Anesthetics–Timeline

All the alleged 9/11 hijackers reportedly check in at the airports from where they board Flights 11, 175, 77, and 93. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 1-4; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 27, 89, 93 pdf file] Since 1998, the FAA has required air carriers to implement a program called the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS). This identifies those passengers who might be a security risk, based upon suspicious behavior such as buying one-way tickets or paying with cash. CAPPS also randomly assigns some passengers to receive additional security scrutiny. If a particular passenger has been designated as a “selectee,” this information is transmitted to the airport’s check-in counter, where a code is printed on their boarding pass. At the airport’s security checkpoints, selectees are subjected to additional security measures. [US News and World Report, 4/1/2002; 9/11 Commission, 1/27/2004; US Congress, 3/17/2004; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 2, 85 pdf file] Their baggage is to be screened for explosives or held off the plane until they have boarded. Supposedly, the thinking behind this is that someone smuggling a bomb onto a plane won’t get onto that same flight. According to the 9/11 Commission, nine of the 19 hijackers are flagged by the CAPPS system before boarding Flights 11, 175, 77, and 93. [Washington Post, 1/28/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 84; United States of America v. Zacarias Moussaoui, a/k/a Shaqil, a/k/a Abu Khalid al Sahrawi, Defendant, 3/6/2006] In addition, Mohamed Atta was selected when he checked in at the airport in Portland, for his earlier connecting flight to Boston (see 5:33 a.m.-5:40 a.m. September 11, 2001). All of the hijackers subsequently pass through security checkpoints before boarding their flights. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 1-4]

About an hour before boarding Flight 93, Ziad Jarrah phones his girlfriend, Aysel Senguen, who is currently recovering from a minor operation in a hospital in Germany, where she lives. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/2001; Observer, 8/22/2004] Senguen will later recount, “[H]e was very brief. He said he loved me three times. I asked what was up. He hung up shortly afterwards.… It was so short and rather strange him saying that repeatedly.” [Reuters, 11/19/2002; Guardian, 11/20/2002] Some accounts say Jarrah makes this call from his hotel, the Days Inn in Newark. Other accounts claim he makes it from a payphone at the airport, although he does not actually check in there until later on, at 7:39 a.m. [PBS, 1/17/2002; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 532; Observer, 8/22/2004; Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 8/22/2004; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 35 pdf file]

Sometime during this period, the hijackers pass through airport security checkpoints at the various airports. The FAA has a screening program in place called the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS). CAPPS automatically targets passengers for additional screening based on suspicious behavior such as buying one-way tickets or paying with cash. If a passenger is selected, their bags are thoroughly screened for explosives, but their bodies are not searched. [Washington Post, 1/28/2004] CAPPS selects three of the five Flight 11 hijackers. Since Waleed Alshehri checked no bags, his selection had no consequences. Wail Alshehri and Satam Al Suqami have their bags scanned for explosives, but are not stopped. No Flight 175 hijackers are selected. Only Ahmad Alhaznawi is selected from Flight 93. His bag is screened for explosives, but he is not stopped. The 9/11 Commission later concludes that Alhaznawi and Ahmed Alnami, also headed to Flight 93, have suspicious indicators and that they could have been linked to al-Qaeda upon inspection, but it has not been explained why or how. [9/11 Commission, 1/27/2004; Baltimore Sun, 1/27/2004] Screening of the Flight 77 hijackers is described below.

According to the 9/11 Commission, between 7:03 a.m. and 7:39 a.m. the four alleged Flight 93 hijackers check in at the United Airlines ticket counter at Newark (New Jersey) Liberty International Airport. Only Ahmad Alhaznawi is selected for additional scrutiny by airport security under the FAA’s CAPPS program (see (6:20 a.m.-7:48 a.m.) September 11, 2001). The only consequence is that his checked bag is screened for explosives, and not loaded onto the plane until it is confirmed that he has boarded. [9/11 Commission, 1/27/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 4; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 35 pdf file] On their way to boarding the plane, all four would pass through a security checkpoint, which has three walk-through metal detectors, two X-ray machines, and explosive trace detection equipment. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 97 pdf file] The 9/11 Commission later claims Newark Airport has no video cameras monitoring its security checkpoints, so there is no documentary evidence showing when the hijackers passed through the checkpoint or what alarms may have been triggered. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 4; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 35 pdf file] However, Michael Taylor, the president of a security company, who has done consulting work for the New York Port Authority (which operates the airport), claims that Newark does use security cameras at the time of 9/11. [Boston Herald, 9/29/2001] All of the screeners on duty at the checkpoint are subsequently interviewed, and none report anything unusual or suspicious having occurred. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 4; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 35 pdf file] The 9/11 Commission later concludes that the passports of Ahmad Alhaznawi and fellow Flight 93 hijacker Ahmed Alnami have suspicious indicators and could have been linked to al-Qaeda, but it does not elaborate on this. [Baltimore Sun, 1/27/2004]

Two passengers leave Flight 93 after hearing an announcement that there will be a five-minute delay in the plane pushing back from the gate. This is according to Terry Tyksinski, a longtime flight attendant with United Airlines, who says a customer service supervisor who witnessed the incident told her about it six months after 9/11. The two first-class passengers are reportedly of dark complexion, “kind of black, not black.” According to Tyksinski, the supervisor notes their names and is subsequently twice interviewed by the FBI. [Longman, 2002, pp. xiii-xiv] No other accounts, including the 9/11 Commission Report, mention this incident. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004] And while Flight 93 is delayed on the ground until 8:42 a.m., reports state that it pushes back from the gate just one minute later than its scheduled departure, rather than there being a five-minute delay as Tyksinski suggests. [Boston Globe, 11/23/2001; MSNBC, 9/11/2006] There will only be 37 passengers on Flight 93, including the four hijackers. This is 20 percent of the plane’s passenger capacity of 182 and, according to the 9/11 Commission, “is considerably below the 52 percent average load factor for Flight 93 for Tuesdays in the three-month period prior to September 11.” [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 36 pdf file]

Flight 93 is delayed for 41 minutes on the runway at Newark Airport, New Jersey. It will take off at 8:42 a.m. [Newsweek, 9/22/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Boston Globe, 11/23/2001] Apparently, it has to wait in a line of about a dozen planes before it can take off. [USA Today, 8/11/2002] According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the delay is partly due to a fire at the airport the previous afternoon that had led to the runways being closed for 34 minutes. [CNN, 9/10/2001; Bergen Record, 9/11/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001] But the 9/11 Commission says it is “because of the airport’s typically heavy morning traffic.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 10] And the Boston Globe later reports that United Airlines “will not explain why” Flight 93 was delayed on the runway. [Boston Globe, 11/23/2001] NBC News comments, “That delay would give passengers on Flight 93 the time to realize that this was a suicide mission and the chance to thwart it.” [MSNBC, 9/11/2006] CNN adds that it therefore “likely saved the White House or the US Capitol from destruction.” [CNN, 9/11/2006]

In the event of a hijacking, all airline pilots are trained to key an emergency four-digit code into their plane’s transponder. This would surreptitiously alert air traffic controllers, causing the letters “HJCK” to appear on their screens. [CNN, 9/13/2001; Newsday, 9/13/2001; News (Portugal), 8/3/2002; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 17-18] The action, which pilots should take the moment a hijack situation is known, only takes seconds to perform. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/12/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001] Yet during the hijackings of flights 11, 175, 77, and 93, none of the pilots do this. [CNN, 9/11/2001]

Flight 93 takes off from Newark International Airport, bound for San Francisco, California. It leaves 41 minutes late because of heavy runway traffic. [Newsweek, 9/22/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Associated Press, 8/21/2002; MSNBC, 9/3/2002; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

CNN reports that, while Flight 11 is heading toward the World Trade Center, “[S]ources say there were bomb threats called in to air traffic control centers adding to the chaos.” One center receiving such threats is the FAA’s Boston Center, which handles air traffic over New England and monitors flights 11 and 175. Cleveland Center, which will monitor Flight 93, receives similar threats. Whether other centers are threatened is unstated. According to Newsweek, “Officials suspect that the bomb threats were intended to add to the chaos, distracting controllers from tracking the hijacked planes.” [Newsweek, 9/22/2001; CNN, 9/30/2001] Yet, just weeks after 9/11, the Washington Post will claim, “Federal aviation officials no longer believe that accomplices of the hijackers made phony bomb threats to confuse air traffic controllers on Sept. 11. Sources said reports of multiple threats were apparently the result of confusion during the early hours of the investigation and miscommunication in the Federal Aviation Administration.” [Washington Post, 9/27/2001]

Melodie Homer. [Source: Jim Varhegyi] The United Airlines Operations Center at JFK Airport in New York sends a text message to LeRoy Homer, the co-pilot of Flight 93, but receives no response from him. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 37 pdf file] At 9:10, Melodie Homer, the wife of LeRoy Homer, contacts the operations center after seeing the second plane hitting the World Trade Center on television. Knowing her husband is flying, she requests that a message be sent to him, stating, “Your wife just wants to make sure you’re okay.” [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/19/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 78; New York Observer, 2/15/2004; Discovery Channel, 2005] Melodie is told, “If you want to hang on, we’ll get a message back in a couple of minutes.” According to journalist and author Jere Longman, after no response is received, a second text message is sent. Although Melodie Homer’s message is later determined to have been received by the flight, there is still no reply. [Longman, 2002, pp. 81-82] However, the 9/11 Commission will only describe one message—not two—being sent to Homer, which it says happens at 9:22. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 456; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 37 pdf file] The hijacking of Flight 93 is believed to take place at 9:28 (see (9:28 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 11] A text message sent by an airline dispatcher to Flight 93’s pilot Jason Dahl shortly before the hijacking will receive a response from him three minutes later (see 9:23 a.m.-9:26 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 37-38 pdf file]

Shortly after he learns a second plane has hit the World Trade Center, United Airlines flight dispatcher Ed Ballinger takes the initiative to begin sending a warning message to the flights he is monitoring, including Flight 93 and Flight 175 (although this aircraft has already crashed). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 11; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 26 and 37 pdf file] Ballinger is responsible for monitoring United’s aircraft flying from the East Coast to the West Coast. He has 16 such flights he is in charge of. [Chicago Daily Herald, 4/14/2004] He sends out a text message to his airborne flights: “Beware any cockpit intrusion… Two aircraft in NY hit [World] Trade Center builds.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 11; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 26 pdf file] Although United Airlines has suspected Flight 175 as being hijacked since around 9:00 a.m. (see Shortly Before 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001), Ballinger is still responsible for multiple flights. (In contrast to United, American Airlines has a policy that flight dispatchers should only manage the hijacked flight, and be relieved of responsibility for their other flights.) [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 455-456] Ballinger’s warning is therefore sent out to his aircraft in groups, and will not be sent to Flight 93 until 9:23 a.m. (see 9:23 a.m.-9:26 a.m. September 11, 2001). Unaware that it was the second plane that hit the WTC, Ballinger will also send the message to Flight 175 (see 9:23 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 26 and 37 pdf file] Ballinger begins sending out these warnings two minutes before United Airlines instructs its dispatchers to warn their flights to secure their cockpit doors (see 9:21 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 1/27/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 455] According to the 9/11 Commission, his text message represents “the first occasion on 9/11 when either American or United sent out such a warning to their airborne aircraft.” [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 37 pdf file] Ballinger will later recall: “As soon as I had a grasp of what was going on… I sent [the warning] out immediately. It was before [Transportation Secretary Norman] Mineta, and even before the airlines told us to alert the crews.” [Chicago Daily Herald, 4/14/2004]

United Airlines issues a companywide order for its flight dispatchers to warn their flights to secure their cockpit doors. [9/11 Commission, 1/27/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 455] The airline’s air traffic control coordinator sends a message to all of the airline’s dispatchers, telling them: “There may be addnl [additional] hijackings in progress. You may want to advise your flts [flights] to stay on alert and shut down all cockpit access inflt [in flight]. Sandy per Mgmt.” United Airlines dispatchers began notifying their aircraft that planes had crashed into the World Trade Center at 9:03 (see 9:03 a.m. and After September 11, 2001). However, with the exception of one dispatcher (see 9:19 a.m. September 11, 2001), the airline has so far not sent any warnings to its aircraft. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 36-37 pdf file] United Airlines did not initially realize the second plane to hit the WTC was one of its own (see Between 9:10 a.m. and 9:20 a.m. September 11, 2001), and it is not until 9:22 that it notifies its dispatchers that UAL Flight 175 has been involved in “an accident” in New York (see 9:22 a.m. September 11, 2001).

The pilot of Flight 93 sends a routine text message to United Airlines dispatcher Ed Ballinger, who is monitoring the flight. The message reads: “Good mornin‘… Nice clb [climb] outta EWR [Newark airport] after a nice tour of the apt [apartment] courts y [and] grnd cntrl. 20 N EWC At 350 occl [occasional] lt [light] chop. Wind 290/50 ain’t helping. J.” The J is presumably the signature for the pilot, Jason Dahl, who is personally acquainted with Ballinger. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 37 pdf file]

Following a company-wide order instructing them to warn aircraft to secure their cockpits (see 9:21 a.m. September 11, 2001), flight dispatchers at United Airlines’ headquarters issue an alert to all their pilots, stating: “There may be terrorist acts in progress. Do not open cockpit doors. Secure the cockpit.” Furthermore, Joseph Vickers, the director of flight dispatch, initiates a procedure for “positive contact.” This means the dispatchers must make direct contact with each aircraft every 10 to 15 minutes and confirm that its cockpit is still secure. [Spencer, 2008, pp. 109]

Entity Tags: Joseph Vickers, United Airlines

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: All Day of 9/11 Events, Flight UA 93

Ed Ballinger, the United Airlines flight dispatcher monitoring Flight 93, sends a warning message to this flight, telling the pilots to beware of any cockpit intrusion. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 11] At 9:21, United Airlines instructed its dispatchers to warn their flights to secure their cockpit doors (see 9:21 a.m. September 11, 2001), but Ballinger had already taken the initiative two minutes earlier to begin warning the 16 flights he is monitoring (see 9:19 a.m. September 11, 2001). His text message reads: “Beware any cockpit intrusion… Two aircraft in NY hit [World] Trade Center builds.” Because this message is sent out to Ballinger’s 16 aircraft in groups, it is not until 9:23 a.m. that it is transmitted to Flight 93. [9/11 Commission, 1/27/2004; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 26 and 37 pdf file] The warning is received in the plane’s cockpit one minute later. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 11] Then, at 9:26, Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl responds with the text message, “Ed confirm latest mssg plz [message please]—Jason.” Apart from a routine radio contact with the FAA’s Cleveland Center a minute later (see 9:27 a.m. September 11, 2001), this is the last normal communication made from Flight 93’s cockpit before the hijacking occurs. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 38 pdf file] Ballinger will later complain: “One of the things that upset me was that they knew 45 minutes before that American Airlines [Flight 11] had a problem. I put the story together myself [from news accounts]. Perhaps if I had the information sooner, I might have gotten the message to [Flight] 93 to bar the door.” [Chicago Daily Herald, 4/14/2004]

Having entered the center’s airspace, Flight 93 establishes radio contact with the FAA’s Cleveland Center, a regional air traffic control center that guides long-range, high altitude flights. The pilot reports simply that his flight is experiencing intermittent light choppy air, and does not indicate there being any problems on board, saying, “Good morning Cleveland, United 93 with you at three-five-oh [35,000 feet], intermittent light chop.” The controller, John Werth, is busy with other flights, so does not initially respond. A minute later, Flight 93 radios again, “United 93 checking in three-five-oh.” Werth replies, “United 93, three-five-zero, roger.” [Gregor, 12/21/2001 pdf file; Longman, 2002, pp. 69; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 37 pdf file; CBS News, 9/10/2006] Two minutes later, Flight 93 will make its final radio communication before the hijacker takeover occurs (see 9:27 a.m. September 11, 2001).

Flight 93 makes its last normal communication with air traffic control before being hijacked, acknowledging a routine radio transmission from the FAA’s Cleveland Center. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 28] Flight 93 checked in with the Cleveland Center a couple of minutes earlier (see 9:24 a.m.-9:25 a.m. September 11, 2001). At 9:27, the Cleveland controller, John Werth, alerts it to another aircraft 12 miles away and to its right, at 37,000 feet: “United 93, that traffic for you is one o’clock, 12 miles east, bound three-seven-zero.” Seconds later, Flight 93 responds, “Negative contact, we’re looking, United 93.” Less than a minute after this, the hijackers appear to enter Flight 93’s cockpit (see (9:28 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Gregor, 12/21/2001 pdf file; Longman, 2002, pp. 69; CBS News, 9/10/2006]

According to Deena Burnett, when her husband Tom Burnett first calls her from Flight 93 (see 9:27 a.m. September 11, 2001), he mentions that one of the plane’s hijackers has a gun. [Longman, 2002, pp. 107; San Francisco Chronicle, 4/21/2002; Sacramento Bee, 9/11/2002] She will recall him telling her: “The hijackers have already knifed a guy. One of them has a gun. They’re telling us there’s a bomb on board.” [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 61] However, contradicting this account, the 9/11 Commission will conclude that the Flight 93 hijackers do not possess a gun. It will state: “[N]one of the other callers [from Flight 93] reported the presence of a firearm. One recipient of a call from the aircraft recounted specifically asking her caller whether the hijackers had guns. The passenger replied that he did not see one. No evidence of firearms or of their identifiable remains was found at the aircraft’s crash site, and the cockpit voice recorder gives no indication of a gun being fired or mentioned at any time. We believe that if the hijackers had possessed a gun, they would have used it in the flight’s last minutes as the passengers fought back.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 13] News reports shortly after 9/11 and later in 2001 will mention Tom Burnett describing the hijackers having knives and claiming to have a bomb, but say nothing about him referring to a hijacker with a gun. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12/2001; Los Angeles Times, 9/13/2001; San Francisco Chronicle, 9/17/2001; Newsweek, 12/3/2001] According to notes of her initial interview with the FBI (see (12:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001), Deena Burnett tells the investigators that her husband described to her a passenger being knifed and the hijackers claiming to have a bomb. But the notes will make no mention of her saying she was told about a hijacker possessing a gun. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file] And Deena apparently does not mention any gun in early interviews with the press, saying only: “[My husband] said, ‘I’m on the airplane, the airplane that’s been hijacked, and they’ve already knifed a guy. They’re saying they have a bomb. Please call the authorities.’” [Associated Press, 9/12/2001; CNN, 9/15/2001] But she will later state: “He told me one of the hijackers had a gun. He wouldn’t have made it up. Tom grew up around guns. He was an avid hunter and we have guns in our home. If he said there was a gun on board, there was.” [London Times, 8/11/2002]

Tom Burnett. [Source: Family photo] Tom Burnett, a passenger on board Flight 93, calls his wife Deena Burnett at their home in San Ramon, California. [Longman, 2002, pp. 106-107] She looks at the caller ID and recognizes the number as being that of his cell phone. She asks him if he is OK, and he replies: “No, I’m not. I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked.” He says, “They just knifed a guy,” and adds that this person was a passenger. [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 61] (According to journalist and author Jere Longman, this would likely have been Mark Rothenberg in seat 5B; Burnett was assigned seat 4B. Rothenberg is the only first class passenger who does not make a call from the flight. [Longman, 2002, pp. 107] ) Deena asks, “Are you in the air?” She later recalls, “I didn’t understand how he could be calling me on his cell phone from the air.” According to Deena Burnett, Tom continues: “Yes, yes, just listen. Our airplane has been hijacked. It’s United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. We are in the air. The hijackers have already knifed a guy. One of them has a gun. They’re telling us there’s a bomb on board. Please call the authorities.” [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 61] (However, the 9/11 Commission will later conclude that the hijackers did not possess a gun, as Tom Burnett apparently claims here (see 9:27 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 13] ) At the end of the call, which lasts just seconds, Tom says he will call back and then hangs up. [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 62] Deena does not have time to tell him about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. [Sacramento Bee, 9/11/2002] But she writes down everything he tells her. [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 62] She notes the call having occurred at 9:27 a.m. [Longman, 2002, pp. 107] Yet, the 9/11 Commission will later conclude that the hijacker takeover of Flight 93 does not occur until a minute later, at 9:28 (see (9:28 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 38 pdf file] Deena later wonders if her husband made this call before the hijackers took control of the cockpit, as he’d spoken quietly and quickly, as if he were being watched. He has an ear bud and a mouthpiece attached to a cord that hangs over his shoulder, which may have enabled him to use his phone surreptitiously. [Longman, 2002, pp. 107] According to Deena Burnett’s account, this is the first of four calls Tom makes to her from Flight 93, all or most of which he makes using his cell phone. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file; Associated Press, 9/13/2001; Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 75] However, a summary of passenger phone calls presented at the 2006 Zacarias Moussoui trial will state that Burnett makes only three calls from the plane; uses an Airfone, not his cell phone; and makes his frst call at 9:30, not 9:27 (see 9:30 a.m.-9:45 a.m. September 11, 2001). [US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006, pp. 9-10 pdf file] This is the first of over 30 phone calls made by passengers from Flight 93. [MSNBC, 7/30/2002]

According to journalist and author Jere Longman, “On all phone calls made from [Flight 93], passengers reported seeing only three hijackers. Not a single caller reported four hijackers.” [Longman, 2002, pp. 120] (As an exception, one article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette claims that passenger Todd Beamer describes four hijackers; however, other reports say he describes only three (see 9:45 a.m.-9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001] ) Yet the official claim is that there are four hijackers on this plane. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/27/2001; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 4] Some family members of the passengers and crew will later be suspicious that one of the hijackers was in the plane’s cockpit from takeoff (see 9:16 a.m. September 11, 2001). However, according to Longman, “Investigators, pilots, flight attendants and United officials tended to discount this theory.… Paperwork would have to be filled out in advance if an observer requested to sit in the cockpit. No request was made for Flight 93, United officials later reported.… Flight 93 was hijacked approximately forty-five minutes after it left Newark. Other pilots agreed that Captain Dahl likely would have requested that any observer return to his regular seat by that time.” [Longman, 2002, pp. 120] The 9/11 Commission’s explanation for the reports of three hijackers instead of four is that Ziad Jarrah, “the crucial pilot-trained member of [the hijacker’s] team, remained seated and inconspicuous until after the cockpit was seized; and once inside, he would not have been visible to the passengers.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 12]

Stacey Taylor. [Source: NBC News] Cleveland flight controller Stacey Taylor has been warned to watch transcontinental flights heading west for anything suspicious. She later recalls, “I hear one of the controllers behind me go, ‘Oh, my God, oh my God,’ and he starts yelling for the supervisor. He goes, ‘What is this plane doing? What is this plane doing?’ I wasn’t that busy at the time, and I pulled it up on my screen and he was climbing and descending and climbing and descending, but very gradually. He’d go up 300 feet, he’d go down 300 feet. And it turned out to be United 93.” (Note the time of this incident is not specified, but presumably it is prior to when Cleveland controllers note Flight 93 descends 700 feet at 9:29 a.m. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002]

Jason Dahl. [Source: Publicity photo] According to the 9/11 Commission, less than a minute after Flight 93 acknowledged a routine radio transmission from the FAA’s Cleveland Center (see 9:27 a.m. September 11, 2001), John Werth—the controller handling the flight—and pilots of other aircraft in the vicinity of Flight 93 hear “a radio transmission of unintelligible sounds of possible screaming or a struggle from an unknown origin.” [Federal Aviation Administration, 9/11/2001; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004; CBS News, 9/10/2006] Someone, presumably Flight 93’s pilot Jason Dahl, is overheard by controllers as he shouts, “Mayday!” [New York Times, 7/22/2004] Seconds later, the controller responds, “Somebody call Cleveland?” Then there are more sounds of screaming and someone yelling, “Get out of here, get out of here.” [Toronto Sun, 9/16/2001; Newsweek, 9/22/2001; Observer, 12/2/2001; MSNBC, 7/30/2002; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Then the voices of the hijackers can be heard talking in Arabic. The words are later translated to show they are talking to each other, saying, “Everything is fine.” [Newsweek, 12/3/2001] Later, passenger phone calls will describe two dead or injured bodies just outside the cockpit; presumably these are the two pilots. [New York Times, 7/22/2004]

The 9/11 Commission will later conclude that the four hijackers take over Flight 93 at 9:28 a.m., one minute after the plane’s crew made their last communication with the FAA’s Cleveland Center (see 9:27 a.m. September 11, 2001). According to the Commission, the hijackers “wielded knives (reported by at least five callers); engaged in violence, including stabbing (reported by at least four callers and indicated by the sounds of the cockpit struggle transmitted over the radio); relocated the passengers to the back of the plane (reported by at least two callers); threatened use of a bomb, either real or fake (reported by at least three callers); and engaged in deception about their intentions (as indicated by the hijacker’s radio transmission received by FAA air traffic control).” Flight 93 suddenly drops 685 feet in the space of just 30 seconds, and the Cleveland Center hears two suspicious radio transmissions from its cockpit (see (9:28 a.m.) September 11, 2001). However, the 9/11 Commission will add, “While this appears to show the exact time that the hijackers invaded the cockpit, we have found no conclusive evidence to indicate precisely when the terrorists took over the main cabin or moved passengers seated in the first-class cabin back to coach.” The four hijackers waited about 46 minutes after takeoff before beginning their takeover of Flight 93. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 38-39 pdf file] Yet, the Commission claims, when alleged hijacker ringleader Mohamed Atta met with fellow Hamburg cell member Ramzi bin al-Shibh in Spain about two months earlier (see July 8-19, 2001), he’d said that the “best time [for the hijackers] to storm the cockpit would be about 10-15 minutes after takeoff, when the cockpit doors typically were opened for the first time.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 245] The Commission will state, “We were unable to determine why [the Flight 93 hijackers] waited so long.” [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 39 pdf file] The long wait is particularly notable, considering that Flight 93 had already been significantly delayed before taking off from Newark Airport (see 8:01 a.m. September 11, 2001). In fact, in an early timeline, Pentagon officials will state the hijacking occurred significantly earlier, at around 9:16, and in 2003, NORAD officials repeat this claim (see 9:16 a.m. September 11, 2001). [CNN, 9/17/2001; 9/11 Commission, 5/23/2003]

A small jet plane—ExecuJet 956—tracks Flight 93 for what is described as “a substantial period of time” before it crashes, and picks up some of the radio transmissions from it, as both planes are operating on the same frequency. [Government’s motion for protective order regarding cockpit voice recorder pursuant to 49 USC 1154. United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui, 8/8/2002 pdf file; Washington Post, 8/9/2002] The exact period over which ExecuJet 956 follows Flight 93 is unclear. But as early as 9:31 it calls the FAA’s Cleveland Center and, referring to Flight 93, reports: “[W]e’re just answering your call. We did hear that, uh, yelling too.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 461] At 9:40, after being asked, “did you understand that transmission [from Flight 93]?” ExecuJet 956 tells Cleveland Center: “Affirmative. He said that there was a bomb on board.” [Associated Press, 4/12/2006] Cleveland Center then asks the ExecuJet pilot if he can change course and try to spot Flight 93. He sees it, loses it, and then sees it again. He then has to make an evasive turn, as Flight 93 is heading directly for him. [Longman, 2002, pp. 104] ExecuJet 956 is one of a fleet of small jets available for hire from a company based in Woodbridge, New Jersey called NetJets, which sells shares in private business aircraft. [Associated Press, 8/8/2002; Washington Post, 8/9/2002] NetJets’ owner is the multi-billionaire Warren Buffet. [Knight Ridder, 11/6/2001; Observer, 1/12/2003] Another small business jet is reportedly within 20 miles of Flight 93 when it crashes, but this is apparently a different one, belonging to a North Carolina clothing firm (see 10:07 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/2001]

John Werth. [Source: CBS] Shortly after hearing strange noises from the cockpit of Flight 93, Cleveland air traffic controllers notice the plane has descended about 700 feet. John Werth, the controller who is handling the plane, tells the supervisor nearest to him, “I think we have another one [i.e., another hijacking].” He will repeatedly radio the cockpit over the next four minutes, asking the pilot to confirm the hijacking, but receive no response. At 9:30 a.m., Werth begins asking other nearby flights on his frequency if they’ve heard screaming; several say that they have. [Gregor, 12/21/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 28; CBS News, 9/10/2006] The Cleveland Center immediately notifies United Airlines’ headquarters of the loss of communication with Flight 93 (see (9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). However, the FAA chain of command is apparently not also immediately informed. And the Cleveland Center will not contact NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) about Flight 93 until 10:07 a.m. (see 10:05 a.m.-10:08 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 28 and 30]

Shortly before Flight 93 reverses direction and heads east, someone in its cockpit radios in and asks the FAA for a new flight plan, with a final destination of Washington, DC. [ABC News, 9/11/2001; ABC News, 9/14/2001] Jeff Krawczyk, the chief operating officer of a company that tracks aircraft movements, later comments, “We hardly ever get a flight plan change. Very unusual.” [Washington Business Journal, 9/11/2001] Who it is that makes this request is unclear. The hijacker takeover of Flight 93 occurred around 9:28 a.m. (see (9:28 a.m.) September 11, 2001) [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 11] , so it is presumably made by one of the hijackers. Twenty-five minutes later the pilot hijacker will also program a new destination into the plane’s navigational system (see 9:55 a.m. September 11, 2001).

According to evidence presented at the 2006 Zacarias Moussaoui trial, passenger Tom Burnett makes just three phone calls from Flight 93 to his wife, Deena Burnett. According to the trial evidence, his first call, lasting 28 seconds, is at 9:30. At just before 9:38, he makes a second call, which lasts 62 seconds, and at 9:44 he makes his final call, lasting 54 seconds. [US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006] Although he was assigned a seat in row 4 near the front of the plane, records show he makes these calls using Airfones further back, in rows 24 and 25. [United States of America v. Zacarias Moussaoui, a/k/a Shaqil, a/k/a Abu Khalid al Sahrawi, Defendant., 4/11/2006 pdf file; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006, pp. 9-10 pdf file] This evidence, however, contradicts the account given by Burnett’s wife. According to an FBI record of the interview, in her initial meeting with investigators (see (12:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001), Deena Burnett will say she received “a series of three to five cellular phone calls from her husband.” [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file] But she will subsequently say consistently that she received four phone calls from him. And, rather than occurring between 9:30 and 9:44, she notes them as having occurred at 9:27, 9:34, 9:45, and 9:54. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/13/2001; New York Times, 9/13/2001; CNN, 9/11/2002; Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 61-67; Hour of Power, 9/10/2006; MSNBC, 9/11/2006] While the trial evidence states that Tom Burnett makes his calls from the plane using Airfones, other accounts will report that he makes all—or all but one—of them using his cell phone. [Associated Press, 9/13/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 107-111 and 118; Washington Post, 4/19/2002; San Francisco Chronicle, 4/21/2002; CBS News, 9/10/2003]

The FAA’s Cleveland Center notifies United Airlines’ headquarters, near Chicago, that Flight 93 is not responding to attempted radio contacts. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 39 pdf file] Cleveland Center made its last normal communication with Flight 93 at 9:27 (see 9:27 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 28] After the hijacking began at around 9:28, the controller handling Flight 93, John Werth, tried unsuccessfully to re-establish contact with it. [Gregor, 12/21/2001 pdf file; CBS News, 9/10/2006] The lack of response from Flight 93, combined with the plane’s turning to the east (see (9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001), will lead United to believe, by 9:36 a.m., that it has been hijacked. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 456]

Key events of Flight 93 (times are based on a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette map and otherwise interopolated). [Source: Yvonne Vermillion/ MagicGraphix.com] (click image to enlarge)Apparently, the only cockpit voice recording recovered undamaged from any of the 9/11 crashes is from Flight 93. It recorded on a 30-minute reel, which means that the tape is continually overwritten and only the final 30 minutes of any flight is recorded, though in practice sometimes the tape is slightly longer. Flight 93’s recording lasts 31 minutes and begins at this time. [Longman, 2002, pp. 206-207; CNN, 4/19/2002; Hartford Courant, 4/19/2004] According to one account, it begins seconds before the plane is hijacked. [Washington Post, 11/17/2001] However, the version of the tape later played for the victims’ relatives begins “too late to pick up the sounds of the hijackers’ initial takeover.” [MSNBC, 4/18/2002]

Flight attendant Debbie Welsh is apparently stabbed. [Source: Family photo] A few minutes after 9:31 a.m., a hijacker on board Flight 93 can be heard on the cockpit voice recorder 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 Debbie,” she would have resisted. [Longman, 2002, pp. 207]

At the FAA’s Cleveland Center, an air traffic controller hears a transmission, presumably made by Flight 93 hijacker-pilot Ziad Jarrah, stating: “Ladies and gentlemen: Here the captain, please sit down, keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board. So, sit.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 12; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 39 pdf file] As the 9/11 Commission later notes, “Like [Mohamed] Atta on Flight 11, Jarrah apparently did not know how to operate the communication radios; thus his attempts to communicate with the passengers were broadcast on the [air traffic control] channel.” [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 98 pdf file] While this communication is assumed to have come from Flight 93, an early FAA report states that it came “from an unknown origin.” [Federal Aviation Administration, 9/17/2001 pdf file] According to Newsweek, just prior to the communication, Cleveland Center controllers heard the sound of screaming from the flight. [Newsweek, 9/22/2001] The 9/11 Commission states that, around the time of the transmission, the plane’s cockpit voice recording indicates “that a woman, most likely a flight attendant, was being held captive in the cockpit. She struggled with one of the hijackers who killed or otherwise silenced her.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 12; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 39 pdf file] Though the Cleveland air traffic controller understands the hijacker’s communication, he responds to it: “Calling Cleveland Center, you’re unreadable. Say again, slowly.” He also notifies his supervisor who passes the information up the chain of command, and the FAA’s Command Center is subsequently informed, “United 93 may have a bomb on board.” At 9:34 the Command Center will relay this information to FAA headquarters (see 9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 28]

Mark Rothenberg. [Source: Family photo] Tom Burnett, a passenger on the hijacked Flight 93, calls his wife Deena Burnett a second time from the aircraft and is told about the planes hitting the World Trade Center. [Sacramento Bee, 9/11/2002] Deena is on the phone with an FBI agent, reporting her husband’s previous call from the plane (see 9:31 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001), when she hears her call-waiting beep. She answers her husband’s call, making a note of the time. [Newsweek, 12/3/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 109-110] Tom tells her the plane’s hijackers are “in the cockpit. The guy they knifed is dead.… I tried to help him, but I couldn’t get a pulse.” [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 64] (According to journalist and author Jere Longman, Burnett is likely referring here to fellow passenger Mark Rothenberg. [Longman, 2002, pp. 107] ) Deena says: “Tom, they are hijacking planes all up and down the East coast. They are taking them and hitting designated targets. They’ve already hit both towers of the World Trade Center.” [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 64] (When the FBI later interviews her (see (12:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001), Deena will say it seemed her husband was already aware at this time that other flights had crashed into the WTC, although this possibility is not specifically brought up during their call. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file] ) Tom says the hijackers are “talking about crashing this plane.” He adds: “Oh my gosh! It’s a suicide mission.” Deena hears him repeating the information she has told him to other people. When she asks who this is, he tells her he is talking to his seatmate. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file; Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 64] Tom wants to know if commercial aircraft have been hijacked, how many planes and which airlines are involved, and who is involved? [Longman, 2002, pp. 110] He then says: “We’re turning back toward New York. We’re going back to the World Trade Center. No, wait, we’re turning back the other way. We’re going south.” He reports: “We’re over a rural area. It’s just fields. I’ve gotta go.” He then hangs up. The call has lasted about two minutes. [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 64] According to Longman, unlike his previous call, which he made using his cell phone, Tom Burnett makes this call using an Airfone. [Longman, 2002, pp. 110] But other reports will state that he makes all four of his calls from Flight 93 using his cell phone. [Associated Press, 9/13/2001; Washington Post, 4/19/2002; San Francisco Chronicle, 4/21/2002] According to notes of Deena Burnett’s later interview with the FBI, all Tom’s calls are made using his cell phone, but “one of the calls did not show on the caller identification as [Deena] was on the line with another call” when it was made. This could be referring to this second call, which occurred while Deena was on the phone with the FBI agent. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file]

An unknown flight attendant on Flight 93, later determined to be Sandy Bradshaw, calls the United Airlines maintenance facility in San Francisco, and reports that her plane has been hijacked. The San Francisco number is one that flight crews know to call if they need to report mechanical problems, obtain advice on troubleshooting, or request maintenance while in flight. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 40 pdf file; United States of America v. Zacarias Moussaoui, a/k/a Shaqil, a/k/a Abu Khalid al Sahrawi, Defendant., 4/11/2006 pdf file] Bradshaw makes her call from the rear of Flight 93, using an Airfone. [US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006 pdf file] A United Airlines maintenance employee initially answers the call. Shortly thereafter, it is taken over by a manager at the facility. Bradshaw reports that hijackers are in the cabin of her plane behind the first-class curtain, and also in the cockpit. They have pulled a knife, have killed a flight attendant, and have announced they have a bomb on board. The manager will later describe Bradshaw as being “shockingly calm” during the conversation. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 40 pdf file; United States of America v. Zacarias Moussaoui, a/k/a Shaqil, a/k/a Abu Khalid al Sahrawi, Defendant., 4/11/2006 pdf file] Bradshaw’s call lasts just under six minutes. [US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006] The manager reports the emergency to his supervisor, who passes the information to the crisis center at United Airlines’ headquarters, outside Chicago. [USA Today, 8/13/2002; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 40 pdf file] After about 9:45-9:50, “everyone” in the crisis center will know “that a flight attendant on board” Flight 93 has “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, 10/15/2001; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 43 pdf file] The manager at the San Francisco maintenance facility instructs the Airfone operator to try and reestablish contact with the plane, but the effort is unsuccessful. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 40 pdf file] At 9:50, Bradshaw will make another call from Flight 93, this time to her husband (see 9:50 a.m. September 11, 2001). [US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006, pp. 12 pdf file]

When Flight 93 is over Youngstown, Ohio, Stacey Taylor and other Cleveland flight controllers see it rapidly climb 6,000 feet above its assigned altitude of 35,000 feet and then rapidly descend. The plane drops so quickly toward Cleveland that the flight controllers worry they might be the target. Other accounts say the climb occurs around 9:35 a.m. Controllers continue to try to contact the plane but still get no response. [Guardian, 10/17/2001; USA Today, 8/13/2002; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

At the United Airlines crisis center, at its headquarters outside Chicago, staff members watch Flight 93’s radar track until the plane crashes. United Airlines’ senior management has started to gather in the theater-like crisis center, a room that resembles NASA’s Mission Control. Although the airline still has hundreds of flights in the air, officials have highlighted only Flight 93’s path on the large Aircraft Situation Display screen. Even after the plane’s transponder has been switched off (see (9:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001), the flight can still be tracked, but officials can no longer determine its altitude. They watch as the plane’s speed fluctuates wildly while it heads toward Washington. Hank Krakowski, United Airlines’ director of flight operations, will later recall: “We knew what was going on. We could see the airplane headed toward the capital. We were wondering whether the military was going to intervene or not.” Those in the crisis center see Flight 93’s radar track stop moving at the time it crashes. A dispatcher determines the latitude and longitude of its last position and reports that it was south of Johnstown in Pennsylvania, about 120 miles from Washington. [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 77-78 and 214; USA Today, 8/13/2002]

According to journalist and author Jere Longman, after her husband Tom Burnett has called her a second time from the hijacked Flight 93 (see 9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001), Deena Burnett calls the FBI again. She had previously spoken with an FBI agent after she’d called 911 following her first call from her husband (see 9:31 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). Longman provides no details of what is said during this second call to the FBI. [Longman, 2002, pp. 110-111] Deena Burnett’s account, presented in her own 2006 book, will make no mention of any call to the FBI at this time. She only says that at this time she speaks by phone with her husband’s two sisters and his parents. According to her 2006 account, Deena will not speak to the FBI a second time until around 10:00 a.m., after Tom has made his fourth and final call to her from Flight 93 (see (Shortly After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 64-65 and 68-69]

Having followed a seemingly normal course until now, after reaching the Cleveland area, Flight 93 suddenly makes a sharp turn to the south. It then makes another turn back eastward, cutting through West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle before re-entering Pennsylvania. [Washington Post, 9/12/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/13/2001; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 41 pdf file] Having thus turned 180 degrees, it now heads toward Washington, DC. [CNN, 9/13/2001]

Lyz Glick. [Source: NBC] In phone calls made from Flight 93, some passengers and crew members sound as if they are able to keep surprisingly calm, despite the crisis:
bullet Passenger Jeremy Glick calls his wife, Lyz, at 9:37. She later recalls, “He was so calm, the plane sounded so calm, that if I hadn’t seen what was going on on the TV, I wouldn’t have believed it.” She says, “I was surprised by how calm it seemed in the background. I didn’t hear any screaming. I didn’t hear any noises. I didn’t hear any commotion.” [Bergen Record, 10/5/2001; MSNBC, 9/11/2006]
bullet Passenger Lauren Grandcolas calls her husband, Jack, at 9:39, and leaves a message on the answering machine. According to journalist and author Jere Longman, “It sounded to Jack as if she were driving home from the grocery store or ordering a pizza.” Jack Grandcolas later says, “She sounded calm.” He describes, “There is absolutely no background noise on her message. You can’t hear people screaming or yelling or crying. It’s very calm, the whole cabin, the background, there’s really very little sound.” [Longman, 2002, pp. 128; Kate Solomon, 2006; Washington Post, 4/26/2006]
bullet Passenger Mark Bingham speaks on the phone with his mother and aunt, reportedly from around 9:42. His aunt finds him sounding “calm, matter-of-fact.” His mother later recalls, “His voice was calm. He seemed very much composed, even though I know he must have been under terrible duress.” She also says the background discussion between passengers, about taking back the plane, sounds like a “calm boardroom meeting.” [CNN, 9/12/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 129-130; CNN, 4/21/2006]
bullet Passenger Todd Beamer speaks with GTE supervisor Lisa Jefferson for 13 minutes, starting at 9:45. Jefferson later says that Beamer “stayed calm through the entire conversation. He made me doubt the severity of the call.” She tells Beamer’s wife, “If I hadn’t known it was a real hijacking, I’d have thought it was a crank call, because Todd was so rational and methodical about what he was doing.” [Beamer and Abraham, 2002, pp. 211; Beliefnet (.com), 2006]
bullet Passenger Honor Elizabeth Wainio speaks with her stepmother, Esther Heymann, from around 9:54. Heymann later tells CNN that Wainio “really was remarkably calm throughout our whole conversation.” (However, according to Jere Longman, although she speaks calmly, Wainio’s breathing is “shallow, as if she were hyperventilating.”) When her stepdaughter is not talking, Heymann reportedly cannot “hear another person. She could not hear any conversation or crying or yelling or whimpering. Nothing.” [Longman, 2002, pp. 168 and 171-172; CNN, 2/18/2006]
bullet Flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw calls her husband at 9:50. He later says, “She sounded calm, but like her adrenaline was really going.” [US News and World Report, 10/21/2001]
bullet At 9:58, flight attendant CeeCee Lyles phones her husband. He later says, “She was surprisingly calm,” considering the screaming he heard in the background. Her relatives attribute her calmness to her police training (she is a former police officer). [Lyles, 9/11/2001; Dallas Morning News, 9/17/2001; Investor’s Business Daily, 4/18/2002]
Longman later writes, “I heard tapes of a couple of the phone calls made from [Flight 93] and was struck by the absence of panic in the voices.” [Longman, 2002, pp. xi]

(9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Flight 93 Passenger Jeremy Glick Describes Hijackers, Bomb

Jeremy Glick. [Source: Family photo] Jeremy Glick calls his wife, Lyz, from Flight 93. He describes the hijackers as Middle Eastern- and Iranian-looking. According to Glick, three of them put on red headbands, stood up, yelled, and ran into the cockpit. He had been sitting in the front of the coach section, but he was then sent to the back with most of the passengers. Glick says the hijackers claimed to have a bomb, which looked like a box with something red around it. Family members immediately call emergency 9-1-1 on another line. New York State Police are 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. [Toronto Sun, 9/16/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 143; MSNBC, 7/30/2002]

At 9:39 a.m., after having maintained a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet for about two minutes, Flight 93 begins a rapid descent, going down at a rate of 4,000 feet per minute. At 9:46, it interrupts this, going up from 19,000 feet to 20,500 feet, but then resumes its descent at the slower rate of 1,300 feet per minute. At 9:59, it has reached an altitude of 5,000 feet. [National Transportation Safety Board, 2/19/2002 pdf file] The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will later describe this as a “surprising element in the navigation of Flight 93,” since the aircraft begins its “rapid descent from cruise altitudes while still approximately 260 nautical miles [about 300 miles] from the (presumed) target.” [National Transportation Safety Board, 2/13/2002, pp. 3 pdf file] The target of Flight 93 is later believed to be either the White House or the Capitol building. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 14] The NTSB will note that by the times Flights 11, 175, and 77 had descended below 5,000 feet, they were all within 10 nautical miles (11.5 miles) of their targets. “UAL 93, on the other hand, descended to 5,000 feet while still 135 [nautical miles] from Washington.” [National Transportation Safety Board, 2/13/2002 pdf file]

Lauren Grandcolas. [Source: Family photo / AP] At 9:39 a.m., Flight 93 passenger Lauren Grandcolas calls her husband in San Rafael, California, leaving him a 46-second message on the answering machine. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 42 pdf file; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006] Some reports state that she is using a cell phone. [Houston Chronicle, 9/12/2001; Chicago Tribune, 9/14/2001; USA Today, 9/25/2001] But the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says she uses an Airfone. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001] Her husband, Jack Grandcolas, later describes that she sounds “very, very calm.” [Associated Press, 9/12/2001] According to some early reports, she says, “We have been hijacked,” and “They”—presumably meaning the hijackers—“are being kind.” [Houston Chronicle, 9/12/2001; Washington Post, 9/12/2001; Chicago Tribune, 9/14/2001; Time, 9/16/2001] But in other accounts, she does not specify that her plane has been hijacked. She reportedly begins, “Honey, are you there? Jack, pick up sweetie. Okay, well I just wanted to tell you I love you. We’re having a little problem on the plane.” She continues, “I’m comfortable and I’m okay… for now. Just a little problem. So I just love you. Please tell my family I love them too. Bye, honey.” According to some accounts, Grandcolas then passes the phone to fellow passenger Elizabeth Wainio, who is sitting next to her, and tells her to call her family. [New York Times, 9/13/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 128; MSNBC, 9/11/2006] The Wall Street Journal reports that Grandcolas’s voice can be heard at the end of her recorded message saying to another passenger, “Now you call your people.” [Wall Street Journal, 5/26/2005] Yet, according to a summary of passenger phone calls presented at the 2006 trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, this could not be the case, as Grandcolas tries to make a further seven calls over the following four minutes. These are apparently either unsuccessful or quickly disconnected, lasting between “0 seconds” and “7 seconds.” They appear to include four more attempts at calling her husband, and one attempt to call her sister Vaughn Lohec. According to the summary, Wainio does not make a phone call until later, at just before 9:54 a.m. The summary also claims that, although Wainio and Grandcolas had originally been assigned seats next to each other in row 11, they are now in different parts of the plane. While Wainio is in row 33, Grandcolas is now in row 23, and there is no passenger next to her who also makes a phone call. [US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006]

The Flight 93 hijackers (probably inadvertently) transmit over the 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.” [Boston Globe, 11/23/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 209; MSNBC, 9/3/2002; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] The controller responds, “United 93, understand you have a bomb on board. Go ahead,” but there is no response. There was a very similar “bomb on board” warning from the same flight at 9:32 a.m. (see (9:32 a.m.) September 11, 2001). The 9/11 Commission indicates that these are separate incidents. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Cleveland flight control apparently continues to wait for FAA superiors to notify NORAD. Earlier in the morning, Boston flight control directly contacted NORAD (see (8:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and local air force bases when they determined Flight 11 was hijacked.

The transponder signal from Flight 93 ceases. [CNN, 9/17/2001; MSNBC, 9/3/2002; MSNBC, 9/11/2002; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] However, the plane can be—and is—tracked using primary radar by Cleveland flight controllers and at United headquarters. Altitude can no longer be determined, except by visual sightings from other aircraft. The plane’s speed begins to vary wildly, fluctuating between 600 and 400 mph before eventually settling around 400 mph. [Longman, 2002, pp. 77, 214; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

Cleveland Center flight controller Bill Keaton is responsible for guiding high-altitude flights in the airspace where Flight 93 turned off its transponder (see (9:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001). After its transponder goes off, he follows Flight 93 on his radar scope as it travels across his sector, headed toward Washington, DC, and is instructed not to let any other aircraft come within 20 miles of it. Because its transponder is off, he cannot tell the plane’s altitude. He sees it disappear from his scope at the time it crashes. [USA Today, 8/11/2002; Cleveland Free Times, 9/6/2006]

Mark Bingham. [Source: Family photo] 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.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001] In an alternate version, he says, “I’m in the air, I’m calling you on the Airfone. I’m calling you from the plane. We’ve been taken over. There are three men that say they have a bomb.” [Toronto Sun, 9/16/2001; Boston Globe, 11/23/2001]

Lisa Jefferson. [Source: Lisa Jefferson] Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer reaches a GTE operator using one of the plane’s seatback phones. He had tried using his credit card on the phone, but been unable to get authorization, so his call is routed to a customer service center in the Chicago area. [Newsweek, 9/22/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 198-199; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006, pp. 11 pdf file] Beamer initially reaches operator Phyllis Johnson, who calls customer service supervisor Lisa Jefferson over and informs her of the call. As Jefferson later recalls, “I asked [Johnson] information that I needed to report to our surveillance center. And by the time I came back, she appeared to be traumatized, and that’s when I told her I would take the call over… She was just dazed.” Having immediately contacted the FBI, airline security, and GTE operations personnel, Jefferson gets on the line and speaks to Beamer for the next 13 minutes (see 9:45 a.m.-9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/22/2001; Orlando Sentinel, 9/5/2002; Beliefnet (.com), 2006] She later informs Beamer’s wife Lisa, “[I]t was a miracle that Todd’s call hadn’t been disconnected. Because of the enormous number of calls that day, the GTE systems overloaded and lines were being disconnected all around her… She kept thinking, This call is going to get dropped! Yet Todd stayed connected… all the way to the end.” [Beamer and Abraham, 2002, pp. 217] According to journalist and author Jere Longman, “GTE-Verizon [does] not routinely tape its telephone calls. As a supervisor, [Jefferson] would have been the one to monitor the taping, but she did not want to risk losing the call.” [Longman, 2002, pp. 199] Yet an early article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will claim that, “because it was to an operator,” Beamer’s call “was tape-recorded.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/19/2001] Lisa Beamer will only be informed of her husband’s call from Flight 93 three days later, and be read a summary of it written by Jefferson (see September 14, 2001). [Newsweek, 12/3/2001]

Flight 93 passenger Tom Burnett calls his wife Deena Burnett for the third time. She is able to determine that he is using his cell phone, as the caller identification shows his number. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file] She had just seen the television reports about the Pentagon being hit, and mistakenly thought Tom’s plane had crashed into it. [Longman, 2002, pp. 111] She asks, “Tom, you’re okay?” but he replies, “No, I’m not.” Deena tells him, “They just hit the Pentagon.” She hears him repeating this information to people around him. She continues: “They think five airplanes have been hijacked. One is still on the ground. They believe all of them are commercial planes. I haven’t heard them say which airline, but all of them have originated on the East Coast.” She doesn’t know who is involved in the attacks. [Sacramento Bee, 9/11/2002; Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 65-66] The hijackers had earlier told the passengers there was a bomb on Flight 93 (see 9:27 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file; Longman, 2002, pp. 107] But now Tom appears to doubt this. He asks Deena, “What is the probability of them having a bomb on board?” He then answers himself: “I don’t think they have one. I think they’re just telling us that for crowd control.” Based on her experience as a former flight attendant, Deena says, “A plane can survive a bomb if it’s in the right place.” Tom continues: “[The hijackers are] talking about crashing this plane into the ground. We have to do something. I’m putting a plan together.” He says “several people” are helping him. “There’s a group of us.” Deena is surprised, but reassured, at her husband’s calmness. She will recall that it is as if he were at work, “sitting at his desk, and we were having a regular conversation.” He tells her he will call back, and then hangs up. A policeman then arrives at Deena Burnett’s house, no doubt in response to her earlier 911 call (see 9:31 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001), and follows her inside. [Sacramento Bee, 9/11/2002; Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 66]

According to the later-recovered Flight 93 cockpit voice recording, around this time one hijacker in the cockpit says to another, “Let the guys in now.” A hijacker says, “Should we let the guys in?” and another says, “Inform them, and tell him to talk to the pilot. Bring the pilot back.” It’s not clear if this is a reference to an original pilot or a hijacker pilot. According to one description of passenger Todd Beamer’s call from the plane, a flight attendant can be overheard in the background saying that two men lying on the floor in first class are the plane’s captain and co-pilot, indicating that they are already dead (see 9:45 a.m.-9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001). But it is not possible to determine the fate of the two pilots from the cockpit voice recording, and investigators will be unsure as to whether they were killed or allowed to live. [Longman, 2002, pp. 199 and 208-209; Associated Press, 4/12/2006]

Todd Beamer. [Source: Family photo] After having trouble getting authorization on an Airfone to call his family (see 9:43 a.m. September 11, 2001), Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer is able to speak to GTE customer service supervisor Lisa Jefferson. Jefferson, who quickly alerts the FBI about Beamer’s call, talks to him for 13 minutes. According to a report in the London Observer, she has the FBI simultaneously on another line, offering guidance. She immediately asks Beamer for details of the flight, like “What is your flight number? What is the situation? Where are the crew members?” With the help of a flight attendant sitting next to him, Beamer details the numbers of passengers and crew on the plane. He says the hijackers have divided the passengers into two groups, with ten of them in first class at the front of the plane, and 27 in the back. (Jefferson’s written summary of the conversation will say that the larger number of passengers was in the front. However, Beamer’s wife later says that Jefferson informed her it was in fact the other way around.) According to some reports, Beamer says three people have hijacked the plane. Two of them, armed with knives, are in the cockpit and have locked the door; the third is in first class with what appears to be a bomb strapped around his waist. A curtain has been closed separating first class from the coach section of the plane. Other accounts claim the hijacker with the bomb is in fact in the rear of the plane. According to one report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Beamer describes four hijackers in total: the two in the cockpit, the one with the bomb guarding the passengers in the back of the plane, and a fourth in first class. But the Orlando Sentinel says Beamer tells Jefferson he is free to talk because the hijacker in first class has closed the curtain, indicating there is no hijacker at the back of the plane. (Beamer himself is at the back of plane, calling from a phone in row 32.) According to an early article in Newsweek, he says that one passenger is dead and he doesn’t know about the pilots. However, journalist and author Jere Longman later writes that Beamer describes to Jefferson two people on the floor in fist class, possibly dead. The flight attendant next to him can be overheard saying these are the plane’s captain and co-pilot. The attendant does not mention their names or say they are wearing uniforms, but she sounds certain. Beamer then repeats what the attendant has told him. At some point in the call, Beamer asks, “Do you know what [the hijackers] want? Money or ransom or what?” He seems unaware of the other hijackings that have occurred. Jefferson informs him of the two planes crashing in New York. [Chicago Tribune, 9/16/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/19/2001; Newsweek, 9/22/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/22/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Observer, 12/2/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 198-200; Orlando Sentinel, 9/5/2002; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006, pp. 11 pdf file] Beamer says of the hijackers, “It doesn’t seem like they know how to fly the plane.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/17/2001] He also tells Jefferson about himself, including where he is from, that he has two sons, and that his wife is expecting a third child in January. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/22/2001] He tells her, “I just want to talk to somebody and just let someone know that this is happening.” [Longman, 2002, pp. 204]

While flight controllers are working to clear the skies of all aircraft, they notice a small plane flying erratically above the FAA’s Cleveland Center. Consequently, the center is evacuated, with people withdrawing to its parking lot. According to Rick Kettell, the Cleveland air traffic manager, the errant plane is never identified. He says it “flew off to the north, and we lost radar on it.” Eleven months later, the FAA will reportedly still be investigating what the plane was and what it was doing. There are contradictory accounts of when the evacuation occurs. NEADS Commander Robert Marr reportedly is informed of it while Flight 93 is still airborne (see 9:44 a.m.-9:51 a.m. September 11, 2001). Cleveland flight controller Stacey Taylor will later recall, “They’re evacuating the Center,” at a time when Flight 93 is still airborne. However, she and another Cleveland controller say they see Flight 93 disappear from their radar scopes when it crashes, suggesting that the center is not fully evacuated, or is only fully evacuated later on. Rick Kettell claims the evacuation occurs after most planes have already been landed from the region’s skies, which would be later in the morning. [Newsnet5, 8/12/2002; MSNBC, 9/11/2002; Filson, 2003, pp. 73; Cleveland Free Times, 9/6/2006]

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. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001] He later says that all the men on the plane have voted to attack the hijackers. [Toronto Sun, 9/16/2001] When asked about weapons, he says they don’t have guns, just knives. This appears to contradict an earlier mention of guns. His wife gets the impression from him that the hijacker standing nearby, claiming to hold the bomb, would be easy to overwhelm. [Longman, 2002, pp. 153-154]

Marion Britton. [Source: US Census Bureau] Flight 93 passenger Marion Britton calls her longtime friend Fred Fiumano at his auto repair shop in New York City, and talks to him for just under four minutes. According to the Chicago Tribune, she is using a cell phone. [Chicago Tribune, 9/30/2001; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006] Journalist and author Jere Longman writes that, because her own cell phone is not working, Britton is using a borrowed phone (i.e. a cell phone). She gives Fiumano the phone number belonging to another passenger and tells him to write it down. [Longman, 2002, pp. 162 and 166] However, during the 2006 Zacarias Moussaoui trial, the prosecution claims that Britton, who had been assigned a seat in row 12 of the plane, makes her call from a phone in row 33, presumably meaning a seatback phone rather than a cell phone. [US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006, pp. 12 pdf file] Britton is crying. She tells Fiumano her plane has been hijacked and has made a U-turn. When he tells her that the World Trade Center is on fire, she replies, “I know, and we’re going to go down.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/22/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001] Britton says, “They’re gonna kill us, you know, we’re gonna die.” [MSNBC, 9/11/2006] Fiumano tries to reassure her, but she responds, “Two passengers have had their throats cut.” [New York Times, 4/13/2006] (In passenger Todd Beamer’s call from Flight 93 (see 9:45 a.m.-9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001), a flight attendant is reportedly heard in the background saying that two men lying on the floor in first class, possibly dead, are the plane’s pilot and co-pilot. It is unclear if these are the two people that Britton refers to as having had their throats cut, and she’d simply mistaken them for passengers. [Longman, 2002, pp. 199] ) Fiumano hears a lot of yelling and screaming, and then the line goes dead. He tries calling Britton back but is unable to get through. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/22/2001]

Sandra Bradshaw. [Source: Family photo] Sandy 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, 11/23/2001] She tells him that some passengers are in the rear galley filling pitchers with hot water to use against the hijackers. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001]

The National Security Agency (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, the target Flight 93 is intended to hit). [CBS News, 9/4/2002] The caller is also supposed to say that the attackers are following through on “the doctor’s program.” This is said to be a reference to al-Qaeda’s number two leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has a doctorate in medicine. [New Yorker, 9/9/2002] Since the 9/11 crisis began, NSA translators have been told to focus on Middle Eastern intercepts and translate them as they are received instead of oldest first, as is the usual practice. This call is translated in the next hour or two, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld hears about it just after noon. [CBS News, 9/4/2002; Bamford, 2004, pp. 54]

According to Flight 93’s cockpit voice recording, the hijackers grow concerned that the passengers might retaliate. One urges that the plane’s fire axe be held up to the cockpit door’s peephole to scare the passengers. [Longman, 2002, pp. 209-210]

Elizabeth Wainio. [Source: Family photo] Honor Elizabeth Wainio, a 27-year-old passenger on board Flight 93, calls her stepmother Esther Heymann, who is in Cantonsville, Maryland. [Chicago Tribune, 9/30/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001] According to journalist and author Jere Longman, the call starts “shortly past nine-fifty.” Official accounts say it starts at 9:54, or seconds before. [Longman, 2002, pp. 167; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 44 pdf file; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006] Wainio begins, “We’re being hijacked. I’m calling to say good-bye.” She says a “really nice person” next to her has handed her the phone and told her to call her family. News reports suggest this person is Lauren Grandcolas, who had been assigned a seat by Wainio in row 11 of the plane. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 167-168; MSNBC, 9/3/2002; MSNBC, 9/11/2006] But according to a summary of passenger phone calls presented at the 2006 Zacarias Moussaoui trial, Wainio and Grandcolas are now separated and sitting in different areas of the plane. Wainio is now in row 33 along with fellow passenger Marion Britton and an unnamed flight attendant. [US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006] According to some reports, Wainio is using a cell phone. Newsweek states that she actually tells her stepmother she is using a cell phone loaned to her by another passenger. [Newsweek, 9/22/2001; Chicago Tribune, 9/30/2001] But the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette claims she uses an Airfone. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001] According to Longman, there are “long silences” throughout the call. [MSNBC, 7/30/2002] Heymann cannot hear anyone in the background: “She could not hear any conversation or crying or yelling or whimpering. Nothing.” [Longman, 2002, pp. 172] Longman describes that Heymann gets the feeling her stepdaughter is “resigned to what was going to happen to her. And that she actually seemed to be leaving her body, going to a better place. She had had two grandmothers who were deceased, and at one point she told her [step]mother, ‘They’re waiting for me.’” [MSNBC, 7/30/2002] Wainio also talks about her family, and says she is worried about how her brother and sister will handle this terrible news. [Longman, 2002, pp. 168] Accounts conflict over how long her call lasts and when it ends (see (Between 9:58 a.m. and 10:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

Passenger Tom Burnett makes his fourth and final call from Flight 93 to his wife Deena Burnett. Deena makes a note of the time of the call. [Longman, 2002, pp. 118] Tom asks her, “Anything new?” and then, “Where are the kids?” When Deena says their three young daughters are asking to talk to him, Tom says, “Tell them I’ll talk to them later.” After a pause, he explains that he and some of the other passengers are going to try and seize control of the plane from the hijackers: “We’re waiting until we’re over a rural area. We’re going to take back the airplane.” He adds: “If they’re going to crash this plane into the ground, we’re going to have to do something.… We can’t wait for the authorities. I don’t know what they could do anyway. It’s up to us. I think we can do it.” He remains calm throughout the conversation. He tells Deena to just pray. [Sacramento Bee, 9/11/2002; Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 66-67] According to notes of Deena Burnett’s initial interview with the FBI (see (12:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001), Tom tells Deena he may not speak to her again. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file] But in her 2006 book, Deena Burnett will describe Tom saying: “Don’t worry. I’ll be home for dinner. I may be late, but I’ll be home.” Finally he says, “We’re going to do something,” and then hangs up. The call lasts less than two minutes. [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 67] Tom does not give any personal message to his wife during the call. [CNN, 9/12/2001] Deena will later reflect: “He honestly expected to be home later that morning. If he thought he was going to die on that plane, he would have called his parents and sisters and talked to his daughters. At the very least, he would have given me a message for them. But he didn’t ask to speak to any of them. He was fighting to live.” [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 68]

The pilot hijacker of Flight 93 (presumably Ziad Jarrah) reprograms the plane’s navigational system for a new destination. He dials in the navigational code for Washington’s Reagan National Airport, which is just four miles from the White House, and an arrival time of 10:28 a.m. The 9/11 Commission says this further indicates that the plane’s intended target is the nation’s capital. [Longman, 2002, pp. 78 and 182; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 457; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 45 pdf file] According to the St. Petersburg Times, a minute later, at 9:56, “the destination code for [Flight 93] in FAA computers was changed from ‘SFO,’ the code for San Francisco, to ‘DCA,’ the code for Reagan National Airport in Washington. That indicates an air traffic controller probably changed the destination. Typically, that is done only when it is requested by the pilots.” [St. Petersburg Times, 9/12/2001] Twenty-five minutes earlier, someone in Flight 93’s cockpit had radioed in and requested a new flight plan from the FAA, with a final destination of Washington (see 9:30 a.m. September 11, 2001).

Since 9:45 a.m., Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer has been talking by Airfone to Lisa Jefferson, a GTE customer service supervisor (see 9:45 a.m.-9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001). Beamer is a devout Christian, and asks Jefferson to recite the Lord’s Prayer with him. He then recites the 23rd Psalm. He also gives her his home phone number and tells her to contact his wife if he does not survive, and let his family know how much he loves them. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/17/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/22/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 198-200] He tells Jefferson that some of the passengers are going to “jump” the hijacker who claims to have a bomb, and try to seize control of the plane. He says, “We’re going to do something. I know I’m not going to get out of this.” In the background, Jefferson can hear an “awful commotion” of people shouting, and women screaming, “Oh my God,” “God help us,” and “Help us Jesus.” Beamer lets go of the phone but leaves it connected. Jefferson can hear him speaking to someone else, saying the words that later become famous: “Are you ready guys? Let’s roll” (alternate version: “You ready? Okay. Let’s roll”). [Newsweek, 9/22/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 203-204] Beamer reportedly talks to Jefferson for 13 minutes, meaning his last words to her are at 9:58 a.m. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/19/2001] Jefferson then hears more screaming and other commotion. She remains on the phone until after the time Flight 93 crashes (see (9:59 a.m.-10:49 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Orlando Sentinel, 9/5/2002]

Deena Burnett has just minutes earlier spoken by phone with her husband, Tom Burnett, a passenger on Flight 93 (see 9:54 a.m. September 11, 2001). According to Deena Burnett’s account that she presents in her own book in 2006, an FBI agent she talked with after her husband’s first call (see 9:31 a.m.-9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001) now calls and speaks to her again, briefly. She tells the agent she has just got off the phone with her husband. He wants to know if Tom provided any details of the hijackers, such as how many there are and what language they speak, but Deena says no. She says the only background noise she heard was other people who seemed to be sitting near her husband, speaking English. During Tom’s final call, the background was silent. The agent says the FBI has tried calling Tom’s cell phone, but there was no answer. [Burnett and Giombetti, 2006, pp. 68-69] According to the account in Deena Burnett’s book, this appears to be her first contact with the FBI since she made her 911 call at 9:31. But according to journalist and author Jere Longman, Deena called the FBI shortly after 9:35, following her second call from her husband (see (Between 9:36 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Longman, 2002, pp. 110] Deena will speak with the FBI again more than two hours later, when three agents arrive at her house to interview her (see (12:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001).

One of the hijackers in the cockpit asks if anything is going on, apparently meaning outside the cockpit. “Fighting,” the other says. [Longman, 2002, pp. 210] An analysis of the cockpit flight recording suggests that the passenger struggle actually starts in the front of the plane (where Mark Bingham and Tom Burnett are sitting) about a minute before a struggle in the back of the plane (where Todd Beamer is sitting). [Observer, 12/2/2001] Officials later theorize that the Flight 93 passengers reach the cockpit using a food cart as a battering ram and a shield. They claim digital enhancement of the cockpit voice recorder reveals the sound of plates and glassware crashing around 9:57 a.m. [Newsweek, 12/3/2001]

“In the cockpit! In the cockpit!” is heard. The 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 would not have had any 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. [Observer, 12/2/2001; Newsweek, 12/3/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 270-271; MSNBC, 7/30/2002; Daily Telegraph, 7/31/2002]

CeeCee Lyles. [Source: Family photo] 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. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 180]

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 a.m. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Boston Globe, 11/23/2001]

According to an emergency call center supervisor who listens in on the call, when passenger Edward Felt phones 911 from Flight 93 to report that his plane has been hijacked, he says he has heard an explosion and sees smoke coming from the plane. But others will explicitly deny this. [Associated Press, 9/11/2001; New York Times, 3/27/2002] Felt called 911 on his cell phone at 9:58 a.m., and talks to a dispatcher at the 911 center in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania (see 9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Longman, 2002, pp. 193; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 45 pdf file]
Said to Mention Explosion – Glenn Cramer, a supervisor at the center, listens in on the call on a separate line. The following day, he will tell the FBI that Felt said “some sort of explosion had occurred aboard the aircraft,” and “that there was white smoke somewhere on the plane.” [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001 pdf file; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/7/2001] Cramer will similarly tell the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Felt said he “did hear some sort of an explosion and saw white smoke coming from the plane, but he didn’t know where.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/12/2001] Some people will later cite this account as evidence that Flight 93 was shot down by the military to prevent it reaching its target, or was brought down when a bomb on board went off. [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/2001; New York Times, 3/27/2002; Independent, 8/13/2002; Mirror, 9/12/2002; Philadelphia Daily News, 9/16/2002]
Account Disputed – However, others dispute Cramer’s account. John Shaw, the dispatcher who Felt talks to, will apparently make no mention of Felt reporting an explosion or smoke when he is interviewed by the FBI later in the day. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file] And, in 2002, Shaw will state specifically that Felt made no mention of any explosion or smoke. “Didn’t happen,” he will say. Sandra Felt, the wife of Edward Felt, will hear the recording of the 911 call and subsequently also say her husband did not mention an explosion or smoke. [Longman, 2002, pp. 264; New York Times, 3/27/2002; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/21/2002; Valley News Dispatch, 9/11/2002] Authorities will not explain Cramer’s contradictory account, and in September 2002 Britain’s Daily Mirror will report, “Glenn Cramer has now been gagged by the FBI.” [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/2001; Mirror, 9/12/2002]

Edward Felt. [Source: Family photo] An emergency call is received at the 911 center in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, from Edward Felt, a passenger on Flight 93. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/8/2002] Felt makes the 911 call using his cell phone. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 45 pdf file; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006] It is answered by dispatcher John Shaw, on a line at the center specifically for incoming cell phone calls. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001 pdf file; Longman, 2002, pp. 193] Glenn Cramer, a supervisor at the 911 center, hears Shaw responding to the caller, “You are what hijacked?” and consequently picks up a phone that allows him to listen in on the rest of Felt’s call. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001 pdf file; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/7/2001]
Call Center Workers Mishear Name – Felt identifies himself. Shaw and Cramer apparently mishear, and both will recall that he says his name is “Ed Wart.” [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001 pdf file] (The FBI will initially refuse to disclose the caller’s name to the press, but he is later revealed to have been Edward Felt, a 41-year-old engineer from New Jersey. [Washington Post, 9/12/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 194; New York Times, 3/27/2002] ) Felt says, “We are being hijacked, we are being hijacked!” He repeatedly states that his call is not a hoax. [ABC News, 9/11/2001; Associated Press, 9/11/2001] He says the passengers need help immediately. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file]
Felt Answers Questions about His Flight, but Does Not Describe Hijackers – Shaw asks Felt standard questions, such as where is he? What type of plane is he on? And what has happened? [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/11/2002] Felt tells Shaw his cell phone number and says he is on United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. [Longman, 2002, pp. 193-194; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/11/2002; United States of America v. Zacarias Moussaoui, a/k/a Shaqil, a/k/a Abu Khalid al Sahrawi, Defendant., 4/11/2006 pdf file] He says he is locked in the bathroom of the plane, but does not say if this is its front or rear bathroom. He does not say anything about how many hijackers are on board, nor make any statements about any weapons the hijackers may possess. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001 pdf file] Nor does he mention any attempt by the passengers to regain control of the plane. [Longman, 2002, pp. 196]
Felt Describes ‘Lots of Passengers,’ though Plane Is Mostly Empty – Shaw will recall to the FBI that Felt tells him the plane is loaded with numerous passengers. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file] Glenn Cramer will similarly tell the FBI that Felt describes “lots of passengers” on board. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001 pdf file] Yet there are only 37 passengers (including the four hijackers) on Flight 93, constituting just 20 percent of its passenger capacity of 182. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 36 pdf file] Felt says: “We’re going down. We’re going down.” [New York Times, 3/27/2002; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/11/2002] Cramer will say that Felt describes an explosion on the aircraft and smoke coming from it, but others—including Shaw—will deny this (see (Between 9:58 a.m. and 9:59 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Associated Press, 9/11/2001; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001 pdf file; Longman, 2002, pp. 264; Valley News Dispatch, 9/11/2002]
Call Ends after One Minute – Shaw will tell the FBI the call lasts “less than five minutes” before the line disconnects. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001 pdf file] According to other accounts, it lasts just over one minute. [Dayton Daily News, 9/12/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 197; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/8/2002; Valley News Dispatch, 9/11/2002] After the call ends, other employees at the Westmoreland County 911 center are instructed to notify the FBI and the FAA about it. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001 pdf file] When the FBI arrives at the center, it will immediately take possession of the tape of Felt’s call. [Washington Post, 9/12/2001; Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/2001]

Since around 9:54, Flight 93 passenger Elizabeth Wainio has been speaking by phone with her stepmother Esther Heymann (see (9:54 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 44 pdf file] Wainio ends her call saying, “They’re getting ready to break into the cockpit. I have to go. I love you. Good-bye.” She then hangs up. [Longman, 2002, pp. 172] The 9/11 Commission concludes that the passengers’ revolt against the hijackers that Wainio is referring to begins at 9:57 a.m. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 45 pdf file] Yet according to journalist and author Jere Longman, Wainio’s call lasts 11 minutes, and ends at “just past ten” o’clock, which is several minutes after the revolt starts. [Longman, 2002, pp. 171-172] In fact, if Wainio’s call began around 9:54, as is officially claimed, and lasts 11 minutes, it would end around 10:05. This is after official accounts claim Flight 93 crashed, but before the crash time of 10:06 later provided by an analysis of seismic records (see (10:03 a.m.-10:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001). However, according to the 9/11 Commission and a summary of passenger phone calls presented at the 2006 Zacarias Moussaoui trial, Wainio’s call only lasts four-and-a-half minutes. This would mean it ends just shortly after the passenger revolt begins. [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/18/2001; Kim and Baum, 2002 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 30; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 44 and 46 pdf file; US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006]

According to Lyz Glick, as recounted in the book “Among the Heroes,” she is speaking to her husband Jeremy Glick on Flight 93 when he tells her that passengers have been hearing from other phone calls that planes are crashing into the World Trade Center. He asks her, “Are [the hijackers] going to blow this plane up?” Lyz replies that she doesn’t know, but tells him that it is true two planes have crashed into the World Trade Center. He asks her if they’re going to crash the plane into the World Trade Center. She replies, “No. They’re not going there.” He asks why, and she replies that one of the towers has just fallen. “They knocked it down.” The first World Trade Center tower collapses at 9:59 and is seen by millions on television. The book makes clear that this exchange takes place at “almost ten o’clock” —within a minute of the tower collapse. [Longman, 2002, pp. 147] This account contradicts the 9/11 Commission’s conclusion that the passenger assault on the cockpit begins at 9:58, because the tower collapse was definitely at 9:59. Only later in the same phone call does Jeremy Glick mention that passengers are still taking a vote on whether or not to attack the hijackers. He confers with others and tells Lyz that they’ve decided to do so, and then gets off the phone line. [Longman, 2002, pp. 153-54]

A GTE Airfone recovered from the debris of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. [Source: Smithsonian National Museum of American History] After Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer has finished speaking to GTE customer service supervisor Lisa Jefferson (see Shortly Before 9:58 a.m. September 11, 2001), he puts down the seatback phone he has been talking on but leaves the line connected. Jefferson continues listening until after the time the plane crashes, yet does not hear any sound when the crash occurs. As she later recalls, “I was still on the line and the plane took a dive and by then, it just went silent. I held on until after the plane crashed—probably about 15 minutes longer and I never heard a crash—it just went silent because—I can’t explain it. We didn’t lose a connection because there’s a different sound that you use. It’s a squealing sound when you lose a connection. I never lost connection, but it just went silent.” She says that soon afterwards, “they had announced over the radio that United Airlines Flight 93 had just crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and a guy put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Lisa, you can release the line now. That was his plane.‘… [E]ventually I gave in and I hung the phone up.” [Beliefnet (.com), 2006] According to a summary of the passenger phone calls presented at the 2006 trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, Beamer’s call lasts for “3,925 seconds.” As it began just before 9:44 a.m., this would mean it ends around 10:49 a.m. [US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006]

Based on information from the plane’s flight data recorder, the National Transportation Safety Board will later determine that Flight 93’s autopilot is turned off at “about 10:00,” and remains off for the flight’s final minutes. [National Transportation Safety Board, 2/13/2002 pdf file] Phil Bradshaw, whose wife is an attendant on Flight 93, will later hear the plane’s cockpit voice recording. Being a pilot himself, he recognizes on it the sound of the alarm that goes off when the autopilot is disconnected. [News and Record (Piedmont Triad, NC), 9/11/2002] CNN’s Kelli Arena will hear the recording during the 2006 Zacarias Moussaoui trial and will report that, shortly after this alarm sounds, “Another alarm goes off.” [CNN, 4/12/2006] According to journalist and author Jere Longman, as well as the alarm set off when the autopilot was disconnected, another alarm “would have sounded because the plane was traveling at five hundred seventy-five miles an hour in the final minutes, far exceeding the design limits of four hundred twenty-five miles an hour below twenty thousand feet and two hundred eighty-seven miles an hour below ten thousand feet.” [Longman, 2002, pp. 208] So presumably this is the second alarm described by Arena.

The transponder for Flight 93 briefly turns back on. The plane is at 7,000 feet. The transponder stays on until about 10:03 a.m. It is unclear why the transponder signal briefly returns. [Guardian, 10/17/2001; MSNBC, 9/11/2002]

According to the 9/11 Commission, the hijacker pilot of Flight 93, presumably Ziad Jarrah, has been rolling the plane sharply to the left and right in an attempt to prevent passengers from reaching the cockpit. At this time, he stabilizes the plane and asks another hijacker, “Is that it? Shall we finish it off?” Another voice answers, “No. Not yet. When they all come, we finish it off.” The pilot starts pitching the nose of the airplane up and down. A few seconds later a passenger’s voice can be heard saying, “In the cockpit. If we don’t we’ll die!” Another voice says, “Roll it!” which some speculate could be a reference to pushing a foot cart into the cockpit door. By 10:01, the pilot stops the pitching and says, “Allah o akbar! Allah o akbar!” (“God is great”), then asks, “Is that it? I mean, shall we put it down?” Another hijacker responds, “Yes, put it in it, and pull it down.” [New York Times, 7/22/2004; San Francisco Chronicle, 7/23/2004]

Potential pilots Don Greene and Andrew Garcia. [Source: Family photos] During this time, there apparently are no calls from Flight 93. Several cell phones that are left on record only silence. For instance, although Todd Beamer does not hang up, nothing more is heard after he puts down the phone, suggesting things are quiet in the back of the plane. [Longman, 2002, pp. 218] The only exception is Richard Makely, who listens to Jeremy Glick’s open phone line after Glick goes 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, 9/17/2001] The second silence lasts between 60 and 90 seconds. [Longman, 2002, pp. 219] Near the end of the cockpit voice recording, loud wind sounds can be heard. [Longman, 2002, pp. 270-271; CNN, 4/19/2002] “Sources claim the last thing heard on the cockpit voice recorder is the sound of wind—suggesting the plane had been holed.” [Mirror, 9/12/2002] There was at least one passenger, Don Greene, who was a professional pilot. Another passenger, Andrew Garcia, was a former flight controller. [Newsweek, 9/22/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/2001; Daily Telegraph, 7/31/2002]

Bill Wright. [Source: WTAE-TV] Bill Wright is piloting a small plane when an air traffic controller asks him to look around outside his window, according to his later claims. Wright sees Flight 93 three miles away—close enough that he can see the United Airlines colors. Air traffic control asks him the plane’s altitude, and 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 will later say, “That’s one of the first things that went through my mind when they told us to get as far away from it as fast as we could—that either they were expecting it to blow up or they were going to shoot it down, but that’s pure speculation.” [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/19/2001] According to the 9/11 Commission, the FAA Command Center tells FAA headquarters that a nearby plane has seen Flight 93 “waving his wings.” The Commission will say, “The aircraft had witnessed the radical gyrations in what we believe was the hijackers’ effort to defeat the passenger assault.” [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] This presumably is a reference to Wright.

Dorothy Garcia. [Source: Darryl Bush / San Francisco Chronicle] Andrew Garcia, a passenger on Flight 93, makes a phone call to his wife, Dorothy Garcia, but is quickly cut off and does not call again. [Longman, 2002, pp. 190-191; Discovery Channel, 2005] Garcia, a 62-year-old businessman from Portola Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area, calls his wife on his cell phone. He is only able to get out one word, her name “Dorothy.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/14/2001; Sun (Sunnyvale), 9/26/2001; San Francisco Chronicle, 12/27/2001] According to Garcia’s son, the line then “got staticky and faded out.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/14/2001]

According to the 9/11 Commission, a Flight 93 hijacker says, “Pull it down! Pull it down!” The airplane rolls onto its back as one of the hijackers shouts, “Allah o akbar! Allah o akbar!” The commission comments, “The hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them.” Presumably the plane crashes seconds later. [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/23/2004] However, there are questions as to whether the voice recording actually ends at this time. Furthermore, there is a near complete disconnect between these quotes and the quotes given in previous accounts of what the cockpit recording revealed (see (9:57 a.m. and After) September 11, 2001). For instance, in other accounts, passenger voices saying, “Give it to me!,” “I’m injured,” and “Roll it up” or “Lift it up” are heard just before the recording ends. [Observer, 12/2/2001; Newsweek, 12/3/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 270-271; MSNBC, 7/30/2002; Daily Telegraph, 7/31/2002]

The cockpit voice recording of Flight 93 was recorded on a 30-minute reel, which means that the tape is continually overwritten and only the final 30 minutes of any flight would be recorded. The government later permits relatives to hear this tape. Apparently, the version of the tape played to the family members begins at 9:31 a.m. and runs for 31 minutes, ending one minute before, according to the government, the plane crashes. [Longman, 2002, pp. 206-207; CNN, 4/19/2002] The New York Observer comments, “Some of the relatives are keen to find out why, at the peak of this struggle, the tape suddenly stops recording voices and all that is heard in the last 60 seconds or so is engine noise. Had the tape been tampered with?” [New York Observer, 6/20/2004]

In the tiny town of Boswell, about ten 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 descend slowly. Five minutes later, they hear news that the plane has crashed. Other witnesses also later describe the plane flying east-southeast, low, and wobbly. [New York Times, 9/14/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 205-206] “Officials initially say that it looks like the plane was headed south when it hit the ground.” [News Channel 5 (Cleveland), 9/11/2001]

Exactly when Flight 93 crashes remains unclear. According to NORAD, Flight 93 crashes at 10:03 a.m. [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/18/2001] The 9/11 Commission gives an exact time of 11 seconds after 10:03 a.m. It will claim this “time is supported by evidence from the staff’s radar analysis, the flight data recorder, NTSB [National Transportation Safety Board] analysis, and infrared satellite data.” It does note that “[t]he precise crash time has been the subject of some dispute.” [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] However, a seismic study authorized by the US Army and drafted by scientists Won-Young Kim and Gerald Baum to determine when the plane crashed will conclude that the crash happened at 10:06:05 a.m. [Kim and Baum, 2002 pdf file; San Francisco Chronicle, 12/9/2002] The discrepancy is so puzzling that the Philadelphia Daily News will publish an article on the issue, titled “Three-Minute Discrepancy in Tape.” This notes that leading seismologists agree on the 10:06 a.m. time, give or take a couple of seconds. [Philadelphia Daily News, 9/16/2002] The New York Observer will note that, in addition to the seismology study, “The FAA gives a crash time of 10:07 a.m. In addition, the New York Times, drawing on flight controllers in more than one FAA facility, put the time at 10:10 a.m. Up to a seven-minute discrepancy? In terms of an air disaster, seven minutes is close to an eternity. The way our nation has historically treated any airline tragedy is to pair up recordings from the cockpit and air traffic control and parse the timeline down to the hundredths of a second. However, as [former Inspector General of the Transportation Department] Mary Schiavo points out, ‘We don’t have an NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) investigation here, and they ordinarily dissect the timeline to the thousandth of a second.’” [New York Observer, 2/15/2004]

Several local people believe they hear a missile overhead just before Flight 93 goes down. Barry Lichty, a US Navy veteran and mayor of Indian Lake Borough (just to the east of where Flight 93 crashes), is watching television with his wife. He says he hears “a loud roar above the house that sounded like a missile.… Shortly thereafter, we heard an explosion and a tremor. My first reaction, as a former utility employee, was that maybe someone shot a missile into the substation.” He says Flight 93 “did not come over my house. I don’t know what we heard.” [Kashurba, 2002, pp. 158-159] Joe Wilt, who lives a quarter-mile from the crash site, hears a “whistling like a missile, then a loud boom.” He says, “The first thing I thought it was, was a missile.” [Boston Globe, 9/12/2001; Washington Post, 9/12/2001] And Ernie Stuhl, the mayor of Shanksville, later says, “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.” [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/18/2001] Officials will emphatically deny that Flight 93 was shot down, as some people later suggest (see September 14, 2001). [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/14/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 264] However, a number of witnesses report seeing a small, white jet plane near the crash site, around the time Flight 93 reportedly goes down (see (Before and After 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

Looking straight down onto the Flight 93 crash site. North is to the top. Note the impact point north of the road, and the burned trees to the south of it. [Source: FBI]A second plane, described “as a small, white jet with rear engines and no discernible markings,” is seen by at least ten witnesses flying low and in erratic patterns, not much above treetop level, over the crash site within minutes of United Flight 93 crashing. [Independent, 8/13/2002]
bullet 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, 9/12/2002]
bullet 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, 9/14/2001] 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, 9/12/2002]
bullet John Fleegle and two work colleagues arrive at the crash site “before any fireman or paramedics or anybody.” According to Fleegle, “When we got there, there was a plane flying up above and he was smart, he flew straight for the sun so you couldn’t look at it and see exactly what type of plane, if it was a fighter or what it was.” However, Fleegle claims the plane “was decent sized. It wasn’t just a little private jet or something like that, from what we could see.” [Lappe and Marshall, 2004, pp. 35-36]
bullet Dennis Decker and/or Rick Chaney, say: “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, 9/14/2001]
bullet Kathy Blades, who is staying about quarter of a mile from the impact site, runs outside after the crash and sees a jet, “with sleek back wings and an angled cockpit,” race overhead. [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/18/2001]
bullet Anna Ruth Fisher says, “After the crash, another jet went near over to look.” Her mother, Anna B. Fisher, adds, “We were looking at the smoke cloud when we saw the jets circling up there.” [Kashurba, 2002, pp. 27]
bullet Jim Brandt sees a small plane with no markings stay about one or two minutes over the crash site before leaving. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/12/2001]
bullet Bob Page sees a large plane circling the crash site for about two or three minutes, before climbing almost vertically into the sky. He cannot see what kind of plane it is or if there are any markings on it, but says, “It sure wasn’t no puddle jumper.” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/12/2001]
bullet 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, 9/12/2002]
The FBI later claims 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 (see 10:07 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/2001] The FBI also says there was a C-130 military cargo aircraft flying at 24,000 feet about 17 miles away (see 10:08 a.m. September 11, 2001), but that plane wasn’t armed and had no role in the crash. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/2001; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/2001] Note that this is the same C-130 that flies very close to Flight 77 right as that planes crashes into the Pentagon (see 9.36 a.m. September 11, 2001).

According to Newsweek, “shortly after the suicide attacks,” US intelligence picks up communications among bin Laden associates relaying the message: “we’ve hit the targets.” [Newsweek, 9/13/2001]

Plane seating for FL11

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