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Day of 911

Bush on 9/11
Flight AA 11
Flight UA 93
Flight UA 175
Flight AA 77
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Complete 911 Timeline


Project: Complete 911 Timeline

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Showing 101-200 of 358 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100    next 100

9:00 a.m.

       The Pentagon moves its alert status up one notch from normal to Alpha. It stays on Alpha until after Flight 77 hits, and then goes up two more notches to Charlie later on in the day. [USA Today 9/16/01]

(Between 8:55-9:00 a.m.)

Booker Elementary principal Gwen Tose-Rigell.
Just after Bush arrives at Booker Elementary School and is briefly told of the WTC crash, he is whisked into a holding room and updated on the situation via telephone by National Security Advisor Rice. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/17/01, Time, 9/12/01] Rice later claims, “He said, what a terrible, it sounds like a terrible accident. Keep me informed.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] School principal Gwen Tose-Rigell is then summoned to a room to talk with the President: “He said a commercial plane has hit the World Trade Center, and we're going to go ahead and go on, we're going on to do the reading thing anyway.” [AP, 8/19/02 (D)] One local reporter notes that at this point, “He could and arguably should have left Emma E. Booker Elementary School immediately, gotten onto Air Force One and left Sarasota without a moment's delay.” [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/12/01 (B)] Why doesn't he? Note that CIA Director Tenet has already been told it was terrorism (see (After 8:46)) and Bush certainly should have been told by Rice of the three known hijackings at this time, if he hasn't been told already. How could Bush continue to think there is only a single-plane accident?

(After 9:00 a.m.)

       Ed Ballinger, flight dispatcher for United Airlines, sends the same warning to all United flights: “Beware of cockpit intrusion.” Flight 93 replies, “Hi Ed. Confirmed.” But apparently the pilots aren't told why, what happened at the WTC, or that another plane is missing. [“Just after 9:00,” , New York Observer, 6/17/04] One flight controller at the Cleveland tower in charge of Flight 93 at the time later recalls, “I saw controllers step up to the plate and start warning flight crews. This was totally by the seat of their pants. It's not because they're directed to by anybody. It's just, OK, everybody's on alert right now.” [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] Ballinger later says, “One of the things that upset me was that [the FAA and United Airlines headquarters] knew, 45 minutes before [Flight 93 crashed], that American Airlines 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.” [New York Observer, 6/17/04] Apparently a more formal warning reaches Flight 93 later (see (9:24 a.m.)).

(9:00 a.m.)

       National Security Advisor Rice later claims she is in her White House office when she hears about the first WTC crash just before 9:00. She recalls, “I thought to myself, what an odd accident.” She speaks to Bush at 9:00 on the telephone, and tells him that a twin-engine plane has struck the WTC tower. She says, “That's all we know right now, Mr. President.” Despite her title of National Security Advisor, she is apparently unaware that NORAD has been aware there are at least two hijackings in progress for over 15 minutes. She goes ahead with her usual national security staff meeting (see (After 9:03 a.m.)). [Newsweek 12/31/01]

9:00 a.m. (B)

National Reconnaissance Office logo.
The National Reconnaissance Office plans a simulation of an airplane accidentally crashing into its headquarters. The office is located four miles from Washington's Dulles airport where one of the real hijacked planes takes off. The NRO “operates many of the nation's spy satellites. It draws its personnel from the military and the CIA.” The simulation is apparently run by John Fulton “and his team at the CIA.” An agency spokesman says, “It was just an incredible coincidence that this happened to involve an aircraft crashing into our facility. As soon as the real world events began, we canceled the exercise.” [AP 8/21/02; UPI 8/22/02]

(9:00 a.m.)

Flight attendant Renee May.
Renee May, a flight attendant on Flight 77, calls her mother who is living in Las Vegas, using a cell phone. She tells her mother that the flight has been hijacked, and that everyone has been asked to move to the back of the plane. She asks her mother to call American Airlines and let them know Flight 77 has been hijacked. The mother calls the airline. [Independent Commission 1/27/04]

(8:56-9:05 a.m.)

       According to the 9/11 Commission, “Radar reconstructions performed after 9/11 reveal that FAA radar equipment tracked [Flight 77] from the moment its transponder was turned off at 8:56.” For eight minutes and thirteen seconds, this primary radar data is not displayed to Indianapolis flight controllers. “The reasons are technical, arising from the way the software processed radar information, as well as from poor primary radar coverage where American 77 was flying.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Apparently, a radar tower in West Virginia doesn't have primary radar. [Washington Post 11/3/01]

(9:00 a.m.)

       Vice President Cheney later says he is in his White House office watching the television images of the first WTC crash. According to his recollection, he was puzzled. “I was sitting there thinking about it. It was a clear day, there was no weather problem—how in hell could a plane hit the World Trade Center?” His staff members elsewhere in the White House are apparently unaware of the emerging crisis. For instance, his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, sees the television images briefly, but turns off the television so as not to be distracted from a conversation on another topic. [Newsweek 12/31/01]

(9:00 a.m.)

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is at a conference three blocks from the White House when a telephone call alerts him to the crisis. He runs to his car. He responds, “Activate the CSG on secure video. I'll be there in less than five.” The CSG is the Counterterrorism Security Group, comprising the leaders of the government's counterterrorism and security agencies. Clarke hurriedly drives to the White House.

(Between 8:55 and 9:00 a.m.)

Karl Rove [Reuters], Andrew Card [AP], and Dan Bartlett.
Just after the WTC crash, the beepers of politicians' aides are going off with news of the first WTC crash as Bush arrives and enters Booker Elementary School. According to photographer Eric Draper, standing nearby, Bush advisor Karl Rove rushes up, takes Bush aside in a corridor, and tells him about the calamity. Rove says the cause of the crash was unclear. Bush replies, “What a horrible accident!” Bush also suggests the pilot may have had a heart attack. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] Dan Bartlett, White House Communications Director, also says he is there when Bush is told: “[Bush] being a former pilot, had kind of the same reaction, going, was it bad weather? And I said no, apparently not.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] One account explicitly says that Rove tells Bush the WTC has been hit by a large commercial airliner. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] However, Bush later remembers Rove saying it appeared to be an accident involving a small, twin-engine plane. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] In a later recollection, Bush recalls that it is chief of staff Andrew Card who first warns him and says, “ ‘Here's what you're going to be doing; you're going to meet so-and-so, such-and-such.’And Andy Card says, ‘By the way, an aircraft flew into the World Trade Center.’ ” [Washington Times, 10/7/02] Says a reporter who was standing nearby, “From the demeanor of the President, grinning at the children, it appeared that the enormity of what he had been told was taking a while to sink in.” [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] [“Shortly before 9:00,” Daily Mail, 9/8/02, “just before 9:00,” Telegraph, 12/16/01] In fact, Bush has already been told about the crash twice before this (see (Between 8:46-8:55 a.m.) and (Before 8:55 a.m.)). He should also be aware that NORAD has known since 8:40, if not before, that Flight 11 has been hijacked, and since 8:43 that Flight 175 has been hijacked. The New York Times points out that flight controllers learn Flight 77 has been hijacked “within a few minutes” of 8:48. [New York Times, 9/15/01 (C)] Is Bush and his aides putting on a charade to pretend he doesn't know there is a national emergency? If so, why?

(Before 9:00 a.m.)

       American Airlines headquarters in Forth Worth, Texas, learns that Flight 77 is not responding to radio calls, is not emitting a transponder signal, and flight control has lost its location (see (8:56 a.m.)). [Independent Commission, 1/27/04] According to the Wall Street Journal, the call roughly says that Flight 77 has “turned off its transponder and turned around. Controllers [have] lost radio communications with the plane. Without hearing from anyone on the plane, American [doesn't] know its location.” Airline executive Gerard Arpey gives an order to stop all American flight take-offs in the Northeast. Within minutes, American gets word that United also has an airliner missing and out of contact (presumably Flight 175). When reports start to come in after 9:03 about the second WTC crash, one manager recalls mistakenly shouting, “How did 77 get to New York and we didn't know it?” [Wall Street Journal 10/15/01]

(Before 9:00 a.m.)

       Shortly before 9:00, fire department commanders at the WTC Tower 1 advise Port Authority police and building personnel to evacuate Tower 2. But there is no evidence that this advice is communicated effectively to the building personnel in Tower 2. When Tower 2 does make an announcement to evacuate at 9:02 (one minute before it is hit), it is ambiguous advice that everyone may wish to start an orderly evacuation if warranted by conditions on their floor. [9/11 Commission Report 5/19/04]

(9:00 a.m.)

Blast doors at NORAD headquarters in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado.
Deep underground at NORAD headquarters in Colorado, NORAD is at “full ‘battle staff’ levels for a major annual exercise that tests every facet of the organization” named Operation Northern Vigilance. This military exercise, begun two days earlier, deploys fighters to Alaska and Northern Canada to monitor a Russian air force exercise in the Russian arctic. Canadian Captain Mike Jellinek is one hour into his shift, overseeing the Colorado command center, when he learns the FAA believes there is a hijacking in progress and is asking NORAD for support. Northern Vigilance is called off. As the Toronto Star reports, “Any simulated information, what's known as an ‘inject,’ is purged from the [radar] screens.” [NORAD, 9/9/01, ] So, many minutes into the real 9/11 attack, there may have been false radar blips causing confusion. According to Jellinek, the cancellation of Northern Vigilance comes just a minute or two before the second WTC crash at 9:03. The Russians, having seen the second WTC crash on television, quickly communicate that they are canceling their Russian arctic exercise. [National Post 10/19/02]

(9:01 a.m.)

       An unidentified woman in the La Guardia control tower speaks to a Port Authority police officer. La Guardia is one of a couple major New York City airports, and the Port Authority patrol both the WTC and the city's airports. The woman asks the officer what has happened at the WTC, and the officer replies he's learned from the news that a plane crashed into it. [New York Times, 12/30/03] Around the same time, one flight controller in the tower says to another, “But you don't know anything.” The other responds, “We don't know. We're looking at it on Channel 5 right now.” [Bergen Record, 1/4/04] “Nothing on the [later released transcripts] shows that the La Guardia controllers knew that the planes flying into their airspace had been seized by terrorists, or that military aircraft were screaming in pursuit over the Hudson River.” Port Authority officials appear to be equally oblivious (see also 9:13 a.m.). [New York Times 12/30/03]

(9:01 a.m.)

       New York flight control contacts New York terminal approach control and asks for help in locating Flight 175. Different flight controllers scan different altitudes, and terminal approach only deals with low flying planes. These low altitude flight controllers remain uninformed about what happened to Flight 11 until about now: “We had 90 to 120 seconds; it wasn't any 18 minutes,” says one controller, referring to the actual elapsed time between the two crashes. Another such controller says of both planes: “They dove into the airspace. By the time anybody saw anything, it was over.” [New York Times 9/13/01 (F); Independent Commission Report 6/17/04]

(9:01 a.m.)

       Bush later makes the following statement: “And I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower—the TV was obviously on, and I use to fly myself, and I said, ‘There's one terrible pilot.’ And I said, ‘It must have been a horrible accident.’ But I was whisked off there—I didn't have much time to think about it.” [CNN, 12/4/01] He has repeated the story on other occasions. [White House, 1/5/02, CBS, 9/11/02] However, it has been noted that Bush doesn't have access to a television until 15 or so minutes later. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] A Boston Herald article later says, “Think about that. Bush's remark implies he saw the first plane hit the tower. But we all know that video of the first plane hitting did not surface until the next day. Could Bush have meant he saw the second plane hit—which many Americans witnessed? No, because he said that he was in the classroom when Card whispered in his ear that a second plane hit.” The article points out that Bush had told the story more than once, and asks, “How could the commander-in-chief have seen the plane fly into the first building—as it happened?” [Boston Herald, 10/22/02] A Bush spokesman later calls Bush's comments “just a mistaken recollection.” [Wall Street Journal 3/22/04]

(9:01 a.m.)

       A manager from New York flight control tells the FAA Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, “We have several situations going on here. It's escalating big, big time. We need to get the military involved with us …. We're, we're involved with something else, we have other aircraft that may have a similar situation going on here ….” The 9/11 Commission calls this the first notification to FAA leadership of the second hijack. [“Between 9:01 and 9:02,” Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] If this is true, then it means United Airlines headquarters hasn't contacted the FAA despite knowing Flight 175 has been hijacked since about 8:50 (see (8:49 a.m.) and (8:50 a.m.)).

(Between 9:01-9:03 a.m.)

       Flight 175 is an unmarked blip to flight controllers in New York City. One controller stands up in horror. “No, he's not going to land. He's going in!” “Oh, my God! He's headed for the city,” another controller shouts. “Oh, my God! He's headed for Manhattan!” [Washington Post, 9/21/01] Managers at American Airlines' headquarters in Forth Worth, Texas also closely watch radar showing Flight 175 head into New York City. [USA Today, 8/12/02] Yet, according to the 9/11 Commission, no one has notified NORAD about the flight (see (9:03 a.m.)).

9:02:54 a.m.

Flight 175 an instant before it hits the WTC south tower.
Flight 175 hits the south tower, 2 World Trade Center. [CNN 9/17/01; NORAD 9/18/01; Washington Post 9/12/01; New York Times 9/12/01; New York Times 9/12/01 (B); Guardian 10/17/01; CNN 9/12/01; AP 8/19/02; Newsday 9/10/02; USA Today 9/3/02; USA Today 8/13/02; MSNBC 9/22/01; Washington Post 1/27/02; New York Times 9/11/02; USA Today 12/20/01] Millions watch the crash live on television. The plane strikes the 78th through 84th floors in the 110 story building. Approximately 100 people are killed or injured in the initial impact; 600 people in the tower eventually die. All but four work above the crash point. The death toll is far lower than in the north tower because about two-thirds of the tower's occupants get out in the 17 minutes after the first tower is struck (see also (8:55 a.m.)). [USA Today 12/20/01] F-15 fighter jets from Otis Air National Guard Base are still 71 miles or eight minutes away when the tower is hit. [NORAD, 9/18/01] The Otis Air National Guard Base is 188 miles from New York City. According to NORAD's timeline, fighters left Otis 11 minutes earlier. If they were still 70 miles away, then that means they must have been traveling about 650 mph, when the top speed for an F-15 is 1875 mph!

(9:03 a.m.)

Flight 175 hits the WTC south tower at 9:03.
The minute Flight 175 hits the south tower, F-15 pilot Major Daniel Nash says that clear visibility allows him to see smoke pour out of Manhattan, even though NORAD says he is 71 miles away. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] The other pilot, Lt. Col. Timothy Duffy, recalls, “We're 60 miles out, and I could see the smoke from the towers.” They call to NORAD right then for an update, and Duffy relates, “At that point, they said the second aircraft just hit the World Trade Center. That was news to me. I thought we were still chasing American [Airlines Flight] 11.” [ABC, 9/14/02] Duffy again relates, “It was right about then when they said the second aircraft had just hit the World Trade Center, which was quite a shock to both [Nash] and I, because we both thought there was only one aircraft out there. We were probably 70 miles or so out when the second one hit. So, we were just a matter of minutes away.” [BBC, 9/1/02] He asks for clarification of their mission, but is met with “considerable confusion.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Bob Varcadapane, a Newark, New Jersey flight controller who sees the Flight 175 crash, claims, “I remember the two F-15s. They were there moments after the impact. And I was just—said to myself, ‘If only they could have gotten there a couple minutes earlier.’ They just missed it.” [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] But the 9/11 Commission later concludes that the pilots never get near New York City at all at this time. According to the Commission's account, from 8:46 until 8:52, NORAD personnel are unable to find Flight 11. Shortly after 8:50, and just before the fighters take off, NORAD is given word that a plane has hit the WTC. So, lacking a clear target, the fighters take off toward a military controlled airspace over the ocean, off the coast of Long Island (see (9:08 -9:13 a.m.)). [9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04]

(9:03-9:08 a.m.)

       In a series of stages, flight control managers ban aircraft from flying near the cities used by the hijackers. First, takeoffs and landings in New York City are stopped within a minute of the Flight 175 crash, without asking for permission from Washington. Boston and Newark follow suit in the next few minutes. Around 9:08, departures nationwide heading to or through New York and Boston airspace are canceled. [AP, 8/12/02, Newsday, 9/10/02, AP, 8/19/02, USA Today, 8/13/02] The actual order to stop all planes from taking off at New York's La Guardia airport is given to the airplanes on the ground at 9:07. [New York Times, 12/30/03] Mike McCormick, head of a Long Island, New York air traffic control center, makes the decision without consulting any superiors. [ABC News 8/12/02] Also “a few minutes” after the Flight 175 crash into the WTC at 9:03, all takeoffs from Washington are stopped. [USA Today 8/12/02; USA Today 8/13/02] Why is the emergency considered important enough to stop all takeoffs from Washington at this time, but not important enough to scramble even a single plane to defend Washington?

(After 9:03 a.m.)

       Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has recently left a meeting with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld (see (Before 8:46 a.m.)). Wolfowitz later recalls, “We were having a meeting in my office. Someone said a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Then we turned on the television and we started seeing the shots of the second plane hitting, and this is the way I remember it. It's a little fuzzy …. There didn't seem to be much to do about it immediately and we went on with whatever the meeting was.” [Defense Department, 5/9/03] Rumsfeld recalls, “I was in my office with a CIA briefer and I was told that a second plane had hit the other tower.” [Independent Commission, 3/23/04] Assistant Defense Secretary Torie Clarke recalls, “A couple of us had gone into the secretary's office, Secretary Rumsfeld's office, to alert him to that, tell him that the crisis management process was starting up. He wanted to make a few phone calls. So a few of us headed across the hallway to an area called the National Military Command Center [around 200 feet away]. He stayed in his office.” [Defense Department 9/15/01 (B)]

(After 9:03 a.m.)

Brigadier General Montague Winfield.
Brigadier General Montague Winfield, commander of the NMCC, the Pentagon's emergency response center, later says, “When the second aircraft flew into the second tower, it was at that point that we realized that the seemingly unrelated hijackings that the FAA was dealing with were in fact a part of a coordinated terrorist attack on the United States.” [ABC, 9/14/02] However, despite the tenor of this and other media reports (for instance, [CNN, 9/4/02, ABC, 9/15/02]), Winfield isn't actually at the NMCC during the 9/11 crisis (see 8:30 a.m.).

(After 9:03 a.m.)

NEADS commander Robert Marr.
Shortly after the second WTC crash, calls from fighter units start “pouring into NORAD and sector operations centers, asking, ‘What can we do to help?’ ” At Syracuse, New York, an [Air National Guard] commander [tells NEADS commander Robert] Marr, “Give me 10 min. and I can give you hot guns. Give me 30 min. and I'll have heat-seeker [missiles]. Give me an hour and I can give you slammers [Amraams].” Marr replies, “I want it all.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Supposedly, Marr says, “Get to the phones. Call every Air National Guard unit in the land. Prepare to put jets in the air. The nation is under attack.” [Newhouse News, 1/25/02] Canadian Major General Eric Findley, based in Colorado and in charge of NORAD that day, supposedly has his staff immediately order as many fighters in the air as possible. [Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/02] Yet another account says those calls don't take place until about an hour later: “By 10:01 a.m., the command center began calling several bases across the country for help.” [Toledo Blade, 12/9/01] The 9/11 Commission later concludes that a command for other bases to prepare fighters to scramble isn't given until 9:49 (see 9:49 a.m.). In fact, it appears the first fighters from other bases to take off are those from Syracuse at 10:44. This is over an hour and a half after Syracuse's initial offer to help, and not long after a general ban on all flights, including military ones, is lifted (see (9:26 a.m.) and (10:31 a.m.)). These are apparently the first fighters scrambled from the ground aside from three at Langley, two at Otis, and two Toledo, Ohio fighters ordered scrambled at 10:01 that launch fifteen minutes later (see 10:01 a.m.). [Toledo Blade 12/9/01]

(After 9:03 a.m.)

       Controllers at the New York traffic center are briefed by their supervisors to watch for airplanes whose speed indicated that they are jets, but which either are not responding to commands or have disabled their transponders. “Controllers in Washington [get] a similar briefing, which [help] them pick out hijacked planes more quickly.” [New York Times 9/13/01 (F)]

(9:03 a.m.)

       Flight controllers in Newark, New Jersey are on the phone with New York flight controllers and asked to visually find Flight 175 out from their windows. They see it and watch in horror as it drops the last five thousand feet and crashes into the WTC. Rick Tepper (who also saw the explosion of the first crash) recalls: “He was in a hard right bank, diving very steeply and very fast. And he—as he was coming up the Hudson River, he—he made another hard left turn and—just heading for downtown Manhattan …. You could see that he was trying to line himself up on the tower. Just before he hit the tower, he almost leveled it out and just— just hit the building.” Newark immediately calls the Air Traffic Control System Command Center in Washington and tells them they will not land any more airplanes in Newark, in an effort to keep aircraft away from New York City. It is the first step in shutting down the national airspace system. [MSNBC 9/11/02 (B)]

(Before 9:03 a.m.)

       At some point before the second WTC crash, the FAA Command Center sets up a teleconference with FAA facilities in the New York area. Also on the same floor of the same building is “the military cell” —the Air Traffic Services Cell, created by the FAA and the Defense Department for use when needed to coordinate priority aircraft movement during warfare or emergencies. “The Pentagon staffs it only three days per month for refresher training, but Sept. 11 happen[s] to be one of those days.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 12/17/01] The 9/11 Commission later determines that communication between the FAA and the military is extremely poor. It is unclear why this connection, which the 9/11 Commission fails to mention, doesn't help (see 10:17 a.m.).

(After 9:03 a.m.)

       National Security Advisor Rice has just started her usual national security staff meeting at 9:00. Shortly after 9:03, an aide hands her a note saying a second plane has hit the WTC. Rice later claims that she thinks, “This is a terrorist attack,” and then leaves the meeting, quickly walking to the White House Situation Room. [Newsweek, 12/31/01] However, according to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, Rice leaves the meeting for Vice President Cheney's office. Clarke meets her there a few minutes later and only then does she go down to the basement bunker.

(9:03 a.m.)

       According to Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balkwill, just after Bush enters a Booker Elementary classroom, a Marine responsible for carrying Bush's phone walks up to Balkwill, who is standing in a nearby side room. While listening to someone talk to him in his earpiece, the Marine asks, “Can you get me to a television? We're not sure what's going on, but we need to see a television.” Three Secret Service agents, a SWAT member, the Marine and Balkwill turn on the television in a nearby front office just as Flight 175 crashes into the WTC. “We're out of here,” the Marine tells Balkwill. “Can you get everyone ready?” [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02] So apparently some of Bush's security want him to leave the school immediately—why does he stay until 9:34?

(9:03 a.m.)

       The 9/11 Commission later concludes that New York flight control tells NEADS that Flight 175 has been hijacked at this time. The Commission calls this “the first indication that the NORAD air defenders had of the second hijacked aircraft.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Robert Marr, head of NEADS, claims that he only learns a flight other than Flight 11 has been hijacked by watching Flight 175 crash into the WTC on television. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] However, after 9/11, NORAD originally concluded they were notified about Flight 175 at 8:43 (see 8:43 a.m.). Additionally, as Flight 175 crashes into the WTC, Canadian Captain Mike Jellinek overseeing the command center in NORAD's Colorado headquarters is on the phone with NEADS. He sees this live on television and asks NEADS, “Was that the hijacked aircraft you were dealing with?” The reply is yes. [Toronto Star, 12/9/01] This contradicts the Commission's conclusion that NEADS has not yet been told about Flight 175. But even if the Commission's account is correct, Flight 175 lost radio contact at 8:42, changed transponder signals at 8:46 (see (8:46 a.m.)), a flight controller called it possibly hijacked at 8:46 and/or 8:53 (see 8:46 a.m. and 8:51-8:53 a.m.), and a flight control manager called it hijacked at 8:55 (see(8:55 a.m.)). The Commission has not explained why New York flight control would wait at least 10 and as many as 17 minutes before warning NORAD that Flight 175 is possibly hijacked. [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] It would also mean that United Airlines headquarters fails to notify NORAD despite knowing the plane has been hijacked for about a dozen minutes (see (8:49 a.m.) and (8:50 a.m.)).

(9:03 a.m.)

       A manager at Boston flight control reports to the FAA's New England regional headquarters the “we have some planes” comment made by a Flight 11 hijacker earlier in the morning (see (8:24 a.m.)). The Boston controller says, “I'm gonna reconfirm with, with downstairs, but the, as far as the tape … seemed to think the guy said that ‘we have planes.’ Now, I don't know if it was because it was the accent, or if there's more than one [hijacked plane], but I'm gonna, I'm gonna reconfirm that for you, and I'll get back to you real quick. Okay?” Asked, “They have what?,” this person clarifies, “Planes, as in plural …. It sounds like, we're talking to New York, that there's another one aimed at the World Trade Center …. A second one just hit the Trade Center.” The person at New England headquarters replies, “Okay. Yeah, we gotta get —we gotta alert the military real quick on this.” At 9:05, Boston confirms for this headquarters and the FAA Command Center in Herndon, Virginia that a hijacker said “we have planes” (forgetting the “some” ). [Independent Commission Report 6/17/04] It appears Boston replayed the recording of the hijacker saying this about half an hour earlier (see 8:33 a.m.). Other people, such as American Airlines leader Gerard Arpey at that airline's headquarters, apparently learn about this comment before the Flight 11 crash at 8:46 (see 8:30 a.m.).

(After 9:03 a.m.)

       “Within minutes of the second impact,” Boston flight control's Operations Manager instructs all air traffic controllers in his center to inform all aircraft in the New England region they survey of the events unfolding in New York and to advise aircraft to heighten cockpit security. Boston asks the FAA Command Center to issue a similar cockpit security alert to all aircraft nationwide. The 9/11 Commission concludes, “We have found no evidence to suggest that Command Center managers instructed any Centers to issue a cockpit security alert.” [Independent Commission Report 6/17/04]

(9:03-9:06 a.m.)

Bush meets teacher Sandra Kay Daniels.
Bush enters Sandra Kay Daniels' second-grade class for a photo-op to promote Bush's education policies. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] Numerous reporters who travel with the president, as well as members of the local media, watch from the back of the room. [AP, 8/19/02 (D)] Altogether there about 150 people in the room, 16 of them the children in the class. He is introduced to the children and poses for a number of staged pictures. The teacher then leads the students through some reading exercises (video footage shows this lasts about three minutes). [Salon, 9/12/01 (B)] Bush later claims that while he is doing this lesson, he is thinking what he will say about the WTC crash. “I was concentrating on the program at this point, thinking about what I was going to say. Obviously, I felt it was an accident. I was concerned about it, but there were no alarm bells.” [Washington Times, 10/7/02] The children are just getting their books from under their seats to read a story together when Chief of Staff Andrew Card comes in to tell Bush of the second WTC crash (see (9:06 a.m.)). [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] [9:02, Washington Times, 10/8/02, 9:03, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 9:04, Daily Mail, 9/8/02, according to photographer Eric Draper, who is in the room] Note that Card comes in at the conclusion of the first half of the planned lesson, and “[seizes] a pause in the reading drill to walk up to Mr. Bush's seat.” [Washington Times, 10/7/02, Washington Times, 10/8/02] Why doesn't Bush take this opportune moment to leave the room?

(9:08-9:13 a.m.)

       The two F-15s sent to New York City to find Flight 11 are ordered to hover in a 150-mile chunk of air space off the coast of Long Island. There are contradictory accounts over whether they reach New York City before being directed over the ocean (see (9:08 -9:13 a.m.)). Pilot Major Daniel Nash states, “Neither the civilian controller or the military controller knew what they wanted us to do.” [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] At 9:09, the NEADS Mission Crew Commander learns of the second WTC crash, and decides to send the fighters to New York City. The 9/11 Commission says the fighters remain in a holding pattern over the ocean until 9:13 while the FAA clears the airspace. The fighters then establish a Combat Air Patrol over the city at 9:25. It's unclear what the fighters do between 9:13 and 9:25, as the distance between the two locations is unknown but presumably not large. [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] These fighters remain over New York City for the next four hours. [Cape Cod Times 8/21/02]

(After 9:03 a.m.)

       A few minutes after 9:03 a.m., a squadron pilot at Andrews Air Force Base, located 10 miles from Washington, hears that two planes have crashed into the WTC. He calls a friend in the Secret Service to see what's going on. The Secret Service calls back, and asks whether Andrews can scramble fighters. One commander had already anticipated the need, and started preparing weapons for the fighters. But the weapons are located in a bunker on the other side of the base, and the process takes time. The fighters don't take off for about another hour and a half (10:42 a.m.). Meanwhile, there are also three unarmed F-16 fighters assigned to the Andrews base on a training mission 207 miles to the south in North Carolina. These are not recalled until much later, and don't reach Washington until 10:45 (see (10:38 a.m.)). [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold has said, “We [didn't] have any aircraft on alert at Andrews.” [MSNBC, 9/23/01 (C)] However, prior to 9/11, the District of Columbia Air National Guard based at Andrews had a publicly stated mission “to provide combat units in the highest possible state of readiness.” Shortly after 9/11 this mission statement on its website is changed, so it merely has a “vision” to “provide peacetime command and control and administrative mission oversight to support customers, DCANG [District of Columbia Air National Guard] units, and NGB in achieving the highest levels of readiness.” [DCANG Home Page]

(9:05 a.m.)

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is driving up to a gate outside the White House so he can get inside and respond to the crisis when an aide calls and tells him, “The other tower was just hit.” He responds, “Well, now we know who we're dealing with. I want the highest-level person in Washington from each agency on-screen now, especially the FAA.” He had already ordered this aide to set up a secure video conference about five minutes earlier. A few minutes later, he finds Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice in Cheney's White House office. Cheney tells Clarke, “It's an al-Qaeda attack and they like simultaneous attacks. This may not be over.” Rice asks Clarke for recommendations, and he says, “We're putting together a secure teleconference to manage the crisis.” He also recommends evacuating the White House (in fact, evacuation does not begin for another forty minutes (see (9:45 a.m.)). Rice notes the Secret Service wants them to go the bomb shelter below the White House, and as Clarke leaves the other two, he sees them gathering papers and preparing to evacuate. [Australian 3/27/04]

(9:05 a.m.)

       West Virginia flight control notices a new eastbound plane entering its radar with no radio contact and no transponder identification. They are not sure it is Flight 77. Supposedly they wait another 19 minutes before notifying NORAD about it. [Newsday 9/23/01]

(9:05 a.m. and after)

       According to the 9/11 Commission, Flight 77's radar blip reappears on Indianapolis flight control's primary radar scopes after being missing for eight minutes (see (8:56-9:05 a.m.)). It is east of its last known position. It remains in air space managed by Indianapolis until 9:10, and then passes into Washington air space (see (9:10 a.m.)). Two managers and one flight controller continue to look west and southwest for the flight, but don't look east. Managers don't instruct other Indianapolis controllers to join the search for the flight. Neither they nor FAA headquarters issues an “all points bulletin” to surrounding centers to search for Flight 77. [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] Newsday claims that rumors circulate the plane might have exploded in midair. [Newsday, 9/23/01] But the idea they wouldn't look east is contradicted by an account that American Airlines headquarters was told Flight 77 had turned around (see (Before 9:00 a.m.)).

(9:06-9:16 a.m.)

       Bush, having just been told of the second WTC crash (see (9:06 a.m.)), does not leave the Sarasota, Florida, classroom he entered around 9:03. Rather, he stays and listens as 16 Booker Elementary School second-graders take turns reading a story called The Pet Goat, from the book “Reading Mastery 2, Storybook 1.” It's a simple story about a girl's pet goat. [AFP, 9/7/02, Editor and Publisher, 7/2/04] They are just about to begin reading when Bush is warned of the attack. One account says that the classroom is then silent for about 30 seconds, maybe more. Bush then picks up the book and reads with the children “for eight or nine minutes.” [Tampa Tribune, 9/1/02] In unison, the children read out loud, “The—Pet— Goat. A—girl—got—a—pet—goat. But—the—goat—did—some—things —that—made—the—girl's—dad—mad.” And so on. Bush mostly listens, but does ask the children a few questions to encourage them. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] At one point he says, “Really good readers, whew! … These must be sixth-graders!” [Time, 9/12/01] In the back of the room, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer catches Bush's eye and holds up a pad of paper for him to read, with “DON'T SAY ANYTHING YET” written on it in big block letters. [Washington Times 10/7/02] CNN reported in 1999, “Only the president has the authority to order a civilian aircraft shot down.” [CNN, 10/26/99] The pilot of one of the planes flying to catch Flight 175 notes that it wouldn't have mattered if he caught up with it, because only Bush could order a shootdown, and Bush is at a public event at the time. [Cape Cod Times 8/21/02] In actual fact, by 9/11 Defense Secretary Rumsfeld also has the authority to order a shootdown, but he also claims to be out of contact. [New York Observer, 6/17/04] (Note that three articles claim that Bush leaves the classroom at 9:12. [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), Telegraph, 12/16/01, Daily Mail, 9/8/02] However, the video lasts for “at least seven additional minutes” and ends before Bush leaves. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04] The above time is a rough guess based mostly on the Tampa Tribune estimate). Much of this video footage is shown in Michael Moore's 2004 movie, Fahrenheit 911. [New York Times 6/18/04 (C)]

(9:06 a.m.)

Andrew Card tells Bush the second WTC tower has been hit. See a video of Bush's reaction here:
Bush is in a Booker Elementary School second-grader classroom. His chief of staff, Andrew Card, enters the room and whispers into his ear, “A second plane hit the other tower, and America's under attack.” [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)] [9:05, New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), 9:05, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 9:05, Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02, 9:07, Washington Times, 10/8/02, ABC News reporter Ann Compton, who is in the room, says she is struck “So much so that I [write] it down in my reporter's notebook, by my watch, 9:07 a.m.,” ABC News, 9/11/02] Intelligence expert James Bamford describes Bush's reaction: “Immediately [after Card speaks to Bush] an expression of befuddlement passe[s] across the President's face. Then, having just been told that the country was under attack, the Commander in Chief appear[s] uninterested in further details. He never ask[s] if there had been any additional threats, where the attacks were coming from, how to best protect the country from further attacks…. Instead, in the middle of a modern-day Pearl Harbor, he simply turn[s] back to the matter at hand: the day's photo op.” [Body of Secrets, James Bamford, 4/02 edition, p. 633] Bush continues listening to the goat story. Then, in an event noticeable in its absence, as one newspaper put it, “For some reason, Secret Service agents [do] not bustle him away.” [Globe and Mail, 9/12/01] Bush later says of the experience, “I am very aware of the cameras. I'm trying to absorb that knowledge. I have nobody to talk to. I'm sitting in the midst of a classroom with little kids, listening to a children's story and I realize I'm the Commander in Chief and the country has just come under attack.”[Telegraph, 12/16/01] Bush continues to listen to the goat story for about ten more minutes (see (9:06-9:16 a.m.)). The reason given is that, “Without all the facts at hand, George Bush ha[s] no intention of upsetting the schoolchildren who had come to read for him.” [MSNBC, 10/29/02] Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is only three and a half miles away, and in fact the elementary school was chosen as the location for a photo op partly because of its closeness to the airport. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/12/02] Why doesn't the Secret Service move Bush away from his known location?

9:06 a.m.

       All air traffic facilities nationwide are notified that the Flight 11 crash into the WTC was probably a hijacking. [House Committee 9/21/01; Newsday 9/23/01]

9:09 a.m.

       Supposedly, NORAD orders F-16s at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, on battle stations alert. Around this time, the FAA command center reports 11 aircraft either not in communication with FAA facilities, or flying unexpected routes. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] The 9/11 Commission also later concludes that the battle stations alert happens at this time. They claim the alert is not to protect Washington, but because there's concern that the fighters over New York City will run low on fuel and need to be replaced. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] But one pilot account says the battle stations alert doesn't happen until 9:21, and another pilot account says 9:24 (see 9:21 a.m. and9:24 a.m.).

9:09 a.m.

       Indianapolis fight control reports the loss of contact with Flight 77 to the FAA regional center. They describe it as a possible crash. This center waits 16 minutes before passing the information to FAA headquarters (see 9:25 a.m.). [Washington Post, 11/3/01, Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] However, American Airlines headquarters has been notified of the same information before 9:00 (see (Before 9:00 a.m.)).

9:10 a.m.

       According to released transcripts, a caller from the Port Authority police desk tells a La Guardia Airport control tower employee, that “they are considering [the crashes into the WTC] a criminal act.” the control tower employee replies, “We believe that, and we are holding all aircraft on the ground.”[AP, 12/29/03] La Guardia is one of a couple major New York City airports, and the Port Authority patrol both the WTC and the city's airports.

(9:10 a.m.)

       Roughly at this time, Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke reaches the Secure Video Conferencing Center next to the Situation Room in the West Wing of the White House. From there, he directs the response to the 9/11 attacks and stays in contact with other top officials through video links. On video are Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, CIA Director Tenet, FBI Director Mueller, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson (filling in for the traveling Attorney General Ashcroft), Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (filling in for the traveling Secretary of State Powell), and Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers (filling in for the traveling Chairman Henry Shelton). National Security Advisor Rice is with Clarke, but she lets Clarke run the crisis response, deferring to his longer experience on terrorism matters. Clarke is also told by an aide, “We're on the line with NORAD, on an air threat conference call.” [Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, 3/04, pp. 2-4, Australian, 3/27/04] The 9/11 Commission acknowledges the existence of this conference, but only gives it one sentence in a staff report about the day of 9/11: “The White House Situation Room initiated a video teleconference, chaired by Richard Clarke. While important, it had no immediate effect on the emergency defense efforts.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Yet, as the Washington Post puts it, “everyone seems to agree” Clarke is the chief crisis manager on 9/11. [Washington Post, 3/28/04 (B)] Even his later opponent, National Security Advisor Rice, calls him 9/11's “crisis management guy.” [UPI, 4/10/04] The conference is where the government's emergency defense efforts are concentrated (see for instance (Between 9:15-9:25 a.m.), 9:28 a.m., (9:30 a.m.), and (Between 9:38-9:45 a.m.)).

(Between 9:15-9:25 a.m.)

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke begins a crisis response video conference by asking FAA Administrator Jane Garvey what she knows. Garvey replies, “The two aircraft that went in [to the WTC] were American flight 11, a 767, and United 175, also a 767. Hijacked.” She says that she has put a hold on all takeoffs and landings in New York and Washington, then states, “We have reports of eleven aircraft off course or out of communications.” Clarke and Garvey discuss the feasibility of canceling all takeoffs nationally, and grounding all planes in the air. Garvey says it is possible, but will take time.

(9:10 a.m.)

       Roughly at this time, Vice President Cheney goes from his White House office to the PEOC, the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, a bunker in the East Wing of the White House. National Security Advisor Rice, after initiating a video conference with Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke in the West Wing, goes to the PEOC to be with Cheney. There is no video link between response centers in the East and West Wings, but a secure telephone line is used instead.

(9:10 a.m.)

       Washington flight control notices a new eastbound plane entering its radar with no radio contact and no transponder identification. They don't realize it is Flight 77. They are aware of the hijackings and crashes of Flights 11 and 175, Yet apparently they fail to notify anyone about the unidentified plane. [“About 9:05” , Newsday, 9/23/01, 9:10, Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] Another report says they never notice it, and it is only noticed when it enters radar coverage of Washington's Dulles International Airport at 9:24 (see (9:24 a.m.). [Washington Post 11/3/01]

(9:10 a.m.)

Vice President Cheney (pointing finger) with Rice and others in the underground bunker Cheney was carried into. This facility is called the Presidential Emergency Operations Center.
According to counterterrorism "tsar" Richard Clarke and others, Vice President Cheney goes from his White House office to the PEOC, the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, a bunker in the East Wing of the White House at about this time. National Security Advisor Rice, after initiating a video conference with Counterterrorism "tsar" Richard Clarke in the West Wing, goes to the PEOC to be with Cheney. There is no video link between response centers in the East and West Wings, but a secure telephone line is used instead. [Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, 3/04, pp. 3-4, "Just after 9:00," ABC, 9/14/02 (B), around 9:06 when Bush is being told of the second WTC hit, New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), same time Bush is being told,Telegraph, 12/16/01] One eyewitness account, David Bohrer, a White House photographer, says it takes place just after 9:00. [ABC, 9/14/02 (B)] However, there is a second account claiming that Cheney doesn't leave until sometime after 9:30. In this account, Secret Service agents burst into Vice President Cheney's White House office. They carry him under his arms—nearly lifting him off the ground—and propel him down the steps into the White House basement and through a long tunnel toward an underground bunker. [shortly after Bush's speech at 9:30, CBS, 9/11/02, 9:32, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:33, BBC, 9/1/02, 9:35, Newsweek, 12/31/01, after 9:33, New York Times, 10/16/01, after 9:30, MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B), “just before 9:36,” 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] At about the same time, National Security Advisor Rice is told to go to the bunker as well. [ABC News, 9/11/02] In addition to the eyewitness accounts of Clarke and Bohrer, ABC News claims that Cheney is in the bunker when he is told Flight 77 is 50 miles away from Washington at 9:27, suggesting that accounts of Cheney entering the bunker after 9:27 are likely incorrect (see ).

9:13 a.m.

       A flight controller at La Guardia Airport in New York City is called by a Port Authority police officer. The officer asks, “They are inquiring whether or not you can call Kennedy's tower, because they can't get through, and inquire whether or not they had any contact with these aircrafts.” The flight controller responds, “At this time, we do not think that anyone in the F.A.A. had any contact with them.”[New York Times, 12/30/03] “Kennedy” is a reference to John. F. Kennedy Airport, another major airport in New York City. Port Authority police, who patrol both the WTC and the airports, seek information from the controllers about the hijackers. But the controllers are unable to offer any news (see also (9:01 a.m.)). [New York Times 12/30/03]

9:15 a.m.

       American Airlines orders no new takeoffs in the US; United Airlines follows suit five minutes later. [Wall Street Journal 10/15/01]

(Between 9:16-9:29 a.m.)

Bush in a holding room before giving his speech. Communications director Dan Bartlett points to the TV, and the clock reads 9:25.
Bush works with his staff to prepare a speech he will deliver at 9:29. He intermittently watches the television coverage in the room. [Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02] He also speaks on the phone to advisors, first calling National Security Advisor Rice, then Vice President Cheney, then New York Governor George Pataki. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] Bush often turns to look at a TV screen. He declares, “We're at war.” [BBC, 9/1/02] This would have been a good time to discuss if hijacked planes should be shot down or not, but apparently that conversation doesn't happen until after 9:55.

(9:16 a.m.)

       According to a NORAD timeline from a week after 9/11, NORAD claims that Flight 93 may have been hijacked at this time. The timeline inexplicably fails to say when the FAA told them about the hijack, the only flight for which they fail to provide this data. [CNN, 9/17/01, NORAD, 9/18/01] However, there may be one explanation: there are media reports that “investigators had determined from the cockpit voice recorder from United Airlines Flight 93 … that one of the four hijackers had been invited into the cockpit area before the flight took off from Newark, New Jersey.” Cockpit voice recordings indicate that the pilots believed their guest was a colleague “and was thereby extended the typical airline courtesy of allowing any pilot from any airline to join a flight by sitting in the jumpseat, the folded over extra seat located inside the cockpit.” [Fox News, 9/24/01, Herald Sun, 9/25/01] But this account hasn't been confirmed. The 9/11 Commission asserts the hijacking begins around 9:28 (see (9:28 a.m.)).

(9:16 a.m.)

Bush with his Pet Goat book in Sandra Kay Daniels' elementary school classroom.
Bush leaves the Sarasota classroom where he has been since about 9:03. The children finish their lessons and put away their readers. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Bush advises the children to stay in school and be good citizens. [Tampa Tribune, 9/1/02, St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02 (B)] He also tells the children, “Thank you all so very much for showing me your reading skills.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] One student also asks Bush a question, and Bush gives a quick response on his education policy. [New York Post, 9/12/02] A reporter asks, “Mr. President, are you aware of the reports of the plane crash in New York? Is there any… ” This question is interrupted by an aide who has come into the room, saying, “All right. Thank you. If everyone could please step outside.” Bush then says, “We'll talk about it later.” [CBS, 9/11/02 (B)] Bush then tells school principal Gwen Tose-Rigell, who is in the room, about the terror attacks and why he has to leave. [Washington Times, 10/7/02] He then goes into an empty classroom next door and meets with his staff there. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Bush's program with the children was supposed to start at 9:00 and end 20 minutes later. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/16/01] So he leaves the classroom only a couple of minutes earlier than planned, if at all (as the goodbyes and questions on the way out may have taken another minute or two).

9:17 a.m.

       The FAA shuts down all New York City area airports. [CNN, 9/12/01, New York Times, 9/12/01] A flight controller at La Guardia airport reports the taxiways, runways, and airspace completely clear at 9:37. [New York Times 12/30/03]

(9:18 a.m.)

       The FAA Command Center finally issues a nationwide alert to flight controllers to watch for planes disappearing from radar or making unauthorized course changes. [Washington Post 11/3/01]

(9:20 a.m.)

       According to the 9/11 Commission, Indianapolis flight control learns by this time that there are other hijacked aircraft (presumably at least Flights 11 and 175). Those crashes have been known to millions of people since CNN and all other media began broadcasting images from New York at 8:48 (see 8:48 a.m.), but somehow Indianapolis is supposedly unaware until this time. The Indianapolis flight controllers begin to doubt their assumption that Flight 77 has crashed and consider that it might be hijacked. After a discussion between the Indianapolis manager and the FAA Command Center, the Command Center notifies some other FAA facilities that Flight 77 is lost. By 9:21, the Command Center, some FAA field facilities, and American Airlines join the search for Flight 77. [Independent Commission Report 6/17/04]

(9:20 a.m.)

       The FAA sets up a hijacking teleconference with several agencies, including the Defense Department. This is almost one hour after the FAA's Boston flight control notified other flight control centers about the first hijacking (see 8:25 a.m.). Yet even after this delay, FAA and Defense Department participants in the teleconference later claim it plays no role in coordinating the response to the hijackings. [Independent Commission Report 6/17/04]

9:21 a.m.

       Major Dean Eckmann, an F-16 fight pilot at Langley, Virginia, recalls, “The scramble horn goes off and we get the yellow light, which is our battle stations. So at that point I go running out to the airplanes—to my assigned alert airplane—get suited up and I get into the cockpit ready to start.” [BBC, 9/1/02] A few minutes before the battle stations order, Eckmann is told that the WTC has been hit by a plane. He assumes it's some kind of accident. [AP, 8/19/02 (C)] However, another pilot, codenamed Honey (apparently Craig Borgstrom), claims the battle stations command happens at 9:24 (see (9:24 a.m.) while the 9/11 Commission claims it happens at 9:09 (see 9:09 a.m.).

9:21 a.m.

       The New York City Port Authority closes all bridges and tunnels in New York City. [MSNBC 9/22/01; CNN 9/12/01; New York Times 9/12/01; AP 8/19/02]

9:21 a.m.

       According to the 9/11 Commission, the FAA Command Center advises the Dulles Airport terminal control facility in Washington to look for primary targets. [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] By at least one account, Dulles notices Flight 77 a few minutes later (see (9:24 a.m.)).

9:21 a.m.

       According to the 9/11 Commission, NORAD's NEADS is contacted by Boston flight control. A controller says, “I just had a report that American 11 is still in the air, and it's on its way towards—heading towards Washington …. That was another—it was evidently another aircraft that hit the tower. That's the latest report we have …. I'm going to try to confirm an ID for you, but I would assume he's somewhere over, uh, either New Jersey or somewhere further south.” The NEADS official asks, “He—American 11 is a hijack? … And he's heading into Washington?” The Boston controller answers yes both times and adds, “This could be a third aircraft.” Somehow Boston is told by FAA headquarters that Flight 11 is still airborne, but the Commission hasn't been able to find where this mistaken information came from. [Independent Commission Report 6/17/04]

9:23 a.m.

       According to the 9/11 Commission, NEADS has just been told that the hijacked Flight 11 is still in the air and heading toward Washington. The NEADS Battle Commander says, “Okay, uh, American Airlines is still airborne. Eleven, the first guy, he's heading towards Washington. Okay? I think we need to scramble Langley right now. And I'm gonna take the fighters from Otis, try to chase this guy down if I can find him.” The NEADS Mission Crew Commander issues the order, “Okay … scramble Langley. Head them towards the Washington area.” The Langley, Virginia base gets the scramble order at 9:24 (see (9:24 a.m.)). NEADS keeps their fighters from the Otis base over New York City. [9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04]

(9:24 a.m.)

       At 9:21, United dispatchers are told to advise their flights to secure cockpit doors. At 9:24, a United dispatcher sends an electronic message to Flight 93 reading: “Beware of cockpit intrusion. Two aircraft in New York hit Trade Center buildings.” Flight 93 acknowledges the message two minutes later. This is the last vocal contact from the cockpit of Flight 93. [Independent Commission, 1/27/04] Note that apparently this warning is in addition to an informal one that reaches Flight 93 earlier (see (After 9:00 a.m.)).

(9:24 a.m.)

       Shortly after 9/11, NORAD reported that the FAA notified them at this time that Flight 77 “may” have been hijacked and appears to be headed toward Washington. [9:24, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:24, AP, 8/19/02, 9:25, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:25, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:25, Guardian, 10/17/01] Apparently flight controllers at Dulles International Airport discover a plane heading at a high speed toward Washington, and sound an alert within moments that the plane appears to be headed toward the White House. [Washington Post, 11/3/01] In 2003, the FAA supported this account, but claimed that they had informally notified NORAD earlier. “NORAD logs indicate that the FAA made formal notification about American Flight 77 at 9:24 a.m., but information about the flight was conveyed continuously during the phone bridges before the formal notification.” [FAA, 5/22/03] Yet in 2004 the 9/11 Commission claims that both NORAD and the FAA are wrong, and NORAD is never notified by the FAA, but accidentally learns about Flight 77 at 9:34 (see 9:34 a.m.).

(9:24 a.m.)

       The BBC later reports that at this time, Robert Marr, head of NEADS, gives the scramble order to the F-16 fighters based in Langley, Virginia: “North East sectors back on. We ought to be getting the weapons crews back in. Get the scramble order rolling. Scramble.” [BBC, 9/1/02] The 9/11 Commission concurs that the scramble order is given now. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] NORAD also has agreed. [NORAD, 9/18/01] However, many media reports have placed it later (for instance: 9:27, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:25, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:35, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:35, Washington Post, 9/15/01). A pilot codenamed Honey gives a slightly different account. He claims that at this time a battle stations alert sounds, and two other pilots are given the order to climb into their F-16s and await further instructions. Then, Honey, who is the supervising pilot, talks to the two other pilots. Then, “five or ten minutes later,” a person from NORAD calls, and Honey speaks to him at the nearby administrative office. He is told that all three of them are ordered to scramble. Honey goes to his living quarters, grabs his flight gear, puts it on, runs to his plane, and takes off. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 64-65] Honey appears to be the codename for Captain Craig Borgstrom, because in another account it is Borgstrom who is given an alert and then talks to the two other pilots. [AP, 8/19/02 (C)] A different pilot account has the battle stations warning three minutes earlier (see 9:21 a.m.), while the 9/11 Commission claims that it happens fifteen minutes earlier (see 9:09 a.m.). Pilot Major Dean Eckmann recalls, “They go ‘active air scramble, vector zero one zero one, max speed'. And then I push us over to the tower frequency and get our departure clearance and they launch us out right away …. We can carry M9-Heat Seekers, Side Winders for the M7-Sparrow, plus we have an internal 20mm Vulcan Cannon, and we were pretty much armed with all that. We had a pretty quick response time. I believe it was four to five minutes we were airborne from that point.’ ” The BBC reports, “Even while last minute pre-launch checks are being made, the controllers learn that a third plane —American Airlines flight 77 out of Washington—may have been hijacked.” Just before the fighters take off, the BBC says, “The pilots get a signal over the plane's transponder—a code that indicates an emergency wartime situation.” [BBC 9/1/02]

9:24 a.m.

       The FAA notifies NORAD that Flight 77 “may” have been hijacked and appears to be headed toward Washington. [9:24, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:24, AP, 8/19/02, 9:25, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:25, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:25, Guardian, 10/17/01] This notification is 34 MINUTES after flight control lost contact with the plane and well after two planes have crashed, and even then the FAA only says “may”? Is such a long delay believable, or has that information been doctored to cover the lack of any scrambling of fighters? 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 14 minutes later. [Newsday, 9/23/01] Most 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 (C)] Is it believable that everyone in the Pentagon outside of that command center, even the Secretary of Defense, would remain uninformed?

9:25 a.m.

       According to the 9/11 Commission, the FAA Command Center advises FAA headquarters that American 77 is lost in Indianapolis flight control's airspace, that Indianapolis has no primary radar track, and is looking for the aircraft. [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] The Command Center had learned this 16 minutes earlier (see 9:09 a.m.). American Airlines headquarters has been notified of the same information before 9:00 (see (Before 9:00 a.m.)).

(9:25 a.m.)

Ted Olson. [Salon] Since 9/11 he has been trying to prevent the release of Vice President Cheney's energy task force papers. [Telegraph, 3/5/02]
A passenger on Flight 77, Barbara Olson, calls her husband, Theodore (Ted) Olson, who is Solicitor General at the Justice Department. Ted Olson is in his Justice Department office watching WTC news on television when his wife calls. A few days later, he says, “She told me that she had been herded to the back of the plane. She mentioned that they had used knives and box cutters to hijack the plane. She mentioned that the pilot had announced that the plane had been hijacked.” [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] He tells her that two planes have hit the WTC. [Telegraph, 3/5/02] She feels nobody is taking charge. [CNN, 9/12/01] He doesn't know if she was near the pilots, but at one point she asks, “What shall I tell the pilot? What can I tell the pilot to do?” [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] Then she gets cut off without warning. [Newsweek, 9/29/01] Ted Olson' recollection of the call's timing is extremely vague, saying it “must have been 9:15 or 9:30. Someone would have to reconstruct the time for me.” [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] Other accounts place it around 9:25. [About 9:25, Miami Herald, 9/14/01, about 9:25, New York Times, 9/15/01 (C), “by 9:25,” Washington Post, 9/21/01] The call is said to have lasted about a minute. [Washington Post, 9/12/01 (B)] By some accounts, his warning of that planes have hit the WTC comes later in a second phone call (see (After 9:30 a.m.)). [Washington Post, 9/21/01] In one account, Barbara Olson calls from inside a bathroom. [Evening Standard, 9/12/01] In another account, she is near a pilot, and in yet another she is near two pilots. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Ted Olson's account of how the call is made is also strange and conflicting. Three days after 9/11, he says, “I found out later that she was having, for some reason, to call collect and was having trouble getting through. You know how it is to get through to a government institution when you're calling collect.” He says he doesn't know what kind of phone she used, but he has “assumed that it must have been on the airplane phone, and that she somehow didn't have access to her credit cards. Otherwise, she would have used her cell phone and called me.” [Fox News, 9/14/01] But in another interview on the same day, he says that she used a cell phone and that she may have gotten cut off “because the signals from cell phones coming from airplanes don't work that well.” [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] Six months later, he claims she called collect “using the phone in the passengers' seats.” [Telegraph, 3/5/02] But it isn't possible to call on seatback phones without a credit card, which would render making a collect call moot. Many other details are conflicting, and Olson faults his memory and says that he “tends to mix the two [calls] up because of the emotion of the events.” [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] The couple liked to joke that they were at the heart of what Hillary Clinton famously called a “vast, right-wing conspiracy.” Ted Olson was a controversial choice as Solicitor General, since he argued on behalf of Bush before the Supreme Court in the 2000 presidential election controversy before being chosen. Barbara Olson was known for her extremely partisan attacks on President Clinton. For instance, a few weeks before 9/11 she had called Clinton's mother a “barfly” who let herself be used by men. [Telegraph, 3/5/02] Some have questioned if Ted Olson can be trusted in his account of the call, since he has stated that lying to the public is justifiable. [Sydney Morning Herald, 3/20/02] Between his memory and his approval of lying for partisan ends, can Ted Olson's account be trusted? This is the only call from Flight 77, and the only call to mention box cutters.

(After 9:25 a.m.)

       Theodore (Ted) Olson, the Justice Department's Solicitor General, calls the Justice Department's control center to tell about his wife's call from Flight 77 (see (9:25 a.m.)). Accounts vary whether the Justice Department already knows of the hijack or not. [Washington Post, 9/12/01 (B), Channel 4 News, 9/13/01, New York Times, 9/15/01 (C)] Olson merely says, “They just absorbed the information. And they promised to send someone down right away.” He assumes they then “pass the information on to the appropriate people.” [Fox News 9/14/01]

(9:26 a.m.)

FAA National Operations Manager Ben Sliney
Jane Garvey, head of the FAA, “almost certainly after getting an okay from the White House, initiate[s] a national ground stop, which forbids takeoffs and requires planes in the air to get down as soon as reasonable. The order, which has never been implemented since flying was invented in 1903, applie[s] to virtually every single kind of machine that can takeoff—civilian, military, or law enforcement.” Military and law enforcement flights are allowed to resume at 10:31 a.m. A limited number of military flights—the FAA won't reveal details—are allowed to fly during this ban. [Time, 9/14/01] Garvey later calls it “a national ground stop … that prevented any aircraft from taking off.” [House Committee, 9/21/01] However, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta later says he was the one to give the order: “As soon as I was aware of the nature and scale of the attack, I called from the White House to order the air traffic system to land all aircraft, immediately and without exception.” [State Department, 9/20/01] 4,452 planes are flying in the continental US at the time. A later account says Ben Sliney, the FAA's National Operations Manager, makes the decision without consulting his superiors, like Jane Garvey, first. It would be remarkable if Sliney was the one to make the decision, because 9/11 is Sliney's first day on the job as National Operations Manager, “the chess master of the air traffic system.” [USA Today, 8/13/02] When he had accepted the job a couple of months earlier, he had asked, “What is the limit of my authority?” The man who had promoted him replied, “Unlimited.” [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)] Yet another account, by Linda Schuessler, manager of tactical operations at the FAA Command Center where Sliney was located, says, “ …it was done collaboratively… All these decisions were corporate decisions. It wasn't one person who said, Yes, this has got to get done.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 12/17/01] About 500 planes land in the next 20 minutes, and then much more urgent orders to land are issued at 9:45 a.m. [USA Today, 8/13/02] [9:25, Time, 9/14/01, 9:25, USA Today, 8/13/02, 9:26, House Committee, 9/21/01, 9:26, Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02, 9:26, Newsday, 9/23/01, 9:26, AP, 8/19/02, 9:26, Newsday, 9/10/02] How could the military respond if military takeoffs are prohibited?

(9:27 a.m.)

Tom Burnett.
Tom Burnett calls his wife Deena and says, “I'm on United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. The plane has been hijacked. We are in the air. They've already knifed a guy. There is a bomb on board. Call the FBI.” Deena connects to emergency 911. [9:27, “she scribbled down what Tom told her and noted the time,” Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 107, ABC News, 9/12/01, “within minutes” of 9:28, MSNBC, 7/30/02, “She recalls it was around 6:20 a.m.–9:20 Eastern time,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01 (B), “shortly after” Jeremy Glick's call, Toronto Sun, 9/16/01] His wife Deena wonders if the call might have been before the cockpit was taken over, because he spoke quickly and quietly as if he was being watched. He also had a headset like phone operators use, so he could have made the call unnoticed. Note that original versions of this conversation appear to have been censored. The most recent account has the phone call ending with, “We are in the air. The plane has been hijacked. They already knifed a guy. One of them has a gun. They're saying there is a bomb onboard. Please call the authorities.” [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 107] The major difference from earlier accounts, of course, is the mention of a gun. The call wasn't recorded, but Deena's call immediately afterwards to 911 was, and she states on that, “They just knifed a passenger and there are guns on the plane.” [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 108] This is the first of over 30 additional phone calls by passengers inside the plane. [MSNBC 7/30/02]

(9:27 a.m.)

Flight controller Danielle O'Brien.
Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice, in their bunker below the White House (see (9:10 a.m.)), are told by an aide that an airplane is 50 miles outside Washington and headed toward it. The plane is Flight 77. Federal Aviation Deputy Chief Monty Belger says, “Well we're watching this target on the radar, but the transponder's been turned off. So we, have no identification.”They are given further notices when the plane is 30 miles away, then 10 miles away, until it disappears from radar (time unknown, but the plane is said to be traveling about 500 mph and was 30 miles away at 9:30, so 50 miles would be about 3 minutes before that). [ABC News, 9/11/02] Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta gives virtually the same account before the 9/11 Commission. [9/11 Commission, 5/23/03] However, the 9/11 Commission later claims the plane heading toward Washington is only discovered at 9:32 (see 9:32 a.m.).

(9:28 a.m.)

       Flight 93 acknowledges a transmission from a Cleveland flight controller. This is the last normal contact with the plane. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] According to the 9/11 Commission, less than a minute later, the controller and pilots of aircraft in the vicinity hear “a radio transmission of unintelligible sounds of possible screaming or a struggle from an unknown origin … ” [after 9:25, Newsweek, 11/25/01, 9:28, 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04, 9:28, Guardian, 10/17/01] 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.” [9:28, MSNBC, 7/30/02, 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04, 9:30, Observer, 12/2/01, 9:32: “90 minutes into the flight,” Toronto Sun, 9/16/01, 9:58, Newsweek, 9/22/01, ] 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 11/25/01]

(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.

       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?

(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.)

       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?

(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]

(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.)

       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.

       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.

(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 9:31 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.

       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.)).

(9:33-9:38 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.

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

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]

(9:33 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.)).

(9:34 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.

       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, 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.

       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.)).
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