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Published Sep. 25, 2001|Updated Sep. 10, 2005

Where were the passengers on United Flight 175 going? They were going on with their lives.

Gerald F. Hardacre limped aboard United Flight 175 on the morning of Sept. 11. We know this because he was born with a bad foot, but that did not keep him from enjoying golf and fishing and cracking people up. He was returning home to Carlsbad, Calif., after visiting his daughter in Boston.

Maria Pappalardo of Paramount, Calif., flew to Boston every year to visit her daughter and attend the Feast of the Three Saints in Lawrence. The three saints are Alfio, Cirino and Filadelfo, martyred for their faith in the year 253. Pappalardo was also going home that Tuesday morning.

Christoffer Carstanjen, 33, was going on vacation; he planned to ride a motorcycle along the California-Oregon coast. The Rev. Francis Grogan, a Roman Catholic priest, was going to visit his sister. Louis Mariani had plans to attend a wedding. His wife found a cheaper fare and took another flight.

Doug Gowell was going west on business. He was a cancer survivor.

Touri Bolourchi, 69, born in Tehran, Iran, and educated in England, was returning home to Beverly Hills, Calif., after visiting her two daughters and two grandsons. Two of her cousins died in airplane crashes in Europe and Africa, and she was desperately afraid to fly.

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Two weeks ago today, thousands of people boarded airplanes in the United States, something most of us have done from time to time. They were doing something ordinary on what seemed an ordinary day.

Four of those airplanes, taken over by hijackers, crashed into the World Trade Center towers, into the Pentagon, into a field in southwest Pennsylvania. This story is about one of them, United Flight 175, which hit the south tower at 9:03 a.m. Staffed with a crew of nine, it was carrying 51 passengers, not including the five hijackers.

We have read lists of the passengers' names, seen their pictures in the newspapers, watched their families remember them on television. We know where they lived and worked and how many children they had. But one question _ the most basic one _ has perhaps been overlooked in the wrenching days since the tragedy.

Why were they flying?

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It was a business day and people were doing business. Garnet "Ace" Bailey and Mark Bavis, scouts for the Los Angeles Kings hockey club, were on their way to work. Three German technology executives _ Wolfgang Menzel, Heinrich Kimmig and Klaus Bothe _ had meetings with California customers. Their company, BCT Technology AG, has posted their pictures on the Web, along with a poem by Erich Fried:

"And to be able to cry . . . This again nearly would be happiness."

Xerox executive John Cahill was traveling to California to get ready for a new career as a consultant. William Weems, in the TV business, was going to produce a commercial. Brian Sweeney was an aviation consultant traveling for work. He called his wife from the plane and left her a message: "I'm on a hijacked plane and it doesn't look good." Jane Simpkin had a meeting of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, for which she worked. In her free time she taught prison inmates to read.

James M. Roux, a lawyer, was preparing to go to work for his brother, David, in his Silicon Valley investment firm. Patrick Quigley and Brian Kinney were flying on business for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Peter Goodrich, a products manager, was traveling for MKS Software, of Burlington, Mass. In college in the 1980s he was a track and field star who excelled in the discus and hammer throw. His teammates called him "Bear."

Maclovio "Joe" Lopez Jr. was going home to Norwalk, Calif., after working on a water main project in Boston, and John "Jay" Corcoran, who lived in Norwell, Mass., was on his way to the Port of Los Angeles to work on a container ship. His schedule was 84 days at sea, then 84 days at home with his wife and two teenage kids.

"It's a cliche to say he was a family man, but he really was," a friend said.

If Corcoran, 44, a marine engineer, didn't happen to speak with Ralph Kershaw, he might have enjoyed doing so. Kershaw, 52, was a marine surveyor traveling for work.

Scan the list and you'll find Hammond, Hayden, Homer and Jalbert, all businessmen. Carl Hammond was in technology research, James E. Hayden was chief financial officer for a software company, and Robert Jalbert was a salesman for a foam company. Shoe inserts. Medical braces. Sound absorbers.

Herbert Homer, 48, worked for the Department of Defense, overseeing Raytheon Co. He was active in the Special Olympics.

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Robert LeBlanc retired as a professor of geography from the University of New Hampshire, but he never gave up the subject: He was on his way to a conference of geographers. Dr. Frederick Rimmele III, of Marblehead, Mass., headed for a medical conference, also wanted to better himself professionally.

Maybe he recognized the captain or first officer. One of Rimmele's specialties was giving the rigorous physical examination the government requires of commercial pilots.

Graham Berkeley, the project manager for a software company in Cambridge, Mass., was going to a business conference, too. After that he planned to see friends in Los Angeles.

Many of the passengers must have had the liberated look of people taking some time off. Shawn Nassaney and his girlfriend, Lynn Goodchild, both 25, were bound for Hawaii; Goodchild was the kind who brought back gifts for friends. Marianne MacFarlane, in customer service for United, was crazy about Disney World, but this time she was headed for Las Vegas. Off-duty flight attendant Jesus Sanchez was taking a vacation, and Eric Hartono, 20, was starting a new life: he was moving to L.A. Robert and Kathleen Shearer, who had just built a house in New Hampshire, were going to see family.

Ruth McCourt, 45, and daughter Juliana, 4, planned to divide their week between two venues: the Deepak Chopra Center for Well Being and Disneyland.

Having just finished a visit to Boston, Alona Avraham planned to continue her vacation in Los Angeles. She was from Israel. Gloria de Barrera was from El Salvador. Having seen business clients in Boston, she was on her way to California to see her brother. She was married and had five children.

Lisa Frost was 22, a recent college graduate on her way to see her family in Southern California. She called her father from the airport and they exchanged I-love-yous.

"Okay, Dad," she said, "see you there."

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For Daniel Brandhorst and Ronald Gamboa, together 14 years, the flight was not the beginning of a vacation but the end of one. They were returning to the Hollywood Hills after a trip to Boston and Cape Cod with their adopted son, who was 3. He was named David, after Daniel's brother.

The Hansons, Peter and Susan, also had a 3-year-old: Christine. They were on their way to see relatives in North Hollywood. Susan was of Korean descent and was raised by her grandmother after her parents died of cancer.

Tim Ward had accompanied his girlfriend to Boston, where she had a business meeting, and was now on his way home to San Diego, where he enjoyed going to the theater.

At 82, Dorothy Dearaujo was the oldest person on Flight 175 by several years. She had just finished a monthlong stay with her son and was headed home to Long Beach. She got her bachelor's degree at age 69. She grew impatiens and then painted watercolors of them. In the spring, she was going to attend her grandson's college graduation.

After that she was going to the Netherlands to paint flowers.

Editor's note

This article discusses the travel plans of 50 of the 56 passengers on United Flight 175.

The identity of one passenger is unknown; no media source identifies the person, whose family may have chosen to keep the name private. The five other passengers not named here were hijackers.

The captain of Flight 175 was Victor J. Saracini, and the first officer was Michael Horrocks. Flight attendants were Robert Fangman, Amy Jarret, Amy King, Kathryn LaBorie, Alfred Marchand, Michael Tarrou and Alicia Titus.

The information in this article comes from the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and numerous other Web and print sources. St. Petersburg Times researchers Barbara Oliver and Cathy Wos contributed to this report.


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