of my control, and guilt, then, is not appropriate."
Scheibner says he wrestles with the reason he is still alive "all the time," and has concluded that he is living on borrowed time. All he can do is help change the American culture for the cause of Christ, he said.
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