Newark International Airport

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Seating assignments for the Flight 93 hijackers
Newark Liberty International Airport(above left)

spaceNewark Airport is one of the most historic airports in the world. It is the oldest airport in the country, opening its doors for the
first time in 1928(only London's Croydon Aerodrome is older). Famous aviator Amelia Earhart was leader of the dedication
ceremony in October of 1928 when Newark first became operational. Employing 24,000 people, the airport adds approximately
19 billion dollars to the metropolitan areas of New Jersey and New York. In 2011, over 33 million passengers and 169 million pounds of mail were transported through Newark.

Leading up to takeoff
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spaceUnited Airlines Flight 93 was scheduled to leave Newark at 8:00am EST. It carried 33 passengers, 7 crewmembers and 4 hijackers. Its destination was San Francisco International Airport. The hijackers were: Ziad Jarrah, Ahmed al-Nami, Ahmed al-Haznawi and Saeed al-Ghamdi.
spaceAt 7:03am EST, al-Nami checked in two bags, while al-Ghamdi did not check any. Al-Haznawi checked his bag in at 7:24am EST while Jarrah checked in at 7:39am EST. At 7:39am EST, Al-Haznawi and al-Ghamdi boarded the plane and sat in first class seats 6B and 3D. Al-Nami boarded at 7:40am EST and sat in first class 3C. Jarrah boarded last at 7:48am EST and sat in seat 1B.
spaceThe flight did not take off from gate A17 until 8:42am EST, 42 minutes behind schedule. By the time Flight 93 took off, Flight 11 had already been hijacked, Flight 175 was in the process of being taken over by terrorists while Flight 77 was about 10 minutes away from being attacked.

Diverted Flight Path

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spaceNotice how the plane in the flight path above makes a very sharp turn when it is over Ohio. No one knows the ultimate destination of the Flight 93 hijackers, all that is known is that for some reason they failed to make it and crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Many have speculated the hijackers were headed towards some important location in Washington, DC, such as the White House or Capitol Building.


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The four hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93

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spaceZiad Jarrah, believed to be one of the masterminds behind the terror attacks, spent his final evening before the hijacking writing a four page letter to his girlfriend Aysel Senguen(above left) a Turkish girl who lived in Germany at the time. He sent the letter, but because his Senguen had entered the witness protection agency, the letter was returned to the United States where it was uncovered by the FBI. Click here to read a letter she wrote him in the summer of 1998. On September 4th, 2001, his family sends him an additional $700 in addition to his $2,000 monthly allowance. Jarrah tells his family it is for "fun, and that he will see them on September 22nd for a family wedding. Jarrah calls his girlfriend on the morning of September 11th, tells her he loves her three times, then hangs up.

The Hijacking

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Jason Dahl

spaceAt 9:19am EST, Ed Ballinger, a dispatcher for United Airlines, began sending pilots warning messages about the hijackings. Since he was responsible for many flights, Ballinger did not contact United 93 until 9:23am EST. The message read, “Beware cockpit intrusion-two a/c hit World Trade Center.” At 9:26am EST pilot Jason Dahl(above left) sent a message back that read, “Ed, confirm latest mssg plz -- Jason.” At 9:27am EST, United 93 communicated for the final time in the form of a routine response to air traffic controllers. By this time, Flights 11 and 175 had already crashed into the World Trade Center, and Flight 77 was minutes from hitting the Pentagon. At 9:28am EST, Flight 93 dropped 685 feet in about 30 seconds. At the same time, a mayday emergency message was sent to air traffic controllers. This audio recording was sent to air traffic control by a pilot transmission.(above right) It is not clear whether this audio is authentic.

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spaceBy the point that Flight 93 suddenly drops in altitude, air traffic controllers are having the same struggles as controllers tracking the other three flights that have been taken over by terrorists. Controllers on the ground are receiving intermittent communication, although none of it was intended to be sent to them, nor do the hijackers respond when contacted by air traffic control. In the recordings below, controllers and pilots alike try desperately to determine the situation involving Flight 93.

spaceIn above left video, air traffic controllers begin calling other pilots to see if they heard and/or understood the yelling sent from Flight 93's cockpit. At approximately 9:32am EST, Jarrah began making announcements(above center) to the crew and passengers of Flight 93. Because he was not completely familiar with the controls, he sent his transmissions to air traffic control instead of the passengers, where his voice was automatically recorded.
spaceIn the above right video, Jarrah makes the same announcement, however, he thought he was talking to the passengers of the flight. In reality, he accidentally sent the transmission to air traffic controllers. Air traffic control and pilots of other flights then try to figure out exactly what is happening. By 9:35am EST, the plane ascends to approximately 40,000 feet. Because it veered off of its scheduled route, air traffic controllers instructed nearby flights to move out of the way.


Cockpit flight recorder
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spaceAt 9:30am EST, passengers and crewmembers began making phone calls to their loved ones. In total, passengers made 35 calls from the plane and 2 cell phone calls. Of those calls, 12 people were able to connect to someone on the ground.
spaceInvestigators found the cockpit flight recorder buried under 25 feet of dirt. After initially denying requests from family to hear the recordings, the FBI let relatives listen in a closed session on April 18th, 2002. The transcript was released(above right) on April 12th, 2006, but the actual recording has never been made public. As the passengers attempted to take control of the plane, hijacker Ziad Jarrah rolled the plane left to right, and pitched the plane up and down to throw the passengers off balance. At 10:00am EST, Jarrah said, “Is that it? Shall we finish it off?” An unidentified hijacker responded, “No. Not yet. When they all come, we finish it off.” By 10:02:23am EST, with sounds of the passengers attacking, an unidentified hijacker yelled, “Pull it down! Pull it down!”

Tom Burnett phone call
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Tom BurnettaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaDeena Burnett speaks on CSPAN about her book that she wrote
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaabout her struggle to move on with her life after the death of her
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahusband on September 11th.

spaceAt 9:27am EST, Tom Burnett placed the first of four calls to his wife, Deena to let her know about his status. In a later call, she informed him that two previous planes had crashed into the World Trade Center. He replied, “Oh my God. It’s a suicide mission.” He ended the phone call by telling his wife, “Don’t worry, we’re going to do something.” To read the entire transcript, click here.

Mark Bingham phone call
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spaceMark Bingham was born on May 22nd, 1970 in Phoenix, Arizona. He was a public relations specialist who owned his own company, the Bingham Group. The company had two offices; one in New York City, the other in San Francisco. Bingham was on his way home when his plane was hijacked. Paul Holm, his boyfriend of 6 years, claimed that this incident was not the first time Bingham had displayed bravery. Holm recalled that Bingham had protected him from two separate muggings, one of them at gunpoint. Bingham also played rugby for Cal's national championship team as well as for the San Francisco Fog RFC(pictured above center). He is pictured with Senator John McCain in the picture above right.

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Mark Bingham made a call to his mother and father.

Todd Beamer phone call

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spaceTodd Beamer(above left) was born on November 24th, 1968. He was an account manager for a software marketing company. He lived in Cranbury, New Jersey with his wife Lisa and two sons, David, 3, and Andrew, 1. When Todd died, his wife was five months pregnant. On January 9, 2002, Lisa Kay Beamer was born. Since his death, a number of buildings have been named after him, including Todd Beamer High School in Washington.

spaceAt 9:45am EST, Todd Beamer attempted to call his wife but could not get authorization for his credit card. As a result, the call was routed to Lisa Jefferson, a GTE phone operator in Oak Brook, IL. Unable to reach his wife, Beamer and Jefferson spoke for 13 minutes.

spaceBeamer told Jefferson that there were three hijackers on the flight, one who appeared to have a bomb strapped to his waist with a red belt. The man who appeared to have the bomb had Beamer and other passengers trapped in the back of plane for most of the call. According to a SouthCoast Today newspaper summary of the conversation, “Jefferson did not tell him what she knew of the other planes for fear of panicking him. After several minutes of talking to her calmly, Beamer's voice suddenly went up slightly. He told her the plane seemed to be going down, then it went back up and seemed to be making a turn. Beamer asked Jefferson to recite the Lord's Prayer with him, and she did.” At the end of the prayer, Beamer was heard to say, “ Are you guys ready? Okay. Let’s roll.” What happened next is somewhat unclear.

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A scene from United 93 which shows the theory of
a passenger takeover of the cockpit

One theory is that the passengers overtook the cockpit, and in the fight, the plane crashed into a field.

Another theory is that Jarrah realized what was happening, and chose to crash the plane rather than allow the passengers to retake control of the plane.

The 30-minute recording of the Flight 93 cockpit has never been released, although the victims’ families were allowed to listen to it and the public has been allowed the the transcript above. The 30-minute recording includes what sounds like a 7-minute struggle between English and Arabic-speaking people. This is assumed to be the final struggle as the airplane hurdled towards the earth.

The Crash Site

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As the above photo would suggest, there as little development around the Shanksville area, so it is reasonable to assume the hijackers had other targets in mind
and did not intend to crash Flight 93 in this area.

spaceFlight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, an isolated and scenic area of the Appalachian Mountain chain, 70 miles Southwest of Pittsburgh and 170 miles Northwest of Washington, DC. Shortly after the crash, the FBI descended upon the small town to begin their investigation. Because of the high speed and trajectory of the aircraft, very little remained of the plane or passengers for investigators to use as evidence. The white building viewable in the last video is not the plane, it is a nearby structure. Due to the violent nature of the crash, it was not until 5 months later that coroner Wally Miller was able to identify all the remains so that the families could conduct a proper burial.

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spaceFlight 93 hit the ground in Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 563 miles per hour, at a 40-degree angle. The crater was about 10 feet deep, and 30-50 feet wide. Only a handful of people actually saw the plane go down. Among them, Eric Peterson, reported, “You could see more of the roof of the plane than you could the belly.”

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spaceVal McClatchey was drinking a second cup of coffee and watching coverage of the 9/11 terror attacks on the news when she heard and felt Flight 93 crash near her house. Not knowing what it was at the time, she took her newly purchased digital camera and snapped the photo(above left) entitled "The End of Serenity", it is the only photo taken right after the crash. McClatchey recalls, "I didn't even aim. I was just like, 'Oh my God.'" In the photo on the right, McClatchey poses with Phyllis Musser, who owns the red barn in the photo.

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spaceOn Friday, September 14th, there was a memorial service for the people on Flight 93. Although Shanksville has a population of only 245 people, approximately 5,000 people attended the isolated event.

Flight 93 Tribute

Flight 93 Questions
1. Describe the events leading up to takeoff.
2. What drastic action occurred early in the flight path of Flight 93?
3. Provide information about the Flight 93 hijackers.
4. How did the actual hijacking occur?
5. What do the transmissions tell us about the events of September 11th, 2001?
6. Explain the story of the heroes of Flight 93.
7. What do you think happened to cause Flight 93 to crash in a field?
8. Since she took the picture, Val McClatchey has been called an opportunist who profited from tragedy. Why do you think people have said that?
9. Why might Mark Bingham have said, “Hi mom, this is Mark Bingham” when he spoke to her on the phone?