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(9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Who Warns Who of Flight 77’s Impending Approach to D.C.? Edit

Chris Stephenson, head flight controller at Washington’s Reagan National Airport tower, says that he is called by the Secret Service around this time. He is told an unidentified aircraft is speeding toward Washington. Stephenson looks at the radarscope and sees Flight 77 about five miles to the west. He looks out the tower window and sees the plane turning to the right and descending. He follows it until it disappears behind a building in nearby Crystal City, Virginia. [USA TODAY, 8/11/2002] However, according to another account, just before 9:30 a.m., a controller in the same tower has an unidentified plane on radar, “heading toward Washington and without a transponder signal to identify it. It’s flying fast, she says: almost 500 mph. And it’s heading straight for the heart of the city. Could it be American Flight 77? The FAA warns the Secret Service.” [USA TODAY, 8/13/2002] In short, it is unclear whether the Secret Service warns the FAA, or vice versa. Entity Tags: Chris Stephenson, Federal Aviation Administration, Secret Service Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: FAA Emergency Operations Center Is Finally Operational Edit

The FAA’s Emergency Operations Center gets up and running, five minutes after the FAA issues an order grounding all civilian, military, and law enforcement aircraft. [TIME, 9/14/2001] This center’s role in the crisis response remains unclear. Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:32 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Flight 93 Hijacker Tells Passengers Bomb Is Onboard; Air Traffic Controller Overhears At the FAA’s Cleveland Center, an air traffic controller hears a transmission, presumably made by Flight 93 hijacker-pilot Ziad Jarrah, stating: “Ladies and gentlemen: Here the captain, please sit down, keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board. So, sit.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 12; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/26/2004, PP. 39 ] As the 9/11 Commission later notes, “Like [Mohamed] Atta on Flight 11, Jarrah apparently did not know how to operate the communication radios; thus his attempts to communicate with the passengers were broadcast on the [air traffic control] channel.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/26/2004, PP. 98 ] While this communication is assumed to have come from Flight 93, an early FAA report states that it came “from an unknown origin.” [FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, 9/17/2001 ] According to Newsweek, just prior to the communication, Cleveland Center controllers heard the sound of screaming from the flight. [NEWSWEEK, 9/22/2001] The 9/11 Commission states that, around the time of the transmission, the plane’s cockpit voice recording indicates “that a woman, most likely a flight attendant, was being held captive in the cockpit. She struggled with one of the hijackers who killed or otherwise silenced her.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 12; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/26/2004, PP. 39 ] Though the Cleveland air traffic controller understands the hijacker’s communication, he responds to it: “Calling Cleveland Center, you’re unreadable. Say again, slowly.” He also notifies his supervisor who passes the information up the chain of command, and the FAA’s Command Center is subsequently informed, “United 93 may have a bomb on board.” At 9:34 the Command Center will relay this information to FAA headquarters (see 9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 28] Entity Tags: Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center, 9/11 Commission, Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:32 a.m.-9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001: In Middle of Crisis, FAA Group Wants Tour of Washington Airport’s Control Tower A group from FAA headquarters, who are apparently oblivious to the morning’s crisis, request and are given a tour of the air traffic control tower at Washington’s Reagan National Airport, until they are forced to leave there just before the time of the Pentagon attack. [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 157-158] Reagan Airport is located less than a mile from the Pentagon. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/3/2001] Tour Group Wants to See Tower - At 9:32, the tower supervisor, Chris Stephenson, receives a phone call from one of the airport’s maintenance workers. The maintenance worker says he has a group there from the FAA’s Washington headquarters that is visiting the airport to go over some maintenance issues, but they are also curious to see what goes on in the control tower. It appears the FAA personnel are unaware of the attacks in New York, and Stephenson is asked if it is okay to bring them up. Though he is busy dealing with the chaos resulting from the ground stop recently ordered by the FAA’s Command Center (see (9:26 a.m.) September 11, 2001), Stephenson reluctantly agrees. The group arrives moments later, but Stephenson tries to ignore them. According to author Lynn Spencer, Stephenson is as yet unaware that an errant aircraft has been spotted heading toward Washington (see (9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 157] But according to USA Today, the Secret Service warned him about this aircraft at around 9:30 a.m. (see (9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [USA TODAY, 8/11/2002] Group Ordered to Leave - Shortly after the group arrives, Stephenson is called by a controller at the TRACON and notified of the unidentified aircraft (presumably Flight 77), which is five miles west of the tower (see (9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001). When he looks out the window, he sees it, now less than a mile away and approaching fast. Stephenson yells at the tour group: “Out! Get out!” The FAA group heads off down the stairs, but the last in the line looks out the window at the descending aircraft and asks, “What’s that guy doing?” ”Get out!” Stephenson repeats, and pushes the man into the stairwell. Soon afterwards, the Pentagon is hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 158] Entity Tags: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Chris Stephenson, Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001: FAA’s Headquarters Notified There Might Be a Bomb Onboard Flight 93; NORAD Not Notified According to the 9/11 Commission, word of Flight 93’s hijacking reaches FAA headquarters. By this time, headquarters has established an open line of communication with the FAA Command Center at Herndon, Virginia. It had instructed the center to poll all flight control centers about suspect aircraft. So, at this time, the Command Center passes on Cleveland’s message: “United 93 may have a bomb on board.” The FAA headquarters apparently does not forward this information to the military, despite having the responsibility for doing so. Ben Sliney, the FAA’s national operations manager at its Herndon Command Center, will later recount, “I do know that all the information was being relayed to headquarters and, at least as far as we were concerned, it should have been. We thought it had been given to the military at each juncture.” The Command Center continually updates FAA headquarters on Flight 93 until it crashes. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004; CBC, 9/12/2006] Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, Ben Sliney Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001: FAA Mentions in Passing to NORAD that Flight 77 Is Missing According to the 9/11 Commission, NEADS contacts Washington flight control to ask about Flight 11. A manager there happens to mention, “We’re looking—we also lost American 77.” The commission claims, “This was the first notice to the military that American 77 was missing, and it had come by chance.… No one at FAA Command Center or headquarters ever asked for military assistance with American 77.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Yet, 38 minutes earlier, flight controllers determined Flight 77 was off course, out of radio contact, and had no transponder signal (see 8:56 a.m. September 11, 2001). They’d warned American Airlines headquarters within minutes. By some accounts, this is the first time NORAD is told about Flight 77, but other accounts have them warned around 9:25 a.m. Entity Tags: American Airlines, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Northeast Air Defense Sector, Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Before 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001: Flight 77 Disappears from Radar Washington flight controllers are watching Flight 77’s radar blip. Just before radar contact is lost, FAA headquarters is told: “The aircraft is circling. It’s turning away from the White House.” [USA TODAY, 8/13/2002] Then the blip disappears (see 9:34 a.m.- 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Its last known position is six miles from the Pentagon and four miles from the White House. The plane is said to be traveling at around 500 mph, or a mile every seven seconds. [CBS NEWS, 9/21/2001; NEWHOUSE NEWS SERVICE, 1/25/2002; USA TODAY, 8/13/2002; ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002] Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Cleveland Flight Control Wants NORAD Notified; FAA Command Center Says People Are Working on It

FAA’€™s Cleveland Center. [Source: ABC News] According to the 9/11 Commission, at about this time Cleveland flight control specifically asks the FAA Command Center whether someone has requested the military to launch fighters toward Flight 93. Cleveland offers to contact a nearby military base. The Command Center replies that FAA personnel well above them in the chain of command have to make that decision and are working on the issue. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Cleveland overheard a hijacker say there was a “bomb on board” at 9:32 a.m. and passed the message to FAA higher ups (see (9:32 a.m.) September 11, 2001). According to John Werth, the Cleveland controller handling Flight 93, “Within three or four minutes, probably, of when [the hijacking] happened, I asked if the military was advised yet. Had anybody called the military? They said, ‘don’t worry. That’s been taken care of,’ which I think to them, meant they had called the command center in Washington.” [CBS NEWS, 9/10/2006] Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, John Werth, Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Before 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001: Government Departments in Washington Not Evacuated Prior to Pentagon Attack Government buildings in Washington, DC, are not evacuated prior to the attack on the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. As CNN will describe, even after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the FAA’s warning to the military of a hijacked aircraft apparently heading toward Washington (see 9:21 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (9:24 a.m.) September 11, 2001), “the federal government failed to make any move to evacuate the White House, Capitol, State Department, or the Pentagon.” [CNN, 9/16/2001] Although a slow evacuation of the White House begins around 9:20 a.m. (see (9:22 a.m.) September 11, 2001), it is not until 9:45 that the Secret Service orders people to run from there (see (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CNN, 9/11/2001; CNN, 9/12/2001; ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002] Other government buildings, including the Capitol (see 9:48 a.m. September 11, 2001), the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Supreme Court, will not be evacuated until between 9:45 and 10:45 a.m. [US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, 9/14/2001; US DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 8/15/2002] Robert Bonner, who was recently nominated as Commissioner of Customs, will later estimate that he was evacuated from the Treasury Department at “about 9:35 a.m.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004; US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, 9/20/2004] But other accounts say the Treasury Department is not evacuated until after the Pentagon attack. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/11/2001; REUTERS, 9/11/2001; US DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 9/11/2002] Furthermore, journalist and author Robert Draper will describe that, even after the State and Treasury departments have been evacuated: “no agents thought to take charge of the Commerce Department, which housed 5,000 employees. Eventually, Secretary [of Commerce] Don Evans got tired of waiting for orders and had someone drive him to his home in McLean, where he sat for hours until he finally made contact with the Secret Service.” [DRAPER, 2007, PP. 143] According to CNN, prior to the Pentagon attack, “neither the FAA, NORAD, nor any other federal government organ made any effort to evacuate the buildings in Washington. Officials at the Pentagon said that no mechanism existed within the US government to notify various departments and agencies under such circumstances [as occur on 9/11].” [CNN, 9/16/2001] Entity Tags: Pentagon, US Supreme Court, Robert Bonner, US Department of Commerce, US Department of Justice, Federal Aviation Administration, US Department of the Treasury, US Department of State, White House, US Capitol building, Donald L. Evans Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001: Air Force Crisis Action Team Responds to Attacks

Harry Brosofsky. [Source: Syracuse University] Inside the Air Force Operations Center at the Pentagon, personnel do not feel when the building is hit. The Operations Center is located in the basement of the building’s C Ring, on the opposite side to where the impact occurs. But alarms go off, and television news reports confirm that the Pentagon has been attacked. Secretary of the Air Force James Roche and Air Force Chief of Staff John Jumper arrive at the Operations Center shortly after the attack (see (Shortly After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). According to Roche, the first thing they do there is “try and find out where our people were to make sure they were safe and safely out of the building.” Then, “The second thing we did was to try and hook up with the North American Air Defense Command, NORAD, and then to stand by and start to think of how we, the Air Force, could support any casualties or any other things that might develop during the day.” Air Force Major Harry Brosofsky also arrives at the Operations Center shortly after the Pentagon is hit, to help the Air Force’s Crisis Action Team (CAT) there. When he arrives, the CAT is taking calls coming in on numerous phone lines. As Brosofsky later describes, “We became the eyes and ears of the Air Force.” The CAT works with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to monitor flight activity over the US. It also coordinates with NORAD to put fighter jets on alert in Alaska and Hawaii. Brosofsky says that while “We’re trained to know what to do in a crisis,… at times we had information overload and had to decide quickly what to do with all the information that was pouring in.” Around midday, the decision is made to leave the building, and the CAT relocates to a secret location outside Washington. [DOVER POST, 9/19/2001; CNN, 10/10/2001; SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE, 12/2001; AIRMAN, 10/2002; PROSPECTUS, 9/2006, PP. 3-6 ] Entity Tags: James G. Roche, Air Force Crisis Action Team, Harry Brosofsky, North American Aerospace Defense Command, US Department of the Air Force, Federal Aviation Administration, John P. Jumper Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Aircraft Carriers Called to Defend US; Uncertainty Over When This Happens

The USS George Washington. [Source: Summer Anderson / Department of Defense] After the attack on the Pentagon, Navy ships and aircraft squadrons that are stationed, or at sea, along the coast of the United States are, reportedly, “rapidly pressed into action” to defend the country. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark is evacuated from his office in the Pentagon after the building is hit, and soon relocates to the Navy’s Antiterrorist Alert Center in southeast Washington, DC, where a backup Navy command center is being established (see After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Clark later explains, “We had carriers at sea. I talked to Admiral Natter [Adm. Robert J. Natter, commander in chief, US Atlantic Fleet] and Admiral Fargo [Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, commander in chief, US Pacific Fleet] about immediate loadouts [of weapons and armed aircraft] and the positioning of our air defense cruisers. Fundamentally, those pieces were in place almost immediately and integrated into the interagency process and with the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration].” The aircraft carrier USS George Washington is currently at sea conducting training exercises. It is dispatched to New York, “following the recovery of armed F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Hornets from Naval Air Station Oceana,” in Virginia Beach, Virginia. According to Sea Power magazine, another aircraft carrier—the USS John F. Kennedy—that is departing Mayport, Florida, is ordered to patrol the waters off Hampton Roads, Virginia, “to protect the Navy’s vast shore complex in Norfolk.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/12/2001; SEA POWER, 1/2002; NOTRE DAME MAGAZINE, 4/2007] The John F. Kennedy has nearly a full air wing of 75 fighter, attack, and reconnaissance planes aboard it, while the George Washington has only a limited number of aircraft on board. [VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 9/12/2001] Admiral Natter orders two amphibious ships—the USS Bataan and the USS Shreveport—to proceed to North Carolina, to pick up Marines from Camp Lejeune, in case additional support is needed in New York. “Within three hours, an undisclosed number of Aegis guided-missile cruisers and destroyers also were underway, their magazines loaded with Standard 2 surface-to-air missiles. Positioned off New York and Norfolk, and along the Gulf Coast, they provided robust early-warning and air-defense capabilities to help ensure against follow-on terrorist attacks.” Vern Clark later recalls that, after the Pentagon attack, “We were thinking about the immediate protection of the United States of America.” [SEA POWER, 1/2002] Yet, according to CNN, it is not until 1:44 p.m. that the Pentagon announces that five warships and two aircraft carriers—the USS George Washington and the USS John F. Kennedy—are to depart the Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia, so as to protect the East Coast (see 1:44 p.m. September 11, 2001). [CNN, 9/12/2001] And, according to some reports, the Navy only dispatches missile destroyers toward New York and Washington at 2:51 p.m. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/12/2001; FOX NEWS, 9/13/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/11/2006] Entity Tags: Robert Natter, US Department of the Navy, Federal Aviation Administration, Thomas Fargo, Vern Clark Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001: Attorney General Ashcroft Insists on Leaving Milwaukee and Flying to Washington, despite FAA Ground Stop

General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [Source: VisitingDC.com] Attorney General John Ashcroft insists that the plane he is traveling on take off from Milwaukee and head to Washington, DC, even though he has been discouraged from getting airborne due to the possibility of further attacks, and his pilot has been told by air traffic control that he will not be allowed to take off. [ASHCROFT, 2006, PP. 117; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 257-258] Ashcroft was flying from Washington to Milwaukee in a Cessna Citation V jet when he learned of the attacks in New York in a phone call with the Justice Department command center. He’d wanted to immediately head back to Washington, but his pilot, David Clemmer, said they would first need to land in Milwaukee to refuel (see Shortly After 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). Their aircraft then landed, presumably at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport. SWAT Team Surrounds Plane - After the plane touched down, Ashcroft and the others on board were met by a SWAT team, brandishing weapons, which surrounded the plane. Then, while Clemmer took care of refueling, Ashcroft and his fellow passengers—some colleagues of his from the Justice Department—went into the airport’s evacuated terminal and found a television on which they could watch the news coverage from New York. Soon after, they learned that the Pentagon had been hit. Ashcroft Discouraged from Taking Off - While at the airport, Ashcroft spends much of his time speaking over the phone to the Justice Department command center in Washington. He will later recall, “Some people were discouraging us from getting back on the plane until we knew whether there was going to be another attack.” But Ashcroft “didn’t want to wait that long,” so as soon as Clemmer has finished refueling the plane, Ashcroft gives him the order to take off. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/28/2001; ASHCROFT, 2006, PP. 115-117] Ashcroft Overrules Order Not to Take Off - However, the FAA has ordered a nationwide ground stop to prevent aircraft from taking off (see (9:26 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and air traffic control has informed Clemmer that his plane will not be allowed to leave Milwaukee for Washington. [US CONGRESS. HOUSE. COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE, 9/21/2001; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 25; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 257-258] Clemmer therefore tells Ashcroft: “I’m sorry, sir. We can’t take off. I just received orders that we are not supposed to be flying.” But Ashcroft responds: “No, we’re going. Let’s get back in the air.” Ashcroft and his fellow passengers then board the plane. [ASHCROFT, 2006, PP. 117] They are joined by another Justice Department aide and another FBI agent in addition to the one who’d been on the plane when it landed in Milwaukee. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/28/2001] Pilot Convinces Controller to Let Him Take Off - Clemmer is eventually able to convince air traffic control to allow him to leave Milwaukee. He then takes off and heads toward Washington. However, when Ben Sliney, the national operations manager at the FAA’s Command Center, hears about this, he will reportedly be “livid,” and Ashcroft’s plane will be ordered to land (see 10:40 a.m. September 11, 2001). [ASHCROFT, 2006, PP. 117; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 258] Entity Tags: US Department of Justice, John Ashcroft, Federal Aviation Administration, David Clemmer Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


(9:39 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Flight 93 Hijacker Again Warns of Bomb on Board, Flight Controllers Again Overhear; NORAD Still Not Notified Edit

The Flight 93 hijackers (probably inadvertently) transmit over the radio: “Hi, this is the captain. We’d like you all to remain seated. There is a bomb on board. And we are going to turn back to the airport. And they had our demands, so please remain quiet.” [BOSTON GLOBE, 11/23/2001; LONGMAN, 2002, PP. 209; MSNBC, 9/3/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] The controller responds, “United 93, understand you have a bomb on board. Go ahead,” but there is no response. There was a very similar “bomb on board” warning from the same flight at 9:32 a.m. (see (9:32 a.m.) September 11, 2001). The 9/11 Commission indicates that these are separate incidents. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Cleveland flight control apparently continues to wait for FAA superiors to notify NORAD. Earlier in the morning, Boston flight control directly contacted NORAD (see (8:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and local air force bases when they determined Flight 11 was hijacked. Entity Tags: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center, Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:40 a.m. September 11, 2001: Cleveland Center Notifies Regional Operations Center about Flight 93 The FAA’s Cleveland Center notifies the FAA’s Great Lakes Regional Operations Center about the screams and statements it heard from an unknown origin, but that are believed to have come from Flight 93. These transmissions were heard between 9:28 and 9:39 (see (9:28 a.m.) September 11, 2001, (9:32 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (9:39 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, 9/17/2001 ] The FAA’s Herndon Command Center and Washington headquarters were alerted to Flight 93 several minutes earlier (see 9:34 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/26/2004, PP. 39 ] Entity Tags: Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center, Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001: FAA Command Center Identifies Ten Possible Hijacked Planes Newark, New Jersey, air traffic controller Bob Varcadipane is talking on the phone with the FAA Command Center. He is told that the Command Center is still suspicious of at least ten planes for one reason or another, all possible hijackings. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, Bob Varcadipane Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:41 a.m.-9:48 a.m. September 11, 2001: FAA Command Center Notifies FAA Headquarters about Flight 93 Problems The FAA’s Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, provides updates to FAA headquarters in Washington, DC, about the problems with Flight 93. At 9:41 a.m., John White, a manager at the Command Center, is talking to Doug Davis, the special assistant for technical operations in air traffic services at FAA headquarters. White says that Flight 93 has reversed course from its intended flight path (see (9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001), its transponder signal has been lost (see (9:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and it is now descending and heading east. From 9:42 a.m., one of the Command Center managers (exactly who is unstated) gives the headquarters several updates on Flight 93’s progress and location. At 9:46 a.m., White tells Jeff Griffith, the FAA’s deputy director of air traffic, that Flight 93 is “29 minutes out of Washington, DC, and tracking toward us.” Two minutes later, in another conversation with Griffith, White confirms that Flight 93 has reversed course and is heading toward Washington. [FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, 10/21/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/26/2004, PP. 43-44 ] Entity Tags: Doug Davis, Federal Aviation Administration, Jeff Griffith, John White Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Senior FAA Manager, on His First Day on the Job, Orders All Planes Out of the Sky Nationwide

FAA National Operations Manager Ben Sliney. [Source: Publicity photo] Ben Sliney, FAA’s National Operations Manager, orders the entire nationwide air traffic system shut down. All flights at US airports are stopped. Around 3,950 flights are still in the air. Sliney makes the decision without consulting FAA head Jane Garvey, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, or other bosses, but they quickly approve his actions. It’s Sliney’s first day on the job. [CNN, 9/12/2001; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/12/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/12/2001; MSNBC, 9/22/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 8/12/2002; USA TODAY, 8/13/2002; USA TODAY, 8/13/2002; USA TODAY, 8/13/2002; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 8/21/2002; NEWSDAY, 9/10/2002] Seventy-five percent of the planes land within one hour of the order. [USA TODAY, 8/12/2002] The 9/11 Commission will later remark that this “was an unprecedented order” that the “air traffic control system handled… with great skill.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 29] The Washington Post has reported that Mineta told Monte Belger at the FAA: “Monte, bring all the planes down,” even adding, “[Expletive] pilot discretion.” [WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002] However, it is later reported by a different Post reporter that Mineta did not even know of the order until 15 minutes later. This reporter “says FAA officials had begged him to maintain the fiction.” [SLATE, 4/2/2002] Entity Tags: Ben Sliney, Federal Aviation Administration, Jane Garvey, Monte Belger, Norman Mineta Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:49 a.m. September 11, 2001: FAA Command Center Suggests Launching Fighters in Response to Flight 93; FAA Headquarters Unable to Request Them

Doug Davis. [Source: Federal Aviation Administration] John White, a manager at the FAA’s Command Center, suggests to Doug Davis, the special assistant for technical operations in air traffic services at FAA headquarters, that fighter jets should be launched in response to Flight 93. However, FAA headquarters is apparently unable to act on this suggestion. [FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, 10/21/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 29; CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 9/10/2006] In the last few minutes, the Command Center has warned headquarters that Flight 93 is “29 minutes out of Washington” and approaching the city (see 9:41 a.m.-9:48 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/26/2004, PP. 44 ] Command Center Asks about Launching Fighters - Davis now tells White, “They’re pulling Jeff [Griffith, the FAA’s deputy director of air traffic] away to go talk about United 93.” White asks, “Uh, do we want to think, uh, about scrambling aircraft?” Davis replies, “Oh, God, I don’t know.” White says, “Uh, that’s a decision somebody’s gonna have to make probably in the next 10 minutes.” However, Davis only responds, “Uh, ya know everybody just left the room.” [FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, 10/21/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 29] This conversation takes place 13 minutes after the FAA’s Cleveland Center asked the Command Center whether anyone had asked the military to launch fighter jets to intercept Flight 93 (see (9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/26/2004, PP. 40 ] Person Who Could Request Fighters Is Unavailable - Apparently there is only one person at FAA headquarters who is authorized to request military assistance, and Ben Sliney, the Command Center’s national operations manager, is told that no one can find him. Sliney will later recount: “I said something like, ‘That’s incredible. There’s only one person. There must be someone designated or someone who will assume the responsibility of issuing an order, you know.’ We were becoming frustrated in our attempts to get some information. What was the military response?” [CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 9/10/2006] This lack of response to Flight 93 contrasts with the FAA’s earlier reaction to Flight 11, when Boston Center air traffic controllers contacted NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) themselves (see (8:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and even called military bases directly (see 8:34 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (8:34 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 20] Entity Tags: Ben Sliney, John White, Doug Davis, Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:50 a.m. and After) September 11, 2001: Cleveland Airport and City Buildings Evacuated due to Possibly Hijacked Aircraft Coming in to Land

Michael White. [Source: Publicity photo] Cleveland Hopkins Airport and numerous buildings in the city of Cleveland are evacuated, following the decision to land Delta Air Lines Flight 1989—which is wrongly thought to be hijacked and with a bomb on board—at the Cleveland airport. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/11/2001; WKYC, 9/11/2006; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 191-192] Airport Concerned about Delta 1989 - Delta Air Lines was concerned about Flight 1989, and instructed it to land as soon as possible in Cleveland (see (9:42 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 167; USA TODAY, 9/11/2008] FAA and military personnel have mistakenly suspected that this aircraft has been hijacked (see (9:28 a.m.-9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001, 9:39 a.m. September 11, 2001, and (Shortly After 9:44 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and their concerns have reached personnel at Cleveland Airport. Fred Szabo, the airport commissioner, will later recall: “There was an indication that this might be a terrorist plane. We didn’t know if there were bombs on board, or if it was a hijacked plane.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 27-28; WKYC, 9/11/2006; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 167-168] Airport Evacuated as Plane Approaches - As Delta 1989 heads in to land, air traffic controllers instruct it to follow a long path that initially takes it far past the airport. According to author Lynn Spencer, the “controllers are giving themselves time to evacuate the airport since [Delta 1989] has been confirmed hijacked and since they believe it contains a bomb intended to detonate when the aircraft crashes into the terminal.” Even FAA personnel at the airport evacuate their building and make their way to a huge NASA hangar next door. [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 191-192] After Delta 1989 lands, police block off all entrances to the airport terminal, and bomb-sniffing dogs are brought to baggage pickup areas. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/11/2001] City Buildings Evacuated - Furthermore, for the first time in his administration, Cleveland Mayor Michael White orders the evacuation of all federal and city buildings. [WCPN, 9/20/2001] Schools are closed and a parking ban is issued downtown. [WCPN, 9/12/2001] White also asks owners of large commercial high-rises to evacuate. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/11/2001] These evacuation efforts presumably benefit from the fact that Cleveland is one of six major Ohio cities that has, for a number of years, been part of a federal program to help defend against domestic terrorism. [WCPN, 9/20/2001] NASA Facility Evacuated - Even the 3,500 employees at the NASA Glenn Research Center, which is located adjacent to the Cleveland airport, are ordered to evacuate their facility. Directors there had in fact met and decided to evacuate the center after seeing the television coverage of the second attack on the World Trade Center. It takes about an hour and a half to get everyone out of the building. [CLEVELAND FREE TIMES, 9/6/2006] Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, Fred Szabo, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Michael R. White Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:53 a.m. September 11, 2001: FAA Headquarters Still Only Talking About Telling NORAD of Flight 93 Hijack According to the 9/11 Commission, FAA headquarters informs the FAA Command Center that the deputy director for air traffic services is talking to Deputy Administrator Monte Belger about scrambling aircraft after Flight 93. Yet in interviews with the commission, neither Belger nor the deputy director recall this discussion, and Belger subsequently e-mails the commission saying he does not believe the conversation took place. However, tape recordings reveal a staff person from headquarters at this time telling the Command Center, “Peter’s talking to Monte now about scrambling.” FAA headquarters is also informed that the flight is 20 miles northwest of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 461] When questioned about this, Belger will point out that there are military people on duty at the FAA Command Center and in a situation room at the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization, and that they are participating in what is going on. In addition, Belger will later tell the commission that he thought the NMCC was on the hijack net and would therefore have received notification on this channel at the same time as all other agencies. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Incredibly, FAA headquarters has known since 9:34 A.M. about hijackers talking about a bomb on board the flight, and more evidence has since been passed on confirming a hijacking in progress. Still, reportedly, no one tells NORAD anything about the plane. Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, Monte Belger Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:55 a.m. and After) September 11, 2001: Numerous International Flights to US Transmit Emergency Transponder Codes FAA radar displays begin showing that a growing number of international flights approaching America are transmitting warning codes from their transponders. [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 196-197] Airspace Shut Down - At around 9:45 a.m., the FAA shut down US airspace and ordered all aircraft to land (see (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Shortly afterwards, Canada took similar action. However, international flights that are over the oceans and approaching America are getting low on fuel. As their crews establish radio contact with air traffic controllers, they are told that American airspace is closed. Many of the worried pilots dial emergency codes into their transponders. [US CONGRESS. HOUSE. COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE, 9/21/2001; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 29; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 196] Radar Screens Highlight Numerous Flights - A plane’s transponder is a device that sends that aircraft’s identifying information, speed, and altitude to radar screens. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/16/2001] There are three specific codes that pilots can dial into their transponder to signal an emergency: “7500” signifies a hijacking, “7600” signifies a loss of radio, and “7700” signifies other emergencies. [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 25-26] Amid the current crisis, FAA radar screens begin highlighting a growing number of flights over the oceans that are transmitting warning codes. According to author Lynn Spencer, “One foreign crew dials in the four-digit code for ‘hijack,’ just to let the authorities know they are aware of what is taking place.” [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 196-197] In response to a request from the FAA, Canada will agree to open its airspace to all international flights that are diverted away from the United States, allowing those flights to land at Canadian airports (see 10:21 a.m. September 11, 2001). [CNN, 9/12/2001; TIME, 9/14/2001; NAV CANADA, 7/22/2005] Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Reagan Airport Control Tower Evacuated due to Report of Approaching Aircraft The air traffic control tower at Washington’s Reagan National Airport is evacuated, after it is informed that a suspicious aircraft—presumably Flight 93—is heading its way. Warning of Approaching Aircraft - In the control tower, supervisor Chris Stephenson receives a call from the FAA’s Herndon Command Center, telling him: “You have another [aircraft] headed your way. Confirmed bomb on board.” This information also makes it to the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) at the airport. Around this time, the Command Center changes the information it has for Flight 93’s flight plan, so that it shows a destination of Reagan Airport (see 9:55 a.m. September 11, 2001). This means air traffic controllers are now able to track the flight on their situation displays. But in response to the news that the approaching aircraft has a bomb on board, the facility manager at Reagan Airport becomes concerned about the safety of his employees and decides to evacuate the control tower. Tower Controllers Evacuated - Dan Creedon, a controller in the TRACON, tries calling the tower repeatedly, to pass on the manager’s instruction to evacuate, but he is unable to get through. He therefore leaves his post and takes the elevator up the tower. Once he reaches the control tower cab, he announces that there are to be “minimum bodies” in the tower, with only a skeletal staff remaining. Four controllers therefore volunteer to leave. [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 215-216] (Seven or eight controllers usually work in the tower during a given shift, so this would mean three or four controllers remain there. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/28/2003 ] ) Terminal Being Evacuated - When they make it down to the airport terminal, the controllers find that it too is being evacuated. Police are yelling at the crowd: “Everybody’s got to go! There are no more flights! Leave your stuff! Just go! It doesn’t matter where you go, just get away from the airport.” Other Controllers Head to Mobile Unit - The controllers who had remained behind decide they too should leave the tower and relocate to an emergency mobile unit. Before doing so, they temporarily turn over the command and control of their airspace to Washington, DC, police helicopters. They are then escorted by members of the Secret Service down from the tower and through the terminal. [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 216] Entity Tags: Chris Stephenson, Federal Aviation Administration, Dan Creedon, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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