The decision to send hijackers Khalid Al-Midhar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi to San Diego was supposedly made in Karachi, Pakistan. That’s where one of the 9/11 architects, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, said he found a San Diego phone book at a local flea market. After thumbing through it, he claimed he sent the two 20-something men to the city.
“The hijackers lived very openly here in San Diego," San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said.
Gore was the FBI special agent in charge of the local bureau when the attacks occurred.
SORBI FLYING CLUB was formed on 1996-05-09 in California by FEREIDOUN SORBI located at 8690 AERO DR STE 364, SAN DIEGO CA 92123 an address by Montgomery Field.
In May 2000, Almihdhar and Alhazmi, clean-cut men in typical American casual clothes, showed up at the Sorbi Flying Club near Montgomery Field, a small San Diego airport, to begin flight training.
Fereidoun "Fred" Sorbi, the Iranian-born founder of the non-profit social club, which provides airplanes and flight instruction to its hundreds of members, explained that the two men came for flight training, saying right away that they wanted to fly big Boeing aircraft.
"We weren't surprised," Sorbi said of their request. "That's very normal." Many Middle Eastern students make such a request because they are seeking training for high-paying jobs in their native countries, he said.
But after a few basic lessons on the ground and two sessions in the air, the pair's training came to an abrupt end because of their limited English.
Rick Garza, a flying instructor who took the men up in a single-engine Cessna, said he flunked the two.
Though their dream was to fly big jets, the goal of practically every student who comes to the school, Garza said, they seemed to lack any basic understanding of the aircraft. Once, he asked Almihdhar to draw the aircraft.
"He drew the wings on backwards," he said.
In the air, Almihdhar, rather than following the instructions he was given, would reply vaguely: "Very good. Very nice," Garza recalled. He concluded that the two did not understand what he was saying.
Garza said he stopped their training, showing them an FAA manual stipulating that all pilots must be able to read, write and speak English.
Rick Garza, a flight instructor at Sorbi's Flying Club, had this to say about the two alleged hijackers originally thought to have piloted Flight 77, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaq al-Hamzi: "It was like Dumb and Dumber, I mean, they were clueless. It was clear they were never going to make it as pilots."