By Paul Thompson
|The 9/11 timeline
will be released as a book!
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Part 1: 1979 - 2000
Part 2: Jan. 2001 - 9/11
Part 3: Day of 9/11
Part 4: 9/11 - Dec. 2001
Part 5: Jan. 2002 - present
|Day of 9/11
Bush on 9/11
Approximate times are marked in parentheses.
Points to keep in mind when you read the below:
The scrambling (sending into the air) of fighter aircraft at the first sign of trouble is a routine phenomenon. During the year 2000, there are 425 "unknowns" - pilots who didn't file or diverted from flight plans or used the wrong frequency. Fighters are scrambled in response 129 times in cases where problems are not immediately resolved. After 9/11, such scrambles go from about twice a week to three or four times a day. [Calgary Herald, 10/13/01] Between September 2000 and June 2001, fighters are scrambled 67 times. [AP, 8/13/02] General Ralph E. Eberhart, NORAD Commander in Chief, says that before 9/11, "Normally, our units fly 4-6 sorties a month in support of the NORAD air defense mission." [FNS, 10/25/01] Statistics on how many minutes fighters take to scramble before 9/11 apparently are not released.
"Consider that an aircraft emergency exists... when: ... There is unexpected loss of radar contact and radio communications with any... aircraft." [FAA regulations]
"If... you are in doubt that a situation constitutes an emergency or potential emergency, handle it as though it were an emergency." [FAA regulations]
"Pilots are supposed to hit each fix with pinpoint accuracy. If a plane deviates by 15 degrees, or two miles from that course, the flight controllers will hit the panic button. Theyll call the plane, saying 'American 11, youre deviating from course.' Its considered a real emergency, like a police car screeching down a highway at 100 miles an hour. When golfer Payne Stewarts incapacitated Learjet missed a turn at a fix, heading north instead of west to Texas, F-16 interceptors were quickly dispatched." [MSNBC, 9/12/01]
"A NORAD spokesman says its fighters routinely intercept aircraft. When planes are intercepted, they typically are handled with a graduated response. The approaching fighter may rock its wingtips to attract the pilot's attention, or make a pass in front of the aircraft. Eventually, it can fire tracer rounds in the airplane's path, or, under certain circumstances, down it with a missile." [Boston Globe, 9/15/01]
"In October , Gen. Eberhart told Congress that 'now it takes about
one minute' from the time that the FAA senses something is amiss before it notifies
NORAD. And around the same time, a NORAD spokesofficer told the Associated Press
that the military can now scramble fighters 'within a matter of minutes to anywhere
in the United States.'" [Slate,
The commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force, Anatoli Kornukov, says the day after 9/11: "Generally it is impossible to carry out an act of terror on the scenario which was used in the USA yesterday.... As soon as something like that happens here, I am reported about that right away and in a minute we are all up." [Pravda, 9/12/01]
Supposedly, on 9/11, there are only four fighters on ready status in the Northeastern US, and only 14 fighters on permanent ready status in the entire US. [BBC, 8/29/02] However, any number of additional fighters could be in the air or ready to fly at the time the 9/11 attacks begin, but exact numbers are not known.
Additionally, the Air Traffic Services Cell (ATSC), an office designed to facilitate communications between the FAA and the military, had just been given a secure Internet (Siprnet) terminal and other hardware six weeks earlier, "greatly enhancing the movement of vital information." [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/10/02]
8:01 a.m. Flight 93 is delayed for 41 minutes on the runway in Newark, finally taking off at 8:42. The Boston Globe credits this delay as a major reason why this was the only one of the four flights not to succeed in its mission. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] [Newsweek, 9/22/01, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01] Apparently Flight 93 has to wait in a line of about a dozen planes before it can take off. [USA Today, 8/12/02]
(8:13 a.m.) Flight 11 is hijacked around this time. One flight controller says the plane is hijacked over Gardner, Massachusetts, less than 50 miles west of Boston. [Nashua Telegraph, 9/13/01]
(8:20 a.m.) Flight 77 departs Dulles International Airport near Washington, ten minutes after the scheduled departure time. [8:20, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:20, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:20, Guardian, 10/17/01, 8:21, AP, 8/19/02]
8:25 a.m. Boston flight controllers notify other flight control centers of the Flight 11 hijacking, but supposedly they don't notify (NORAD for another 6 or 15 minutes (see 8:31 a.m. and 8:40 a.m.). [8:25:00, Guardian, 10/17/01] Why isn't NORAD also notified at this time? Note that this means the controllers working Flights 77 and Flight 93 would have been aware of Flight 11's hijacking from this time. [Village Voice, 9/13/01]
8:31 a.m. NORAD employee Lt. Colonel Dawne Deskins later says that Boston flight control notifies NORAD of Flight 77's hijacking at this time, not at 8:40 as has been widely reported, even by Deskins previously (see 8:40 a.m.). [ABC News, 9/11/02] Another later report states, "Shortly after 8:30 a.m., behind the scenes, word of a possible hijacking [reaches] various stations of NORAD." [ABC News, 9/14/02] If Deskins' most recent account is right, Boston flight controllers wait about 10 minutes after they are sure Flight 11 was hijacked before notifying NORAD. Otherwise, Boston waits about 20 minutes.
(8:40 a.m.) Boston flight control supposedly notifies NORAD that Flight 11 has been hijacked (another account says it happens earlier (see 8:31 a.m.). [8:38, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:38, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:40, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:40, AP, 8/19/02, 8:40, Newsday, 9/10/02] This is about 20 minutes after traffic control noticed the plane had its transponder beacon and radio turned off. Such a delay in notification would be in strict violation of regulations.
(8:42 a.m.) Flight 93 takes off from Newark International Airport, bound for San Francisco. It leaves 41 minutes late because of heavy runway traffic. [MSNBC, 9/3/02] [8:41, Newsweek, 9/22/01, 8:41, AP, 8/19/02, 8:42, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, 8:42, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:42, Guardian, 10/17/01]
8:43 a.m. NORAD is notified that Flight 175 has been hijacked. [8:43, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:43, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:43, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:43, AP, 8/19/02, 8:43, Newsday, 9/10/02] Apparently NORAD doesn't need to be notified, because by this time NEADS technicians have their headsets linked to the FAA in Boston to hear about Flight 11, and so NORAD learns instantly about Flight 175. [Newhouse News, 1/25/02] Note that this means the controllers working Flight 77 and Flight 93 would have been aware of both Flight 175 and Flight 11's hijacking from this time.
8:46 a.m. Flight 11 slams into the north tower, 1 World Trade Center. Investigators believe it still had about 10,000 gallons of fuel and was traveling 470 mph. [New York Times, 9/11/02] Approximately 2662 people are killed on the ground between this crash and the crash of Flight 175. [AP, 8/19/02] [8:45, CNN, 9/12/01, 8:45, New York Times, 9/12/01, 8:46 (based on seismic data), New York Times, 9/12/01, 8:46, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:46, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:46, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:46, AP, 8/19/02, 8:46, USA Today, 9/3/02, 8:46, USA Today, 8/13/02, 8:46, Newsday, 9/10/02, 8:47:00, Guardian, 10/17/01, 8:48, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 8:46:26, New York Times, 9/11/02, 8:46:26, seismic records]
(After 8:46 a.m.) Shortly after the WTC is hit, the FAA has an open telephone line with the Secret Service, keeping them informed of all events. [Cheney: "The Secret Service has an arrangement with the FAA. They had open lines after the World Trade Center was... " - he stops himself before finishing the sentence, NBC, 9/16/01]
(After 8:46 a.m.) Brigadier General Montague
Winfield is in command of the National Military Command Center (NMCC), "the
military's worldwide nerve center." [CNN,
9/4/02] According to NORAD command director Captain Michael Jellinek, at
some point not long after the WTC hit, telephone links are established with
the National Military Command Center (NMCC) located inside the Pentagon (but
on the opposite side from where the Pentagon explosion will happen), Canada's
equivalent command center, Strategic Command, theater commanders, and federal
emergency-response agencies. An Air Threat Conference Call is initiated. At
one time or another, Bush, Cheney, key military officers, leaders of
the FAA and NORAD, the White House, and Air Force One are heard on the open
Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02, CNN,
News, 9/11/02] Says Winfield, "All of
the governmental agencies there that, that were involved in any activity that
was going on in the United States at that point, were in that conference."
9/11/02] The call continues right through the Pentagon explosion,
as the NMCC doesn't even feel the impact. [CNN,
9/4/02] However, despite being in the Pentagon, Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld doesn't join the NMCC or the call until 10:30 (see 10:30
8:48 a.m. The first news reports appear on TV and radio that a plane may have crashed into the WTC. [New York Times, 9/15/01, CNN, 9/11/01] Many others don't come until a few minutes later. For instance ABC first breaks into regular programming with the story at 8:52. [ABC, 9/14/02]
(After 8:48 a.m.) Air Force General Richard Myers, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sees the first WTC crash on television. Myers will be acting Chairman of the US military during the 9/11 crisis because Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Henry Shelton is flying in a plane across the Atlantic. He sees the TV in an outer office of Senator Max Cleland, but he says, "They thought it was a small plane or something like that," so he goes ahead and meets with Cleland. He says "nobody informed us" about the second WTC crash, and remains oblivious that there is an emergency, only leaving the meeting with Cleland right as the Pentagon explosion takes place at 9:38. [AFPS, 10/23/01, ABC News, 9/11/02] Yet, in testimony on September 13, 2001, he states, "after the second tower was hit, I spoke to the commander of NORAD, General Eberhart. And at that point, I think the decision was at that point to start launching aircraft." [Myers Confirmation Testimony, 9/13/01] NORAD claims the first fighters are scrambled even before the first WTC hit. [NORAD, 9/18/01] Which of Myers' statements is the lie, or are both of them lies?
(After 9:00 a.m.)
United warns all of its aircraft of the potential for cockpit intrusion and
to take precautions to barricade cockpit doors. Flight 93 pilots acknowledge
the message. ["Just after 9:00," Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette, 10/28/01] However, they're not told why, what happened
at the WTC, or that another plane is missing.
(9:03 a.m.) Flight 175 hits the south tower, 2 World Trade Center. Millions watch the crash live on television. Approximately 2662 people are killed on the ground between this crash and the crash of Flight 11. [AP, 8/19/02] F-15 fighter jets from Otis Air National Guard Base are still 71 miles or eight minutes away. [9:02, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:02, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:02, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:03, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:03 (based on seismic data), New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:03, Guardian, 10/17/01, 9:03, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:03, AP, 8/19/02, 9:03, Newsday, 9/10/02, 9:03, USA Today, 9/3/02, 9:03, USA Today, 8/13/02, 9:05, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:05, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:02:54, New York Times, 9/11/02, 9:02:54, seismic records] The Otis Air National Guard Base is 188 miles from New York City. According to NORAD's timeline, fighters left Otis 11 minutes earlier. If they were still 70 miles away, then that means they must have been traveling about 650 mph, when the top speed for an F-15 is 1875 mph!
(After 9:03 a.m.) Secret Service agents burst into Vice President Cheney's White House office. They carry him under his arms - nearly lifting him off the ground - and propel him down the steps into the White House basement and through a long tunnel toward an underground bunker. ["Just after 9:00," ABC, 9/14/02 (B), around 9:06 when Bush is being told of the second WTC hit, New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), same time Bush is being told, Telegraph, 12/16/01, shortly after Bush's speech at 9:30, CBS, 9/11/02, 9:32, Washington Post, 1/27/02] At about the same time, National Security Adviser Rice is told to go to the bunker as well. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Accounts of when this happens vary widely, from around 9:03 to 9:32. But since ABC News claims Cheney is in the bunker when he is told Flight 77 is 50 miles away from Washington, accounts of this taking place after 9:27 appear to be incorrect (see (9:27 a.m.)). The one eyewitness account, David Bohrer, a White House photographer, says it takes place just after 9:00. [ABC, 9/14/02 (B)] Why doesn't this happen to Bush at the same time? Are reports of this happening to Cheney later spin meant to make Bush remaining in public seem less strange?
(After 9:03 a.m.) Shortly after the second WTC crash, calls from fighter units start "pouring into NORAD and sector operations centers, asking, 'What can we do to help?' At Syracuse, New York, an ANG commander [tells Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) commander Robert] Marr, 'Give me 10 min. and I can give you hot guns. Give me 30 min. and I'll have heat-seeker [missiles]. Give me an hour and I can give you slammers [Amraams].'" Marr replies, "I want it all." [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Supposedly, Marr says, "Get to the phones. Call every Air National Guard unit in the land. Prepare to put jets in the air. The nation is under attack." [Newhouse News, 1/25/02] Canadian Major General Eric Findley, based in Colorado and in charge of NORAD that day, supposedly has his staff immediately order as many fighters in the air as possible. [Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/02] Yet another account says those calls don't take place until about an hour later: "By 10:01 a.m., the command center began calling several bases across the country for help." In fact, it appears the first fighters don't take off from Syracuse until 10:44. This is over an hour and a half after Syracuse's initial offer to help, and not long after a general ban on all flights, including military ones, is lifted (see (9:26 a.m.) and (10:31 a.m.)). These are apparently the first fighters scrambled from the ground aside from three at Langley, two at Otis, an unknown number of fighters from Andrews near Washington, and two fighters that take off from Toledo at 10:16. [Toledo Blade, 12/9/01] What happened to all these volunteer fighters? Armed fighters could be in the air from Syracuse by 9:20 a.m. or so, yet supposedly, when NORAD needs fighters to go after Flight 93 at least 20 minutes after that, the only ones they send are two completely unarmed fighters on a training mission near Detroit! [ABC News, 8/30/02] The only likely explanation is that these fighters are prohibited from taking off. Aircraft cannon (the "hot guns" mentioned) would have been all that was needed in such a situation, since any fighter would presumably follow procedure and intercept visually first, tip their wings from a very short distance away, fire a warning shot, and so on, before firing on the plane.
(After 9:03 a.m.) Brigadier General Montague Winfield, commander of the NMCC, the Pentagon's emergency response center, later says, "When the second aircraft flew into the second tower, it was at that point that we realized that the seemingly unrelated hijackings that the FAA was dealing with were in fact a part of a coordinated terrorist attack on the United States." [ABC, 9/14/02] It is plausible that three planes have been hijacked and one has crashed into the WTC, and the military still thinks its all coincidence?
9:15 a.m. American
Airlines orders no new takeoffs in the US; United Airlines follows suit five
minutes later. [Wall Street Journal,
9:16 a.m. The FAA
informs NORAD that Flight 93 may have been hijacked. No fighters are scrambled
in specific response, now or later (there is the possibility some fighters sent
after Flight 77 later head toward Flight 93). Although this is what CNN is told
by NORAD, its not clear why NORAD claims the flight is hijacked at this time
(and NORAD's own timeline inexplicably fails to say when the FAA told them about
the hijack, the only flight for which they fail to provide this data). [CNN,
9/17/01, NORAD, 9/18/01] However,
there may be one explanation: Fox News later reports, "Investigators believe
that on at least one flight, one of the hijackers was already inside the cockpit
before takeoff." Cockpit voice recordings indicate that the pilots believed
their guest was a colleague "and was thereby extended the typical airline
courtesy of allowing any pilot from any airline to join a flight by sitting
in the jumpseat, the folded over extra seat located inside the cockpit."
[Fox News, 9/24/01] Note that all
witnesses on the plane later report seeing only three hijackers, not four.
So perhaps one hijacker tenuously held control
of the cockpit as the original pilots still flew it, while waiting for reinforcements?
Could this have happened before 9:00, when
Flight 93 got a warning to beware of cockpit intrusions (see (After
9:00 a.m.))? F-16 fighters from
the far-off Langley Air Force Base could reach Washington in seven minutes if
they travel at 1100 mph, the speed NORAD commander Larry Arnold says fighters
traveled to reach New York City earlier in the day.
Note that the crash of Flight 77 is still 22
minutes away, so fighters scrambled to protect Washington from Flight 93 would
protect it from Flight 77 as well, but none are sent at this time.
9:24 a.m. The FAA notifies NORAD that Flight 77 "may" have been hijacked and appears to be headed toward Washington. [9:24, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:24, AP, 8/19/02, 9:25, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:25, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:25, Guardian, 10/17/01] This notification is 34 MINUTES after flight control lost contact with the plane and well after two planes have crashed, and even then the FAA only says "may"? Is such a long delay believable, or has that information been doctored to cover the lack of any scrambling of fighters?
(9:25 a.m.) The Flight 93 pilots check in with Cleveland flight control, uttering "good morning." [Newsweek, 11/25/01]
(9:26 a.m.) Jane Garvey, head of the FAA, "almost certainly after getting an okay from the White House, initiate[s] a national ground stop, which forbids takeoffs and requires planes in the air to get down as soon as reasonable. The order, which has never been implemented since flying was invented in 1903, applie[s] to virtually every single kind of machine that can takeoff civilian, military, or law enforcement." Military and law enforcement flights are allowed to resume at 10:31 a.m. A limited number of military flights - the FAA won't reveal details - are allowed to fly during this ban. [Time, 9/14/01] Garvey later calls it "a national ground stop ... that prevented any aircraft from taking off." [House Committee, 9/21/01] Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta also later says, "As soon as I was aware of the nature and scale of the attack, I called from the White House to order the air traffic system to land all aircraft, immediately and without exception." [State Department, 9/20/01] 4,452 planes are flying in the continental US at the time. A later account says Ben Sliney, the FAA's National Operations Manager, makes the decision without consulting his superiors, like Jane Garvey, first. It would be remarkable if Sliney was the one to make the decision, because 9/11 is Sliney's first day on the job as National Operations Manager, "the chess master of the air traffic system." [USA Today, 8/13/02] When he had accepted the job a couple of months earlier, he had asked, "What is the limit of my authority?" The man who had promoted him replied, "Unlimited." [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] About 500 planes land in the next 20 minutes, and then much more urgent orders to land are issued at 9:45 a.m. [USA Today, 8/13/02] [9:25, Time, 9/14/01, 9:25, USA Today, 8/13/02, 9:26, House Committee, 9/21/01, 9:26, Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02, 9:26, Newsday, 9/23/01, 9:26, AP, 8/19/02, 9:26, Newsday, 9/10/02] How could the military respond if military takeoffs are prohibited?
(Before 9:27 a.m.) On Flight 93, at least three of the hijackers stand up and put red bandanas around their heads. Two of them force their way into the cockpit. One takes the loudspeaker microphone, apparently unaware it could also be heard by flight controllers, and announces that someone has a bomb onboard and the flight is returning to the airport. He tells them he is the pilot, but speaks with an accent. ["The best estimation is about 40 minutes into the flight" (9:22), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/29/01, "about 40 minutes into its flight," Boston Globe, 11/23/01, "about 9:28," Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 208]
(9:27 a.m.) Tom Burnett calls his wife Deena and says, "I'm on United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. The plane has been hijacked. We are in the air. They've already knifed a guy. There is a bomb on board. Call the FBI." Deena connects to emergency 911. [9:27, "she scribbled down what Tom told her and noted the time," Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 107, ABC News, 9/12/01, "within minutes" of 9:28, MSNBC, 7/30/02, "She recalls it was around 6:20 a.m. -- 9:20 Eastern time," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, "shortly after" Jeremy Glick's call, Toronto Sun, 9/16/01] His wife Deena wonders if the call might have been before the cockpit was taken over, because he spoke quickly and quietly as if he was being watched. He also had a headset like phone operators use, so he could have made the call unnoticed. Note that original versions of this conversation appear to have been censored. The most recent account has the phone call ending with, "We are in the air. The plane has been hijacked. They already knifed a guy. One of them has a gun. They're saying there is a bomb onboard. Please call the authorities." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 107] The major difference from earlier accounts, of course, is the mention of a gun. The call wasn't recorded, but Deena's call immediately afterwards to 911 was, and she states on that, "They just knifed a passenger and there are guns on the plane." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 108] This is the first of over 30 additional phone calls by passengers inside the plane. [MSNBC, 7/30/02]
(9:28 a.m.) On Flight 93, "there are the first audible signs of problems, in background cockpit noise." Flight controllers hear the sound of screaming and scuffling over an open mike. They then hear hijackers speaking in Arabic to each other. Yet this is at least 12 minutes after at least one hijacker has taken over the cockpit and done something to cause the FAA to notify NORAD of a hijacking. [9:28, Guardian, 10/17/01, after 9:25, Newsweek, 11/25/01]
(9:28 a.m.) On Flight 93, flight controllers hear someone say, "Get out of here," through an open microphone in the cockpit. The mike goes off and comes back on. Scuffling is heard in the background. Somebody again yells, "Get out of here!" Eventually there are a total of four murky radio transmissions, which include lots of non-English phrases, ''bomb on board" twice, ''our demands'' and ''keep quiet.'' ["probably around the time the plane was taken over," Boston Globe, 11/23/01, 9:28, MSNBC, 7/30/02, 9:30, Observer, 12/2/01, 9:32: "90 minutes into the flight," Toronto Sun, 9/16/01] Newsweek repeats possibly the same story, but suggests it happened at 9:58: "The last transmission from the cockpit records someone, probably a hijacker, screaming 'Get out of here. Get out of here.' Then grunting, screaming and scuffling. Then silence." [Newsweek, 9/22/01]
9:30 a.m. United begins landing all of its flights inside the US. American Airlines follows suit five minutes later. [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01] Note all planes nationwide have been ordered down already (see (9:26 a.m.)) but the urgency has not been specified - this apparently increases the urgency.
(9:30 a.m.) The FAA's emergency operations center gets up and running, five minutes after the FAA issued an order grounding all civilian, military, and law enforcement aircraft. [Time, 9/14/01]
(9:30 a.m.) Flight controllers mistakenly suspect that Delta Flight 1989, flying west over Pennsylvania, has been hijacked. The controllers briefly suspect the sound of hijackers' voices in Flight 93 is coming from this plane, only a few miles away. The flight "joins a growing list of suspicious jets. Some of their flight numbers will be scrawled on a white dry-erase board throughout the morning" at FAA headquarters. Miscommunications lead to further suspicion of Flight 1989 even after the source of the hijacker's message is confirmed to come from Flight 93. The flight lands in Cleveland at 10:10. Eventually, about 11 flights will be suspected, with four of them actually hijacked. [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)]
(9:30 a.m.) The transponder signal from Flight 93 ceases and radar contact is lost. [9:30, MSNBC, 9/3/02, 9:40, CNN, 9/17/01] However, the plane can still be tracked, and is tracked at least at United headquarters until shortly before the final crash (the exact time is not mentioned). However, altitude can no longer be determined. The plane's speed begins to vary wildly, moving between 600 and 400 mph before eventually settling around 400 mph. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 77, 214]
(After 9:31 a.m.) A few minutes after 9:31, a hijacker on board Flight 93 can be heard on the cockpit voice recording ordering a woman to sit down. A woman, presumably a flight attendant, implores, "Don't, don't." She pleads, "Please, I don't want to die." Patrick Welsh, the husband of flight attendant Debbie Welsh, is later told that a flight attendant was stabbed early in the takeover, and it is strongly implied it was his wife. She was a first-class attendant, and he says, "knowing Debby," she would have resisted. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 207]
(9:34 a.m.) A hijacker says over the radio to Flight 93's passengers: "Ladies and gentlemen, here it's the captain, please sit down. Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb aboard." Apparently Cleveland flight controllers can understand about a minute of screams, then a voice saying something about a "bomb on board." A hijacker says in broken English that they are returning to the airport. [9:32, MSNBC, 9/3/02, 9:34, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, 9:35, Newsweek, 9/22/01]
9:34 a.m. Tom Burnett calls his wife Deena a second
time. He says, "They're in the cockpit." He has checked the pulse
of the man who was knifed (later identified as Mark Rothenberg, sitting next
to him in seat 5B) and determined he is dead. She tells him about the hits on
the WTC. He responds, "Oh my God, it's a suicide mission." As they
continue to talk, he tells her the plane has turned back. By this time, Deena
is in constant communication with the FBI and others, and a policeman is at
her house. ["Again, Deena noted the time," Among the Heroes,
by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 110]
9:35 a.m. Flight 93 climbs without authorization. [Guardian, 10/17/01, USA Today, 8/13/02]
(9:36 a.m.) Flight 93 files a new flight plan with a final destination of Washington, reverses course and heads toward Washington. [9:35, "turned around near Cleveland," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, "turns off course," 9:36:01, Guardian, 10/17/01, 9:36, MSNBC, 9/3/02, 9:36, "made an ominous turn," Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 219] Radar shows the plane turning 180 degrees. [CNN, 9/13/01] The new flight plan schedules the plane to arrive in Washington at 10:28. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 78]
(9:37 a.m.) Jeremy Glick calls his wife Lyz from Flight 93. He describes the hijackers as Middle Eastern, Iranian looking. They put on red headbands and the three of them stood up and yelled and ran into the cockpit. He was sitting in the front of the coach section, but was sent to the back with most of the passengers. They claimed to have a bomb, which looked like a box with something red around it. He says the plane has turned around. Family members immediately call emergency 911 on another line. New York state police get patched in midway through the call. Glick finds out about the WTC towers. Two others onboard also learn about the WTC at about this time. Glick's phone remains connected until the very end of the flight. [9:37, Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 143, MSNBC, 7/30/02, "just before 9:30," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, no time explanation, Toronto Sun, 9/16/01]
9:38 a.m. Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. Approximately 125 on the ground are later determined killed or missing. [9:37, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:37, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:38, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:38, Guardian, 10/17/01, 9:38, USA Today, 8/13/02, 9:38, ABC News, 9/11/02, 9:38, CBS, 9/11/02 (B), 9:39, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:40, AP, 8/19/02, 9:43, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:43, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:43, MSNBC, 9/3/02, 9:43, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:45, Boston Globe, 11/23/01, At 9:39:02 on NBC News, reporter Jim Miklaszewski states that, "Moments ago, I felt an explosion here at the Pentagon," Television Archive, WDCN 9:30] Flight 77 strikes the only portion of the Pentagon that had been recently renovated. "It was the only area of the Pentagon with a sprinkler system, and it had been reconstructed with a web of steel columns and bars to withstand bomb blasts. The area struck by the plane also had blast-resistant windows - 2 inches thick and 2,500 pounds each - that stayed intact during the crash and fire. While perhaps 4,500 people normally would have been working in the hardest-hit areas, because of the renovation work only about 800 were there...." More than 25,000 people work at the Pentagon. [Los Angeles Times, 9/16/01]
(After 9:38 a.m.) A few minutes after Flight 77 crashes, the Secret Service commands fighters from Andrews Air Force Base, 10 miles from Washington, to "Get in the air now!" [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] Why weren't these fighters ordered into the air earlier - Vice President has been aware that a plane was headed towards Washington for at least ten minutes before the crash (see (9:27 a.m.)) so presumably the Secret Service would have been aware as well. Andrews planes were told to be prepared to scramble a few minutes after 9:03 (see (After 9:03 a.m.)), so they could have made the 10 mile distance to the Pentagon very quickly. Almost simultaneously, a call from someone else in the White House declares the Washington area "a free-fire zone." Says one pilot, "That meant we were given authority to use force, if the situation required it, in defense of the nation's capital, its property and people." Lt. Col. Marc H. (Sass) Sasseville and a pilot only known by the codename Lucky sprint to their waiting F-16s armed only with "hot" guns and 511 rounds of "TP" -- nonexplosive training rounds. The pilots later say that, had all else failed, they would have rammed into Flight 93. Meanwhile, the three F-16s flying on a training mission 207 miles away return to their home at Andrews Air Force Base. Major Billy Hutchison's fighter still has enough gas to take off again immediately; the other two need to refuel. He supposedly takes off with no weapons. "Hutchison was probably airborne shortly after the alert F-16s from Langley arrive over Washington, although 121st FS pilots admit their timeline-recall 'is fuzzy.'" This would mean Hutchison doesn't even leave Andrews until after 9:49 (see (9:49 a.m.)). His is said to be the first fighter to reach Washington. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] Could the pilot's recall of times be "fuzzy" because they don't like lying? There are multiple reports of Andrews fighters at the Pentagon before and of the above fighters were reported to have taken off. For instance, "Within minutes of the [Pentagon] attack ... F-16s from Andrews Air Force Base were in the air over Washington DC." [Telegraph, 9/16/01] "A few moments [after the Pentagon attack] ... overhead, fighter jets scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base and other installations." [Denver Post, 9/11/01] A year later, ABC News reports, "High overhead [the Pentagon], jet fighters arrive. Just moments too late." [ABC News, 9/11/02] Yet other newspaper accounts deny fighters from Andrews were deployed [USA Today, 9/16/01], and some deny Andrews even had fighters at all! [USA Today, 9/16/01 (B)] NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold has said, "We [didn't] have any aircraft on alert at Andrews." [MSNBC, 9/23/01 (C)]
(9:39 a.m.) The hijackers probably inadvertently transmit over radio: ''Hi, this is the captain. We'd like you all to remain seated. There is a bomb on board. And we are going to turn back to the airport. And they had our demands, so please remain quiet.'' [9:38, MSNBC, 9/3/02, 9:39, Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 209, no time marker, Boston Globe, 11/23/01] It isn't clear if this is a different account of a similar message a short while earlier (see (9:34 a.m.)) or a different message.
9:41 a.m. From Flight 93, Marion Birtton calls a friend. She tells him two people have been killed and the plane has been turned around. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01]
9:42 a.m. From Flight 93 Mark Bingham calls his mother and says, "I'm on a flight from Newark to San Francisco and there are three guys who have taken over the plane and they say they have a bomb." [9:42, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01] In an alternate version, he says, "I'm in the air, I'm calling you on the Airphone. I'm calling you from the plane. We've been taken over. There are three men that say they have a bomb." ["Just before dawn in San Francisco," Toronto Sun, 9/16/01, 9:42, Boston Globe, 11/23/01]
(After 9:44 a.m.) According to F-16 pilot Honey's account, at some point after the F-16s had set up a defensive perimeter over Washington, the lead pilot receives a garbled message about Flight 93 that isn't heard by the other two pilots. "The message seemed to convey that the White House was an important asset to protect." Honey says he is later told the message is, "Something like, 'Be aware of where it is, and it could be a target.''' The other pilot, codenamed Lou, says the unnamed lead pilot tells him, "I think the Secret Service told me this." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 76] Both Lou and Honey state they are never given orders to shoot down any plane that day. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 222] How could these pilots not be sure of their instructions to protect the White House? Wouldn't the order have been confirmed and shared with the two other pilots? What happened to the dramatic "I want you to protect the White House at all costs" order supposedly given to all the pilots (see (After 9:56 a.m.))? Why aren't any of them actually ordered to fly toward this mysterious target?
9:45 a.m. Tom Burnett calls his wife Deena for the third time. She tells him about the crash into the Pentagon. Tom speaks about the bomb he'd mentioned earlier, saying, "I don't think they have one. I think they're just telling us that." He says the hijackers are talking about crashing the plane into the ground. "We have to do something." He says that he and others are making a plan. "A group of us." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 111] So there would have been at least 19 minutes advance warning that a passenger takeover was likely, if the contents of these phone calls were being passed on to the right authorities. Even by his second call, the FBI was listening in. [Toronto Sun, 9/16/01]
9:45 a.m. After having some trouble with his phone, passenger Todd Beamer is able to speak to Verizon phone representative Lisa Jefferson, with the FBI listening in. He talks for about 15 minutes. Beamer says he has been herded to the back of the plane along with nine other passengers and five flight attendants. A hijacker who says he has a bomb strapped to his body is guarding them. 27 passengers are being guarded by a hijacker in first class, which is separated by a curtain. One hijacker has gone into the cockpit. One passenger is dead (that leaves one passenger unaccounted for - presumably the man who made a call from the bathroom). The two pilots are apparently dead. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01, Newsweek, 9/22/01, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01] (A conflicting version [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] states that 27 were in the back, and that he saw four hijackers) Is Burnett's first class section group in contact with Todd Beamer's coach section group in the back of the plane or are there two independent plans to take over the plane?
(9:45 a.m.) The White House begins a general evacuation. This is 21 minutes after the FAA warned a hijacked plane appeared to be headed toward Washington (see 9:24 a.m.) and about 40 minutes after Vice President Cheney has been evacuated from the White House (see (After 9:03 a.m.)). [9:43, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:45, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:45, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:45, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 9:45, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:48, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:48, AP, 8/19/02] Initially the evacuation is orderly, but soon the Secret Service agents are yelling that everyone should run. [ABC, 9/11/02]
(9:45 a.m.) Ben Sliney, FAA's National Operations Manager, orders the entire nationwide air traffic system shut down. All flights at US airports are stopped. 3,949 flights are still in the air at the time. Sliney makes the decision without consulting FAA head Jane Garvey, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, or other bosses, but they quickly approve. [USA Today, 8/13/02, USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] [9:40, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:40, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:40, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:45, AP, 8/12/02, 9:45, AP, 8/19/02, 9:45, Newsday, 9/10/02, 9:45, USA Today, 8/13/02, 9:49, Washington Post, 9/12/01] 75 percent of the planes land within one hour of the order. [USA Today, 8/12/02 (C)] The Washington Post has reported that it was Mineta who told Monte Belger at the FAA: "Monte, bring all the planes down," even adding, "[Expletive] pilot discretion." [Washington Post, 1/27/02] However, it is later reported by a different Post reporter that Mineta didn't even know of the order until 15 minutes later. This reporter "says FAA officials had begged him to maintain the fiction." [Slate, 4/2/02]
(9:46 a.m.) According to the Flight 93 voice recording, around this time one hijacker in the cockpit says to another, "Let the guys in now." A vague instruction is given to bring the pilot back in. It's not clear if this is a reference to an original pilot or a hijacker pilot. Investigators aren't sure if the original pilots were killed or allowed to live. ["About midway", through a 31-minute recording that starts at 9:31, Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 208] Also by this time, "everyone" in the United Airlines crisis center "now knew that a flight attendant on board had called the mechanics desk to report that one hijacker had a bomb strapped on and another was holding a knife on the crew." [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01] Perhaps the pilots were being kept alive, in case the hijackers faced a problem they couldn't handle? The presence of two hijackers in the cockpit talking to each other suggests that there were in fact four hijackers, and one was in the cockpit from before the hijacking began, since passengers only saw three, and two are known to have been guarding the passengers.
(9:47 a.m.) On Flight 93, Jeremy Glick is still on the phone with his wife Lyz. He tells her that the passengers are taking a vote if they should try to take over the plane or not. [About the same time as a different phone call, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01] He later says that all the men on the plane have voted to attack the hijackers. [No time marker, Toronto Sun, 9/16/01] When asked about weapons, he says they don't have guns, just knives. This appears to contradict an earlier mention of guns, but this may be the true account since no other calls mention guns, and the voice recorder doesn't record any gunshots. His wife Lyz got the impression from him that the hijacker standing nearby claiming to hold the bomb would be easy to overwhelm. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 153-154] If the authorities hadn't learned they shouldn't shoot down the plane from Tom Burnett's call two minutes earlier, they should have learned it from this one.
9:48 a.m. The Capitol building in Washington begins evacuation, 24 minutes after the FAA has warned a hijacked plane appeared to be headed toward Washington (see 9:24 a.m.). [AP, 8/19/02] Senator Tom Daschle, majority leader of the Senate, later states, "Some capitol policemen broke into the room and said, we're under attack. I've got to take you out right away." Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, third in line of succession to the presidency behind Vice President Cheney, is in the Capitol building with other congresspeople. Only after this time are Hastert and others in the line of succession moved to secure locations. Some point after this, Hastert and other leaders are flown by helicopter to secret bunkers. [ABC News, 9/11/02] It is later reported that the target for Flight 93 was the Capitol building, so had that flight not been delayed 40 minutes before takeoff, it is possible most senators and congresspeople would have been killed.
9:49 a.m. The FAA orders the Pittsburgh control tower evacuated. Shortly before, Cleveland flight controllers called Pittsburgh flight control and said a plane was heading toward Pittsburgh and refusing to communicate. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/01 (B)]
(9:49 a.m.) Three F-16s scrambled from Langley at 9:30 reach the Pentagon. The planes, armed with heat-seeking, Sidewinder missiles, are authorized to knock down civilian aircraft. According to NORAD, they were flying at 650 mph. The official maximum speed for F-16s is 1500 mph. [9:49, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:49, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:56: "15 minutes after Flight 77 hit the Pentagon," New York Times, 9/15/01, "just before 10:00," CBS, 9/14/01] Using the New York Times arrival time and given that Langley is 129 miles away, this means the fighters were flying at an average speed of about 300 mph! But using NORAD's official departure time of 9:30 and even the generous CNN arrival time, the journey takes 19 minutes, or a speed of about 410 mph!
9:50 a.m. Sandra Bradshaw calls her husband from Flight 93. She says, ''Have you heard what's going on? My flight has been hijacked. My flight has been hijacked with three guys with knives." [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] She tells him that they are in the rear galley filling pitchers with hot water to use against the hijackers. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01]
(After 9:50 a.m.) Shortly after the Langley fighters arrive over Washington, three F-16s from Andrews also arrive. The first is probably piloted by Major Billy Hutchison. F-16s flown by Lt. Col. Marc H. (Sass) Sasseville and codename Lucky arrive shortly thereafter. Only Sasseville's plane has ammunition. Supposedly, these three fighters remain ignorant that three Langley F-16s are flying over Washington at the same time, at a higher altitude. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02]
9:53 a.m. The NSA reportedly intercepts a phone call from one of bin Laden's operatives in Afghanistan to a phone number in the Republic of Georgia. The caller says he has "heard good news" and that another target is still to come (presumably, Flight 93). Tenet tells Rumsfeld about the intercept two hours later. [CBS, 9/4/02] How could someone in Afghanistan know so quickly that Flight 93 had been delayed 40 minutes before takeoff, was still in the air, and was controlled by hijackers? Do the hijackers call from the plane?
9:53 a.m. The hijackers in the cockpit of Flight 93 grow concerned that the passengers might retaliate. One urges that the plane's fire ax be held up to the door's peephole to scare the passengers. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 209-210]
9:54 a.m. Tom Burnett calls his wife Deena for the fourth and last time. In early reports of this call, he says, "I know we're all going to die. There's three of us who are going to do something about it." [No time marker, Toronto Sun, 9/16/01, no time marker, Boston Globe, 11/23/01] However, in a later and much more complete account, he sounds much more upbeat. "It's up to us. I think we can do it." "Don't worry, we're going to do something." He specifically mentions they plan to regain control of the airplane over a rural area. [9:54, "again Deena noted the time," Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 118] Could the early reports of fatalism have been deliberate misinformation to make it appear that the passengers had no chance of success?
(After 9:56 a.m.) After flying off in Air Force One, Bush talks to Vice President Cheney on the phone. Cheney recommends that Bush authorize the military to shoot down any plane under control of the hijackers. "I said, 'You bet,'" Bush later recalls. "We had a little discussion, but not much." ["After Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon," Newsday, 9/23/01, time unknown, USA Today, 9/16/01, "Once airborne, Bush spoke again to Cheney," Washington Post, 1/27/02, after Bush is airborne, CBS, 9/11/02] Flight 93 is still in the air, and fighters are given orders to intercept it and possibly shoot it down. [ABC News, 9/11/02] If this decision was so easy to make, why wasn't it given earlier? Bush was available to make this decision at any time after leaving the Booker Elementary classroom around 9:16. Why hasn't he okayed the shooting down of any aircraft during that time, when it's been known there is a hijacked plane (Flight 77) headed toward Washington since at least 9:24?
(After 9:56 a.m.) At some point after the F-16s are in the air, someone from the Secret Service gets on the radio and tells the pilots, "I want you to protect the White House at all costs." [New York Times, 10/16/01] This must have occurred after Bush gave his okay to shoot down planes just after 9:55 (see also (After 9:44 a.m.)).
(After 9:56 - 10:06 a.m.) Inside his White House bunker, a military aide asks Vice President Cheney, "There is a plane 80 miles out. There is a fighter in the area. Should we engage?" Cheney immediately answers "Yes." [Washington Post, 1/27/02] An F-16 fighter near Washington heads in pursuit of Flight 93. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01] However, a different explanation says, "The closest fighters are two F-16 pilots on a training mission from Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Detroit." These are ordered after Flight 93, even though but they supposedly aren't armed with any weapons. It is claimed they are supposed to crash into Flight 93 if they cannot persuade it to land. [ABC News, 8/30/02, ABC News, 9/11/02] However, Washington is much closer to Flight 93's position than Detroit by this time, and there are already "dozens" of fighters flying over Washington by this time so why send those? In either case, as the fighter (or fighters) gets nearer to Flight 93, Cheney is asked twice more to confirm if the fighter should engage, and he responds yes both times. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Montague Winfield, in charge of the Pentagon's command center, later says, "At some point, the closure time [between the fighter and Flight 93] came and went, and nothing happened, so you can imagine everything was very tense at the NMCC." [ABC, 9/15/02] Yet Major Gen. Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard, had previously claimed that no military planes were sent after Flight 93. [Seattle Times, 9/16/01] And the pilots flying over Washington that have spoken say that all of them didn't even learn about Flight 93 or any plane crashing in Pennsylvania until they returned to base in the afternoon. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 222] There is a lot of evidence that fighters were sent after Flight 93, including the Vice President's claim. Is someone lying, or were the planes coming from somewhere else?
9:57 a.m. One of the hijackers in the cockpit asks if anything is going on, apparently meaning outside the cockpit. "Fighting," the other one says. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 210] An analysis of the flight recorder suggests that the passenger struggle actually started in the front of the plane (where Bingham and Burnett were sitting) about a minute before a struggle in the back of the plane (where Beamer was sitting). [Observer, 12/2/01] Officials later theorize that the Flight 93 passengers did actually reach the cockpit using a food cart as a battering ram and a shield. They claim that digital enhancement of the cockpit voice recorder reveals the sound of plates and glassware crashing around 9:57. [Newsweek, 11/25/01]
(9:57 a.m. and After) "In the cockpit! In the cockpit!" is heard. Hijackers are reportedly heard telling each other to hold the door. In English, someone outside shouts, "Let's get them." The hijackers are also praying "Allah o akbar" (God is great). One of the hijackers suggests shutting off the oxygen supply to the cabin (which apparently wouldn't have had an effect since the plane was already below 10,000 feet). A hijacker says, "Should we finish?" Another one says, "Not yet." The sounds of the passengers get clearer, and in unaccented English "Give it to me!" is heard. "I'm injured," someone says in English. Then something like "roll it up" and "lift it up" is heard. Passengers' relatives believe this sequence proves that the passengers did take control of the plane. [MSNBC, 7/30/02, Telegraph, 8/6/02, Newsweek, 11/25/01, Observer, 12/2/01, Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 270-271]
9:58 a.m. Todd Beamer ends his long phone call saying that they plan "to jump" the hijacker in the back who has the bomb. In the background, the phone operator already could hear an "awful commotion" of people shouting, and women screaming, "Oh my God," and "God help us." He lets go of the phone but leaves it connected. His famous last words are said to nearby passengers: "Are you ready guys? Let's roll" (alternate version: "You ready? Okay. Let's roll"). [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 204, Newsweek, 9/22/01, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01]
9:58 a.m. CeeCee Lyles says to her husband, "Aah, it feels like the plane's going down." Her husband Lorne says, "What's that?" She replies, "I think they're going to do it. They're forcing their way into the cockpit (an alternate version says, "They're getting ready to force their way into the cockpit"). A little later she screams, then says, "They're doing it! They're doing it! They're doing it!" Her husband hears more screaming in the background, then he hears a "whooshing sound, a sound like wind," then more screaming, and then the call breaks off. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 180, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01]
9:58 a.m. Sandy Bradshaw tells her husband, "Everyone's running to first class. I've got to go. Bye." She had been speaking with him since 9:50. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, Boston Globe, 11/23/01]
9:58 a.m. A man calls 911 from a bathroom on the plane, crying, "We're being hijacked, we're being hijacked!" [Toronto Sun, 9/16/01], then reports that "he heard some sort of explosion and saw white smoke coming from the plane and we lost contact with him." [ABC News, 9/11/01, AP, 9/12/01] One minute after the call began, the line goes dead. [Pittsburgh Channel, 12/6/01] Investigators believe this was Edward Felt, the only passenger not accounted for on phone calls. He was sitting in first class, so he probably was in the bathroom near the front of the plane. At one point he appears to have peeked out the bathroom door. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 193-194, 196] The mentions of smoke and explosions on the recording of his call are now denied. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 264] The person who took Felt's call is not allowed to speak to the media. [Mirror, 9/13/02] If that's true, why is this important fact only denied now, when the FBI got a copy of the recording on 9/11, and let the media report the smoke and explosion story for months?
9:59 a.m. The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses. It was hit by Flight 175 at 9:02. [9:50, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:59, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:59, AP, 8/19/02, 9:59, ABC News, 9/11/02, 9:59 (based on seismic data), New York Times, 9/12/01, 10:05, CNN, 9/12/01, 10:05, New York Times, 9/12/01 , 9:59:39, US Army authorized seismic study, 9:59:04, seismic records]
(Before 10:00 a.m.) Defense officials initially say, "There were no military planes in the skies over Washington until 15 to 20 minutes after the Pentagon was hit" - 9:53 to 9:58. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9/14/01] But several sources later report that fighters were above Washington within "minutes" or "moments" of the Pentagon explosion. [Denver Post, 9/11/01, Telegraph, 9/16/01, ABC News, 9/11/02] ABC News later reports that by 10:00, "Dozens of fighters are buzzing in the sky. F-16s scrambled at Andrews Air Force Base in nearby Maryland" (the exact time is not given, but the account is placed between 9:45 and 10:00 in a later ABC News chronology of 9/11). [ABC News, 9/11/02] Another account says the first two F-16s from Andrews that are armed with missiles arrive ten minutes after the three F-16s from Andrews arrived at 9:49 (see (9:49 a.m.)). [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] In contradiction to this, a few days after 9/11, the New York Times reports, "In the White House Situation Room and at the Pentagon, the response seemed agonizingly slow. One military official recalls hearing 'words to the effect of, "Where are the planes?"' The Pentagon insists it had air cover over its own building by 10 a.m., 15 minutes after the building was hit. But witnesses, including a reporter for The New York Times who was headed toward the building, did not see any until closer to 11." [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)]
10:00 a.m. There are reports on television of a fire at the State Department. At 10:20 a.m. and apparently again at 10:33 a.m. it is reported this was caused by a car bomb. [Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/01, Telegraph, 12/16/01] Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage sees this on television, goes outside the building to see if it true, finds out it isn't, and calls his colleagues to inform them that the reports are false. [ABC, 9/15/02 (B)]
(10:00 a.m.) Elizabeth
Wainio says to her stepmother, "Mom, they're rushing the cockpit. I've
got to go. Bye," then hangs up. This may have been a delayed reaction to
events, since her stepmother says that in their ten-minute call Elizabeth was
in a trance-like state, appeared to have resigned herself to death, was breathing
in a strange manner, and even said she felt she was leaving her body. ["Shortly
after 10:00," MSNBC, 7/30/02, "sometime
shortly before 10," Pittsburgh
(10:00 a.m.) Bill Wright is flying a small plane when a flight controller asks him to look around outside his window. He sees Flight 93 three miles away - close enough to see the United Airlines colors. Flight control asks him the plane's altitude, then commands him to get away from the plane and land immediately. Wright sees the plane rock back and forth three or four times before he flies from the area. He speculates that the hijackers were trying to throw off the attacking passengers. [Time unknown, Pittsburgh Channel, 9/19/01]
(After 10:00 a.m.) About 10 minutes after the first F-16s from Andrews Air Force Base reach Washington, two more F-16s arrive - the first from Andrews that are armed with missiles. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] So by 10:00 or a few minutes after, there are at least five F-16s armed with missiles flying over Washington. Yet at 10:32, Cheney supposedly tells Bush that Bush can't come to Washington because there is a threat to Air Force One, and it could take up to an hour and a half to get a fighter escort for Bush's plane. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
(Between 10:00-10:06 a.m.) During this time, there apparently are no calls from Flight 93. Several cell phones left on record only silence. For instance, Todd Beamer doesn't hang up, but nothing more is heard after he puts down the phone, suggesting things are quiet in the back of the plane. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 218] The only exception is Richard Makely, who is listening to the Jeremy Glick open phone line after Glick went to attack the hijackers. A reporter summarizes Makely explaining that, "The silence last[s] two minutes, then there [is] screaming. More silence, followed by more screams. Finally, there [is] a mechanical sound, followed by nothing." [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/17/01] The second silence lasts between 60 and 90 seconds. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 219] Near the end of the cockpit voice recording, loud wind sounds can be heard. [CNN, 4/19/02, Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 270-271] "Sources claim the last thing heard on the cockpit voice recorder is the sound of wind - suggesting the plane had been holed." [Mirror, 9/13/02] Is there a hole that depressurizes the cabin and lets in the wind? If the passengers had taken over the plane, there was at least one passenger, Don Greene, who was a professional pilot, who'd learned to fly at age 14, as well as Andrew Garcia, a former flight controller. [Newsweek, 9/22/01, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, Telegraph, 8/6/02] So what happened here???
10:01 a.m. The FAA orders F-16 fighters to scramble from Toledo, Ohio. Although the base has no fighters on standby alert status, it manages to put fighters in the air 16 minutes later, a "phenomenal" response time - but still 10 minutes after the last hijacked plane has crashed. [Toledo Blade, 12/9/01] One interesting aspect is that NORAD has explained that it didn't scramble fighters from bases nearer to the hijacked planes because they only used bases in the NORAD defensive network (a mere seven bases in the entire US). Yet this Toledo base wasn't part of that network, so why weren't planes in this base and other bases scrambled an hour or more earlier? Could it be that they were scrambled earlier, and that it was one of these F-16s that tailed Flight 93?
10:03 a.m. According to the US government, Flight 93 crashes at 10:03. [NORAD, 9/18/01] The cockpit voice recording was recorded on a 30 minute reel, which means that as new tape was recorded the old tape was being erased. The government has let relatives listen to this tape, which begins at 9:31 and runs for 31 minutes. [CNN, 4/19/02, Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 206-207] So it sounds like the recording ends a minute before the official crash time. However, a seismic study authorized by the US Army to determine when the plane crashed concludes the crash happens at 10:06:05. [US Army authorized seismic study] The discrepancy is so puzzling, the Philadelphia Daily News has an article on the issue, called "Three-Minute Discrepancy in Tape." It notes that leading seismologists agree that Flight 93 crashed last Sept. 11 at 10:06:05 a.m., give or take a couple of seconds, and government officials won't explain why they say the plane crashed at 10:03. [Philadelphia Daily News, 9/16/02] What happened to the vital last three or four minutes of this tape? Was the tape doctored, or was the timing of the whole tape moved forward?
(Before 10:06 a.m.) CBS television reports at some point before the crash that two F-16 fighters are tailing Flight 93. [Independent, 8/13/02] Shortly after 9/11, a flight controller in New Hampshire ignores a ban on controllers speaking to the media, and it is reported he claims "that an F-16 fighter closely pursued Flight 93... the F-16 made 360-degree turns to remain close to the commercial jet, the employee said. 'He must've seen the whole thing,' the employee said of the F-16 pilot's view of Flight 93's crash." [AP, 9/13/01, Nashua Telegraph, 9/13/01]
(Before 10:06 a.m.) In the tiny town of Boswell, about 10 miles north and slightly to the west of Flight 93's crash site, Rodney Peterson and Brandon Leventry notice a passenger jet lumbering through the sky at about 2,000 feet. They realize such a big plane flying so low in that area is odd. They see the plane dip its wings sharply to the left then to the right. The wings level off and the plane keeps flying south, continuing to slowly descend. Five minutes later they hear news that the plane has crashed. Other witnesses also later describe the plane flying east-southeast, low and wobbly. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 205-206, New York Times, 9/14/01] "Officials initially say that it looks like the plane was headed south when it hit the ground." [Cleveland Newschannel 5, 9/11/01] Note the fact that they heard news the plane had crashed only five minutes later supports that the plane crashed at 10:06, not the official time of 10:03. The rocking wings could have been the hijackers trying to throw off the attack of the passengers, or it could be a passenger pilot trying to gain control of the plane. In either case, its interesting that the plane appeared to stop rocking.
(Before 10:06 a.m.) Numerous eyewitnesses see
and hear Flight 93 just before its crash:
1) Terry Butler, at Stoystown: He sees the plane come out of the clouds, low to the ground. "It was moving like you wouldn't believe. Next thing I knew it makes a heck of a sharp, right-hand turn." It banks to the right and appears to be trying to climb to clear one of the ridges, but it continues to turn to the right and then veers behind a ridge. About a second later it crashes. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/12/01]
2) Ernie Stuhl, the mayor of Shanksville: "I know of two people -- I will not mention names -- that heard a missile. They both live very close, within a couple of hundred yards... This one fellow's served in Vietnam and he says he's heard them, and he heard one that day." He adds that based on what he has learned, F-16s were "very, very close." [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/01]
Accounts of the plane making strange noises:
3) Laura Temyer of Hooversville: "I didn't see the plane but I heard the plane's engine. Then I heard a loud thump that echoed off the hills and then I heard the plane's engine. I heard two more loud thumps and didn't hear the plane's engine anymore after that." (She insists that people she knows in state law enforcement have privately told her the plane was shot down, and that decompression sucked objects from the aircraft, explaining why there was a wide debris field.) [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/01]
4) Charles Sturtz, a half mile from the crash site: The plane is heading southeast and has its engines running. No smoke can be seen. "It was really roaring, you know. Like it was trying to go someplace, I guess." [WPXI Channel 11, 9/13/01]
5) Michael Merringer, two miles from the crash site: "I heard the engine gun two different times and then I heard a loud bang..." [AP, 9/12/01]
6) Tim Lensbouer, 300 yards away: "I heard it for 10 or 15 seconds and it sounded like it was going full bore." [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/12/01]
Accounts of the plane flying upside down:
7) Rob Kimmel, several miles from the crash site: He sees it fly overhead, banking hard to the right. It is 200 feet or less off the ground as it crests a hill to the southeast. "I saw the top of the plane, not the bottom." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 210-211]
8) Eric Peterson of Lambertsville: He sees a plane flying overhead unusually low. The plane seemed to be turning end-over-end as it dropped out of sight behind a tree line. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/12/01]
9) Bob Blair of Stoystown: He sees the plane spiraling and flying upside down before crashing. Its not much higher than the treetops. [Daily American, 9/12/01]
Accounts of a sudden plunge and more strange sounds:
10) An unnamed witness says he hears two loud bangs before watching the plane take a downward turn of nearly 90 degrees. [Cleveland Newschannel 5, 9/11/01]
11) Another unnamed witness sees the plane overhead. It makes a high-pitched, screeching sound. The plane then makes a sharp, 90-degree downward turn and crashes. [Cleveland Newschannel 5, 9/11/01]
12) Tom Fritz, about a quarter-mile from the crash site: He hears a sound that "wasn't quite right" and looks up in the sky. "It dropped all of a sudden, like a stone," going "so fast that you couldn't even make out what color it was." [St. Petersburg Times, 9/12/01]
13) Terry Butler, a few miles north of Lambertsville: "It dropped out of the clouds." The plane rose slightly, trying to gain altitude, then "it just went flip to the right and then straight down." [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/12/01]
14) Lee Purbaugh, 300 yards away: "There was an incredibly loud rumbling sound and there it was, right there, right above my head maybe 50 feet up.... I saw it rock from side to side then, suddenly, it dipped and dived, nose first, with a huge explosion, into the ground. I knew immediately that no one could possibly have survived." [Independent, 8/13/02]
Upside down and a sudden plunge:
15) Linda Shepley: She hears a loud bang and sees the plane bank to the side. [ABC News, 9/11/01] She sees the plane wobbling right and left, at a low altitude of roughly 2,500 feet, when suddenly the right wing dips straight down, and the plane plunges into the earth. She says she has an unobstructed view of Flight 93's final two minutes. [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/01]
16) Kelly Leverknight in Stony Creek Township of Shanksville: "There was no smoke, it just went straight down. I saw the belly of the plane." It sounds like it is flying low, and it's heading east. [Daily American, 9/12/01, St. Petersburg Times, 9/12/01]
17) Tim Thornsberg, working in a nearby strip mine: "It came in low over the trees and started wobbling. Then it just rolled over and was flying upside down for a few seconds ... and then it kind of stalled and did a nose dive over the trees." [WPXI Channel 11, 9/13/01]
What sense can be made of all these different accounts? Some say it was flying a couple thousand feet up and suddenly plunged down, some say it was flying extremely low. Turns, climbs, strange noises, flipping, etc.... While many of these accounts conflict, virtually all support a missile strike, because of the common theme of noises and a plane struggling to rise and stay in the air. The plunge doesn't seem to be a deliberate thrust of the plane toward the ground, but instead the result of engine failure. Other passenger planes hit by missiles continued to fly for several minutes before crashing. For instance, a Korean Airline 747 was hit by two Russian missiles in 1983, yet continued to fly for two more minutes. [KAL Cockpit Voice Recorder transcript] Is that what happened here?
(Before 10:06 a.m.) Flight 93 apparently starts
to break up before it crashes, because debris is found very far away from the
crash site. [Philadelphia
Daily News, 11/15/01] The plane is generally obliterated upon landing, except
for one half-ton piece of engine found over a mile away. [Independent,
8/13/02] One story calls what happened to this engine "intriguing,"
because "the heat-seeking, air-to-air Sidewinder missiles aboard an F-16
would likely target one of the Boeing 757's two large engines." [Philadelphia
Daily News, 11/15/01] Smaller debris fields
are also found two, three, and eight miles away from the main crash site. [CBS,
5/23/02] Eight miles away, local media quote residents speaking of a second
plane in the area and burning debris falling from the sky. [Reuters,
9/13/01] Residents outside Shanksville reported "discovering clothing,
books, papers and what appeared to be human remains. Some residents said they
collected bags-full of items to be turned over to investigators. Others reported
what appeared to be crash debris floating in Indian Lake, nearly six miles from
the immediate crash scene. Workers at Indian Lake Marina said that they saw
a cloud of confetti-like debris descend on the lake and nearby farms minutes
after hearing the explosion...." [Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette, 9/13/01] Moments after the crash, Carol Delasko initially
thinks someone had blown up a boat on Indian Lake: "It just looked like
confetti raining down all over the air above the lake." [Pittsburgh
Tribune-Review, 9/14/01] Investigators say that far-off wreckage "probably
was spread by the cloud created when the plane crashed and dispersed by a 10
mph southeasterly wind." [Delaware
News Journal, 9/16/01] But much of the wreckage is found sooner than
that wind could have carried it, and not always southeast.
10:06 a.m. Flight 93 crashes just north of the
Somerset County Airport, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, 124 miles or
15 minutes from Washington DC. [10:00, MSNBC,
9/22/01, 10:03, NORAD, 9/18/01, 10:06,
10/17/01, 10:06, Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, 10:06, MSNBC,
9/3/02, 10:06, Mirror,
9/13/02, 10:06, USA
Today, 8/13/02, 10:07, AP,
8/19/02, 10:10, CNN,
9/12/01, 10:10, Washington
Post, 9/12/01, 10:10, New York Times, 9/12/01,
Globe, 11/23/01, 10:06:05, US
Army authorized seismic study] Little information
about the crash has been made public.
(Before and After 10:06 a.m.)
"At least half a dozen named individuals ... have reported seeing a second
plane flying low and in erratic patterns, not much above treetop level, over
the crash site within minutes of the United flight crashing. They describe the
plane as a small, white jet with rear engines and no discernible markings."
1) Lee Purbaugh: "I didn't get a good look but it was white and it circled the area about twice and then it flew off over the horizon." [Mirror, 9/13/02]
2) Susan Mcelwain: Less than a minute before the Flight 93 crash rocked the countryside, she sees a small white jet with rear engines and no discernible markings swoop low over her minivan near an intersection and disappear over a hilltop, nearly clipping the tops of trees lining the ridge. [Bergen Record, 9/14/01] She later adds, "There's no way I imagined this plane - it was so low it was virtually on top of me. It was white with no markings but it was definitely military, it just had that look. It had two rear engines, a big fin on the back like a spoiler on the back of a car and with two upright fins at the side. I haven't found one like it on the internet. It definitely wasn't one of those executive jets. The FBI came and talked to me and said there was no plane around.... But I saw it and it was there before the crash and it was 40 feet above my head. They did not want my story - nobody here did." [Mirror, 9/13/02]
3 and 4) Dennis Decker and Rick Chaney, Decker speaking: "As soon as we looked up [after hearing the Flight 93 crash], we saw a midsized jet flying low and fast. It appeared to make a loop or part of a circle, and then it turned fast and headed out." Decker and Chaney described the plane as a Learjet type, with engines mounted near the tail and painted white with no identifying markings. "It was a jet plane, and it had to be flying real close when that 757 went down. If I was the FBI, I'd find out who was driving that plane." [Bergen Record, 9/14/01]
5) Jim Brandt sees a small plane with no markings stay about one or two minutes over the crash site before leaving. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/12/01]
6) Tom Spinelli: "I saw the white plane. It was flying around all over the place like it was looking for something. I saw it before and after the crash." [Mirror, 9/13/02]
The FBI later says this was a Fairchild Falcon 20 business jet, directed after the crash to fly from 37,000 feet to 5,000 feet and obtain the coordinates for the crash site to help rescuers. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01, Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] Was the unmarked jet some kind of reconnaissance plane? The FBI also says there was a C-130 military cargo aircraft flying at 24,000 feet about 17 miles away, but that plane wasn't armed and had no role in the crash. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01] Note that this is the same C-130 that flies very close to Flight 77 right as that planes crashes into the Pentagon (see 9:38 a.m.).
(After 10:06 a.m.) Just after Flight 93 crashes, "Up above, a fighter jet streak[s] by." [ABC, 9/15/02]
(After 10:06 a.m.) At some point after Flight 93 crashes, NORAD diverts
"unarmed Michigan Air National Guard fighter jets that happened to be flying
a training mission in northern Michigan since the time of the first attack."
[AP, 8/30/02] Why weren't they diverted
an hour or more earlier?
(10:08 a.m.) Bush is told of the crash of Flight 93 a few minutes later. Because of Cheney's earlier order, he asks, "Did we shoot it down or did it crash?" Several hours later, he is assured it crashed. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
10:08 a.m. Armed agents deploy around the White House. [CNN, 9/12/01]
10:13 a.m. Federal buildings in Washington begin evacuation. The UN building evacuates first; others follow later. [CNN, 9/12/01, New York Times, 9/12/01]
10:28 a.m. The World Trade Center's north tower collapses. It was hit by Flight 11 at 8:46. [10:28, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 10:28, CNN, 9/12/01, 10:28, New York Times, 9/12/01, 10:28, AP, 8/19/02, 10:28 (based on seismic data), New York Times, 9/12/01, 10:29, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 10:28:31, seismic records] The death toll could have been much worse - an estimated 15,000 people made it out of the WTC to safety. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02]
10:30 a.m. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld finally enters the Pentagon's National Military Command Center (NMCC), where the military's response to the 9/11 attacks is being coordinated. [CNN, 9/4/02] Rumsfeld was supposedly in the Pentagon meeting with Representative Cox (R) about missile defense and terrorism until the Pentagon explosion. [AP, 9/16/01, Rep. Cox Statement, 9/11/01] He then went outside to help the wounded of the attack until this time (see (9:38 a.m.)). Brigadier General Montague Winfield later says, "For 30 minutes we couldn't find him. And just as we began to worry, he walked into the door of the National Military Command Center." [ABC News, 9/11/02] Shouldn't Rumsfeld have reported to the NMCC long before? For nearly an hour, apparently no one knew if he was killed in the Pentagon explosion or not.
10:31 a.m. "The FAA [allows] military, and law enforcement flights to resume (and some flights that the FAA can't reveal that were already airborne)." All civilian, military and law enforcement flights were ordered to land as soon as reasonably possible about one hour earlier (see (9:26 a.m.)). [Time, 9/14/01]
1:27 p.m. A state of emergency is declared in Washington. [CNN, 9/12/01, New York Times, 9/12/01]
(2:00 p.m.) F-15 fighter pilot Major Daniel Nash returns to base around this time, after chasing Flight 175 and patrolling the skies over New York City. He says that when he got out of the plane, "he was told that a military F-16 had shot down a fourth airliner in Pennsylvania, a report that turned out to be incorrect." [About 1:30, Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02, about 2:30, Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] How do we know it was incorrect? Isn't it interesting that the fighter pilots active that day thought it was correct?