In an August 7, 2003 interview “Michael Crichton: You Ask The Questions” in the British newspaper The Independent, Crichton was asked:
Your novel Airframe is about an investigation of an air disaster. What effect did the September 11 attacks have on you?
Michael Crichton replied:
I was on an American Airlines flight that left New York for Los Angeles at 8am on September 11. Our plane was ordered down in Indianapolis - we weren't told why, and we knew nothing of what had happened. While we were taxiing to the gate, I called my office in California to tell them I would be arriving late. Everybody was in tears. They thought I was dead. The news hadn't by then identified which 8am flights had been hijacked.