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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 404 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100    next 100

8:41 a.m.

       Flight 175 flies from Boston flight control airspace into New York flight control airspace. Dave Bottoglia is in charge of monitoring the flight. Bottoglia has just been told by the pilot of Flight 175 that he's heard threatening communications from Flight 11 (see 8:41 a.m.). Seconds later, a controller sitting next to Bottoglia gets up and points to a radar blip. He says, “You see this target here? This is American 11. Boston center thinks it's a hijack.” Bottoglia keeps watching the blip until it disappears over New York City, and fails to notice Flight 175 for several minutes (see 8:46 a.m.). [MSNBC 9/11/02 (B)]

8:41 a.m.

United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767.
The pilots of Flight 175 tell ground control about Flight 11, “We figured we'd wait to go to your center. We heard a suspicious transmission on our departure out of Boston. Someone keyed the mike and said: ‘Everyone stay in your seats.’ It cut out.” [8:41, Guardian, 10/17/01, 8:41, Newsday, 9/10/02, 8:41:32, New York Times, 10/16/01] An alternate version: “We heard a suspicious transmission on our departure from B-O-S [Boston's airport code]. Sounds like someone keyed the mike and said, ‘Everyone, stay in your seats.’ ” [Boston Globe 11/23/01] The last transmission from Flight 175, still discussing this message, comes a few seconds before 8:42. [New York Times, 10/16/01] Presumably Flight 175 is hijacked within the next minute.

(8:42 a.m.)

Flight 93's intended and actual routes.
Flight 93 takes off from Newark International Airport, bound for San Francisco. It leaves 41 minutes late because of heavy runway traffic. [MSNBC, 9/3/02] [Newsweek 9/22/01; AP 8/19/02; CNN 9/17/01; Guardian 10/17/01; 9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04]

8:43 a.m.

       NORAD is notified that Flight 175 has been hijacked. [8:43, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:43, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:43, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:43, AP, 8/19/02, 8:43, Newsday, 9/10/02] Apparently NORAD doesn't need to be notified, because by this time NEADS technicians have their headsets linked to the FAA in Boston to hear about Flight 11, and so NORAD learns instantly about Flight 175. [Newhouse News, 1/25/02] Note that this means the controllers working Flight 77 and Flight 93 would have been aware of both Flight 175 and Flight 11's hijacking from this time.

8:44 a.m.

       The pilot of US Airlines Flight 583 tells an unidentified flight controller, regarding Flight 175, “I just picked up an ELT [emergency locator transmitter] on 121.5 it was brief but it went off.”The controller responds, “O.K. they said it's confirmed believe it or not as a thing, we're not sure yet.… ” One minute later, another pilot says, “We picked up that ELT, too, but its very faint.” [New York Times, 10/16/01 (B)] This appears to have been the only plane in which the emergency signal is triggered by the pilot.

(Before 8:45 a.m.)

       At American Airline's headquarters in Fort Worth, their crisis command center used in emergencies is activated. A page is sent to American's top executives and operations personnel: “Confirmed hijacking Flight 11.” However, pilots on other American flights apparently are not notified. Top managers gather at the command center and watch the radar blip of Flight 11 until it disappears over New York City. [Wall Street Journal 10/15/01]

(8:45 a.m.)

F-15 pilot Major Daniel Nash. []
Just prior to the crash of Flight 11, flight attendant Amy Sweeney is asked on the phone if she can recognize where she is. She says, “I see the water. I see the buildings. I see buildings,” then after a pause, a quiet “Oh, my God!” Mere seconds later the line goes dead. Meanwhile, flight attendant Betty Ong ends her call repeating the phrase “Pray for us” over and over. Apparently there is quiet instead of screaming in the background. [ABC News 7/18/02]

8:46 a.m.

       Two little known French documentary filmmakers are filming a documentary on New York City firefighters about ten blocks from the WTC. One of them hears a roar, looks up, and captures a distant image of the first WTC crash. They continue shooting footage nonstop for many hours, and their footage is first shown that evening on CNN. [New York Times, 1/12/02, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 9/19/01] So Bush's claim that he sees the first attack live on TV is technically impossible (see (9:01 a.m.)).

8:46 a.m.

       New York flight controller Dave Bottoglia is in charge of monitoring both Flights 11 and 175. He's just watched Flight 11's radar blip disappear over New York City, but doesn't yet realize the plane has crashed. “Within seconds” of losing Flight 11's blip, he realizes that Flight 175 is also missing. He has another controller take over all his other planes so he can focus on finding Flight 175. He tries contacting the planes several times unsuccessfully. Curt Applegate, sitting at the radar screen next to Bottoglia, sees a blip that might be the missing Flight 11. In fact, it's the missing Flight 175. Right as Bottoglia notices it, its transponder signal turns back on, but at a different signal than before (see (8:46 a.m.)). MSNBC reports, “There is no longer any question in Bottoglia's mind that he's looking at a second hijacked airliner.” He then notices it turn east and start descending. He keeps an eye on it and sees it head right at Delta Flight 2315. He recalls saying to the Delta flight, “Traffic, 2:00, 10 miles. I think he's been hijacked. I don't know his intentions. Take any evasive action necessary.” Flight 2315 takes evasive action, missing Flight 175 by less than 200 feet. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] However, there is no claim that NORAD is notified about the hijacking at this time. According to a NORAD timeline, NORAD is notified by Boston flight control three minutes earlier (see 8:43 a.m.). The 9/11 Commission seems to completely ignore this account from Bottoglia, and has him notice the transponder change at 8:51, instead of as it is happening, as he claims (see 8:51-8:53 a.m.).

8:46:26 a.m.

Flight 11 hits the WTC North Tower at 8:46. Note that few images exist of this hit.
Flight 11 slams into the north tower, 1 World Trade Center. [CNN 9/12/01; New York Times 9/12/01; New York Times 9/12/01 (B); CNN 9/17/01; NORAD 9/18/01; Washington Post 9/12/01; AP 8/19/02; USA Today 9/3/02; USA Today 8/13/02; Newsday 9/10/02; Guardian 10/17/01; MSNBC 9/22/01; New York Times 9/11/02; USA Today 12/20/01] Investigators believe the plane still has about 10,000 gallons of fuel and is traveling 470 mph. [New York Times 9/11/02; USA Today 12/20/01]

(After 8:46 a.m.)

       Shortly after the WTC is hit, the FAA has an open telephone line with the Secret Service, keeping them informed of all events. [NBC 9/16/01]

(8:46-8:50 a.m.)

       Rick Tepper, a flight controller at the Newark, New Jersey tower, looks across the Hudson River at New York City in time to see the explosion caused by Flight 11. Another flight controller there tries to find out what caused it. He recalls that in the next few minutes, “We contacted La Guardia, Kennedy Tower, and Teterboro Tower to find out if they lost an airplane. And they all said they didn't know what it was. I got on the phone to the en route air traffic control's facility out in New York on Long Island, and I asked them if they'd lost any airplanes, and they said, ‘No, but Boston Center lost an airplane. They lost an American 767.’ ” Varcadapane says to the Long Island flight controller, “I have a burning building and you have a missing airplane. This is very coincidental.” The assumption is quickly made at New York and Boston flight control centers that Flight 11 has hit the WTC. NBC later reports, “Word of the fate of Flight 11 quickly travels throughout the air traffic control world.” [MSNBC 9/11/02 (B)]

(Before 8:46 a.m.)

       Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and Representative Christopher Cox (R) are meeting in Rumsfeld's private Pentagon dining room, discussing missile defense. Rumsfeld later recalls, “I had said at an 8:00 o'clock breakfast that sometime in the next two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve months there would be an event that would occur in the world that would be sufficiently shocking that it would remind people again how important it is to have a strong healthy defense department that contributes to — That underpins peace and stability in our world.” [CNN, 12/5/01] Wolfowitz recalls, “And we commented to them that based on what Rumsfeld and I had both seen and worked on the Ballistic Missile Threat Commission, that we were probably in for some nasty surprises over the next ten years.” [Defense Department, 5/9/03] There are confused accounts that Rumsfeld says “I've been around the block a few times. There will be another event” just before the Pentagon is hit by Flight 77, but such comments may have been made around this time instead (see (Before 9:38 a.m.)).Rumsfeld says, “And someone walked in and handed a note that said that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. And we adjourned the meeting, and I went in to get my CIA briefing … right next door here [in my office].” [CNN 12/5/01]

(8:46 a.m.)

       President Bush is traveling through Sarasota, Florida in a motorcade when the first WTC crash occurs (see(8:35 a.m.) and (Between 8:46-8:55 a.m.)). According to the 9/11 Commission, at this time, “no one in the White House or traveling with the President knew that [Flight 11] had been hijacked. Immediately afterward, duty officers at the White House and Pentagon began notifying senior officials what had happened.” However, supposedly no one notifies Bush about the crash until his motorcade reaches its destination, even though there's a highly secure phone in his vehicle, and others in the motorcade are being notified. Not even the Jane Garvey, the head of the FAA, nor her deputy have been told of a confirmed hijacking before they learn about the crash from the television. [Independent Commission Report 6/17/04]

8:46 a.m.

       Flight attendant Amy Sweeney is still on the phone with Michael Woodward, describing conditions on Flight 11 (see (8:20 a.m.) and (8:35 a.m.)). The plane is nearing New York City, but the coach section passengers are still quiet, apparently unaware a hijacking is in progress. Woodward asks Sweeney to look out of the window and see if she can tell what's going on. She replies, “I see the water. I see the building. I see buildings.” She tells him the plane is flying very low. Then she takes a slow, deep breath and slowly says, “Oh my God!” Woodward hears a loud click, and then silence. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01, ABC News, 7/18/02] Flight attendant Betty Ong, on another phone, apparently doesn't have such a dramatic realization. She is repeatedly saying “Pray for us. Pray for us,” before her phone call comes to a halt (see (8:21 a.m.) and (8:23 a.m.)).

8:46 a.m.

       At the time of the first WTC crash, three F-16s assigned to Andrews Air Force Base, 10 miles from Washington, are flying an air-to-ground training mission on a range in North Carolina, 207 miles away. Eventually they are recalled to Andrews and land there at some point after Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] F-16s can travel a maximum speed of 1500 mph. Traveling even at 1100 mph, the speed NORAD Major General Larry Arnold says two fighters from Massachusetts travel toward Flight 175, at least one of the F-16s could have returned to Washington within 10 minutes and started patrolling the skies well before 9:00 a.m. Why are they recalled so late, and then ordered back to base (and then to take off again) instead of being sent straight to Washington?

(8:46 a.m.)

       Two F-15 fighters are ordered to scramble from Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts to find Flight 11, approximately 190 miles from the known location of the plane and 188 miles from New York City. [8:39, Channel 4 News, 9/13/01, 8:44, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:44, Washington Post, 9/15/01, 8:44, Los Angeles Times, 9/17/01, 8:46, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Supposedly, NORAD makes the decision to scramble after only one phone call, as the decision is made to act first and get clearances later. Yet there is a nine minute gap between when the 9/11 Commission says NORAD is notified about the hijacking, and when the fighters are ordered scrambled (see (8:37 a.m.)). Stranger, the pilots received several unofficial warnings before the official one (see (8:40 a.m.)) and were possibly warned as early as twelve minutes before this (see8:34 a.m.). One of the pilots recalls sitting in the cockpit, ready and waiting for the scramble order to come. [BBC, 9/1/02] Yet it's supposedly another six minutes before they take off (see 8:52 a.m.).

(8:46 a.m.)

The hole caused by the Flight 11 crash
Flight 175 stops transmitting its transponder signal. It is 50 miles north of New York City, heading toward Baltimore. [8:46:18, Guardian, 10/17/01, “about the same time” as Flight 11 crash, Newsday, 9/10/02, 8:47, 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] However, the transponder is turned off for only about 30 seconds, then changed to a signal that is not designated for any plane on that day. [Newsday, 9/10/02] This “allow[s] controllers to track the intruder easily, though they couldn't identify it.” [Washington Post 9/17/01]

(After 8:46 a.m.)

       Bush will say in a speech later that evening: “Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans.” [White House, 9/11/01] But in fact, seeing the images on television, lower-level officials activate the Conplan—the Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan. The plan, created in response to an executive order by President Clinton, details the responsibility of seven federal agencies if a terrorist attack occurs. It gives the FBI the responsibility for activating the plan and alerting other agencies. [Wall Street Journal 3/22/04]

(After 8:48 a.m.)

Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Richard Myers (left) fills in for Chairman Harry Shelton (right), who is out of contact.
Air Force General Richard Myers, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sees the first WTC crash on television. Myers is acting Chairman of the US military during the 9/11 crisis because Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Henry Shelton is flying in a plane across the Atlantic. [ABC News, 9/11/02] He sees the TV in an outer office of Senator Max Cleland (D), but he says, "They thought it was a small plane or something like that," so he goes ahead and meets with Cleland. He says "nobody informed us" about the second WTC crash, and remains oblivious that there is an emergency, only leaving the meeting with Cleland right as the Pentagon explosion takes place at 9:38. Then he speaks to General Ralph Eberhart. [AFPS, 10/23/01] Yet, in testimony on September 13, 2001, he states, "after the second tower was hit, I spoke to the commander of NORAD, General Eberhart. And at that point, I think the decision was at that point to start launching aircraft." [Myers Confirmation Testimony, 9/13/01] NORAD claims the first fighters are scrambled even before the first WTC hit. [NORAD, 9/18/01] In his 2004 testimony before the 9/11 Commission, Myers' account changes again. He says that he gets a call from Eberhart, and then “shortly thereafter that the Pentagon was hit as we were on our way back to the Pentagon.” [9/11 Commission, 6/17/04 (B)] Myers' claim that he is out of the loop contradicts not only his previous account but also counterterrorism "tsar" Richard Clarke's account of what Myers does that day. Clarke has Myers taking part in a video conference from about 9:10 until after 10:00 (see , , (Between 9:45-9:55 a.m.), and (After 10:06 a.m.)). If Myers is not involved in this conference, then his whereabouts and actions remain unknown until traveling to the Pentagon and showing up at the NMCC around 10:30 (see (Before 10:30 a.m.) and (10:30 a.m.)).

8:48 a.m.

       The first news reports appear on TV and radio that a plane may have crashed into the WTC. [New York Times, 9/15/01 [C], CNN, 9/11/01, Toronto Star, 1/7/03] CNN is the first major network to show the footage of the crash site. It breaks into a commercial and anchor Carol Lin says, “This just in. You are looking at … obviously a very disturbing live shot there—that is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.” CNN then switches to Sean Murtagh, the network's vice president of finance, who says in a live telephone interview, “I just witnessed a plane that appeared to be cruising at a slightly lower than normal altitude over New York City. And it appears to have crashed into—I don't know which tower it is—but it hit directly in the middle of one of the World Trade Center towers. It was a jet, maybe a two-engine jet, maybe a 737 … a large passenger commercial jet … It was teetering back and forth, wing-tip to wing-tip, and it looks like it has crashed into-probably, twenty stories from the top of the World Trade Center—maybe the eightieth to eighty-fifth floor. There is smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center.” [A Pretext for War, by James Bamford, 6/04, pp. 16-17] Many reports don't come until a few minutes later. For instance ABC first breaks into regular programming with the story at 8:52. [ABC 9/14/02]

(8:48 a.m.)

Major General Rick Findley.
Canadian Air Force Major General Rick Findley is in charge of battle stations at NORAD's Colorado headquarters. According to Findley, “As the phones were beginning to ring, someone said ‘Sir, you might want to look at that.’ I looked up and there was the CNN image of the World Trade Center. There was a hole in the side of one of the buildings.” CNN broadcasts this footage starting at 8:48. Someone tells him it was a small plane. “I said the hole's too big for a small airplane …. I asked if it was the hijacked aircraft. I was scratching my head, wondering if it was another aircraft altogether.”

8:48 a.m.

       A manager at a New York flight control center manager speaks in a teleconference between flight centers. The person says, “Okay. This is New York Center. We're watching the airplane [Flight 11]. I also had conversation with American Airlines, and they've told us that they believe that one of their stewardesses was stabbed and that there are people in the cockpit that have control of the aircraft, and that's all the information they have right now.” The manager is unaware Flight 11 has already crashed. [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] This appears to be a simplified version of flight attendant Betty Ong's phone call, given to American Airlines leader Gerard Arpey and others around 8:30 (see (8:21 a.m.) and 8:30 a.m.).

(8:49 a.m.)

       Apparently, managers at United Airlines' headquarters in Chicago are unaware of any unfolding emergency until they watch CNN break the story at 8:48. “Within minutes,” United headquarters gets a call from the FAA saying the plane that crashed into the WTC was an American Airlines passenger plane. At about the same time and before a call about the flight at about 8:50 (see (8:50 a.m.)), a manager says to Jim Goodwin, United's chairman and chief executive, “Boss, we've lost contact with one of our airplanes [Flight 175].” [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01] At around 9:00, a United dispatcher reports that Flight 175 has been lost (it's not clear if this is a clarification of the message ten minutes earlier or a change in the timing). [Independent Commission 1/27/04]

(8:49 a.m.)

Peter Hanson.
Businessman Peter Hanson calls his father from Flight 175 and says, “Oh, my God! They just stabbed the airline hostess. I think the airline is being hijacked.” Despite being cut off twice, he manages to report how men armed with knives are stabbing flight attendants, apparently in an attempt to force crew to unlock the doors to the cockpit. He calls again and says good-bye just before the plane crashes. [around 8:49, Telegraph, 9/16/01 (B), Toronto Sun, 9/16/01, BBC, 9/13/01] The 9/11 Commission later concludes, “Reports from Flight 175 included one passenger predicting the hijackers intended to fly an aircraft into a building.” As only two passengers call from the flight and the other call is described elsewhere in the report, it is likely Hanson says this. [CNN 3/10/04]

8:51-8:53 a.m.

       According to the 9/11 Commission, the flight controller handling Flight 175 (presumably Dave Bottoglia [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)]) only notices now that the flight's transponder signal has changed, though this happened around 8:46 (see (8:46 a.m.)). The controller asks the plane to return to its proper transponder code. There's no response. Beginning at 8:52, he makes repeated attempts to contact the plane, but there is still no response. [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] ] He contacts another controller at 8:53, and says, “We may have a hijack. We have some problems over here right now.” [Guardian, 10/17/01, 8:53:23, New York Times, 10/16/01, Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] This account conflicts with earlier accounts that NORAD is notified at 8:43 that Flight 175 has been hijacked (see 8:43 a.m.). It also conflicts with Bottoglia's own account of finding Flight 175 at 8:46 and realizing it is hijacked then (see 8:46 a.m.).

(8:50 a.m.)

Robert Fangman.
Rich “Doc” Miles, manager of United's Chicago system operations center, receives a call from a mechanic at an airline maintenance center in San Francisco that takes in-flight calls from flight attendants about broken items. The mechanic says a female flight attendant from Flight 175 just called and said, “Oh my God. The crew has been killed, a flight attendant has been stabbed. We've been hijacked.” Then the line goes dead. A dispatcher monitoring the flight then sends messages to the plane's cockpit computer but gets no response. [“a little more” than 8:47, Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01, “around 8:50,” B oston Globe, 11/23/01, “around 8:50,” 9/11 Commission, 1/27/04] The information is quickly relayed to United headquarters. [9/11 Commission, 1/27/04] There is no known name of any female flight attendant from this flight calling, but male flight attendant Robert Fangman calls from this flight at some unknown time. It is unclear if there is a gender confusion on the call received by Miles, or if there are two attendants who call from this flight. [CNN 5/28/04]

(8:50 a.m.)

       As soon as Boston flight controllers hear news that a plane might have hit the WTC, they know it was Flight 11. They have been tracking it continually since it began behaving erratically. It takes “several minutes” for Boston to report to NORAD that Flight 11 is responsible. [New York Times 9/13/01 (F); Newhouse News 1/25/02]

8:50 a.m.

       Flight 175, already off course, makes a near complete U-turn and starts heading north towards New York City. [CNN 9/17/01]

(10:13-10:23 a.m.)

       The 9/11 Commission later concludes that had Flight 93 not crashed, it would probably reach Washington around this time. The commission notes that there are only three fighters over Washington at this time, all from Langley, Virginia. But the pilots of these fighters were never briefed about why they were scrambled. As the lead pilot explained, “I reverted to the Russian threat … I'm thinking cruise missile threat from the sea. You know you look down and see the Pentagon burning and I thought the bastards snuck one by us …. [Y]ou couldn't see any airplanes, and no one told us anything.” The pilots knew their mission was to identify and divert aircraft flying within a certain radius of Washington, but didn't know that the threat came from hijacked planes. Also, the Commission notes that NEADS didn't know where Flight 93 was when it crashed, and wonders if they would have determined its location and passed it on the pilots before the plane reached Washington. They conclude, “NORAD officials have maintained that they would have intercepted and shot down United 93. We are not so sure.” [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] It is not even completely certain if fighters reach Washington before Flight 93 would have (see(9:55-10:10 a.m.)).

8:50 a.m.

       The last radio contact with Flight 77 is made when a pilot asks for clearance to fly higher. But then, six minutes later, the plane fails to respond to a routine instruction. Presumably it is hijacked during that time. The plane is being handled by the Indianapolis flight control center at this time. [Guardian 10/17/01; Boston Globe 11/23/01; New York Times 10/16/01; 9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04]

(8:50 a.m.)

       CIA Director Tenet is told of the first WTC crash while he is eating breakfast with his mentor, former Senator David Boren. Boren says Tenet is told that the WTC has been attacked by an airplane: “I was struck by the fact that [the messenger] used the word attacked.” Tenet then hands a cell phone back to an aide and says to Boren, “You know, this has bin Laden's fingerprints all over it.” [ABC, 9/14/02] Another account has Tenet saying into the phone, “They steered the plane directly into the building?” Then he says to Boren, “That looks like Bin Laden.” In a reference to recently arrested Zacarias Moussaoui, he muses out loud, “I wonder if this has something to do with the guy who trained for a pilot's license.” [Stern, 8/13/03] Why is Bush supposedly under the impression the crash was an accident well after Tenet has been told it was an attack? Does Tenet try to communicate with Bush at this time?

(Between 8:46-8:55 a.m.)

In this map, the yellow star is roughly where Bush's motorcade is when Flight 11 crashes at 8:46, and the orange star is where he is when told about the crash a few minutes later.
When Flight 11 hits the WTC at 8:46, Bush's motorcade is crossing the John Ringling Causeway on the way to Booker Elementary from the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort on Longboat Key. [Washington Times, 10/8/02] Sarasota Magazine claims that Bush is on Highway 301, just north of Main Street when he is told that a plane had crashed in New York City. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Around the same time, news photographer Eric Draper is riding in another car in the motorcade with Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, and overhears Fleischer say on a cell phone, “Oh, my God, I don't believe it. A plane just hit the World Trade Center.” Fleischer is told he will be needed on arrival to discuss reports of the crash. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/17/01, Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02] Fleischer is told this “just minutes”after the first news reports. [MSNBC, 10/29/02] Congressman Dan Miller also says he is told about the crash just before meeting Bush at Booker at 8:55. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] Some reporters waiting for him to arrive also learn of the crash just minutes after it happens. [CBS, 9/11/02 (B)] It would make sense that Bush is told about the crash immediately and at the same time that others hear about it. Yet Bush and others claim he isn't told until he arrives at the school.

(After 8:52 a.m.)

       William Wibel, principal of a school inside Otis Air National Guard Base in the Cape Cod region of Massachusetts, is inside the Otis base preparing for a meeting. He hears about the WTC attack and is told the meeting is canceled. He says, “As I drove away, and was listening to the news on the radio, the 102nd was scrambling into duty.” [Cape Cod Times, 9/12/01] Given that the WTC story doesn't break on local news and radio until about 8:52, and it must take him some time to learn the meeting is canceled, go back to his car and so forth, he must hear the fighters take off well after 8:52. Yet NORAD says the fighters took off from Otis at 8:52.

(8:52 a.m.)

Mike McCormick.
Mike McCormick, head of New York flight control center, sees the first WTC attack on CNN. He assumes that Flight 175, which he is seeing on his radar screen, is also headed into the WTC. He says, “Probably one of the most difficult moments of my life was the 11 minutes from the point I watched that aircraft, when we first lost communications until the point that aircraft hit the World Trade Center. For those 11 minutes, I knew, we knew, what was going to happen, and that was difficult.” [CNN, 8/12/02] Yet, according to the 9/11 Commission, this flight control center won't notify NORAD about Flight 175 until after it crashes (see (9:03 a.m.)).

8:52 a.m.

A typical F-15.
Two F-15s take off from Otis Air National Guard Base, six minutes after being ordered to go after Flight 11, which has already crashed. This is 39 minutes after flight controllers lost contact with Flight 11 (see (8:13 a.m.)), and 26 minutes after flight controllers were certain Flight 11 was hijacked (see (8:24 a.m.)). [NORAD 9/18/01; CNN 9/17/01; Washington Post 9/15/01; ABC News 9/11/02; Washington Post 9/12/01; 9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04] They inadvertently head toward Flight 175 instead. As soon as they strap in, the green light to launch goes on, and they're up even before their fighters' radar kicks in. [Cape Cod Times 8/21/02]

(8:52 a.m. and after)

       There are differing accounts on how long the F-15s scrambled from Otis Air National Guard Base take to reach New York City. According to pilot Lt. Col. Timothy Duffy, they are in a hurry. Duffy later recalls, “We've been over the flight a thousand times in our minds and I don't know what we could have done to get there any quicker.” However, though Duffy says he's been warned Flight 11 had been hijacked and appears headed toward New York City, he doesn't realize it is something other than a routine exercise: “It's just peacetime. We're not thinking anything real bad is going to happen out there.” [BBC, 9/1/02, Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] But in another account, Duffy claims that fellow officer tells him before takeoff, “This looks like the real thing.” Duffy recalls, “It just seemed wrong. I just wanted to get there. I was in full-blower all the way.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Full-blower means the fighters are traveling at or near full speed. An F-15 can travel over 1875 mph. [Air Force News, 7/30/97] It requires a lot of fuel to maintain such high speeds for long, but a NORAD commander notes these fighters happen to be stocked with extra fuel. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Duffy later says, “As we're climbing out, we go supersonic on the way, which is kind of nonstandard for us.” He says his target destination is over Kennedy airport in New York City. [ABC News, 9/11/02] He says, “When we [take] off we [start] climbing a 280-heading, basically towards New York City. I [am] supersonic …. We [are] to proceed to Manhattan directly and set up a combat air patrol.” [BBC, 9/1/02] There are different accounts as to just how quickly they travel. According to Major Gen. Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard, “The pilots [fly] ‘like a scalded ape,’ topping 500 mph but [are] unable to catch up to the airliner.” [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01] ABC News later says, “The fighters are hurtling toward New York at mach 1.2, nearly 900 miles per hour.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold says they head straight for New York City at about 1100 to 1200 mph. [MSNBC, 9/23/01 (C), Slate, 1/16/02] “An F-15 departing from Otis can reach New York City in 10 to 12 minutes, according to an Otis spokeswoman.” [Cape Cod Times, 9/16/01] At an average speed of 1125 mph, the fighters would reach the city in 10 minutes—9:02. So if NORAD commander Arnold's speed is correct, these fighters should reach Flight 175 just before it crashes. Yet according to a NORAD timeline just after 9/11, these planes take about 19 minutes to reach New York City (putting them there at 9:11), traveling below supersonic speeds at less than 600 mph. [NORAD, 9/18/01] The 9/11 Commission later concludes that the fighters are never directed toward New York City at all, despite the accounts of the pilots and others, and head out over the ocean instead (see (9:08-9:13 a.m.)). They don't reach New York City until 9:25. [Independent Commission Report 6/17/04]

(8:54 a.m.)

       Flight 77 from Washington begins to go off course over southern Ohio. It turns to the southwest. [Washington Post 9/12/01; Newsday 9/23/01; 9/11 Commission Report 6/17/04]

(Before 8:55 a.m.)

White House Situation Room Director Deborah Loewer.
Captain Deborah Loewer, director of the White House Situation Room, is traveling in Bush's motorcade toward a Saratoga elementary school. She receives a message from her deputy in the White House Situation Room about the first WTC crash. As soon as the motorcade reaches the school, she runs from her car to Bush's car, and passes the message on to Bush. [Catholic Telegraph, 12/7/01, AP, 11/26/01] However, it appears Bush already knows (see (Between 8:46-8:55 a.m.)). Note that Bush maintains it is Karl Rove who tells him a few minutes later.

(8:55 a.m.)

Bush's motorcade arrives at Booker Elementary.
Bush's motorcade arrives at Booker Elementary School. [8:46, ABC News, 9/11/02, 8:55, Washington Times, 10/7/02, 8:55, Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01, “just before 9:00,” Telegraph, 12/16/01, “shortly before 9:00,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02, “just before 9:00,” New York Times, 9/16/01 (B), 9:00, Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02] The trip is said to take 20 minutes, which confirms he arrives around 8:55, if it is true he left around 8:35. [New York Times 9/16/01 (B); St. Petersburg Times 9/8/02 (B); MSNBC 10/29/02]

(8:55 a.m.)

       A public announcement is broadcast inside the WTC South Tower, saying that the building is secure and people can return to their offices. [New York Times, 9/11/02, click on interactive popup] Such announcements continue until a few minutes before the building is hit, and “may [lead] to the deaths of hundreds of people.” No one knows exactly what is said (though many later recall the phrase “the building is secure” ) or who gives the authority to say it. [USA Today, 9/3/02] Additionally, security agents inside the building repeated similar messages. For instance, one survivor recounts hearing, “Our building is secure. You can go back to your floor. If you're a little winded, you can get a drink of water or coffee in the cafeteria.” [New York Times, 9/13/01 (G)] Another survivor recalls a crowd actually running over a man with a bullhorn encouraging them to return to their desks. [Newsday, 9/12/01] Businessman Steve Miller recalls hearing a voice say over the building's loudspeaker something similar to: “There's a fire in Tower One. Tower Two in unaffected. If you want to leave, you can leave. If you want to return to your office, it's okay.” [Washington Post, 9/16/01 (D)] British visitor Mike Shillaker recalls, “As we got to around floor 50, a message came over the [loudspeaker], telling us that there was an isolated fire in tower 1, and we did not need to evacuate tower 2. Again, thank god we continued down, others didn't.” [BBC, 9/1/02 (B)] Despite some messages to the contrary, about two-thirds of the tower's occupants evacuate during the 17 minutes between the attacks. [USA Today 12/20/01]

(8:55 a.m.)

       The head New York flight controller notifies a manager at the facility that she believes Flight 175 has been hijacked. The manager tries to notify regional managers about this, but is told the managers are discussing the hijacking of Flight 11 and refuse to be disturbed. However, even though the controller managing Flight 175 said “we may have a hijack” at 8:53, NORAD is still not notified. [Independent Commission Report, 6/17/04] This is according to the 9/11 Commission, but this account conflicts with previous accounts that NORAD is notified of the Flight 175 hijacking at 8:43 (see 8:43 a.m.). The head of the flight control center, Mike McCormick, has already decided at 8:52 that Flight 175 has been hijacked and is on a suicide run to New York City (see (8:52 a.m.)).

(8:56 a.m.)

       Flight 77's transponder signal is turned off. [8:56, Guardian, 10/17/01, 8:56, Boston Globe, 11/23/01, “six minutes before” Flight 175 hits WTC, Newsday, 9/23/01] According to the 9/11 Commission, the Indianapolis flight controller in charge of the flight had seen it go off course and head southwest before the signal disappeared. He looks for primary radar signals along its projected flight path as well as in the airspace where it had started to turn. He can't find the plane. He tries contacting the airline but gets no answer. The controller has not been told about any other hijacked planes. He assumes Flight 77 has experienced electrical or mechanical failure. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] The New York Times recounts, “ ‘American 77, Indy,’ the controller said, over and over. ‘American 77, Indy, radio check. How do you read?’ By 8:56 a.m., it was evident that Flight 77 was lost.” [New York Times, 10/16/01] Even though Flight 77 is off course with its radio and transponder not working, NORAD is supposedly not notified at this time, even though American Airlines headquarters is (see (Before 9:00 a.m.)), and the Pentagon's NMCC is apparently as well (see (After 8:50 a.m.)). Other centers were notified about the Flight 11 hijacking over twenty minutes earlier (see 8:25 a.m.).

(After 8:56 a.m.)

       The New York Times reports, “During the hour or so that American Airlines Flight 77 [is] under the control of hijackers, up to the moment it struck the west side of the Pentagon, military officials in [the Pentagon's National Military Command Center (see )] [are] urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do.” [New York Times, 9/15/01 (C)] Since the Pentagon is struck around 9:38, this means that shortly after the first signs of trouble, clearly by at least 8:50, the military knows that Flight 77 is hijacked, even though, supposedly, NORAD is not officially notified until 9:24.

8:58 a.m.

Brian Sweeney.
Brian Sweeney on Flight 175 calls his wife but can only leave a message. “We've been hijacked, and it doesn't look too good.” Then he calls his mother and tells her what's happening onboard. [Hyannis News, 9/13/01, Washington Post, 9/21/01] She recalls him saying, “They might come back here. I might have to go. We are going to try to do something about this.” She also recalls him identifying the hijackers as Middle Eastern. Then he tells his mother he loves her and hangs up the phone. The mother turns on the television and soon sees Flight 175 crash into the WTC. The 9/11 Commission later concludes that the Flight 175 passengers planned to storm the cockpit but didn't have time before the plane crashed. [CNN 3/10/04; New York Daily News 3/9/04]

(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]

(After 9:00 a.m.)

       According to the 9/11 Commission, shortly after 9:00, Indianapolis flight control starts notifying other government agencies that American 77 is missing and has possibly crashed. For instance, at 9:08, Indianapolis contacts Air Force Search and Rescue at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, and tells them to look out for a downed aircraft. They also contact the West Virginia State Police, and asked whether they have any reports of a downed aircraft. [Independent Commission Report 6/17/04]

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]

(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.)).

(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]

(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]

(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.

       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]

(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 8:55-9:00 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?

(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.)

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]

(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.)

       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.)).

(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]

(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.)

       “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 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.).

(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.)

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)]

(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.).

(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.).

(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?

(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)]

(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)]

(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.)

       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.)).

(9:03-9:06 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?

(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.

       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.)).

9:09 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.).

9:10 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).
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