A specific listing of events surrounding the flight of Delta 1989
In the latter part of September 2001, I wrote about my anxiety and ensuing grief resulting from my Flight from Logan Airport on September 11.
I attempted to explain what I and other passengers felt and collectively experienced during that terrible day. However, this is the first time I've had a chance to weave that narrative into the other stories as they developed. I hope this discourse fills in the void.
It was 6.45 A.M on Sept 11,2001. I arrived at Logan Airport at the same terminal and at the same time as Mohamed Atta.
Five days before, I cancelled my American Airline reservation on Flight #11 and opted to use my air miles on Delta Airlines Flight # 1989. Delta was the third plane flying direct to Los Angeles that morning. Atta boarded Flight #11 at 7:35 AM which departed at 7:59. The flight was scheduled to take off at 7:45 and the ensuing delay incurred Atta's anxiety. Just before boarding the plane he nervously asked the ticket agent if the plane would be late. This bit of information was never picked up by the media. I learned about it six years later when I met the American Airlines stewardess who had flown on Flight eleven's return trip from the West coast earlier that morning. She was originally scheduled to fly out on the 7:45 flight but changed her plans because of other commitments.
At 8:01, United Airlines Fight #93, a Boeing 757, takes off with 37 passengers and seven crew members from Newark International
Airport bound for San Francisco. It's flight path takes it close to the World Trade Center before assuming a westward heading.
At 8:14, United Airlines Flight #175 departs Logan Airport bound for Los Angeles. At the same time, Flight #11 fails to heed air traffic controllers instruction to climb to 35,000 feet. At 8:19, Betty Ong, the flight attendant on Flight #11 reports "The cockpit is not answering, sombody's been stabbed in first class". My Delta Flight takes off a minute later at 8:20. Four minutes later Atta's voice is heard saying "nobody move. If you try to make any moves, you'll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet" .
At 8:26 Flight 11 makes a 100 degree turn heading toward New York City. At 8:34 the Air National Guard at Cape Cod is alerted and two F-15 pilots begin to suit up. At 8:37 Flight 175 confirms sighting of hijacked Flight 11 ten miles to its south. And at 8:44 Flight #175 is hijacked. At 8:46 two F-15 fighter jets are ordered to scramble and come into a sighting of Delta Flight #1989. Thirty second later Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. At 9:03 Flight 75 crashes into the south face of the South Tower.
Around 9:15, the pilot of Delta 1989, Captain Tom Werner, learned of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center from his cockpit radio and makes an announcement to his passengers. Originally, he thought a small plane accidentally hit the tower and had no idea that air traffic controllers and the FBI suspected his flight would be next. Controllers in Cleveland were asked to keep an eye on flight 1989.
At 9:23 , Flight 93 receives a warning message text from United Airlines flight dispatcher: "Beware any cockpit intrusion- Two a/c [aircraft] hit World Trade Center. Five minutes later, hijackers storm the cockpit on Flight 93 and attempt to take over the plane. The entry of the hijackers is overheard by flight controllers at Cleveland. At 9:30 AM, controllers confirm their worst fears. They hear shouting as Delta flight 1989 approaches the Pennsylvania border. Amid the sounds of scuffling one voice is heard saying, "Get out of there. Minutes later, a heavily accented voice intones, "Ladies and gentlemen, here its the captain. Please sit down. Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb aboard" At 9:32, A radio transmission from Flight 93 is overheard by flight controllers at Cleveland: "Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board." The accent betrays the hijackers. The Cleveland Center rushes word to Washington that terrorists have commandeered another flight.
At 9:35, Flight 93 climbs unexpectedly and turns back over Ohio flying easterly toward Delta Flight 1989 . Flight 1989 was flying 25 miles behind United 93 when it reversed course and at speeds of 350 mph puts it on collision course with the Delta plane in two minutes. At 9:36: Cleveland advises the FAA Command Center that it is still tracking Flight 93 and inquires whether someone had requested the military to launch fighter aircraft to intercept the aircraft. Captain Werner, was ordered to change course to miss the oncoming plane. He did so successfully, and controllers assumed that everything on his Delta flight was out of danger. Werner requested permission to land in Cleveland long before the FAA issued its general warning to ground all planes. But as he makes his approach to Cleveland, controllers attempt to contact Werner but there is no response. They were deeply concerned about hijackers or the possibility that a bomb might be set to detonate when the plane lands or hits the runway. A SWAT team gathers on the tarmac at a remote taxi way at the Hopkins International Airport.
At 9:39, another radio transmission is heard from Ziad Jarrah aboard Flight 93: "Uh, this is the captain. Would like you all to remain seated. There is a bomb on board and are going back to the airport, and to have our demands [unintelligible]. Please remain quiet." At 9:57, passenger revolt begins on flight 93. And at 10:03, United Airlines Flight 93 is crashed by its hijackers and passengers due to fighting in the cockpit in a location 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
Delta flight 1989 lands at 10:10 AM and remains in place for two hours before it is boarded by the Secret Service and the FBI. In the interim, conversations with the pilot are conducted through an open cockpit window. Passenger belongings were searched using bomb sniffing dogs and all passengers were sequestered and interrogated by the FBI in an adjacent office building. It was not until mid afternoon that authorities concluded there was no bomb aboard. Passengers were taken to the Holiday Inn in Cleveland and remained there until they could make other arrangements for their departure. I left four days later and arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 15.