From recordings from that day:
We’ve asked everyone to leave lower Manhattan if they can on their own
We want you to say a prayer for everybody in there right now – really, pray as hard as you can for all these people …
It is raining paper and ashes and debris …
It appears from here it could be deliberate …
Manhattan dispatch, what exactly is going on, Kate? We are unable – we are unable to make any kind of communication – –
Mayor Giuliani: The city is now closed. The airspace around the city is closed. There are a large number of firefighters and police officers who are … in harm’s way. And we don’t know how many we’ve lost.
Six a.m.: President Bush is preparing for his morning jog at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort in Longbow Key, Florida, where he is staying. A van of men of Middle-eastern descent try to enter the resort, claiming they are to have a poolside interview with the President. They are turned away for not having an appointment.
7:45 a.m.: Atta and Al Amari and three other hijackers board American Airlines Flight 11. It is bound from Boston to Los Angeles. Flight 11 carries 81 passengers, nine flight attendants, two pilots.
7:59 a.m: Flight 11 takes off
8:01 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93 boards in Newark, New Jersey. It’s scheduled to fly to San Francisco but sits on the tarmac, delayed.
8:13 a.m.: Flight 11’s pilots and flight controllers have their last conversation. Pilots respond when told to turn right, but fail to climb when commanded to moments later.
8:14 a.m.: Flight 175 takes off from Boston. It is bound for L.A. On board are 56 passengers, 7 flight attendants, two pilots, and five hijackers.
8:19 a.m.: Flight 11 veers dramatically off course. Boston flight control assumes the plane has been hijacked; however, they wait five minutes before notifying other flight control centers, and they wait another twenty minutes before contacting NORAD.
8:20 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 departs Dullus International Airport in DC bound for Los Angeles. On board are 58 passengers, five flight attendants, two pilots, and five hijackers.
8:21 a.m.: Flight attendant Amy Sweeney calls American Airlines ground manager Michael Woodward. She tells him calmly, quote, “Listen to me, very carefully – I’m on Flight 11, we’ve been hijacked. Two flight attendants have been stabbed and a first class passenger has had his throat slashed.” She relays the hijackers’ seat numbers – in minutes, staff have their names, phone numbers, addresses, and credit card information. Amy Sweeney stays on the line till the end.
8:41 a.m.: Through an open mike in the cockpit of 175, flight controllers hear loud voices telling everyone to stay in their seats.
8:42 a.m.: After a forty-minute delay, United Flight 93 takes off from Newark Airport. On board are 38 passengers, five flight attendants, two pilots, and four hijackers.
At the same time, Flight 175 veers off course over the state of New Jersey.
8:43 a.m.: Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is in the Pentagon, speaking on terrorism. He says, “Let me tell you – I’ve been around the block a few times; there will be another event.”
8:44 a.m.: Amy Sweeney, the flight attendant on board Flight 11 who’s been speaking on an airphone with American Airlines personnel, is asked if she can recognize where she is. She answers, “I see water. I see the buildings. I see buildings – oh my God, pray for us.”
8:44 a.m.: Peter Hanson, aboard Flight 175, calls his father and says, “Oh my God – they just stabbed the airline hostess. I think the airline is being hijacked.” Although his cell phone cuts out twice, he is able to report to his father that flight attendants were being stabbed in order to force the pilots to unlock the cockpit door.
8:45 a.m.: Two F-15’s are ordered to scramble from Otis International Guard Base in Massachusetts, to try and find Flight 11. One minute later, at 8:46, Flight 11 slams into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. A French film crew working on a documentary about New York City firefighters manages to catch the crash on film.
American Flight 11 impacted the North Tower at 8:46 and 40 seconds.
8:48 a.m.: Flight 77 suddenly changes course near southeastern Kentucky and heads back towards Washington. The hijackers tell the passengers to call their families and say goodbye, because they are all going to die.
8:50 a.m.: A mechanic who routinely gets calls from attendants about broken items at United’s maintenance center in San Francisco receives a call from a female flight attendant on Flight 175. She says “Oh my God – the crew’s been killed – a flight attendant’s been stabbed – We’ve been hijacked.” Then the line went dead.
9:00 a.m.: President Bush, on his way to read to children at Booker Elementary School in Florida, is told of the crash into the World Trade Center.
9:01 a.m.: United Airlines warns all of its aircraft of the potential for cockpit intrusion and orders cockpit doors to be barricaded. However, United does not mention the hijackings. Flight 93, still on course, acknowledges the message.
9:03 a.m.: As the world watches, Flight 175 smashes into the South Tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 and three seconds.
9:05 a.m.: While waiting to speak to the group of second-graders, President Bush is told of the second WTC hit.
9:16 a.m.: The FCC notifies NORAD that Flight 93 may have been hijacked. It is thought that one of the hijackers was in the cockpit prior to takeoff. On the flight recorder, the pilots make mention of a guest who is a colleague; it is common for a guest pilot to ride in the cockpit’s jumper seat.
9:17 a.m.: All New York City area airports are shut down and all bridges and tunnels in New York are closed.
9:24 a.m.: The FAA informs NORAD that Flight 77 may have been hijacked, and appears to be headed toward Washington DC.
9:27 a.m.: Flight 93 checks in with Cleveland Ground Control and utters “Good morning’. A few minutes later, three men on board stand up, put red bandannas around their heads, and break into the cockpit. One grabbed the cockpit mike, unaware that ground control could hear his every word. He claims that there is a bomb on board, and that he is a pilot, and the plane must return to New Jersey.
9:26 a.m.: All airline departures in the United States are banned.
9:29 a.m.: President Bush speaks privately with National Security Advisor Rice. He leaves the school immediately. He makes a quick comment to reporters calling the crashes an apparent terrorist attack on our country.
9:31 a.m.: Three F-16’s leave Langley Air Force Base to intercept Flight 77. At about the same time, hijackers aboard Flight 77 tell passengers the plane is going to hit the White House.
9:32 a.m.: The New York Stock Exchange closes.
9:33 a.m.: Flight 77 is spotted flying over the Capitol Beltway at about 7000 feet. Suddenly, the plane makes a sharp turn and begins dropping towards the Pentagon. The plane is soon lost by radar.
9:34 a.m.: Aboard Flight 93, Tom Burnett phones his wife to tell him of the hijacking. She tells him of the planes flown into the WTC. He responds, “Oh my God – this is a suicide mission.”
9:40 a.m.: The FAA orders the entire nationwide air traffic system shut down.
A large jet aircraft, perhaps the size of a passenger plane, came very low, clipping off light poles as it approached the Pentagon, it slammed into the side of the Pentagon, and it drove itself from the outer ring all the way to the inner ring.
9:41 a.m: Flight 77 slams into the Pentagon. President Bush gives the order to shoot down any plane refusing to turn away from Wash DC.
9:48 am: Tom Burnett calls his wife again from Flight 93 and tells her “don’t worry – we took a vote, and we all decided – we’re going to try to do something.”
9:49 am: the White House is evacuated.
9:58 am: Todd Beamer, aboard Flight 93, puts down the airphone he’d been using to speak with an operator for the last few minutes. The operator stays on the line and hears Todd say to a nearby passenger, “Are you ready? Let’s roll.”
It is not there any more.
Peter Jennings: The whole side has collapsed?
The whole building has collapsed.
The whole building has collapsed?
David Letterman: The reason we were attacked, the reason these people are dead, these people are missing and dead, they weren’t doing anything wrong, they were living their lives, they were going to work, they were traveling, they were doing what they normally do … As I understand it, and my understanding is vague at best, another smaller group of people stole some airplanes and crashed them into buildings, and we’re told that they were zealots fueled by religious fervor. Religious fervor. And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any Goddamn sense?
Tom Hanks: We’re going to try and do something. That was the message sent by some very American heroes with names like Sandra Bradshaw, Jeremy Glick, Mark Bingham, Todd Beamer, and Thomas Bennett. They found themselves aboard the hijacked flight 93 that went down in Somerset County Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. They witnessed the brutality onboard, and somehow summoned the strength to warn us and take action. United they stood, and likely saved our world from an even darker day of perhaps even more unthinkable horror.
Now, since that day, millions of us everywhere of all ages, races, creeds, have asked ourselves, What are we to do? In their heroic undying spirit, we all feel the need to do something, however small and symbolic, to honor these remarkable heroes among us. Those who have fallen, and those still standing,united. Those of us here tonight are not heroes. We are not healers, nor protectors of this great nation. We appear tonight as a simple show of unity to honor the real heroes and to do whatever we can to ensure that all their families are supported by our larger American family. This is a moment to pause, and reflect, and to heal, and to rededicate ourselves to the American spirit, of one nation, indivisible.