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9/11 Twentieth Anniversary, We Remember

We the citizens of this nation will observe the 20th Anniversary of September 11, 2001 on Saturday, September 11, 2021. This timeline for September 11, 2001 is from National Parks Service, Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, it has been edited due to space, no wording was changed just parts left out due to space. Most of what follows is from Flight 93.
Tuesday, September 11, 2001 dawns warm and nearly cloudless in the eastern United States. Millions of men and women ready themselves for work. Some make their way to the Twin Towers, the signature structures of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Others go to Arlington, Virginia, to the Pentagon. Across the Potomac River, the United States Congress is back in session. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, people begin to line up for a White House tour. In Sarasota, Florida, President George W. Bush goes for an early morning run. It is an ordinary late summer day.
The day is perfect for flying, what some pilots call “severe clear”. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, “peak summer traffic demands had diminished and air traffic controllers were expecting a routine, on-time day.” Thousands of passengers board commercial aircraft, heading for business meetings, returning home from conferences, meeting friends or family for vacations. Among the many aircraft preparing to fly on that Tuesday morning are four flights which will be boarded by 19 passengers carrying weapons and a plan to hijack the planes and use them as missiles to destroy targets in New York City and Washington D.C. It is an attack against America. The flights are:
American Airlines Flight 11 – Boston, MA to Los Angeles, CA – a Boeing 767 with 81 passengers and 11 crew members; take-off time: 7:59 a.m.
United Airlines Flight 175 – Boston, MA to Los Angeles, CA – a Boeing 767 with a 56 passengers and 9 crew members; take-off time: 8:14 a.m.
American Airlines Flight 77 – Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, CA – a Boeing 757 with 58 passengers and 6 crew members; take-off time: 8:20 a.m.
United Airlines Flight 93 – Newark, NJ to San Francisco, CA – a Boeing 757 with 37 passengers and 7 crew members; take-off time: 8:42 a.m.
Timeline, September 11, 2001
8:01 am: Flight 93 leaves the terminal.
United Airlines Flight 93 leaves the terminal just one minute behind schedule. On board are 37 passengers and 7 crew members. Normally, planes taxi to the runway and take off within 10-15 minutes. A cockpit voice recorder on board the plane begins capturing sounds from pick-ups in the pilot and first officer’s headsets and in the overhead panel of the flight deck. The device has a 30 minute loop tape. The aircraft’s flight data recorder begins storing thousands of pieces of information about the flight.
8:14 am: Flight 11 is hijacked
American Airlines Flight 11, en route from Boston to Los Angeles, is hijacked. Within minutes, Flight Attendant Betty Ong phones American Airlines, reporting, “The cockpit’s not answering; somebody’s been stabbed in business class--and I think there’s mace that we can’t breathe. I don’t know. I think we’re getting hijacked.” Ong continues to relay information from the flight for the next 26 minutes.
8:25 am: Flight Attendants calmly relate information. On Flight 11, Flight Attendant Amy Sweeney phones a different American Airlines facility, reporting in a calm voice that the plane has been hijacked, a passenger in first class has been killed, two flight attendants have been stabbed, the crew is unable to contact the cockpit, and there is a bomb in the plane. She and fellow Flight Attendant Betty Ong report the seat numbers of the “Middle Easterners” who have taken over the cockpit.
8:42 am: Flight 93 takes off 25 minutes late. Air traffic is typically heavy at the Newark Airport, causing delays on the runway. When United Airlines Flight 93 finally takes off, it is running about 25 minutes late.
8:42-8:46 am: A second plane is hijacked. United Airlines Flight 175, en route from Boston to Los Angeles, is hijacked. Its transponder code is changed and the aircraft deviates from its assigned altitude.
8:46 am: Flight 11 crashes into the World Trade Center.
Flight Attendant Amy Sweeney, still speaking with American Airlines, reports, “We are flying low. We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low. Oh, my God! We are way too low.” Hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into floors 93-99 of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. All on board and an unknown number in the building are killed on impact.
8:50 am: President Bush learns of crash at World Trade Center. President George W. Bush is visiting a Sarasota, Florida classroom to speak about education and listen to children reading. Before entering the classroom, Bush is informed that “a small, twin-engine plane has crashed into the World Trade Center.” Five minutes later he speaks to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who is at the White House. She tells the President that, in fact, a commercial aircraft has struck the World Trade Center.
8:51-8:54 am: A third plane is hijacked. American Airlines Flight 77, en route from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, is hijacked and begins making unauthorized turns to the south and east and descending. Because the transponder is turned off, Air Traffic Controllers at the Indianapolis Center are not able to locate the aircraft.
8:52 am: Flight 175 passengers phone family members; crew members call airline. A passenger on Flight 175, Peter Hanson, phones his father and tells him about the hijacking. Hanson says his son reported: “I think they’ve taken over the cockpit—an attendant has been stabbed—and someone else up front may have been killed. The plane is making strange moves. Call United Airlines.”A male flight attendant phones United Airlines, reporting the hijacking and the murder of both pilots. He believes the hijackers are flying the plane.
9:00 am: Passengers’ final moments on hijacked Flight 175. Peter Hanson phones his father again and, according to his father, reports these conditions on the hijacked plane: “It’s getting bad, Dad—A stewardess was stabbed—They seem to have knives and mace—They said they have a bomb . . . I don’t think the pilot is flying the plane—I think we are going down—I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building—Don’t worry, Dad—If it happens, it’ll be very fast—My God, my God.”
9:03 am: Flight 175 crashes into the World Trade Center. Millions watch on television as hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into floors 77-85 of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. All on board and an unknown number in the building are killed instantly.
9:19 am: United Airlines dispatcher transmits warning message. United Airlines Flight Dispatcher, Ed Ballinger, aware that two hijacked airliners have crashed into the World Trade Center, takes the initiative to begin transmitting text warnings to the sixteen flights he is handling: “BEWARE ANY COCKPIT INTRUSION. TWO AIRCRAFT IN NY, HIT TRADE CNTER BLDS.” The message is relayed to the sixteen aircraft over the next several minutes.
9:28 am: Cleveland Center hears struggle as Flight 93 is hijacked.Hijackers wearing red bandanas around their foreheads, break into the cockpit of Flight 93 as it flies over eastern Ohio. Flight 93 suddenly drops 685 feet in altitude.
9:30 am: President addresses the nation from Florida. Before leaving the elementary school in Sarasota, Florida, the President broadcasts a brief message: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a difficult moment for America . . . Today we’ve had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center.
An out-of-breath hijacker, makes this announcement which was heard and recorded by Air Traffic Control: “Ladies and Gentlemen: Here the captain, please sit down keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board. So, sit.”
9:34 am: Flight 93 changes course. FAA Headquarters notified of hijacking Flight 93 begins climbing and turning to the southeast without air traffic authorization while Cleveland Center moves several aircraft out of its way. The Herndon Command Center advises FAA Headquarters that Flight 93 is hijacked.
9:35 am: Flight 93 Flight Attendant reports hijacking to United Airlines. Flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw dials the United Airlines Maintenance Facility in San Francisco from the Airfone in Row 33 (the next to the last row in the plane) to report the hijacking. The manager who takes over the call describes the flight attendant as “shockingly calm.” Bradshaw says that the hijackers are in the first class cabin and cockpit and have announced that they have a bomb. She says they have pulled a knife and have killed a flight attendant. This begins a series of 37 phone calls made from the plane, most of them made on Airfones in the last nine rows.
9:37 am: Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. Hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon at a speed of 530 miles per hour, penetrating the E, D, and C rings. All on board are killed, along with 125 civilian and military personnel in the Pentagon.
9:37 am: Passengers begin placing calls, learn of attacks at World Trade Center Passenger Mark Bingham calls his mother from an Airfone in Row 25. He tells her that he is on Flight 93 and it is being hijacked. Bingham reports that the plane has been taken over by three guys who say they have a bomb. Passenger Tom Burnett makes the first of several brief calls to his wife from Airfones in Rows 24 and 25. During these calls he reports that the plane has been hijacked, the hijackers claim to have a bomb, and a passenger has been knifed. His wife tells him about the planes flying into the World Trade Center. In a later call to his wife, Burnett says the passenger that had been knifed is dead, “they” are in the cockpit, and a group of passengers is getting ready to do something. Passenger Jeremy Glick calls his wife from the Airfone in Row 27. He speaks first to his mother-in-law and then to his wife in a call which lasts 25 ½ minutes. Glick tells his family that the plane has been hijacked by three “Iranian-looking” males with dark skin and bandanas; one of the males stated that he was in possession of a bomb in a red box and one is armed with a knife. He said that he and other passengers are contemplating “rushing” the hijackers. The passengers are voting on whether to storm the cockpit and retake control of the plane.
9:42 am: All aircraft ordered to land. Ben Sliney at the FAA Command Center in Herndon orders all aircraft to land at the nearest airport as soon as practical.
Passenger Todd Beamer, using the Airfone in Row 32, reaches a GTE operator. His connection lasts for the remainder of the flight. He notes the following: the flight has been hijacked, the captain and first officer are lying on the floor of the first class cabin and are injured or possibly dead. He reports that one of the terrorists has a red belt with a bomb strapped to his waist, two of the hijackers, who had knives, entered the cockpit and closed the door behind them. He indicates that the plane is going up and down and has turned or changed direction. Beamer tells the operator that he and some other passengers are planning something. He puts the phone down.
9:45 am: Evacuations begin at White House and U.S. Capitol Evacuations of the White House and Capitol begin in response to rumors of escalating attacks. Congressional leaders are taken to a secure facility. This is the first time in history that the entire United States Capitol building is evacuated. First Lady Laura Bush, who is at the Russell Senate Office Building adjacent to the Capitol in order to brief the Senate Education Committee, has also been taken to a secure location.
9:45 am: Cleveland Center continues to call Flight 93, they do not respond.
9:46 am: Passenger phones sister, records message. Linda Gronlund dials her sister from the Airfone in Row 26 and leaves a message saying her flight has been hijacked by terrorists who say they have a bomb. “Apparently, they, uh, flown a couple of planes into the World Trade Center already and it looks like they’re going to take this one down as well,” she reports. “Mostly, I just wanted to say I love you and I’m going to miss you.”
9:46 am: FAA Headquarters updated on Flight 93’s distance from Washington, D.C.
The Herndon Command Center updates FAA Headquarters: Flight 93 is tracking toward Washington, D.C. and is 29 minutes away from the city.
9:50 am: Flight Attendant phones husband. Flight Attendant Sandy Bradshaw calls her husband from the Airfone in Row 33. In the eight-minute call she reports the emergency and seems to be aware of the other hijackings that morning. Her husband confirms to her that two planes have crashed into the World Trade Center. Bradshaw tells her husband that the plane has been hijacked by three men who carried knives and put on red headbands as they were taking over the plane. She says she thinks the plane may be over the Mississippi because they are passing over a large river. She tells him that the passengers are discussing how to overpower the hijackers, including preparing hot water to throw on the hijackers before rushing them.
9:51 am: The Greater Pittsburgh Airport Tower is evacuated.
9:54 am: Passenger phones stepmother
Honor Elizabeth Wainio calls her stepmother from the Airfone in Row 33 and tells her that the plane has been hijacked. After about four and a half minutes of conversation, Wainio reports that the passengers and crew are getting ready to break into the cockpit. According to her stepmother she ends the call saying, “I have to go. I love you. Good-bye.”
9:55 am: Operator hears passenger declaration. The Airfone operator, who has been on the line with passenger Todd Beamer since 9:44, reports that someone says, “Are you guys ready? Okay! Let’s roll!”
9:56 am: Employees at Pittsburgh Airport Tower return to work. A small contingency of controllers voluntarily return to their positions at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport facility.
9:57 am: Passengers and crew end phone calls to begin the struggle
Passengers and crew begin their assault on the Flight 93 terrorist-hijackers. Flight Attendant Sandy Bradshaw ends the call to her husband saying that everyone’s running up to first class and she’s got to go.”
9:58 am: Passenger dials 9-1-1
Flight Attendant CeeCee Lyles dials her husband on her cell phone and this time reaches him. She tells him that the plane has been hijacked and the passengers and crew are forcing their way into the cockpit.
With the plane at 5,000 feet above sea level, about 2 minutes of rapid, full left and right control wheel inputs result in multiple 30 degree rolls to the left and right. The cockpit voice recorder captures sounds of loud thumps, crashes, shouts and breaking glasses and plates. A native English-speaking male voice or voices says, “Stop him!” and “Let’s get them!”
9:59 am: In New York City, the South Tower of the World Trade Center, the building struck by Flight 175, collapses.
10:00 am: Flight 93 makes steep climbs and dives.
10:00:05 am: Hijackers discuss final actions. One of the hijackers asks, “Is that it? Shall we finish it off?” A hijacker responds, “No. Not yet. When they all come, we finish it off.” Sounds of fighting continue outside the cockpit. Jarrah pitches the nose of the aircraft up and down.
10:00:14 am: English-speaking voices captured by cockpit voice recorder
A native English-speaking male shouts, “Ah!” A native English-speaking male says, “I’m injured.” A native English-speaking male shouts, “In the cockpit. If we don’t we’ll die.” A command is shouted, in the distance, by a native English-speaking male: “Roll it.”
10:01 am: Hijacker decision captured by the cockpit voice recorder. Jarrah stops violent maneuvers and says, “Allah is the greatest! Allah is the greatest.” He then asks another hijacker in the cockpit, “Is that it? I mean, shall we pull it down?” The other hijacker replies, “Put it in it, and pull it down.”
10:02 am: The struggle continues. Passengers and crew members keep up their assault. A native English-speaking male shouts loudly, “Turn it up!” A hijacker says: “Pull it down! Pull it down!” The plane, nose down, begins a rapid descent; the control wheel is turned hard to the right. The airplane rolls onto its back. A hijacker begins shouting, “Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest.”
10:03:11 am: Flight 93 crashes in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. With sounds of the passengers and crew fighting the terrorists, Flight 93 crashes into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 563 miles per hour, about 20 minutes flying time from Washington, D.C. All on board are killed.
10:28 am: In New York City, the North Tower of the World Trade Center, the building struck by Flight 11, collapses.