I found out the the Towers were hit while I was on my way to work at 6:30 AM. My wife called me. While on the phone, she watched in horror as the second plane hit. Twenty minutes later, or it seemed so, the Towers were gone.
I said this story before, but today I am going to go over the entire timeline from that day. I’m doing this because so much happened and way too many people are forgetting.
This timeline is from the 9/11 Memorial. The site has so much I encourage you to visit the site and donate.
The Timeline – September 11, 2001
- Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al-Omari pass through security at Portland International Jetport in Maine at 5:45 a.m.
- Atta and al-Omari board a commuter flight to Boston Logan International Airport, where they connect to American Airlines Flight 11. Three other hijackers will join Atta and al-Omari aboard Flight 11.
- Less than two hours later, the five terrorists who will hijack American Airlines Flight 77 are videotaped as they pass through Washington Dulles International Airport’s west checkpoint.
- Three of the hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi, Khalid al-Mihdhar, and Majed Moqed set off metal detectors, but no weapons are found. They proceed to the gate. The hijackers are carrying concealed knives on their persons or in their carry-on luggage.
- Before 9/11, airports were not required to videotape security checkpoints. At that time, knives were allowed on planes if the blade was less than four inches in length.
- September 11, 2001, is a primary election day in New York City. Primary elections are being held for mayor, public advocate, comptroller, and other city offices.
- American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Boston. Eleven crew members, 76 passengers, and five hijackers are on board. The aircraft is filled with 76,400 pounds of fuel for its transcontinental run to Los Angeles.
- Two hijackers in first class, the other three are in business class.
- United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Boston for Los Angeles. Nine crew members, 51 passengers, and five hijackers are on board. The flight is loaded with 76,000 pounds of fuel.
- Two hijackers were in first class, three were in business class.
- Flight attendant Betty Ann Ong alerts American Airlines ground personnel to a hijacking underway on Flight 11, reporting that the cockpit is unreachable. Using an inflight phone, Ong transmits detailed information about the hijacking on the call, which lasts about 25 minutes.
- At 8:21 a.m., two minutes into Ong’s call, the hijackers turn off the plane’s transponder—a device that allows air traffic control to identify and monitor an airplane’s flight path.
- Meanwhile, American Airlines authorities relay details from Ong to their operations center in Texas.
- At 8:32 a.m., flight attendant Madeline Amy Sweeney reports the hijacking of Flight 11 to a friend on the ground, a manager at Boston Logan International Airport. Over the course of approximately 12 minutes, Sweeney provides key information about the hijacking, including a description of the perpetrators.
This is part of the message from Betty Ong:
- American Airlines Flight 77, en route to Los Angeles, takes off from Washington Dulles International Airport. Six crew members, 53 passengers, and five hijackers are on board. The flight is loaded with 49,900 pounds of fuel.
- Three terrorists are in Zone A (first class) and two are in Zone B (coach).
- Attempting to communicate with passengers and crew inside Flight 11’s cabin, hijacker Mohamed Atta presses the wrong button, broadcasting instead to air traffic control and unwittingly alerting controllers to the attacks. Minutes later, Atta again makes an unintended transmission to ground control.
- At least one of Atta’s transmissions is picked up by the pilot of Flight 175, Victor J. Saracini, who will inform the Federal Aviation Administration of what he has heard minutes before his own plane is hijacked.
This is Mohammad Atta’s message that was intercepted by the towers:
- Morning activities have commenced at the World Trade Center, a commercial building complex in lower Manhattan owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, an interstate agency.
- In addition to the signature Twin Towers (1 and 2 World Trade Center), the complex included a hotel (3 World Trade Center), four office buildings (4, 5, 6, and 7 World Trade Center), a shopping mall, restaurants, a public plaza, and a major transportation hub.
- Around 8:30 a.m., roughly 80 people have gathered to attend the Risk Waters Group financial technology conference on the 106th floor of the North Tower.
- Seventy-two restaurant staff have arrived in advance of the morning’s breakfast service and conference preparation.
- Other special events at the World Trade Center planned for September 11 include the annual National Association for Business Economics (NABE) conference, already underway in the Marriott hotel, an evening dance performance on the World Trade Center’s outdoor plaza, and a Peace Corps information session scheduled for 6:00 p.m. in 6 World Trade Center.
- Scheduled to leave Newark International Airport within minutes of the other hijacked flights, United Airlines Flight 93 takes off after a delay due to routine traffic. Seven crew members, 33 passengers, and four hijackers are on board the San Francisco–bound flight, which is filled with 48,700 pounds of fuel.
- All four terrorists are in Zone A (first class).
- Five hijackers crash American Airlines Flight 11 into floors 93 through 99 of 1 World Trade Center (North Tower). The 76 passengers and 11 crew members on board and hundreds inside the building are killed instantly. The crash severs all three emergency stairwells and traps hundreds of people above the 91st floor.
- New York City emergency dispatchers send police, paramedics, and firefighters to the North Tower.
- Immediately after witnessing the crash from 14 blocks north of the World Trade Center, Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer directs New York City Fire Department (FDNY) dispatch to issue a second alarm.
- En route to the scene, he signals a third alarm, which calls for 23 engine and ladder companies, 12 chiefs, and 10 specialized units to respond to a plane crash at “Box 8087,” the FDNY’s shorthand reference for the World Trade Center.
- The Port Authority Police Department (PAPD), responsible for the safety and security of the World Trade Center in addition to regional bridges, tunnels, airports, and the Port of New York and New Jersey, mobilizes in response to the attack. Additional PAPD units from other posts dispatch to the World Trade Center to aid in evacuation and rescue.
This is Tom Kaminski from WCBS News Radio:
- The South Tower (Tower #2) is declared safe by the Port Authority.
- “Your attention, please, ladies and gentlemen. Building Two is secure. There is no need to evacuate Building Two. If you are in the midst of evacuation, you may use the reentry doors and the elevators to return to your office. Repeat, Building Two is secure.”
- Port Authority police Sergeant Al DeVona orders both towers to be evacuated.
- One minute later, Port Authority Captain Whitaker expands the evacuation to the entire World Trade Center complex.
- The NYFD are beginning to clime the tower by the stairs. There are 120 floors in the building and each floor take 6 minutes to climb since the fire fighters are are carrying 60 pounds of equipment.
- At this time, people began to jump from the building.
- Between 100-200 people jumped from the tower.
Here is Constance Labetti being interviewed about running down the stairs and seeing the fire fighters running up:
Here is Florence Jones who was wondering if she was going to have to jump from the 77th floor of the South Tower:
- Earlier, at 8:52 a.m., a flight attendant, likely Robert John Fangman, had reached a United Airlines operator in San Francisco, California, and reported a hijacking underway. By 9:00 a.m., passengers Garnet Ace Bailey, Peter Burton Hanson, and Brian David Sweeney have called family members.
One of the harder things to here, one of the messages sent from Brian David Sweeny to his wife while being trapped on Flight 175.
An evacuation order is issued for the South Tower.
- Five hijackers crash United Airlines Flight 175 into floors 77 through 85 of 2 World Trade Center (South Tower), killing the 51 passengers and nine crew members onboard the aircraft and an unknown number of people inside the building.
- The impact renders two of the three emergency stairwells impassable and severs a majority of the elevator cables in this area, trapping many above the impact zone and inside elevator cars.
- The plane flew into the building at 590 miles per hour.
- The impact was so hard, one of the plane’s engines was found, in tact, six blocks away.
- In addition to requesting the shutdown of airspace over New York City, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) calls for a second Level 4 mobilization, bringing its total deployment to nearly 2,000 officers.
- The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) issues a fifth alarm for the South Tower, deploying several hundred additional firefighters to the disaster. Additional companies and off-duty personnel from across the metropolitan area travel to the scene.
Here is Pat Kelly from WCBS Newsradio 880:
Rudi Giuliani arrives at the NYPD command post.
- U.S. Secret Service agents evacuate Vice President Dick Cheney to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center beneath the White House.
- American Flight 77 flies into the Pentagon.
This is John Yates speaking to his wife immediately before the attack:
- The FAA orders all planes to land.
- That’s an entire other story all to itself.
- The FAA also prohibited any other planes from taking off.
- White House and Capitol building are evacuated.
- All government building, bridges and other public offices are closed.
- Thirty-seven telephone calls are known to have been made from hijacked Flight 93, most placed from the rear of the plane. One of the last calls is made by passenger Edward P. Felt, who uses his cell phone to dial 9-1-1 after closing himself in a restroom to avoid detection. By 9:58 a.m., Flight 93 is flying so low that he succeeds in reaching an emergency operator in nearby Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
This is Alice Hoagland telling her son, Mark Bingham who is on Flight 93, to do something because she knew the terrorists were going to crash the plane:
This is Independent Photo Journalist, Catherine Leuthold:
- Four hijackers crash Flight 93 in a field near the town of Shanksville in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, after passengers and crew storm the cockpit. The 33 passengers and seven crew members on board perish. The crash site is approximately 20 minutes’ flying time from Washington, D.C.
- The E-ring of the Pentagon collapses.
This is the spectators reaction to the tower collapsing:
- Near the World Trade Center when the South Tower collapses, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and senior members of his administration find temporary shelter inside an office building close by.
- As the dust begins to settle, they walk north, intent on establishing a new base of operations for city government.
- Reporters catch up with the mayor, who urges the public at 11:02 a.m. to evacuate lower Manhattan. He will continue to address the public in briefings at temporary headquarters at the New York City Police Academy throughout the day.
- The last flight still in the air above the continental United States lands. In two and a half hours, U.S. airspace has been cleared of an estimated 4,500 commercial and general aviation planes.
- Plane passengers become stranded as flights are canceled. Others attempting to travel nationally by train, bus, or rental car find most options canceled or sold out within hours of the attacks.
- Air Force One, carrying U.S. President George W. Bush and members of his staff, travels throughout the day in search of secure locations, landing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana around 11:45 a.m. and later landing at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska at 2:50 p.m. President Bush will return to the Washington, D.C., area that evening, landing at Andrews Air Force Base and taking a helicopter to the White House.
- A lower section of the North Tower’s stairwell B survives the building’s collapse, protecting a group of 13 first responders and one civilian who had been attempting to evacuate down the stairs. Within hours of the tower’s collapse, the first responders emerge from the debris and direct rescuers to the civilian.
Within hours of the attacks, some rescue workers and journalists begin referring to the scene of mass destruction at the World Trade Center site as Ground Zero, a term typically used to describe devastation caused by an atomic bomb.
- First responders, search and rescue teams, and volunteers continue to converge on Ground Zero throughout the day.
- Rescuers use special tools to peer into voids and search for remnants of stairwells and elevators that might shelter survivors. The last successful rescue will occur midday on September 12.
- Rescuers free Port Authority employee Pasquale Buzzelli from the rubble of the North Tower. Buzzelli had been in the process of evacuating the North Tower when the building began to collapse from above. Situated somewhere between the 22nd and 13th floors, Buzzelli crouches into a fetal position and, hours later, wakes up on a slab in the building debris, 15 feet above the ground.
George W. Bush addresses the nation.
- Around this time, rescuers locate PAPD Officer William Jimeno and PAPD Sergeant John McLoughlin, injured but alive in the debris of the World Trade Center. They free Officer Jimeno after three hours of dangerous tunneling work. Sergeant McLoughlin’s rescue will take another eight hours.
- Workers will extricate the 18th survivor, Genelle Guzman, on the afternoon of September 12. She will be the last person rescued.