A Risk-Taking Rationale
Charles Magee was flying a single-engine plane to the Grand Canyon when the radio died and the gas gauge went from full to empty. He diagnosed the problem fast — loss of electric power — looked over his flight charts, set down safely at a nearby airfield. "He was like that," said Janet Wexler-Magee, his wife of 13 years. "He said, 'Let's move forward with a rational plan.' "
Such were the nerves and skill that catapulted Mr. Magee from budding technician 30 years ago to chief engineer for the World Trade Center complex.
Mr. Magee knew how things worked. He oversaw the hundreds of miles of ventilation ducts, pipes and electric wires of the complex — the arteries of what amounted to a small city.
Mr. Magee, 51, started the job six weeks before Sept. 11. Though he was expected to wear a tie, he still loved to roll up his sleeves and fix things, and teach the buildings' younger engineers. Ms. Wexler-Magee, who shared in many of her husband's nervy pursuits, now plans to take up another. "I've started taking flying lessons," she said.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 10, 2001.