9/11: Time Line in the Skies
The following time line was constructed from the NORAD tapes, the reports from the 9/11 Commission and the personal logs of various military commanders and FAA officials. It provides an overview of the significant events of September 11, 2001.
08:00 American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Boston's Logan Airport en route to Los Angeles.
08:13 AA 11 fails to respond to air traffic control instructions.
08:14 United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Boston's Logan Airport en route to Los Angeles.
08:20 American Flight 77 takes off from Washington's Dulles International Airport for Los Angeles. An American Airlines reservation agent takes a call from a woman claiming to be a flight attendant on a hijacked flight (American 11).
08:21 AA 11 turns off its transponder -- now appearing as only a primary radar return.
08:24 An unidentified transmission is heard on Boston Center radio frequency: "We have some planes. Just stay quiet."
08:28 Boston Center notifies the FAA Command Center in Herndon, Virginia that AA 11 has been hijacked.
08:30 Traffic Situation Display (TSD) flight count at the FAA Command Center: 3,351 aircraft.
08:37 NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) receives a call from Boston Center: "We have a problem here. We have a hijacked aircraft headed towards New York, and we need you guys, we need someone to scramble some F-16s or something up there, help us out."
08:37 F-15s on alert at Otis ANG Base on Cape Cod receive an order to battle stations.
08:42 United Flight 93 takes off from Newark, New Jersey en route to San Francisco.
08:43 FAA Command Center notifies NEADS about the suspected hijacking of UAL 175.
08:46 Otis ANG F-15s get the order to scramble. Simultaneously, AA 11 crashes into the World Trade Center North Tower.
08:47 UAL 175 changes its transponder code twice -- both changes unnoticed by the controller who is also handling AA 11.
08:50 United’s Airline Maintenance Center in San Francisco receives a call from a flight attendant on UAL 175 stating that the flight has been hijacked. The last normal transmission is received from AA 77.
08:51 UAL 175 fails to respond to ATC.
08:54 Indianapolis Center ATC notices AA 77 deviating from its flight plan.
08:56 AA 77 turns off its transponder.
09:00 Indianapolis Center believes AA 77 has crashed, contacts authorities and initiates military search and rescue. The FAA Command Center initiates an emergency teleconference with airline operations centers and air traffic control centers. American Airlines issues a ground stop to all American/American Eagle aircraft in the northeast United States. None of their aircraft in this sector may take off. TSD flight count: 3,719 aircraft.
09:01 New York Center requests military assistance from the Command Center as they realize that they are dealing with a second hijacked aircraft.
09:03 Newark Control Tower personnel watch as UAL 175 crashes into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
09:04 Boston Center ATC stops all departures in its jurisdiction (New England and eastern New York State).
09:05 With no clear target for the Otis fighters, they are sent into military airspace Whiskey 105 off Long Island.
09:06 FAA Command Center bans take-offs for all (ground stop order) for all air traffic landing within or transitioning through New York Center's airspace from that Center's airports as well as the three adjacent centers: Boston, Cleveland and Washington ("first tier").
09:08 FAA Command Center expands ground stop to all of the United States for any aircraft going to or through New York Center airspace.
09:09 F-16s at from the 119th Fighter Wing Alert Detachment at Langley Air Force Base n Virginia are ordered to battle stations.
09:13 Otis F-15s are directed out of military airspace 105 off of Long Island to set up Combat Air Patrol over New York City.
09:15 American Airlines orders every airborne American and American Eagle flight to land at the nearest suitable airport.
09:17 The FAA shuts down all New York City area airports. JFK tower is evacuated.
09:20 Indianapolis Center learns of hijackings while talking with American Airlines Operations and begin to doubt that AA 77 has crashed.
09:24 FAA Command Center notifies NEADS about the suspected hijacking of AA 77. The FAA and NORAD establish an open line to discuss AA 77 and American 11, which Boston Center reports is still airborne and heading for Washington, D.C.
09:24 Two fully-armed alert F-16s from Langley, along with one unarmed F-16, are scrambled.
09:25 Otis F-15s establish Combat Air Patrol over New York City. The FAA Command Center orders a nationwide ground stop: no aircraft may take off.
09:29 Transmission heard on Cleveland Center ATC frequency: "Get out of here! Get out of here!" United 93 is being hijacked.
09:30 TSD flight count: 3,945 aircraft.
09:32 Dulles ATC notifies the Secret Service of a suspicious aircraft approaching the city (American 77). Cleveland Center frequency hears another transmission: "Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board."
09:36 NEADS is advised of a suspicious aircraft approaching Washington, D.C. Langley F-16s are ordered back toward Washington.
09:37 AA 77 crashes into the Pentagon. Cleveland Center ATC loses transponder signal from UAL 93. Nearby flights report the aircraft's location as it makes a 180-degree turn back to the east.
09:43 FAA Command Center orders that no international flights are permitted to land in the United States.
09:45 FAA Command Center closes US airspace for the first time in history, ordering all aircraft to land at the nearest suitable airport. TSD: 3,395 aircraft
09:46 FAA Command Center notifies FAA headquarters that UAL 93 is 29 minutes away from Washington, D.C.
09:50 TSD flight count: 3,154 aircraft
09:51 White House requests implementation continuity of government plan and fighter escort for Air Force One
09:55 TSD flight count: 2,943 aircraft
09:56 Air Force One takes off from Florida
09:57 The passenger revolt begins on United 93.
09:59 The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.
10:00 Transponder for UAL 93 is turned back on. DC Air National Guard pilot Billy Hutchison, unarmed and returning from a training flight, is given orders from the White House to take out United 93.
10:01 FAA Command Center notifies FAA Headquarters that another aircraft reports having seen UAL 93 "wave its
wings." It is later believed to be evidence of passenger efforts to overpower the hijackers.
10:01 The 180th Fighter Wing of the Toledo ANG scrambles fighters to intercept Delta 1989, a suspected hijacked
aircraft. The base is not an alert facility and has never before been scrambled by NORAD, but has F-16s airborne 16
10:03 UAL 93 crashes southeast of Pittsburgh. The alert F-16s from Langley are established in combat air patrol over
Washington, D.C. TSD: 2,651 aircraft
10:07 First discussions on the Ops floor of the Northeast Air Defense Sector regarding United 93 (conversations from
secured lines in the battle cab are not taped.)
10:10 All US Military forces are ordered to DEFCON THREE (or THREATCON DELTA)
10:15 TSD flight count: 1,695 aircraft
10:28 The North Tower of the World Trade Center collapses (First tower to be struck, second tower to fall).
10:30 TSD flight count: 902 aircraft
10:32 Attorney General Ashcroft's plane is intercepted and ordered to land. The pilots are told that the aircraft will be shot down if it does not do so.
10:38 DC ANG F16s piloted by LTC Marc Sasseville and Major Heather Penney launch unarmed from Andrews AFB.
10:39 FAA issues NOTAM (FDC1/9731): Operations are closed at all airports.
10:42 Two F 16s from Syracuse ANG launch.
10:45 TSD flight count: 499 aircraft
11:00 (time approximate) Ellington ANG in Texas send two F-16s to intercept and escort Air Force One. TSD flight count: 367 aircraft
11:06 FAA Command Center issues an advisory stating that no airports are authorized takeoffs and landings.
11:09 Two more DC ANG F-16s, armed with AIM-9 missiles take off, piloted by Major Dan Caine and Captain Brandon Rasmussen. Andrews AFB ANG fighters are the only fighters airborne with official "shoot-down" authorization.
11:15 TSD flight count: 287 aircraft
11:30 TSD flight count: 26 aircraft
11:45 Air Force One lands at Barksdale AFB, near Shreveport, LA.
12:16 The national airspace is deemed clear of all commercial and general aviation aircraft. Only military and lifeguard aircraft are airborne.
12:30 Fifty (50) military aircraft are airborne over the United States
13:24 Korean Air 85 transmits a hijack code. It is intercepted and notified that it will be shot down unless it avoids populated areas.
13:30 Air Force One departs Barksdale AFB en route to Offut AFB, near Omaha, NE
14:50 Air Force One lands at Offut AFB, NE
16:33 Air Force One departs Offut AFB for Washington, D.C.
18:40 Air Force One lands safely at Andrews AFB with fighter escort. 86 military aircraft are airborne over the United States.
20:31 United 8811 takes off from San Francisco. Closely monitored by military fighters, the lone Boeing 757 makes its way to Washington National Airport.