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9/11: 10 years on

Reconstructing the day

Recreating the moments of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, an attack that left America confronting a changed world and a new reality.

7:59 a.m.Flight 11 departs Logan

Associated Press/Portland Police Department

Mohamed Atta, right, and Abdulaziz Alomari, center, pass through security at Portland International Jetport in this photo from a surveillance tape. The two men took a commuter flight to Boston before boarding American Airlines Flight 11.

American Airlines Flight 11 departs from Logan International Airport with 81 passengers and 11 crew members, bound for Los Angeles. The flight departs 14 minutes late.

At the gate

With the cargo doors of Flight 11 closed, two final pieces of luggage arrive. Ramp workers decide not to delay the flight's departure for the bags marked "M. Atta." The luggage is held for the next flight to Los Angeles.

Calling in sick

At 7 a.m., flight attendant Halle Cameron receives a call asking why she hasn't checked in for her shift. Cameron had called in sick, but a glitch in the system did not mark her as sick. Standby attendant Jean Roger is assigned in Cameron's place.

8:14 a.m.Hijacking begins on Flight 11

FBI/Getty Images

Flight 11 stops responding to air traffic controllers. Mohamed Atta and four other hijackers quickly gain control of the cockpit.

Flight 175 departs Logan

United Airlines Flight 175 departs from Logan with 56 passengers and nine crew members, bound for Los Angeles. The flight leaves 14 minutes behind schedule.

The terrorists in Boston

Leading up to the morning of the attacks, the terrorists of Flight 11 and Flight 175 spent their final days at The Charles Hotel in Cambridge, the Days Hotel in Brighton, and the Milner Hotel in Boston. Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari also spent one night at a Comfort Inn in Portland, Maine, before boarding the commuter flight to Logan the morning of the attacks.

Surveillance flights

Beginning in July, the terrorists take cross-country flights on aircraft similar to those they would hijack the morning of Sept. 11.

8:19 a.m."Somebody's stabbed in business class"

Family photo

At 8:19 a.m., flight attendant Betty Ong calls the American Airlines reservation office in Cary, N.C. She says, "The cockpit is not answering, somebody's stabbed in business class -- and I think there's Mace -- that we can't breathe -- I don't know, I think we're getting hijacked." Ong will remain on the line for approximately 25 minutes, offering key pieces of information such as the hijackers' original seating assignments.

Transponder turned off

At 8:21 a.m., Flight 11's transponder is turned off. FAA Boston realizes something is wrong but does not suspect a hijacking.

"We are flying very low"

In addition to Betty Ong's phone call, flight attendant Madeline "Amy" Sweeney is relaying information to the American Flight Services Office in Boston. Her last words are: "Something is wrong. We are in a rapid descent ... we are all over the place. We are flying low. We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low. Oh my God we are way too low."

8:20 a.m.Flight 77 takes off from Washington, D.C.

United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui

American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Washington Dulles International Airport with 58 passengers and six crew members, bound for Los Angeles. It was scheduled to depart at 8:10 a.m.

Getting through security

The airport security system in place the morning of Sept. 11 was different than today. The Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System was created to identify passengers who should be subject to extra security. Upon selection, a passenger's luggage is held off the plane until it's confirmed the passenger has boarded the aircraft. The passenger, however, does not receive additional screening. In total, eight of the 19 terrorists will be selected by the system. Additionally, three hijackers set off metal detectors when passing through the Dulles check points. Two of the three pass their secondary screening. However, the third fails again after passing through a second metal detector. He will be allowed to pass after a screener uses a hand wand on him. Dulles security footage shows he is carrying an unidentified item in his back pocket.

8:24 a.m.Hijacker accidentally alerts the FAA

Aboard Flight 11, Atta accidentally broadcasts a message to air traffic controllers, instead of to passengers: "We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you'll be okay. We are returning to the airport."

Something is not right

After Atta's transmission, Boston Center concludes that Flight 11 has been hijacked and alerts other control centers.

Turning toward New York

At 8:26 a.m., Flight 11 makes a 100-degree turn to the south, and now is heading for New York City.

8:37 a.m.The military learns of Flight 11

Globe File Graphic

FAA Boston alerts the Northeast sector of North American Aerospace Defense Command about Flight 11 and asks for fighters to be scrambled.

Flight 175's final communication

At the same time, Flight 175 confirms seeing Flight 11 about 10 miles to the south. Five minutes later, Flight 175 reports a "suspicious transmission" from the hijacked plane. This will be Flight 175's final contact with air traffic control.

8:46 a.m.Flight 11 crashes into North Tower

Flight 11 crashes into the 93d through 99th floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, killing everyone on the plane. Hundreds are killed inside the building, and hundreds more are trapped.

First responders on the scene

REUTERS/Jeff Christensen

Responding within minutes of the crash, New York City firefighters begin climbing the stairwells of the North Tower.

Scrambled jets airborne

Seven minutes after Flight 11 crashed, two F-15s from Otis Air Base are airborne.

Flight 93 takes off from Newark

United Airlines Flight 93 has just taken off from Newark International Airport with 37 passengers and seven crew members, bound for San Francisco. It departs 42 minutes late at 8:42 a.m.

Inspecting the luggage

Shortly after hearing of Flight 11's crash, Logan tarmac workers find Atta's luggage and inspect it. Inside the bags they find Boeing flight training videos, a knife, a can of mace and a neatly laid out folded suit with shirt and tie.

8:46 a.m.Hijacking has begun on Flight 175

Associated Press/FBI

Five hijackers use knives and Mace to kill the pilots and take control of Flight 175. Five minutes later, it deviates from its assigned altitude. Attempts by FAA New York controllers to contact the plane are unsuccessful.

"If it happens, it'll be very fast"

Flight 175 passenger Peter Hanson, traveling with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, calls his father, Lee Hanson. This is the second time Hanson has called his father from the plane.

"It's getting bad, dad. A stewardess was stabbed. They seem to have knives and Mace. They said they have a bomb. It's getting very bad on the plane. Passengers are throwing up and getting sick. The plane is making jerky movements. I don't think the pilot is flying the plane. I think we are going down. I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building. Don't worry, dad. If it happens, it'll be very fast. My God, my God."

The call abruptly ends with the sounds of a woman screaming in the background. Hanson's parents turn on their TV as Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower.

"Hi Jules, it's Brian"

At 8:59 a.m., Flight 175 passenger Brian Sweeney attempts to call his wife, Julie. He leaves a voice message saying how much he loves her. "If things don't go well, and it's not looking good, I want you to know I absolutely love you." Sweeney then calls his mother, saying some passengers are considering storming the cockpit.

8:54 a.m.Hijacking has begun on Flight 77

Associated Press/FBI

Five hijackers use knives and box cutters to take control of Flight 77. They move passengers to the back of the plane and turn off the plane's transponder.

American Airlines grounds fleet


American Airlines airplanes at Logan Airport after it was shut down to air traffic.

Within six minutes, American Airlines learns communication has been lost with Flight 77 and grounds its aircraft in the Northeast. Ten minutes later, it extends its order to cover the entire nation.

9:03 a.m.Flight 175 crashes into South Tower

REUTERS/Sean Adair

Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, killing everyone aboard. Because the plane banked as it struck the building, Stairwell A was left intact up to at least the 91st floor -- the only escape in either tower for people above the crash zones.

Bush told of second crash


At 9:05 a.m., President Bush is in an elementary school classroom in Sarasota, Fla., when Chief of Staff Andrew Card informs him, "A second plane has hit the second tower. America is under attack." Bush remains in the classroom for about 10 minutes.

"This has bin Laden all over it"

Upon hearing of the second crash, CIA Director George Tenet tells a friend at breakfast: "This has bin Laden all over it. I've got to go." In an August presidential briefing, the intelligence community said it knew bin Laden wanted to strike within the United States, but didn't know where or when.

Flight 77 heads toward D.C.

Because of technical problems and because flight controllers are looking in the wrong area, Flight 77 travels undetected toward Washington.

9:28 a.m.Hijacking begins on Flight 93

Associated Press/FBI

Over Eastern Ohio, Flight 93 suddenly drops 700 feet. FAA Cleveland hears two transmissions: In the first, a crew member declares "Mayday!" and fighting is heard; less than a minute later, a crew member repeatedly says, "Get out of here."

A hijacker's transmission

Shorty after Flight 93's distress call, ground control hears Ziad Jarrah as he attempts to inform the cabin that there is a bomb aboard and that the plane is turning around, returning to the airport.

Bush's first public statement

Broadcast live on television, Bush says two planes have struck the World Trade Center in an "apparent terrorist attack," and that he will be returning to Washington.

Flight 77 is detected on radar

At 9:32 a.m., flight controllers at Dulles see an unknown aircraft -- Flight 77 -- on radar heading east "at a high rate of speed."

9:37 a.m.Flight 77 crashes into Pentagon

REUTERS/Department of Defense/Handout

Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon, killing 125 people inside and everybody on the plane.

The vice president

Photo By The White House/Getty Images

Shortly after the Pentagon crash, Vice President Dick Cheney speaks to President Bush by phone inside the White House.

Vice President Cheney is entering the White House basement to reach an underground bunker.

The president

In Florida, Bush's motorcade is driving to a nearby airport to board Air Force One.

NSA intercepts phone call

Fifteen minutes later, the National Security Agency intercepts a phone call involving a bin Laden associate, who says he has heard "good news" and that another target remains.

9:59 a.m.South Tower collapses

Associated Press/Jim Collins

The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses, killing everyone still inside. After the tower was struck, only 18 people from or above the impact zone escaped.

"It's really bad. It's black. It's arid."

A 911 call from Kevin Cosgrove trapped on the 105th floor of the South Tower details the moments prior to the collapse. During the call Cosgrove gasps for breath and pleads for responders to rescue him. The call ends with Cosgrove screaming "Oh god" as the building begins to collapse around him.

The battle for Flight 93

At the same time, the passengers struggle to get into the cockpit of Flight 93. Another plane sees the Boeing 757 "waving his wings," an attempt by the hijackers to throw the passengers off balance.

10:03 a.m.Flight 93 crashes near Shanksville, Pa.

REUTERS/Jason Cohn

The plane crashes into a field 150 miles from Washington.

"Tell my children I love them"

About 16 minutes before the crash, flight attendant CeeCee Lyles calls her husband from Flight 93. She explains her plane has been hijacked and that other planes have been crashed into the World Trade Center: "I hope to be able to see your face again, baby. I love you. Bye bye."

Bush fears 93 was shot down

Upon hearing of Flight 93's crash, Bush fears this is a result of his directive for military craft to shoot down non responsive jetliners. There remains confusion whether it was Bush or Cheney who actually issued this order.

Searching for 93

Four minutes after the crash, the military first learns about Flight 93 and begins searching for the plane. It won't realize until 10:15 a.m. that the aircraft has already crashed.

10:28 a.m.North Tower collapses


The North Tower of the World Trade Center collapses, killing nearly everyone inside.



Pedestrians cross the Brooklyn Bridge as they flee Manhattan after the collapse of the first World Trade Center Tower.

At 11 a.m., New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani orders an evacuation of Lower Manhattan.

The cleanup

Cleanup of the World Trade Center continued until May 2002.

The crawl

Today the news ticker, or crawl, as it's commonly referred, is a ubiquitous part of our TV news viewing experience, but before Sept. 11, it was an occasionally used feature. Fox News was the first channel to institute it at 10:49 a.m. on the morning of the attacks. CNN followed a short time later at 11:01 a.m., and MSNBC went live with their ticker at 2 p.m.

12:30 p.m.14 people rescued from North Tower

AP Photo/Virgil Case

13 first responders and a civilian are found alive in stairwell B of the North Tower.

After the collapse, few survivors

Mario Tama/Getty Images

After the collapse of the Twin Towers, homemade missing person posters sprung up throughout Manhattan. Very few survivors were pulled from the rubble. The last was Genelle Guzman-McMillan, who was rescued on the afternoon of Sept. 12.

1:08 p.m.Networks air Bush's taped address


About 30 minutes earlier, Bush recorded an address at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.: "Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended."

"More than any of us can bear"

When asked that afternoon to estimate how many had died, Giuliani says, "The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear ultimately."

Bush's travels

Bush flies to an Air Force base in Nebraska for a National Security Council teleconference before returning to the White House at 6:54 p.m.

8:30 p.m.Bush addresses nation from White House

REUTERS/Larry Downing

In his speech, Bush says the attacks "cannot touch the foundation of America." The US government will track down those responsible, he says, and "make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."

Congress sings "God Bless America"


An hour earlier at the US Capitol, members of Congress spontaneously sing "God Bless America" after a moment of silence for the dead.

9 p.m.Evidence mounts against bin Laden


Bush and his advisers review evidence that Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks, and prepare for war. Bush says, "Tell the Taliban we're finished with them."

The organizer of the attacks

Associated Press

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the professed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, is arrested 18 months later in Pakistan. Facing 2,973 counts of murder, today he is still awaiting trial by a military commission.

11:08 p.m."The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century"

Andrea Booher/ FEMA News

Recovery workers survey the wreckage of the World Trade Center on Sept. 13, 2001.

"The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today. ... We think it's Osama bin Laden," Bush writes in his diary before going to sleep.

The toll

The attacks killed 2,977 victims. Ten years later, the remains of 1,124 people are still unidentified.

Afghanistan War begins

On Oct. 7, the United States lands special forces in Afghanistan and launches airstrikes against the Taliban.

SOURCES: Associated Press; The 9/11 Commission Report; Globe reports; news reports; staff research

Tom Giratikanon and Grant Staublin/GLOBE STAFF

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