Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Comparing timelines

posted by Rob at 9:18 AM

Further comments on Inside 9/11.

There's a Inside 9/11 website now up centered on the show. It includes a timeline that details the events on 9/11. Of course, there are other timelines out on the net which include notes National Geographic doesn't, specifically the status of fighter jets that day. It's interesting to compare the timeslines and their details.

Here's some details from a timeline set up by Appalachian State professor Matthew Robinson:

8:46 am – Otis fighter jets ordered up

8:53 am – jets airborne (7 minutes after first crash and 7 minutes after scramble order) and ordered to military-controlled airspace off Long Island ... in holding pattern from 9:09 to 9:13 am when they are told to assume combat air patrol over New York and they did (10 minutes after second crash) ... supposedly headed toward United Flight 175 instead ... they do not reach New York City airspace until 9:25 am (32 minutes after take-off) ... Andrews Air Force fighters (Washington DC) are 207 miles away from DC over North Carolina and are ordered back to Andrews.

Here's Inside 9/11:

8:46 a.m. - F-15 fighter jets are dispatched from Otis Air Force Base in Mass., but because Flight 11's transponder is off, Air Force pilots do not know which direction to travel to meet the plane. NEADS personnel spend the next several minutes watching their radar scopes waiting for Flight 11 to reappear.

8:53 a.m. - Unaware that their intended target has already crashed into the World Trade Center, the F-15s from Otis Air Force Base are sent to military-controlled airspace off Long Island and ordered to remain in a holding pattern until between 9:09 and 9:13 a.m.

9:25 a.m. - The Otis Air Force-based F-15s close the airspace over Manhattan.

Note that Dr. Robinson's site doesn't have the jets in the air until 9:53 a.m. Inside 9/11 infers that they are already in the air and ordered to Long Island.

A minor point I know, but several conspiracy theories on the Internet revolve around fighter jets and the response time of the North American Air Defense Command. National Geographic never outright addresses any of those details. Instead, much attention is given the general confusion of air traffic control, NORAD and the pilots themselves. This was expressed primarily by playing audio tapes from that morning.

For example, as Dr. Robinson details from United Flight 93 (He has sources other than from the 9/11 Commission in red):

9:19-9:26 am – United Airlines tells pilots to secure cockpit doors. Controller Ed Ballinger has already been doing this for several minutes. It could have and should have acted sooner based on what FAA and airlines already knew, if the information had been shared.

Flight 93 received warning at 9:24 am (37 minutes after first crash and 21 minutes after second crash) ... “Beware of cockpit intrusion. Two aircraft in New York hit Trade Center buildings.” Warning comes 32 minutes after United knew Flight 175 was hijacked. ... additional informal message also sent by Ballinger to Flight 93 at 9:00 am

9:26 am – response from (Flight 93) pilot to cockpit warning

“Ed, confirm latest message please. Jason.”

9:27 am – last normal transmission from plane

Hijacked at 9:28 am ... dropped 700 feet suddenly ... around this time a call from a passenger indicates hijackers have gun, bomb

9:36 am – Cleveland Center asked Herndon Command Center if military had launched fighter aircraft to intercept aircraft ... said they would make call if needed ... Herndon Command Center told Cleveland that FAA had to make the decision to seek military assistance and were working on the issue.
The show emphasises the time lag from when the warning was sent to Flight 93 to when the pilot responded. Before he received a confirmation hsi cockpit was invaded. That conversation at 9:36 a.m. between Cleveland Center and Herdon Command Center is played on the show.

The Inside 9/11 website offers a well organized gallery of video interviews of the sources used in the special. By dragging your mouse over certain topics (World Trade Center, Iraq, etc) you can see which interviews deal with those topics.

It'd be nice if the audio from the flight towers and pilots were online there as well.


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