September 14, 2001 (G): The Director of the Air National Guard explains why jets failed to scramble towards the hijacked aircraft for so long. He says that before 1997, 100 bases defended the US, but since then the number was reduced to seven, with only two fighter planes at each base defending the entire country from external threats. However, numerous air force bases on the East Coast alone, including bases in Westfield, Massachusetts, Syracuse, New York, Hartford, Connecticut and Andrews, Virginia, claim they have battle ready fighters on alert 24 hours a day. All of these bases were better positioned to respond to the hijacker airplanes than the bases ultimately chosen. Some of these bases have websites that get changed after 9/11, erasing claims that they have battle-ready fighters on alert. In 1999, when golfer Payne Stewart's plane went off course, fighters were scrambled from four different bases (none of the official seven) and reached his plane in under 10 minutes. There are numerous other examples of fighter scramblings since 1997 that seem to contradict the "only seven bases" story. [ABC News, 10/25/99, Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01]