9/11 fighter jet is coming here — to stay

Adding any historic airplane to their collection is exciting to members of the Pacific Coast Air Museum, but this may be an all-time high.

The museum at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport has become guardian of the lead F-15 Eagle fighter jet dispatched to Manhattan when terrorists hijacked airliners the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

As two F-15s scrambled from Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, pilots Timothy Duffy and Daniel Nash didn't know what they would encounter over New York City, about 153 miles away.

As it was, an American Airlines Boeing 767 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center before the fighters became airborne, and a United Airlines 767 slammed into the South Tower before the fighters arrived on scene. The disbelieving National Guard pilots cleared the airspace, patroled against further attacks and provided New Yorkers a measure of assurance.

In 2006, the lead F-15 was retired. Recently, the National Museum of the Air Force offered to entrust it to PCAM (pacificcoastairmuseum.org).

Museum members intend to raise money for an exhibit at the county airport that will showcase the F-15 and stand as the West Coast's major tribute to all who perished on 9/11 and all who rushed to the towers intent on saving lives.

The partially dismantled F-15 should arrive here on a couple of trucks in three or four weeks.

WERE THE TABLES TURNED, friends of Mike Runyan know he'd be there for them at a time like this.

So people fond of the gregarious ex-Santa Rosa councilman are putting on a family-style dinner at 5:30 p.m. MondayNov. 15 to help him cover living expenses for the three months his son, Travis, 28, will be in L.A. for a long-awaited kidney transplant.

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