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Day of 911

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Flight AA 11
Flight UA 93
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Flight AA 77
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Complete 911 Timeline

 
  

Project: Complete 911 Timeline

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(9:28 a.m.)

       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 (see (9:29 a.m.)). [MSNBC 9/11/02 (B)]
          

9:28 a.m.

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, directing a video conference with top officials, asks Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Richard Myers, “I assume NORAD has scrambled fighters and AWACS. How many? Where?” Myers replies, “Not a pretty picture, Dick. We are in the middle of Vigilant Warrior, a NORAD exercise, but … Otis has launched two birds toward New York. Langley is trying to get two up now [toward Washington]. The AWACS are at Tinker and not on alert.” This may be a mistaken reference to the on-going war game Vigilant Guardian (see (6:30 a.m.)). The Otis base is in Massachusetts, 188 miles east of New York City. Langley is in Virginia, 129 miles south of Washington. Tinker Air Force Base is in Oklahoma. Clarke asks, “Okay, how long to CAP over DC?” CAP means combat air patrol. Myers replies, “Fast as we can. Fifteen minutes?” Note that according to Clarke, Myers is surrounded by generals and colonels as he says this.
          

9:29 a.m.

      
President Bush speaks at 9:29 in the library of Booker Elementary School.
Still inside Booker Elementary School, Bush gives a brief speech in front of about 200 students, plus many teachers and reporters. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] He says, “Today we've had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country” (see the text of the speech here [Federal News Service, 9/11/01]). The talk occurs at exactly the time and place stated in his publicly announced advance schedule—making Bush a possible terrorist target. [MSNBC 9/22/01; Washington Post 9/12/01; CNN 9/12/01; New York Times 9/12/01; Federal News Service 9/10/01]
          

(9:29 a.m.)

       Captain Charles Leidig is in command of the National Military Command Center (NMCC), “the military's worldwide nerve center.” [CNN, 9/4/02] Telephone links are established with the National Military Command Center (NMCC) located inside the Pentagon (but on the opposite side from where the Pentagon explosion will happen), Canada's equivalent command center, Strategic Command, theater commanders, and federal emergency-response agencies. An Air Threat Conference Call is initiated and lasts for eight hours. At one time or another, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, key military officers, leaders of the FAA and NORAD, the White House, and Air Force One are heard on the open line. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02, 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] NORAD command director Captain Michael Jellinek claims this happens “immediately” after the second WTC hit. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] But the 9/11 Commission concludes it starts nearly half an hour later, at 9:29, give or take a few minutes. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Brigadier General Montague Winfield, who later takes over for Leidig, says, “All of the governmental agencies there, that were involved in any activity that was going on in the United States at that point, were in that conference.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] The call continues right through the Pentagon explosion, as the NMCC doesn't even feel the impact. [CNN, 9/4/02] However, despite being in the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld doesn't join the NMCC or the call until 10:30 (see 10:30 a.m.).
          

(9:29 a.m.)

       Shortly after hearing strange noises from the cockpit of Flight 93, Cleveland flight controllers notice the plane has descended about 700 feet. They try to contact the plane several times, but get no answer. At 9:30, a controller asks other nearby flights on his frequency if they've heard screaming; several say that they have. [Independent Commission Report 6/17/04]
          

(9:30 a.m.)

       The FAA's emergency operations center gets up and running, five minutes after the FAA issued an order grounding all civilian, military, and law enforcement aircraft. [Time 9/14/01]
          

(9:30 a.m.)

      
A typical F-16.
Radar tracks Flight 77 as it closes within 30 miles of Washington. [9:30, CBS News, 9/21/01] Todd Lewis, flight controller at Washington's Dulles Airport, later recalls, “ … my colleagues saw a target moving quite fast from the northwest to the southeast. So she—we all started watching that target, and she notified the supervisor. But nobody knew that was a commercial flight at the time. Nobody knew that was American 77 …. I thought it was a military flight.” [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] Another account is similar, saying that just before 9:30 a.m., a Dulles Airport controller sees an aircraft without a transponder traveling almost 500 mph and headed towards Washington. [USA Today, 8/13/02] In yet another account, Danielle O'Brien, the Dulles flight controller said to first spot the blip, claims she doesn't spot it until it is around 12 to 14 miles from Washington. [ABC, 10/24/01, ABC, 10/24/01 (B)] But there are also accounts that Vice President Cheney is told around 9:27 that radar is tracking Flight 77 50 miles away from Washington (see (9:27 a.m.)), and the 9/11 Commission says the plane isn't discovered until 9:32 (see 9:32 a.m.).
          

(9:30 a.m.)

       As Bush begins a speech in Florida, Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke orders all US embassies overseas closed and orders all military bases to an alert level named combat Threatcon. Over the next few minutes, Clarke discusses with aides where Bush should go from Sarasota, Florida. He telephones PEOC, the commander bunker containing Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice, and says, “Somebody has to tell the President he can't come right back here [to Washington]. Cheney, Condi, somebody. Secret Service concurs. We do not want them saying where they are going when they take off. Second, when they take off, they should have fighter escort. Three, we need to authorize the Air Force to shoot down any aircraft —including a hijacked passenger flight—that looks like it is threatening to attack and cause large-scale death on the ground. Got it?” [Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, 3/04, pp. 5-7] However, when Bush departs on Air Force One about an hour later, there are no fighter escorts, and none appear for an hour or so (see (Between 10:55-11:41 a.m.)). Also, if Clarke requests authorization for a shoot down order at this time, it is apparently ignored, because neither President Bush nor Vice President Cheney give shoot down authorization for another half an hour, at least (see (Between 10:00-10:15 a.m.)).
          

(9:30 a.m.)

       Flight controllers mistakenly suspect that Delta Flight 1989, flying west over Pennsylvania, has been hijacked. The controllers briefly suspect the sound of hijackers' voices in Flight 93 is coming from this plane, only a few miles away. USA Today reports the flight “joins a growing list of suspicious jets. Some of their flight numbers will be scrawled on a white dry-erase board throughout the morning” at FAA headquarters. Miscommunications lead to further suspicion of Flight 1989 even after the source of the hijacker's message is confirmed to come from Flight 93. Flight 1989 lands in Cleveland at 10:10. Eventually, about 11 flights will be suspected, with four of them actually hijacked. [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] The 9/11 Commission later has another explanation. They claim that at 9:41, Boston flight control identifies Flight 1989 as a possible hijacking strictly because it is a transcontinental 767 that had departed from Logan Airport. Although NEADS never loses track of the flight, it launches fighters from Ohio and Michigan to intercept it (see 10:01 a.m. and (After 10:06 a.m.)). [9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04]
          

(9:30 a.m.)

       The hijackers make an announcement to the passengers on Flight 77, telling them to phone their families as they are “all going to die”. They also tell the passengers that they are going to hit the White House. [“When they took over the controls,” Sunday Herald, 9/16/01, “around 9:30,” Cox News, 10/21/01] Given this announcement, why are there no phone calls from this flight except for Barbara Olson's?
          

(After 9:30 a.m.)

      
Right wing author and political commentator Barbara Olson.
About five minutes after Barbara Olson called her husband Ted Olson, the Justice Department's Solicitor General, she calls again (note the timing of both calls is extremely vague.) [About 9:30, five minutes after first call, Miami Herald, 9/14/01] A few days later, Ted Olson describes the conversation: “She said the plane had been high hijacked shortly after takeoff and they had been circling around, I think were the words she used. She reported to me that she could see houses. I asked her which direction the plane was going. She paused—there was a pause there. I think she must have asked someone else. She said I think it's going northeast…. She told me that [the hijackers] did not know she was making this phone call.” [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] She doesn't mention the nationality, number, or other details of the hijackers. Then the phone goes dead, he doesn't know why. [CNN, 9/14/01 (C), Washington Post, 9/12/01 (B)] He also says that she said, “The pilot had announced that the plane had been hijacked. She said it had been hijacked shortly after takeoff.” [Fox News, 9/14/01] Her last words before she was cut off were, “What do I tell the pilots to do?” [BBC, 9/13/01] She had asked this already in her first phone call. [Washington Post, 9/12/01 (B)] Then the phone goes dead supposedly “moments before” the plane crashes [Newsweek, 9/29/01], but actually Ted Olson's timing recall is so vague that it isn't clear if this is when the call happens, and he says he doesn't know why the call ends (see [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)]). The call is originally said to last about a minute [Washington Post, 9/12/01 (B)], but Olson later says it could have lasted up to four minutes. [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] Note that there is some reason to doubt the contents of this call, since the only source appears to be Ted Olson, who has given vague and contradictory accounts, and has stated a willingness to lie to the public (see (9:25 a.m.)).
          

(After 9:30 a.m.)

       Kevin Down, a Sarasota police officer, recalls that immediately after Bush's speech concludes, “The Secret Service agent ran out from the school and said we're under terrorist attack we have to go now.” [BBC, 9/1/02] He adds, “I thought they were actually anticipating a terrorist attack on the president while we were en route.” [BBC, 8/30/02] ABC News reporter Ann Compton, who is part of the motorcade, recalls, “It was a mad-dash motorcade out to the airport.” [BBC 9/1/02]
          

9:30 a.m.

       The three F-16s at Langley, Virginia get airborne. [9:30, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:30, ABC News, 9/11/02, 9:35, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:30, 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] The pilots' names are Major Brad Derrig, Captain Craig Borgstrom, and Major Dean Eckmann, all from the North Dakota Air National Guard's 119th Fighter Wing but stationed at Langley. [AP, 8/19/02 (C), ABC News, 9/11/02] If the NORAD departure time is correct, the F-16s would have to travel slightly over 700 mph to reach Washington before Flight 77 does. The maximum speed of an F-16 is 1500 mph. [AP, 6/16/00] Even at traveling 1300 mph, these planes could have reached Washington in six minutes—well before any claim of when Flight 77 crashed. Yet they obviously don't.
          

9:30 a.m.

       United begins landing all of its flights inside the US. [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01] Note all planes nationwide have been ordered down already (see (9:26 a.m.)) but only told to get down in a reasonable amount of time. Now they're told to land immediately. Ed Ballinger, flight dispatcher for United Airlines, later claims he puts out a Stop-Fly alert to all United aircraft without waiting for his United superiors or the FAA. But he is specifically instructed by superiors not to tell the pilots why they are being instructed to land. [New York Observer, 6/04] American Airlines begins landing all of their flights five minutes later. [Wall Street Journal 10/15/01]
          

(9:30 a.m.)

       Chris Stephenson, the flight controller in charge of the Washington airport tower, says that he is called by the Secret Service around this time. He is told an unidentified aircraft is speeding toward Washington. Stephenson looks at the radarscope and sees Flight 77 about five miles to the west. He looks out the tower window and sees the plane turning to the right and descending. He follows it until it disappears behind a building in nearby Crystal City, Virginia. [USA Today, 8/12/02] However, according to another account, just before 9:30 a.m., a controller in the same tower has an unidentified plane on radar, “heading toward Washington and without a transponder signal to identify it. It's flying fast, she says: almost 500 mph. And it's heading straight for the heart of the city. Could it be American Flight 77? The FAA warns the Secret Service.” [USA Today, 8/13/02] So does the Secret Service warn the FAA, or vice versa?
          

(After 9:31 a.m.)

      
Flight attendant Debbie Welsh is apparently stabbed.
A few minutes after 9:31, a hijacker on board Flight 93 can be heard on the cockpit voice recording ordering a woman to sit down. A woman, presumably a flight attendant, implores, “Don't, don't.” She pleads, “Please, I don't want to die.”Patrick Welsh, the husband of flight attendant Debbie Welsh, is later told that a flight attendant was stabbed early in the takeover, and it is strongly implied it was his wife. She was a first-class attendant, and he says, “knowing Debby,” she would have resisted.
          

(9:32 a.m.)

       A hijacker says over the radio to Flight 93's passengers: “Ladies and gentlemen, here it's the captain, please sit down. Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb aboard.” Apparently Cleveland flight controllers can understand about a minute of screams, then a voice again says something about a “bomb on board.” A hijacker says in broken English that they are returning to the airport. [9:32, MSNBC, 9/3/02, 9:34, , 9:35, Newsweek, 9/22/01] According to the 9/11 Commission's account, the hijacker's voice says, “Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board.” The controller understands, but chooses to respond, “Calling Cleveland center, you're unreadable. Say again, slowly.” Apparently there's no answer. The controller notifies his supervisor, who passes the notice up the chain of command (see 9:34 a.m.). [9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04]
          

9:32 a.m.

       The New York Stock Exchange closes. [MSNBC 9/22/01]
          

(9:33-9:38 a.m.)

       Radar data shows Flight 77 crossing the Capitol Beltway and headed toward the Pentagon. But the plane, flying more than 400 mph, is too high when it nears the Pentagon at 9:35, crossing the Pentagon at about 7,000 feet up. [, Boston Globe, 11/23/01] The plane then makes a difficult high-speed descending turn. It makes a “downward spiral, turning almost a complete circle and dropping the last 7,000 feet in two-and-a-half minutes. The steep turn is so smooth, the sources say, it's clear there [is] no fight for control going on.” [] It gets very near the White House during this turn. “Sources say the hijacked jet … [flies] several miles south of the restricted airspace around the White House.”[] The Telegraph later writes, “If the airliner had approached much nearer to the White House it might have been shot down by the Secret Service, who are believed to have a battery of ground-to-air Stinger missiles ready to defend the president's home. The Pentagon is not similarly defended.” [Telegraph, 9/16/01]White House spokesman Ari Fleischer suggests the plane goes even closer to the White House, saying, “That is not the radar data that we have seen. The plane was headed toward the White House.” [] If Flight 77 passed within a few miles of the White House, why couldn't it have been shot down by the weapons on the White House?
          

9:32 a.m.

       According to the 9/11 Commission, the Dulles Airport terminal control facility in Washington has been looking for unidentified primary radar blips (see 9:21 a.m.) and now finds one. Several Dulles flight controllers “observed a primary radar target tracking eastbound at a high rate of speed” and notify Reagan Airport. FAA personnel at both Reagan and Dulles airports notify the Secret Service. The identity or aircraft type is unknown. [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] But other accounts place the discovery of this plane by Dulles earlier (see (9:24 a.m.) and (9:30 a.m.)), and Vice President Cheney is told radar is tracking Flight 77 at 9:27 (see (9:27 a.m.)).
          

(9:33 a.m.)

       Flight controllers at Washington's Dulles Airport activate a hotline and warn the Secret Service that an unidentified airplane is headed towards Washington. [9:33, Guardian, 10/17/01, after 9:30, MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B), after 9:30, USA Today, 8/13/02] Chris Stephenson, the flight controller in charge of the Reagan National Airport tower, also in Washington, says that he is called by the Secret Service. He is told an unidentified aircraft is speeding toward Washington. Stephenson looks at the radarscope and sees Flight 77 about five miles to the west. He looks out the tower window and sees the plane turning to the right and descending. He follows it until it disappears behind a building in nearby Crystal City, Virginia. [“about 9:30,” but the location of Flight 77 would put it after 9:33, USA Today, 8/12/02] However, a different account says that a Dulles flight controller sees the flight at 9:33 then calls Reagan National Airport to warn them. [New York Times, 10/16/01] Yet other accounts has Dulles find the plane at 9:24 and make immediate notification (see (9:24 a.m.)).
          

9:33 a.m.

       The BBC reports that at this time, pilot Major Dean Eckmann gets a message as he's flying north from Langley, Virginia. “They said— all airplanes, if you come within (I believe it was) 30 miles of Washington DC, you will be shot down.” [BBC 9/1/02]
          

(9:34 a.m.)

       Bush's motorcade leaves Booker Elementary School and heads toward Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. [9:34, Washington Times, 10/8/02, 9:35, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 9:35, Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04] A few days after 9/11, Sarasota's main newspaper reports, “Sarasota barely skirted its own disaster. As it turns out, terrorists targeted the president and Air Force One on Tuesday, maybe even while they were on the ground in Sarasota and certainly not long after. The Secret Service learned of the threat just minutes after Bush left Booker Elementary.” [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/16/01] A year later, Chief of Staff Andrew Card says, “As we were heading to Air Force One, we did hear about the Pentagon attack, and we also learned, what turned out to be a mistake, but we learned that the Air Force One package could in fact be a target.” [MSNBC, 9/9/02] Real threat or not, this only increases the strangeness that Bush wasn't immediately evacuated as some of his security recommended at 9:03. And why would Bush take off in Air Force One without fighter escort if a threat to Air Force One was just discovered?
          

9:34 a.m.

       According to the 9/11 Commission, word of Flight 93's hijacking reaches FAA's Washington headquarters. By this time, the headquarters has established an open line of communication with the FAA Command Center at Herndon, Virginia. It had instructed the center to poll all flight control centers about suspect aircraft. So, at this time, the Command Center passes on Cleveland's message: “United 93 may have a bomb on board.” The Command Center continually updates FAA headquarters on Flight 93 until it crashes. [9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04]
          

9:34 a.m.

       Tom Burnett calls his wife Deena a second time. He says, “They're in the cockpit.” He has checked the pulse of the man who was knifed (later identified as Mark Rothenberg, sitting next to him in seat 5B) and determined he is dead. She tells him about the hits on the WTC. He responds, “Oh my God, it's a suicide mission.” As they continue to talk, he tells her the plane has turned back. By this time, Deena is in constant communication with the FBI and others, and a policeman is at her house.
          

9:34 a.m.

       According to the 9/11 Commission, NEADS contacts the FAA's Washington Center to ask about Flight 11. A manager there happens to mention, “We're looking—we also lost American 77.” The Commission claims, “No one at FAA Command Center or headquarters ever asked for military assistance with American 77.” [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] Yet, 38 minutes earlier, flight controllers determined Flight 77 was off course, out of radio contact, and had no transponder signal (see (8:56 a.m.)). They'd warned American Airlines headquarters within minutes (see (Before 9:00 a.m.)).
          

(9:35 a.m.)

       The Treasury Department is evacuated a few minutes before Flight 77 crashes. [Independent Commission, 1/26/04] Yet, CNN notes that “after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned the military's air defense command that a hijacked airliner appeared to be headed toward Washington, the federal government failed to make any move to evacuate the White House, Capitol, State Department or the Pentagon.” [CNN, 9/16/01] A Pentagon spokesman says, “The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way.” Even Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his top aides in the Pentagon remain unaware of any danger up to the moment of impact. [Newsday, 9/23/01] Senators and congresspeople are in the Capitol building, which is not evacuated until 9:48 (see 9:48 a.m.). Only Vice President Cheney, National Security Advisor Rice and possibly a few others, are evacuated to safety a few minutes after 9:03 (see (9:10 a.m.)). Yet, since at least the Flight 11 crash, “military officials in a command center [the National Military Command Center] on the east side of the [Pentagon] [are] urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do.” [New York Times, 9/15/01] The White House is evacuated at 9:45 (see 9:45 a.m.).
          

9:35 a.m.

       The San Francisco United Airlines maintenance center receives a call from an unnamed flight attendant on Flight 93 saying that the flight has been hijacked. The information is quickly passed on. [Independent Commission, 1/27/04] Within ten minutes, “everyone” in the United Airlines crisis center “now [knows] that a flight attendant on board had called the mechanics desk to report that one hijacker had a bomb strapped on and another was holding a knife on the crew.” [Wall Street Journal 10/15/01]
          

(9:35 a.m.)

       When Flight 93 is over Youngstown, Ohio, Stacey Taylor and other Cleveland flight controllers see it rapidly climb up 6,000 feet above its assigned altitude at 35,000 feet and then descend rapidly. The plane drops so quickly towards Cleveland that the flight controllers worry that they might be the target. Other accounts have the climb occur around 9:35. Controllers continue to try to contact the plane but still get no response. [Guardian 10/17/01; USA Today 8/13/02; Independent Commission Report 6/17/04]
          

9.36 a.m.

      
A typical C-130.
Reagan Airport flight control instructs a military C-130 (Golfer 06) that has just departed Andrews Air Force Base to intercept Flight 77 and identify it. [Guardian, 10/17/01, New York Times, 10/16/01 (D)] Remarkably, this C-130 is the same C-130 that is 17 miles from Flight 93 when it later crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/11/02, Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] The pilot, Lt. Col. Steve O'Brien, claims he took off around 9:30, planning to return to Minnesota after dropping supplies off in the Caribbean. He later describes his close encounter: “When air traffic control asked me if we had him [Flight 77] in sight, I told him that was an understatement—by then, he had pretty much filled our windscreen. Then he made a pretty aggressive turn so he was moving right in front of us, a mile and a half, two miles away. I said we had him in sight, then the controller asked me what kind of plane it was. That caught us up, because normally they have all that information. The controller didn't seem to know anything.” O'Brien reports that the plane is either a 757 or 767 and its silver fuselage means it is probably an American Airlines plane. “They told us to turn and follow that aircraft—in 20-plus years of flying, I've never been asked to do something like that.” [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/11/02] The 9/11 Commission reports that it is a C-130H and the pilot specifically identifies the hijacked plane as a 757. Seconds after impact, he reports, “Looks like that aircraft crashed into the Pentagon sir.” [9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04]
          

(9:36 a.m.)

       Flight 93 files a new flight plan with a final destination of Washington, reverses course and heads toward Washington. [9:35, “turned around near Cleveland,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, “turns off course,”9:36:01, Guardian, 10/17/01, 9:36, MSNBC, 9/3/02, 9:36, “made an ominous turn,” Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 219] Radar shows the plane turning 180 degrees. [CNN, 9/13/01 (B)] The new flight plan schedules the plane to arrive in Washington at 10:28.
          

(9:36 a.m.)

       According to the 9/11 Commission, at about this time Cleveland flight control asks the FAA Command Center specifically whether someone has requested the military to launch fighters toward Flight 93. Cleveland offers to contact a nearby military base. The Command Center replies that FAA personnel well above them in the chain of command have to make that decision and are working on the issue. [Independent Commission Report 6/17/04]
          

(9:37 a.m.)

      
Jeremy Glick.
Jeremy Glick calls his wife Lyz from Flight 93. He describes the hijackers as Middle Eastern, Iranian looking. They put on red headbands and the three of them stood up and yelled and ran into the cockpit. He was sitting in the front of the coach section, but was sent to the back with most of the passengers. They claimed to have a bomb, which looked like a box with something red around it. He says the plane has turned around. Family members immediately call emergency 911 on another line. New York state police get patched in midway through the call. Glick finds out about the WTC towers. Two others onboard also learn about the WTC at about this time. Glick's phone remains connected until the very end of the flight. [MSNBC 7/30/02; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/28/01 (B); Toronto Sun 9/16/01]
          

9:37 a.m.

       Captain Jim Hosking, piloting United Flight 890 from Japan to Los Angeles, is sent a warning message to his cockpit printer. It reads: “There has been a terrorist attack against United Airlines and American Airlines aircraft. We are advised there may be additional hijackings in progress. Shut down all access to the flight deck. Unable to elaborate further.” He tells his first officer, “Get out the crash ax.” Other pilots are receiving similar messages around this time. [USA Today 8/13/02]
          

(9:37-9:58 a.m.)

       The 9/11 Commission discards accounts that Vice President Cheney leaves his office shortly after the second WTC crash (see (9:10 a.m.)). In their account, Cheney enters the bunker underneath the White House around 9:37, but pauses in the hallway before reaching an emergency conference room. Because the hallway has a secure telephone and a television, he attempts to call President Bush, and discovers the Pentagon has been hit. In the words of the Commission, “There is conflicting evidence as to when the Vice President arrived in the shelter conference room. We have concluded, after reviewing all the available evidence, that the Vice President arrived in the shelter conference room shortly before 10:00, perhaps at 9:58.” [Independent Commission Report 6/17/04]
          

(9:37 a.m.)

       In response to an emergency 911 telephone call, the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center dispatches several units to deal with an apartment fire in Rosslyn, Virginia—within the vicinity of the Pentagon. Due to this fire being in a high-rise building, nine different fire and medical service units are dispatched. However, the first engine to arrive radios to the others that the fire has gone out. Consequently, by “sheer coincidence,” at the time when the Pentagon is hit there are a significant number of available fire and medical service units already on the road nearby. [Arlington County After-Action Report, July 2002; Fire Engineering, November 2002] Additionally, Secret Service personnel are concentrated around the heliport a short distance from where Flight 77 will hit: “President Bush was scheduled to fly from Florida that afternoon, and his helicopter, Marine One, would carry him to the Pentagon. That meant Secret Service everywhere and their cars blocking the driveway.” [Scripps Howard News 8/1/02]
          

(9:37 a.m.)

       The blip representing Flight 77 that radar technicians have been watching on their screens disappears. Its last known position is six miles from the Pentagon and four miles from the White House. [, Newhouse News, 1/25/02, ABC News, 9/11/02, USA Today, 8/13/02] Supposedly, just before radar contact is lost, FAA headquarters is told, “The aircraft is circling. It's turning away from the White House.” The plane is said to be traveling 500 mph, or a mile every seven seconds. [USA Today 8/13/02]
          

(9:38 a.m.)

       There are conflicting accounts of what Defense Secretary Rumsfeld does in the 35 minutes between the second WTC crash (see (After 9:03 a.m.)) and the Pentagon crash. In his 9/11 Commission testimony, he covers the time with a “shortly thereafter:” “I was in my office with a CIA briefer and I was told that a second plane had hit the other tower. Shortly thereafter, at 9:38, the Pentagon shook with an explosion of then unknown origin.” [Independent Commission, 3/23/04] In the book Bush at War, Bob Woodward writes, “Aware of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Rumsfeld had been proceeding with his daily intelligence briefing in his office” when the Pentagon gets hit. [Bush at War, by Bob Woodward, 11/02 , p. 22.] However, according to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, Rumsfeld joins a video conference shortly after the second WTC hit (see (9:10 a.m.)) and stays with the conference, apparently from his office. After being told the Pentagon has been hit, Clarke says, “I can still see Rumsfeld on the screen, so the whole building didn't get hit” (see (Between 9:38-9:45 a.m.)). The military response to the 9/11 crisis is being coordinated in the NMCC, apparently located only around 200 feet away, directly below Rumsfeld's office. [Defense Department, 9/15/01 (B), Reuters, 9/11/01] At 9:39, Captain Charles Leidig, a low ranking officer temporarily in charge of the NMCC, is handling a crisis teleconference. He mentions reports of a crash into the opposite side of the Pentagon, and requests that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld be added to the conference. [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] As one magazine has noted, “On Sept. 11, the normal scramble-approval procedure was for an FAA official to contact the [NMCC] and request Pentagon air support. Someone in the NMCC would call NORAD's command center and ask about availability of aircraft, then seek approval from the Defense Secretary—Donald H. Rumsfeld—to launch fighters.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] But rather than join the NMCC conference, Rumsfeld goes out of the Pentagon to see the crash site, and remains out of contact for some time (see (After 9:38 a.m.) and (10:30 a.m.)).
          

(Between 9:45-9:55 a.m.)

       At some point after the White House is evacuated (see (9:45 a.m.)), Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke institutes Continuity of Government plans. Important government personnel, especially those in line to succeed the President if he dies, are evacuated to alternate command centers. Additionally, Clarke gets a phone call from the PEOC command center containing Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice. An aide tells him, “Air Force One is getting ready to take off, with some press still on board. [Bush will] divert to an air base. Fighter escort is authorized. And … Tell the Pentagon they have authority from the President to shoot down hostile aircraft, repeat, they have authority to shoot down hostile aircraft.” However, acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers wants the rules of engagement clarified before the shoot down order is passed on, so Clarke orders guidelines given to pilots.
          

9:38 a.m.

      
The Pentagon explosion.
A C-130 transport plane that has been sent to follow Flight 77 flies a short distance from Flight 77 as it crashes. This curious C-130 is the same C-130 that is 17 miles from Flight 93 when it later crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/11/02, Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] A number of people see this plane fly remarkably close to Flight 77:
  1. Kelly Knowles says that seconds after seeing Flight 77 pass, she sees a “second plane that seemed to be chasing the first [pass] over at a slightly different angle.” [Daily Press, 9/15/01]
  2. Keith Wheelhouse says the second plane was a C-130, two others aren't certain. [Daily Press, 9/15/01] Wheelhouse “believes it flew directly above the American Airlines jet, as if to prevent two planes from appearing on radar while at the same time guiding the jet toward the Pentagon.” As Flight 77 descends toward the Pentagon, the second plane veers off west. [Daily Press, 9/14/01]
  3. USA Today reporter Vin Narayanan, who saw the Pentagon explosion, says, “I hopped out of my car after the jet exploded, nearly oblivious to a second jet hovering in the skies.” [USA Today, 9/17/01]
  4. USA Today Editor Joel Sucherman sees a second plane. [eWeek, 9/13/01]
  5. Brian Kennedy, press secretary for a congressman, and others also see a second plane. [Sacramento Bee, 9/15/01]
  6. An unnamed worker at Arlington national cemetery “said a mysterious second plane was circling the area when the first one attacked the Pentagon.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/20/01]
  7. John O'Keefe is driving a car when he sees the Pentagon crash. “The first thing I did was pull over onto the shoulder, and when I got out of the car I saw another plane flying over my head…. Then the plane—it looked like a C-130 cargo plane—started turning away from the Pentagon, it did a complete turnaround.” [New York Law Journal, 9/12/01]
The pilot of the C-130, Lt. Col. Steve O'Brien, is later interviewed, but his account differs from the on-the-ground eyewitnesses. He claims that just before the explosion, “With all of the East Coast haze, I had a hard time picking him out,” implying he is not nearby. He also says that just after the explosion, “I could see the outline of the Pentagon,” again implying he is not nearby. He then asks “the controller whether [I] should set up a low orbit around the building,” but he is told “to get out of the area as quickly as possible. ‘I took the plane once through the plume of smoke and thought if this was a terrorist attack, it probably wasn't a good idea to be flying through that plume.’ ” [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/11/02] Why does this C-130 get so close to Flight 77?

          

(9:38 a.m.)

      
Internet researchers have put together this image showing how an object the size of a jumbo jet clips a number of light poles and then destroys columns inside the Pentagon. [From website]
Fireman Alan Wallace is busy with a safety crew at the Pentagon's heliport pad. As Wallace is walking in front of the Pentagon, he looks up and sees Flight 77 coming straight at him. It is about 25 feet off the ground, no landing wheels visible, a few hundred yards away, and closing fast. He runs about 30 feet and dives under a nearby van. [“About 9:40,” Washington Post, 9/21/01] The plane is traveling at about 460 mph, and flying so low that it clips the tops of street lights. [CBS News, 9/21/01] Using the radio in the van, he calls his fire chief at nearby Fort Myer and says, “We have had a commercial carrier crash into the west side of the Pentagon at the heliport, Washington Boulevard side. The crew is OK. The airplane was a 757 Boeing or a 320 Airbus.” [Scripps Howard News 8/1/02]
          

9:38 a.m.

       Accounts differ as to how far the F-16 fighters scrambled from Langley are when Flight 77 crashes. The Langley, Virginia base is 129 miles from Washington. NORAD originally claimed that at the time of the crash the fighters are 105 miles away, despite having taken off seven minutes earlier. [NORAD, 9/18/01] The 9/11 Commission claims that at 9:36, NEADS discovers that Flight 77 is only a few miles from the White House and are discovered to find the fighters have headed east over the ocean (see (9:30-9:37 a.m.)). They are ordered to Washington immediately, but are still about 150 miles away. This is farther away than the base where they took off. [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] The F-16 pilot codenamed Honey (who is apparently Captain Craig Borgstrom (see (9:24 a.m.))) offers a different explanation. He says they are flying toward New York, when they see a black column of smoke coming from Washington, about 30 or 40 miles to the west. He is then asked over the radio by NEADS if he can confirm the Pentagon is burning. He confirms it. The F-16s are then ordered to set up a defensive perimeter above Washington. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 76, New York Observer, 2/11/04] The maximum speed of an F-16 is 1500 mph. [AP, 6/16/00] Had the fighters traveled straight to Washington at 1300 mph, they would have reached Washington at least one minute before Flight 77.
          

(After 9:38 a.m.)

       A few minutes after Flight 77 crashes, the Secret Service commands fighters from Andrews Air Force Base, 10 miles from Washington, to “Get in the air now!” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] Why weren't these fighters ordered into the air earlier—Vice President has been aware that a plane was headed towards Washington for at least ten minutes before the crash (see (9:27 a.m.)) so presumably the Secret Service would have been aware as well. Andrews planes were told to be prepared to scramble a few minutes after 9:03 (see (After 9:03 a.m.)), so they could have made the 10 mile distance to the Pentagon very quickly. Almost simultaneously, a call from someone else in the White House declares the Washington area “a free-fire zone.” Says one pilot, “That meant we were given authority to use force, if the situation required it, in defense of the nation's capital, its property and people.” Lt. Col. Marc H. (Sass) Sasseville and a pilot only known by the codename Lucky sprint to their waiting F-16s armed only with “hot” guns and 511 rounds of “TP” —nonexplosive training rounds. The pilots later say that, had all else failed, they would have rammed into Flight 93. Meanwhile, the three F-16s flying on a training mission 207 miles away return to their home at Andrews Air Force Base. Major Billy Hutchison's fighter still has enough gas to take off again immediately; the other two need to refuel. He supposedly takes off with no weapons. “Hutchison was probably airborne shortly after the alert F-16s from Langley arrive over Washington, although 121st FS pilots admit their timeline-recall ‘is fuzzy.’ ”This would mean Hutchison doesn't even leave Andrews until after 9:49 (see (9:55-10:10 a.m.)). His is said to be the first fighter to reach Washington. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] Could the pilot's recall of times be “fuzzy” because they don't like lying? There are multiple reports of Andrews fighters at the Pentagon before and of the above fighters were reported to have taken off. For instance, “Within minutes of the [Pentagon] attack … F-16s from Andrews Air Force Base were in the air over Washington DC.”[Telegraph, 9/16/01] “A few moments [after the Pentagon attack] … overhead, fighter jets scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base and other installations.” [Denver Post, 9/11/01] A year later, ABC News reports, “High overhead [the Pentagon], jet fighters arrive. Just moments too late.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] Yet other newspaper accounts deny fighters from Andrews were deployed [USA Today, 9/16/01], and some deny Andrews even had fighters at all! [USA Today, 9/16/01 (B)] NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold has said, “We [didn't] have any aircraft on alert at Andrews.” [MSNBC 9/23/01 (C)]
          

(After 9:38 a.m.)

       After the Pentagon is hit, fighters at nearby Andrews Air Force Base are still preparing to launch (see (After 9:03 a.m.)). At some unknown point, flight squad commander Lt. Col. Marc Sasseville grabs three F-16 pilots and gives them a curt briefing. He recalls saying, “I have no idea what's going on, but we're flying. Here's our frequency. We'll split up the area as we have to. Just defend as required. We'll talk about the rest in the air.” All four dress up and get ready. One officer at Andrews recalls, “After the Pentagon was hit, we were told there were more [airliners] coming. Not ‘might be’ ; they were coming.” Meanwhile, a “flood” of calls from the Secret Service and local FAA flight control centers pour in to Andrews, as the fighter response is coordinated. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] However, the loading of missiles onto the fighters is very time-consuming, and when these fighters finally take off nearly an hour later, they launch without the missiles installed (see (10:42 a.m.)).
          

(Between 9:38-9:45 a.m.)

       At an indeterminate time after Flight 77 hits the Pentagon, Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is given a note by the head of the Secret Service. The note reads, “Radar shows aircraft headed this way. I'm going to empty out the [White House.]” The Secret Service knows this because they can see what the FAA's radar is seeing. But the note is too late, because Flight 77 has already crashed. At almost the same time, another aide says to Clarke, “A plane just hit the Pentagon.” He replies, “I can still see Rumsfeld on the screen, so the whole building didn't get hit. No emotion in here. We are going to stay focused.” He orders an aide, “Find out where the fighter planes are. I want Combat Air Patrol over every major city in this country. Now.” [Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, 3/04, pp. 7-8, Australian, 3/27/04] However, the scrambling of other fighters takes time. Aside from fighters in New York City and Washington, two fighters take off from Toledo, Ohio at 10:16 (see 10:01 a.m.), and more take off from Syracuse, New York at 10:44. [Toledo Blade, 12/9/01] Other cities apparently remain unprotected until after that time. The Secret Service order to evacuate the White House takes place at 9:45 (see 9:45 a.m.).
          

(Before 9:38 a.m.)

       Representative Christopher Cox later claims he is still meeting with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. They are still discussing missile defense, apparently completely oblivious of the approaching Flight 77. Watching television coverage from New York City, Rumsfeld says to Cox, “Believe me, this isn't over yet. There's going to be another attack, and it could be us.” According to the Telegraph, Flight 77 hits the building “moments later.” [Telegraph, 12/16/01] In another telling, Cox claims that Rumsfeld says, “If we remain vulnerable to missile attack, a terrorist group or rogue state that demonstrates the capacity to strike the US or its allies from long range could have the power to hold our entire country hostage to nuclear or other blackmail. And let me tell you, I've been around the block a few times. There will be another event.” Rumsfeld repeats that sentence for emphasis. According to Cox, “Within minutes of that utterance, Rumsfeld's words proved tragically prophetic.” Cox also claims, “I escaped just minutes before the building was hit.” [Rep. Cox Statement, 9/11/01] However, Rumsfeld claims that this meeting with Cox ended before the second WTC crash (see (After 9:03 a.m.)). Cox himself said that after being told of the WTC, “[Rumsfeld] sped off, as did I.” Cox says he immediately headed to his car, making it impossible for him to still be in the Pentagon “just minutes before” it is hit. [AP, 9/11/01] Another account puts Rumsfeld's “I've been around the block a few times. There will be another event” comment two minutes before the first WTC crash, when Rumsfeld supposedly makes other predictive comments (see (Before 8:46 a.m.)). [AP 9/16/01 (C)]
          

(After 9:38 a.m.)

       By all accounts, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is in his Pentagon office when Flight 77 crashes, though accounts differ as to what he's doing there (see (9:38 a.m.)). Rumsfeld later relates what he does next: “I was sitting here and the building was struck, and you could feel the impact of it very clearly, and I don't know what made me do anything I did, to be honest with you. I just do it instinctive. I looked out the window, saw nothing here, and then went down the hall until the smoke was too bad, then to a stairwell down and went outside and saw what had happened. Asked a person who'd seen it, and he told me that a plane had flown into it. I had been aware of a plane going into the World Trade Center, and I saw people on the grass, and we just, we tried to put them in stretchers and then move them out across the grass towards the road and lifted them over a jersey wall so the people on that side could stick them into the ambulances. I was out there for awhile, and then people started gathering, and we were able to get other people to do that, to hold IVs for people. There were people lying on the grass with clothes blown off and burns all over them. Then at some moment I decided I should be in here figuring out what to do, because your brain begins to connect things, and there were enough people there to worry about that. I came back in here, came into this office. There was smoke in here by then.” [Defense Department, 10/12/01] Versions of this story appear elsewhere. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/12/01, CNN, 12/5/01, ABC News, 9/11/02, Defense Department, 5/9/03] Rumsfeld says the crash site is “around the corner” from his fourth floor office [ABC News, 9/11/02] , but it fact it is on the opposite site of the huge Pentagon. [Reuters, 9/11/01] Rumsfeld says he reaches the crash site “moments after” the crash, which would be an impressive feat given the over 1000 feet distance. [9/11 Commission, 3/23/04] One report even has Rumsfeld pull budget analyst Paul Gonzalez to safety from the burning wreckage. [Telegraph, 9/16/01 (B)] However, Gonzalez later offers his own detailed recollections of pulling other people to safety which fail to involve Rumsfeld in any way. [Washington Post, 3/11/02] Assistant Defense Secretary Torie Clarke, in the Pentagon at the time, says Rumsfeld is “one of the first people” outside [Defense Department, 9/15/01 (C)], and has him outside for “about half an hour.” [Defense Department, 9/15/01 (B)] A Pentagon spokesman has Rumsfeld helping for “15 minutes or so … ” [Reuters, 9/11/01] In another account, he loads the wounded onto stretchers for 15 minutes. [Scripps Howard News, 9/11/01] Rumsfeld supposedly helps at the crash site until a security agent urges him to leave. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] But in his 2004 testimony to the 9/11 Commission, he no longer mentions helping the wounded, merely saying, “I went outside to determine what had happened. I was not there long because I was back in the Pentagon with a crisis action team shortly before or after 10:00 a.m.” [Independent Commission, 3/23/04] But there are no photographs or eyewitness accounts of Rumsfeld outside the Pentagon that morning, except for one photograph of him walking down a sidewalk with some aides. In counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke's account, Rumsfeld never leaves a video conference for very long, except to move from one secure teleconferencing studio to another elsewhere in the Pentagon.
          

9:38 a.m.

       Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. Approximately 125 on the ground are later determined killed or missing. [9:37, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:37, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:38, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:38, Guardian, 10/17/01, 9:38, USA Today, 8/13/02, 9:38, ABC News, 9/11/02, 9:38, CBS, 9/11/02 (B), 9:39, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:40, AP, 8/19/02, 9:43, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:43, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:43, MSNBC, 9/3/02, 9:43, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:45, Boston Globe, 11/23/01, At 9:39:02 on NBC News, reporter Jim Miklaszewski states that, “Moments ago, I felt an explosion here at the Pentagon,” Television Archive, WDCN 9:30] Flight 77 strikes the only side of the Pentagon that had been recently renovated—it was “within days of being totally [renovated].” [Defense Department, 9/15/01] “It was the only area of the Pentagon with a sprinkler system, and it had been reconstructed with a web of steel columns and bars to withstand bomb blasts. The area struck by the plane also had blast-resistant windows—2 inches thick and 2,500 pounds each—that stayed intact during the crash and fire. While perhaps 4,500 people normally would have been working in the hardest-hit areas, because of the renovation work only about 800 were there….” More than 25,000 people work at the Pentagon. [Los Angeles Times 9/16/01 (C)]
          

9:38 a.m.

      
This photo was taken mere moments after the Pentagon crash.
NORAD states the fighters scrambled after Flight 77 took off from Langley at 9:30, 129 miles away, yet when Flight 77 crashes they are still 105 miles away. [Newsday, 9/23/01, NORAD, 9/18/01] If so, that means they must have flown north 24 miles in 8 minutes—an average of about 180 mph! The F-16 pilot codenamed Honey later offers a different explanation of where the F-16s are at 9:38. He says they are flying toward New York, when they see a black column of smoke coming from Washington, about 30 or 40 miles to the west. He is then asked over the radio by the North East Air Defense Sector of NORAD if he can confirm the Pentagon is burning. He confirms it. The F-16s are then ordered to set up a defensive perimeter above Washington. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 76] One of the three pilots, Major Brad Derrig later claims their target destination all along is Reagan National Airport, in Washington near the Pentagon. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Another pilot, Major Dean Eckmann, also later claims their destination all along was Washington. [AP, 8/13/02 (C)] That means either that Honey is the third pilot, Captain Craig Borgstrom, or one of the other two have an inconsistent account. NORAD officer Major James Fox says he dispatches the jets without targets. “That would come later.” [Newhouse News, 1/25/02] But when and where is not clarified. If Honey's account is true, it shows that the F-16s would have been over Washington in time to shoot down Flight 77 if they had been given orders to fly directly to Washington, and not to New York, which was already defended by two F-15s!(Additionally, subtract 8-10 miles (Sidewinder missile) or 12-20 miles (Sparrow missile) from the flight distance required for the fighters. [Slate, 1/16/02]) If Honey's account is true, it also would explain eyewitness claims of fighters over Washington only a couple of minutes after the Pentagon explosion, not at 9:56 when they supposedly arrive.
          

(After 9:38 a.m.)

       An employee at a gas station servicing military personnel later says the gas station's security cameras located across the street from the Pentagon should have recorded the moment of impact. However, he says, “I've never seen what the pictures looked like. The FBI was here within minutes and took the film.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/11/01] A security camera atop a hotel close to the Pentagon also records the impact. Hotel employees watch the film several times before the FBI confiscates the video. [Gertz File, 9/21/01] Neither footage has ever been released.
          

(After 9:38 a.m.)

       Having learned that the Pentagon had been hit, Vice President Cheney telephones President Bush on his way to the airport and tells him that the White House had been “targeted.” Bush says he wants to return to Washington, but Cheney advises him not to “until we could find out what the hell was going on.” According to Newsweek, this call takes place in a tunnel on the way to the PEOC (Presidential Emergency Operations Center) underground bunker. Cheney is said to not reach the bunker until “shortly before 10 a.m.” [Newsweek, 12/31/01] Yet other accounts, including those of counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, place Cheney in the bunker before the Flight 77 crash at 9:38 (see also (9:10 a.m.) and (9:27 a.m.)). [ABC News 9/11/02]
          

(9:39 a.m.)

       The 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.” [MSNBC, 9/3/02] The 9/11 Commission gives a nearly verbatim account. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01, 9:38, MSNBC, 9/3/02, 9:39, Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 209, 9:39, 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] The controller responds, “United 93, understand you have a bomb on board. Go ahead,” but there is no response. [9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04]
          

(9:40 a.m.)

       Newark, New Jersey flight controller Bob Varcadapane is talking on the phone with the FAA's central command center in Herndon, Virginia. He is told there are at least 10 planes they're still suspicious of for one reason or another, all possible hijackings. [MSNBC 9/11/02 (B)]
          

(9:40 a.m.)

       The transponder signal from Flight 93 ceases. [9:30, MSNBC, 9/3/02, after turning at 9:35, MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B), 9:40, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:41, 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] But the plane can still be tracked, and is tracked 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, moving between 600 and 400 mph before eventually settling around 400 mph. [9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04]
          

(9:30-9:37 a.m.)

       The three Langley fighters fly, but just where they go and how fast are in dispute. There are varying accounts that the fighters are ordered to Washington, New York, Baltimore, or no destination at all (see (9:30 a.m.)). The 9/11 Commission reports that, in fact, the pilots don't understand there is an emergency and head east. They give three reasons. “First, unlike a normal scramble order, this order did not include a distance to the target, or the target's location. Second, a ‘generic’ flight plan incorrectly led the Langley fighters to believe they were ordered to fly due east (090) for 60 miles. The purpose of the generic flight plan was to quickly get the aircraft airborne and out of local airspace. Third, the lead pilot and local FAA controller incorrectly assumed the flight plan instruction to go ‘090 for 60’ was newer guidance that superseded the original scramble order.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] However, the Wall Street Journal gives a different explanation, surprisingly from the 9/11 Commission. “Once they got in the air, the Langley fighters observed peacetime noise restrictions requiring that they fly more slowly than supersonic speed and take off over water, pointed away from Washington, according to testimony before the [9/11 Commission].” The fighters that departed to New York City over half an hour earlier traveled faster than supersonic because they realized they were in a national emergency (see 8:52 a.m.). [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04] Yet, in contrast to both those accounts, the BBC reports that just before takeoff the pilots are specifically told that Flight 77 may have been hijacked, and get a cockpit signal indicating they are in an emergency wartime situation (see 9:24 a.m.). All the above accounts concur that, for whatever reason, the fighters go too far east. They don't reach Washington until roughly around 10:00 (see (9:55 -10:10 a.m.)).
          

(9:41 a.m.)

       Newark, New Jersey flight controller Greg Callahan is talking to an FBI agent on the phone. The agent says about Flight 93: “We suspect that this aircraft has now been taken over by hostile forces.” The agent describes the sharp turn it has made over eastern Ohio and that it is now heading back over southwestern Pennsylvania. Callahan says he could tell the plane is on a course for Washington. [MSNBC 9/11/02 (B)]
          

9:41 a.m.

       From Flight 93, Marion Birtton calls a friend. She tells him two people have been killed and the plane has been turned around. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/28/01]
          

9:42 a.m.

      
Where is the security covering Bush in this picture around 9:43 a.m.? [AP] Around 3:00 p.m., Bush is “guarded by soldiers clad in fatigues and gripping machine guns” when he emerges from Air Force One. [Salon, 9/12/01]
From Flight 93 Mark Bingham calls his mother and says, “I'm on a flight from Newark to San Francisco and there are three guys who have taken over the plane and they say they have a bomb.” [9:42, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01 (B)] 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 9/16/01; Boston Globe 11/23/01]
          

9:43 a.m.

      
A thorough security check before boarding Air Force One delays takeoff.
Bush's motorcade arrives at Sarasota's airport and pulls up close to Air Force One. He learns a plane has hit the Pentagon as the motorcade gets near the airport. Bush immediately boards the plane. [Washington Times, 10/8/02, Telegraph, 12/16/01] Security then does an extra-thorough search of all the baggage for the other passengers, delaying takeoff until 9:55. [St. Petersburg Times 9/8/02 (B)]
          

9:44 a.m.

       NORAD briefs the NMCC teleconference on the possible hijacking of Delta Flight 1989. Four minutes later, a representative from the White House bunker containing Vice President Cheney asks if there are any indications of other hijacked planes. Captain Charles Leidig, temporarily in charge of the NMCC (see 8:30 a.m.), mentions the Delta flight and comments, “that would be the fourth possible hijack.” Flight 1989 is in the same general Ohio region as Flight 93, but NORAD doesn't scramble fighters toward either at this time. [Independent Commission Report 6/17/04]
          

9:45 a.m.

      
Todd Beamer.
After having some trouble with his phone, passenger Todd Beamer is able to speak to Verizon phone representative Lisa Jefferson, with the FBI listening in. He talks for about 15 minutes. Beamer says he has been herded to the back of the plane along with nine other passengers and five flight attendants. A hijacker who says he has a bomb strapped to his body is guarding them. 27 passengers are being guarded by a hijacker in first class, which is separated by a curtain. One hijacker has gone into the cockpit. One passenger is dead (that leaves one passenger unaccounted for—presumably the man who made a call from the bathroom). The two pilots are apparently dead. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01, Newsweek, 9/22/01, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01 (B)] (A conflicting version [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] states that 27 were in the back, and that he saw four hijackers) Is Burnett's first class section group in contact with Todd Beamer's coach section group in the back of the plane or are there two independent plans to take over the plane?
          

(9:45 a.m.)

      
Secret Service with automatic weapons directing people away from the White House.
The White House begins a general evacuation. This is about 30 minutes after the probable time Vice President Cheney has been evacuated from the White House (see (9:10 a.m.)). [9:43, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:45, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:45, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:45, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 9:45, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:48, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:48, AP, 8/19/02] Initially the evacuation is orderly, but soon the Secret Service agents are yelling that everyone should run. [ABC 9/11/02]
          

9:45 a.m.

       Tom Burnett calls his wife Deena for the third time. She tells him about the crash into the Pentagon. Tom speaks about the bomb he'd mentioned earlier, saying, “I don't think they have one. I think they're just telling us that.” He says the hijackers are talking about crashing the plane into the ground. “We have to do something.” He says that he and others are making a plan. “A group of us.” [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 111] So there would have been at least 19 minutes advance warning that a passenger takeover was likely, if the contents of these phone calls were being passed on to the right authorities. Even by his second call, the FBI was listening in. [Toronto Sun 9/16/01]
          

9:45 a.m.

       United Airlines headquarters receives a report that an aircraft has crashed into the Pentagon. They learn it is Flight 77. [Independent Commission 1/27/04]
          

(9:45 a.m.)

       According to the 9/11 Commission, about this time, Chief of Staff Andrew Card, the lead Secret Service agent, the President's military aide, and Air Force One pilot Colonel Mark Tillman confer on a possible destination for Air Force One. According to witnesses, Bush wants to return to Washington, but the others advise against it. The issue is still not decided when Air Force One takes off, and it departs without a destination (see (9:56 a.m.)). [9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04]
          

(9:45 a.m.)

       Ben Sliney, FAA's National Operations Manager, orders the entire nationwide air traffic system shut down. All flights at US airports are stopped. 3,949 flights are still in the air at the time. Sliney makes the decision without consulting FAA head Jane Garvey, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, or other bosses, but they quickly approve. [USA Today, 8/13/02, USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] [9:40, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:40, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:40, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:45, AP, 8/12/02, 9:45, AP, 8/19/02, 9:45, Newsday, 9/10/02, 9:45, USA Today, 8/13/02, 9:49, Washington Post, 9/12/01] 75 percent of the planes land within one hour of the order. [USA Today, 8/12/02 (C)] The Washington Post has reported that it was Mineta who told Monte Belger at the FAA: “Monte, bring all the planes down,” even adding, “[Expletive] pilot discretion.” [Washington Post, 1/27/02] However, it is later reported by a different Post reporter that Mineta didn't even know of the order until 15 minutes later. This reporter “says FAA officials had begged him to maintain the fiction.” [Slate 4/2/02]
          

(9:46 a.m.)

       According to the Flight 93 voice recording, around this time one hijacker in the cockpit says to another, “Let the guys in now.” A vague instruction is given to bring the pilot back in. It's not clear if this is a reference to an original pilot or a hijacker pilot. Investigators aren't sure if the original pilots were killed or allowed to live.
          

9:46 a.m.

       Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's office and acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Myers' office report to the NMCC teleconference that they are still trying to track down Rumsfeld and Myers, respectively, and bring them into the conference. [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] Rumsfeld is apparently outside the Pentagon looking at the Flight 77 crash site, though Richard Clarke suggests Rumsfeld is elsewhere in the Pentagon for much of the time (see (After 9:38 a.m.)). Myers' whereabouts in the period after the Pentagon crash have not been fully explained (see (Before 10:30 a.m.)). Rumsfeld and Myers don't enter the NMCC until about 10:30 (see (10:30 a.m.)).
          

(9:47 a.m.)

       On Flight 93, Jeremy Glick is still on the phone with his wife Lyz. He tells her that the passengers are taking a vote if they should try to take over the plane or not. [About the same time as a different phone call, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01 (B)] He later says that all the men on the plane have voted to attack the hijackers. [No time marker, Toronto Sun, 9/16/01] When asked about weapons, he says they don't have guns, just knives. This appears to contradict an earlier mention of guns, but this may be the true account since no other calls mention guns, and the voice recorder doesn't record any gunshots.His wife Lyz got the impression from him that the hijacker standing nearby claiming to hold the bomb would be easy to overwhelm. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 153-154] If the authorities hadn't learned they shouldn't shoot down the plane from Tom Burnett's call two minutes earlier, they should have learned it from this one.
          

9:48 a.m.

       The Capitol building in Washington begins evacuation. [AP, 8/19/02] Senator Tom Daschle, majority leader of the Senate, later states, “Some capitol policemen broke into the room and said, we're under attack. I've got to take you out right away.” Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, third in line of succession to the presidency behind Vice President Cheney, is in the Capitol building with other congresspeople. Only after this time are Hastert and others in the line of succession moved to secure locations. Some point after this, Hastert and other leaders are flown by helicopter to secret bunkers. [ABC News 9/11/02]
          

9:49 a.m.

       In the words of the 9/11 Commission, the commander of NORAD (General Ralph Eberhart) directs “all air sovereignty aircraft to battle stations fully armed.” [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] Apparently this means all fighters with air defense missions are to get armed and be ready to scramble. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke claims that after the Pentagon is hit, he ordered to an aide, “Find out where the fighter planes are. I want Combat Air Patrol over every major city in this country. Now” (see (Between 9:38-9:45 a.m.)). It has not been explained why this order wasn't given much earlier. Calls from air force bases across the country asking to help had started “pouring into NORAD” shortly after 9:03, when televised reports made an emergency situation clear (see (After 9:03 a.m.)).
          

9:49 a.m.

       According to the 9/11 Commission, the FAA Command Center has just twice warned FAA headquarters that United 93 is now “29 minutes out of Washington, DC.” Someone at headquarters says to someone at the Command Center, “They're pulling Jeff [last name unknown] away to go talk about United 93.” Command Center replies, “Uh, do we want to think about, uh, scrambling aircraft?” FAA headquarters replies, “Uh, God, I don't know.” Command Center says, “Uh, that's a decision somebody's gonna have to make probably in the next ten minutes.” FAA headquarters answers, “Uh, ya know everybody just left the room.” [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] This is 13 minutes since Cleveland flight control had asked the Command Center in vain about a military response to Flight 93 (see (9:36 a.m.)).
          

(9:55-10:10 a.m.)

       The three F-16s scrambled after Flight 77 from Langley, Virginia (see (9:30 a.m.)) finally reach Washington and the burning Pentagon. The 129 mile distance could theoretically be covered by the fighters in six minutes, but they've taken a large, mistaken detour over the ocean (see (9:30 -9:37 a.m.)). The exact time they arrive is very unclear. NORAD originally claimed they arrive as soon as 9:49, but the 9/11 Commission implies they don't arrive until shortly after 10:00, though no exact time is specified. [CNN 9/17/01; NORAD 9/18/01; New York Times 9/15/01; CBS 9/14/01; 9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04] Press accounts of when the first fighters reach Washington are highly contradictory. Early news accounts of fighters arriving from Andrews Air Force Base “within minutes,” “a few moments,” or “just moments” after the Pentagon crash appear to have been accounts of these Langley fighters, since they apparently arrive before Andrews fighters do (see (10:38 a.m.)). [Telegraph, 9/16/01, Denver Post, 9/11/01, ABC News, 9/11/02] Yet other newspaper accounts inaccurately deny fighters from Andrews were deployed [USA Today, 9/16/01], and some deny Andrews even had fighters at all. [USA Today, 9/16/01 (B)] Defense officials initially claimed, “There were no military planes in the skies over Washington until 15 to 20 minutes after the Pentagon was hit” —in other words, 9:53 to 9:58. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9/14/01] ABC News reported that by 10:00, “Dozens of fighters are buzzing in the sky” over Washington. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Whereas the New York Times reported, “In the White House Situation Room and at the Pentagon, the response seemed agonizingly slow. One military official recalls hearing ‘words to the effect of, ‘Where are the planes?’ ’ The Pentagon insists it had air cover over its own building by 10 a.m., 15 minutes after the building was hit. But witnesses, including a reporter for The New York Times who was headed toward the building, did not see any until closer to 11.” [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)] It is likely, though uncertain, that fighters reach Washington before Flight 93 would have, had it not crashed (see (10:13 -10:23 a.m.)).
          

9:49 a.m.

       The FAA orders the Pittsburgh control tower evacuated. Shortly before, Cleveland flight controllers called Pittsburgh flight control and said a plane was heading toward Pittsburgh and refusing to communicate. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 9/23/01 (B)]
          

9:50 a.m.

       ABC News reporter Ann Compton is the presidential motorcade traveling to the Sarasota airport. She recalls, “We raced to where Air Force One was prepped and ready to go. The President was hustled quickly on board Air Force One—no waving good-bye, no shaking hands—on board and the door sealed. And the Secret Service agents standing with the 13 of us from the press who get on the rear stairs were yelling ‘move it, move it, move it!’ We scrambled on board the aircraft and took off very, very quickly.” [BBC 9/1/02]
          

9:50 a.m.

      
Sandra Bradshaw.
Sandra Bradshaw calls her husband from Flight 93. She says, “Have you heard what's going on? My flight has been hijacked. My flight has been hijacked with three guys with knives.” [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] She tells him that they are in the rear galley filling pitchers with hot water to use against the hijackers. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/28/01; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/28/01 (B)]
          

(9:52 a.m.)

       According to the 9/11 Commission, Lynne Cheney joins her husband Vice President Cheney in the PEOC (Presidential Emergency Operations Center) bunker below the White House. [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] She had been at a downtown office around 9:00 when she was escorted by the Secret Service to the White House. [Newsweek, 12/31/01] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke describes the people in the PEOC “decidedly more political” than in the bunker he is in below the other wing of the White House. In addition to Cheney and his wife, most of the day the PEOC contains National Security Advisor Rice, political advisor Mary Matalin, Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis Libby, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, and White House communications director Karen Hughes. Clarke is told later in the day by someone else in the PEOC, “I can't hear the crisis conference [led by Clarke] because Mrs. Cheney keeps turning down the volume on you so she can hear CNN … and the Vice President keeps hanging up the open line to you.” Clarke notes that the “right-wing ideologue” Lynne Cheney frequently offers her advice and opinions during the crisis.
          

9:53 a.m.

       The hijackers in the cockpit of Flight 93 grow concerned that the passengers might retaliate. One urges that the plane's fire ax be held up to the door's peephole to scare the passengers.
          

9:53 a.m.

       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, Flight 93). [CBS 9/4/02] 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 (see 12:05 a.m.). [CBS 9/4/02]
          

9:53 a.m.

       According to the 9/11 Commission, FAA headquarters informs the FAA Command Center that the Deputy Director for Air Traffic Services is talking to Deputy Administrator Monte Belger about scrambling aircraft after Flight 93. Headquarters is informed that the flight is 20 miles northwest of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. [9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04]
          

9:54 a.m.

       Tom Burnett calls his wife Deena for the fourth and last time. In early reports of this call, he says, “I know we're all going to die. There's three of us who are going to do something about it.” [No time marker, Toronto Sun, 9/16/01, no time marker, Boston Globe, 11/23/01] However, in a later and much more complete account, he sounds much more upbeat. “It's up to us. I think we can do it.” “Don't worry, we're going to do something.” He specifically mentions they plan to regain control of the airplane over a rural area. [9:54, “again Deena noted the time,” Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 118] Could the early reports of fatalism have been deliberate misinformation to make it appear that the passengers had no chance of success?
          

(After 9:55 a.m.)

       The Langley F-16s over Washington are told that all planes in the US have been ordered to land (see (9:45 a.m.)). According to the New York Times, at some point after this, someone from the Secret Service gets on the radio and tells the pilots, “I want you to protect the White House at all costs.” [New York Times, 10/16/01] F-16 pilot Honey (who is apparently Captain Craig Borgstrom (see (9:24 a.m.)) gives a similar, though less dramatic account. At some point after the F-16s had set up a defensive perimeter over Washington (see (9:55-10:10 a.m.)), the lead pilot (again, Borgstrom) receives a garbled message about Flight 93 that isn't heard by the other two pilots. “The message seemed to convey that the White House was an important asset to protect.” Honey says he is later told the message is, “Something like, ‘Be aware of where it is, and it could be a target.’ ” Another pilot, codenamed Lou, says Honey tells him, “I think the Secret Service told me this.” [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 76] Both Lou and Honey state they are never given clear and direct orders to shoot down any plane that day.
          

(After 9:56-10:06 a.m.)

       Inside his White House bunker, a military aide asks Vice President Cheney, “There is a plane 80 miles out. There is a fighter in the area. Should we engage?” Cheney immediately answers “Yes.” [Washington Post, 1/27/02] An F-16 fighter near Washington heads in pursuit of Flight 93. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01 (B)] However, a different explanation says, “The closest fighters are two F-16 pilots on a training mission from Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Detroit.” These are ordered after Flight 93, even though but they supposedly aren't armed with any weapons. It is claimed they are supposed to crash into Flight 93 if they cannot persuade it to land. [ABC News, 8/30/02, ABC News, 9/11/02] However, Washington is much closer to Flight 93's position than Detroit by this time, and there are already “dozens” of fighters flying over Washington by this time so why send those? In either case, as the fighter (or fighters) gets nearer to Flight 93, Cheney is asked twice more to confirm if the fighter should engage, and he responds yes both times. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Montague Winfield, in charge of the Pentagon's command center, later says, “At some point, the closure time [between the fighter and Flight 93] came and went, and nothing happened, so you can imagine everything was very tense at the NMCC.” [] Yet Major Gen. Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard, had previously claimed that no military planes were sent after Flight 93. [Seattle Times, 9/16/01] And the pilots flying over Washington that have spoken say that all of them didn't even learn about Flight 93 or any plane crashing in Pennsylvania until they returned to base in the afternoon. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 222] There is a lot of evidence that fighters were sent after Flight 93, including the Vice President's claim. Is someone lying, or were the planes coming from somewhere else?
          

(9:56-10:40 a.m.)

       Air Force One takes off and quickly gains altitude. One passenger later says, “It was like a rocket. For a good 10 minutes, the plane was going almost straight up.” [CBS, 9/11/02 (B)] Once the plane reaches cruising altitude, it flies in circles. Journalists on board sense this, because the television reception for a local station generally remains good. “Apparently Bush, Cheney and the Secret Service argue over the safety of Bush coming back to Washington.” [Salon 9/12/01 (B); Telegraph 12/16/01]
          

(After 9:56 a.m.)

       After flying off in Air Force One, Bush talks to Vice President Cheney on the phone. Cheney recommends that Bush authorize the military to shoot down any plane under control of the hijackers. “I said, ‘You bet,’ ” Bush later recalls. “We had a little discussion, but not much.” [“After Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon,” Newsday, 9/23/01, time unknown, USA Today, 9/16/01, “Once airborne, Bush spoke again to Cheney,” Washington Post, 1/27/02, after Bush is airborne, CBS, 9/11/02] The 9/11 Commission claims that Cheney tells Bush three planes are still missing and one has hit the Pentagon. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Bush later says that he doesn't make any major decisions about how to respond to the 9/11 attacks until after Air Force One takes off. [Wall Street Journal 3/22/04] Flight 93 is still in the air, and fighters are given orders to intercept it and possibly shoot it down. [ABC News 9/11/02]
          

(After 9:56 a.m.)

       At some point after the F-16s are in the air, someone from the Secret Service gets on the radio and tells the pilots, “I want you to protect the White House at all costs.” [New York Times, 10/16/01] This must have occurred after Bush gave his okay to shoot down planes just after 9:55 (see also (After 9:55 a.m.)).
          

(9:56 a.m.)

      
Air Force One departs Sarasota.
Bush departs from the Sarasota, Florida, airport on Air Force One. [9:54, Dallas Morning News, 8/28/02, 9:55, New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), 9:55, Daily Mail, 9/8/02, 9:55, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:55, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:55, AP, 9/12/01, 9:55, ABC News, 9/11/02, 9:55, 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04, 9:56, Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04, 9:57, CBS, 9/11/02 (B), 9:57, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:57, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:57, Telegraph, 12/16/01] Amazingly, his plane takes off without any fighters protecting it. “The object seemed to be simply to get the President airborne and out of the way,” says an administration official. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] There are still 3,520 planes in the air over the US. [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] About half of the planes in the region of Florida where Bush is are still in the air. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/7/02] Fighters don't apparently meet up with Air Force One until about an hour later (see (Between 10:55 -11:41 a.m.)).
          

(9:57 a.m. and After)

       “In the cockpit! In the cockpit!” is heard. Hijackers are reportedly heard telling each other to hold the door. In English, someone outside shouts, “Let's get them.” The hijackers are also praying “Allah o akbar” (God is great). One of the hijackers suggests shutting off the oxygen supply to the cabin (which apparently wouldn't have had an effect since the plane was already below 10,000 feet). A hijacker says, “Should we finish?” Another one says, “Not yet.” The sounds of the passengers get clearer, and in unaccented English “Give it to me!” is heard. “I'm injured,” someone says in English. Then something like “roll it up” and “lift it up” is heard. Passengers' relatives believe this sequence proves that the passengers did take control of the plane. [MSNBC 7/30/02; Telegraph 8/6/02; Newsweek 11/25/01; Observer 12/2/01]
          

9:57 a.m.

       One of the hijackers in the cockpit asks if anything is going on, apparently meaning outside the cockpit. “Fighting,”the other one says. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 210] An analysis of the flight recorder suggests that the passenger struggle actually started in the front of the plane (where Bingham and Burnett were sitting) about a minute before a struggle in the back of the plane (where Beamer was sitting). [Observer, 12/2/01] Officials later theorize that the Flight 93 passengers did actually reach the cockpit using a food cart as a battering ram and a shield. They claim that digital enhancement of the cockpit voice recorder reveals the sound of plates and glassware crashing around 9:57. [Newsweek 11/25/01]
          

9:58 a.m.

      
Edward Felt.
A man calls 911 from a bathroom on the plane, crying, “We're being hijacked, we're being hijacked!” [Toronto Sun, 9/16/01], then reports that “he heard some sort of explosion and saw white smoke coming from the plane and we lost contact with him.”[ABC News, 9/11/01 (B), ABC News, 9/11/01 (C), AP, 9/12/01 (B)] One minute after the call began, the line goes dead. [Pittsburgh Channel, 12/6/01] Investigators believe this was Edward Felt, the only passenger not accounted for on phone calls. He was sitting in first class, so he probably was in the bathroom near the front of the plane. At one point he appears to have peeked out the bathroom door. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 193-194, 196] The mentions of smoke and explosions on the recording of his call are now denied. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 264] The person who took Felt's call is not allowed to speak to the media. [Mirror, 9/13/02] If that's true, why is this important fact only denied now, when the FBI got a copy of the recording on 9/11, and let the media report the smoke and explosion story for months?
          

9:58 a.m.

      
CeeCee Lyles.
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 10/28/01; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/28/01 (B)]
          

9:58 a.m.

       Todd Beamer ends his long phone call saying that they plan “to jump” the hijacker in the back who has the bomb. In the background, the phone operator already could hear an “awful commotion” of people shouting, and women screaming, “Oh my God,” and “God help us.” He lets go of the phone but leaves it connected. His famous last words are said to nearby passengers: “Are you ready guys? Let's roll”(alternate version: “You ready? Okay. Let's roll”). [Newsweek 9/22/01; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/28/01 (B)]
          

9:58 a.m.

       Sandy Bradshaw tells her husband, “Everyone's running to first class. I've got to go. Bye.” She had been speaking with him since 9:50. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/28/01 (B); Boston Globe 11/23/01]
          

9:58 a.m.

       According to mayor Rudy Giuliani's 9/11 Commission testimony in 2004, about one minute before the first WTC tower falls, he is able to reach the White House by phone. Speaking to Chris Henick, deputy political director to President Bush, Giuliani learns the Pentagon has been hit and asks about fighter cover over New York City. Henick replies, “The jets were dispatched 12 minutes ago and they should be there very shortly, and they should be able to defend you against further attack.” [Independent Commission, 5/19/04] If this is true, it means fighters scramble from the Otis base around 9:46, not at 8:52 as others have claimed (see (8:52 a.m.)). While Giuliani's account may seem wildly off compared to other many other reports of these fighters scrambling much earlier, in fact it is consistent with reports shortly after 9/11. In the first few days, acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers and NORAD spokesman Marine Corps Major Mike Snyder claimed no fighters were scrambled anywhere until after the Pentagon was hit. [General Myers' Senate confirmation hearing, 9/13/01, Boston Globe 9/15/01] This story only changed on the evening of September 14, 2001, when CBS reported, “contrary to early reports, US Air Force jets did get into the air on Tuesday while the attacks were under way.” [CBS 9/14/01]
          

(Between 9:59 a.m. and 10:28 a.m.)

       At some point between the collapse of the two WTC towers, it is said that fire chiefs order for the firefighters to come down. It has not been reported exactly who issued this order or when. Witnesses claim that scores of firefighters were resting on lower floors in the minutes before the second tower collapsed, unaware of the danger. “Some firefighters who managed to get out said they had no idea the other building had already fallen, and said that they thought that few of those who perished knew.” At least 121 firefighters in the tower die. The fire department blames equipment failure with a radio repeater. However, the Port Authority claims that later transcripts of radio communications show the repeaters worked. [New York Times 11/9/02 (B)]
          

9:59 a.m.

      
WTC south tower collapses at 9:59.
The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses. It was hit by Flight 175 at 9:02. [Washington Post 9/12/01; MSNBC 9/22/01; AP 8/19/02; ABC News 9/11/02; New York Times 9/12/01 (B); CNN 9/12/01; New York Times 9/12/01; US Army authorized seismic study; USA Today 12/20/01]
          

(Before 9:59 a.m.)

       Between 9:25 and 9:45, one senior New York fire chief recommends to the Fire Department Chief that there might be a WTC collapse in a few hours and therefore fire units probably shouldn't ascend much above the sixtieth floor. This advice is not followed or not passed on. Apparently no other senior fire chiefs foresee the possibility of the WTC towers falling. [9/11 Commission Report, 5/19/04] However, New York City Mayor Rudoph Giuliani recounts, “I went down to the scene and we set up headquarters at 75 Barkley Street, which was right there with the police commissioner, the fire commissioner, the head of emergency management, and we were operating out of there when we were told that the World Trade Center was going to collapse. And it did collapse before we could actually get out of the building, so we were trapped in the building for 10, 15 minutes, and finally found an exit and got out, walked north, and took a lot of people with us.” [ABC News, 9/11/01 (D)] As can be seen by another account of similar events, this happens before the first WTC tower falls, not the second. [Independent Commission, 5/19/04] It isn't clear who tells Giuliani to evacuate when no fire chiefs were considering the possibility of an imminent collapse.
          

(After 9:59 a.m.)

       Some time after the first WTC tower collapsed, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke orders all landmark buildings and all federal buildings in the US to be evacuated. He also orders all harbors and borders closed. While he is arranging this, and after at least 10:06, an aide tells him, “United 93 is down, crashed outside of Pittsburgh. It's odd. Appears not to have hit anything much on the ground.”
          

9:59 a.m.

       The 9/11 Commission reports, “An Air Force Lieutenant Colonel working in the White House Military Office [joins] the [NMCC] conference and state[s] that he had just talked to Deputy National Security Advisor Steve Hadley. The White House request[s]: (1) the implementation of continuity of government measures, (2) fighter escorts for Air Force One, and (3) the establishment of a fighter combat air patrol over Washington, DC.” [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] Richard Clarke gave the continuity of government orders a few minutes before from inside the White House (see (Between 9:45-9:55 a.m.)). This is consistent with Bush's claim that he doesn't make any major decisions about the 9/11 attacks until shortly before 10:00 (see (After 9:56 a.m.)).
          

(9:59 a.m.)

       According to Major Daniel Nash, pilot of one of the two fighters first scrambled on 9/11 (see 8:52 a.m.), the fighters over New York City are never given a shoot down order by the military that day. He recalls that around the time of the collapse of the South Tower, “The New York controller did come over the radio and say if we have another hijacked aircraft we're going to have to shoot it down.” [BBC, 9/1/02] However, he says this is an off-the-cuff personal statement, not connected to the chain of command. [Cape Cod Times 8/21/02]
          
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