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8:22 a.m. September 11, 2001: Flight 11 Attendant Sweeney Phones in Hijacking Details Edit

in a template [1]

Flight 11 attendant Amy Sweeney borrows a calling card from flight attendant Sara Low and uses an Airfone to try to call the American Airlines flight services office at Logan Airport.

She makes her first attempt at 8:22 a.m., but this quickly disconnects, as does a second attempt at 8:24. Further attempts at 8:25 and 8:29 are cut off after she reports someone hurt on the flight. The respondent to the call mistakenly thinks Sweeney’s flight number that she reports is 12. Hearing there is a problem with an American Airlines plane, Michael Woodward, an American Airlines flight service manager, goes to American’s gate area at the airport with a colleague, and realizes Flight 12 has not yet departed. He returns to the office to try to clarify the situation, then takes the phone and speaks to Sweeney himself. Because Woodward and Sweeney are friends, he does not have to verify the call is not a hoax. The call is not recorded, but Woodward takes detailed notes. According to the 9/11 Commission, the call between them lasts about 12 minutes, from 8:32 a.m. to 8:44 a.m. Accounts prior to the 9/11 Commission report spoke of one continuous call from around 8:20. [1][2]

Sweeney calmly tells Woodward, “Listen, and listen to me very carefully. I’m on Flight 11. The airplane has been hijacked.” [3][4] According to one account, she gives him the seat locations of three hijackers: 9D, 9G, and 10B. She says they are all of Middle Eastern descent, and one speaks English very well. [5][6] Another account states that she identifies four hijackers (but still not the five said to be on the plane), and notes that not all the seats she gave matched up with the seats assigned to the hijackers on their tickets. [7] [8] She says she cannot contact the cockpit, and does not believe the pilots are flying the plane any longer. [9]

According to a later Angeles Times report, “Even as she was relating details about the hijackers, the men were storming the front of the plane and ‘had just gained access to the cockpit,’” (This suggests Sweeney witnesses the storming of the cockpit at least seven minutes after radio contact from Flight 11 stops and at least one of the hijackers begins taking control of the cockpit.) [7]She says the hijackers have stabbed the two first-class flight attendants, Barbara Arestegui and Karen Martin. She adds, “A hijacker cut the throat of a business-class passenger [later identified as Daniel Lewin ], and he appears to be dead." [see 1]. She also says the hijackers have brought a bomb into the cockpit. Woodward asks Sweeney, “How do you know it’s a bomb?” She answers, “Because the hijackers showed me a bomb.” She describes its yellow and red wires. Sweeney continues talking with Woodward until Flight 11 crashes. [10][11]

  1. . [ABC NEWS, 7/18/2002; . http://observer.com/2004/02/stewardess-idd-hijackers-early-transcripts-show/. NEW YORK OBSERVER, 2/15/2004;
  2. 9/11 Commission Report,26 July 2004,Page 453
  3. . 
  4. [ABC NEWS, 7/18/2002]
  5. . 
  6. [NEW YORK OBSERVER, 2/15/2004]
  7. 7.0 7.1 LOS ANGELES TIMES. 9/20/2001. http://articles.latimes.com/2001/sep/20/news/mn-47829. [, ;
  8. . ABC NEWS, 7/18/2002]
  9. . [NEW YORK OBSERVER, 2/15/2004]
  10. . 
  11. [BOSTON GLOBE, 11/23/2001; NEW YORK OBSERVER, 2/15/2004]

(Between 8:22 a.m. and 8:44 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Sweeney’s Call Reaches American Headquarters, but Managers Cover Up the NewsEdit

Amy (Madeline) Sweeney. [Source: Telegraph of Nashua/ Getty Images] American Airlines Flight service manager Michael Woodward is listening to Flight 11 attendant Amy Sweeney on the telephone, and he wants to pass on the information he is hearing from her. Since there is no tape recorder, he calls Nancy Wyatt, the supervisor of pursers at Logan Airport. Holding telephones in both hands, he repeats to Wyatt everything that Sweeney is saying to him. Wyatt in turn simultaneously transmits his account to the airline’s Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters. The conversation between Wyatt and managers at headquarters is recorded. All vital details from Sweeney’s call reach American Airlines’ top management almost instantly. However, according to victims’ relatives who later hear this recording, the two managers at headquarters immediately begin discussing a cover-up of the hijacking details. They say, “don’t spread this around. Keep it close,” “Keep it quiet,” and “Let’s keep this among ourselves. What else can we find out from our own sources about what’s going on?” One former American Airlines employee who has also heard this recording recalls, “In Fort Worth, two managers in SOC [Systems Operations Control] were sitting beside each other and hearing it. They were both saying, ‘Do not pass this along. Let’s keep it right here. Keep it among the five of us.’” Apparently, this decision prevents early and clear evidence of a hijacking from being shared during the crisis. Gerard Arpey, American Airlines’ executive vice president for operations, soon hears details of the hijacking from flight attendant Betty Ong’s phone call (see 8:19 a.m. September 11, 2001) at 8:30 a.m. (see (8:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001), but apparently, he does not learn of Sweeney’s call until much later. Victims’ relatives will later question whether lives could have been saved if only this information had been quickly shared with other airplanes. [NEW YORK OBSERVER, 6/20/2004] Entity Tags: American Airlines, Madeline (“Amy”) Sweeney, Michael Woodward, Nancy Wyatt Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Before 8:26 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Hijackers Identified by Seat Locations Having been told by flight attendant Amy Sweeney the seat locations of three hijackers (see 8:22 a.m. September 11, 2001), American Airlines Flight service manager Michael Woodward orders a colleague at Boston’s Logan Airport to look up those seat locations on the reservations computer. The names, addresses, phone numbers, and credit cards of these hijackers are quickly identified: Abdulaziz Alomari is in 9G, Mohamed Atta is in 9D, and Satam Al Suqami is in 10B. 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey notes that from this information, American Airlines officials monitoring the call would probably have known or assumed right away that the hijacking was connected to al-Qaeda. [ABC NEWS, 7/18/2002; NEW YORK OBSERVER, 2/15/2004] Entity Tags: Bob Kerrey, Michael Woodward, Abdulaziz Alomari, Al-Qaeda, Mohamed Atta, Satam Al Suqami Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(8:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Sweeney Continues to Provide Flight 11 Updates Flight attendant Amy Sweeney continues to describe what is happening onboard Flight 11 to Michael Woodward at Logan Airport. At some point prior to this, she explains that flight attendants are giving injured people oxygen. They have made an announcement over the PA system asking if there is a doctor or nurse on board. Sweeney is calling from the rear of the coach section. She explains that the passengers in coach, separated by curtains from the violence in first class, are calm, believing that there is some type of medical emergency at the front of the plane. Then, at this time, the plane suddenly lurches, tilting all the way to one side, then becomes horizontal again. Then she says it begins a rapid descent. She tries to contact the cockpit again, but still gets no response. [ABC NEWS, 7/18/2002; NEW YORK OBSERVER, 2/15/2004] Entity Tags: Michael Woodward, Madeline (“Amy”) Sweeney Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(8:44 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Flight 11 Attendant Calm as End Approaches Flight attendant Amy Sweeney is still on the phone with American Airlines flight services manager Michael Woodward, describing conditions on Flight 11. The plane is nearing New York City, but the coach section passengers are still quiet, apparently unaware a hijacking is in progress. Sweeney reports, “Something is wrong. We are in a rapid descent… we are all over the place.” Woodward asks her to look out of the window and see if she can tell where they are. According to ABC News, she replies, “I see the water. I see the buildings. I see buildings.” She tells him the plane is flying very low. Then she takes a slow, deep breath and slowly, calmly says, “Oh my God!” According to Woodward’s account to the 9/11 Commission, Sweeney’s reply is, “We are flying low. We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low.” Seconds later, she adds, “Oh my God, we are way too low.” These are her last words. Then Woodward hears a “very, very loud static on the other end.” Sweeney’s call has ended at about 8:44, according to the 9/11 Commission, two minutes before her plane crashes into the WTC. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/20/2001; ABC NEWS, 7/18/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 6-7 AND 453] At 8:45 a.m., Nancy Wyatt, an American Airlines employee who has been listening to the call between Woodward and Sweeney, reports to the airline’s System Operations Control (SOC) in Fort Worth. Contradicting the later claims by Woodward that Sweeney was calm to the end, Wyatt tells the SOC that she had “started screaming and saying something’s wrong.” Wyatt adds that Woodward “thinks he might be disconnected [from Sweeney]. Okay, we just lost connection.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/26/2004, PP. 14 AND 88 ] Betty Ong, another flight attendant, has also made an emergency phone call from Flight 11. This is also terminated around this time (see (8:44 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Michael Woodward, Nancy Wyatt, Madeline (“Amy”) Sweeney, American Airlines Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

refsEdit

  1. . [ABC NEWS, 7/18/2002; . http://observer.com/2004/02/stewardess-idd-hijackers-early-transcripts-show/. NEW YORK OBSERVER, 2/15/2004;
  2. 9/11 Commission Report,26 July 2004,Page 453
  3. . 
  4. [ABC NEWS, 7/18/2002]
  5. . 
  6. [NEW YORK OBSERVER, 2/15/2004]
  7. 7.0 7.1 LOS ANGELES TIMES. 9/20/2001. http://articles.latimes.com/2001/sep/20/news/mn-47829. [, ;
  8. . ABC NEWS, 7/18/2002]
  9. . [NEW YORK OBSERVER, 2/15/2004]
  10. . 
  11. [BOSTON GLOBE, 11/23/2001; NEW YORK OBSERVER, 2/15/2004]

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