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Timeline of the September 11 Attacks

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Note: All times listed are Eastern Daylight Time.

  • 7:59 AM

    American Airlines flight 11 departs from Boston’s Logan International Airport, bound for Los Angeles. Aboard are 11 crew members and 81 passengers, including 5 hijackers.

  • 8:14 AM

    United Airlines flight 175 takes off from Boston, headed for Los Angeles. Aboard are 9 crew members and 56 passengers, including 5 hijackers.

  • 8:14 AM

    Flight 11 has its final routine communication with air traffic controllers. Sixteen seconds later, controllers instruct the pilot to increase the plane’s altitude. However, there is no response, and all subsequent messages are unanswered. Investigators believe the plane is hijacked around this time.

  • 8:19 AM

    A flight attendant on flight 11 alerts American Airlines that the plane has been hijacked. She reports that the “cockpit is not answering” and that the hijackers reportedly have a bomb. In addition, two other flight attendants and a passenger have been stabbed. The passenger, later determined to be Daniel Lewin, formerly served in the Israeli military, and it is thought that he tried to stop the hijacking. Some speculate that he was the first victim of the attacks.

  • 8:20 AM

    American Airlines flight 77 departs from Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., bound for Los Angeles. The plane is carrying 6 crew members and 58 passengers, including 5 hijackers. Before boarding, three of the terrorists had set off the metal detectors when going through security, but all passed subsequent inspections.

  • 8:21 AM

    The transponder on flight 11 is turned off, making it difficult for air traffic controllers to monitor its course.

  • 8:24 AM

    Mistakenly broadcasting over the air traffic control channel instead of the public-address system, flight 11 hijacker Mohammad Atta, who is piloting the plane, announces, “We have some planes. Just stay quiet, and you’ll be okay. We are returning to the airport.” This was soon followed by “Nobody move. Everything will be okay. If you try to make any moves, you’ll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet.”

  • 8:37 AM

    Air traffic controllers at Boston’s Logan Airport alert the U.S. military’s Northeast Air Defense Sector.

  • 8:42 AM

    Flight 175 makes its last communication with air traffic controllers, reporting that during takeoff it heard a “suspicious transmission” from another airplane, later determined to be flight 11. Around this time, flight 175 is hijacked, and some five minutes later its transponder code is changed.

  • 8:42 AM

    United Airlines flight 93 departs from Newark International Airport in New Jersey, headed to San Francisco. Aboard are 7 crew members and 37 passengers, including 4 hijackers. At this point, no aircraft has been notified that flight 11 has been hijacked.

  • 8:44 AM

    A second flight attendant on flight 11 is on the phone with air officials and reports that the plane is in “rapid descent” and that it is flying “way too low.” The call then abruptly ends.

  • 8:46 AM

    Two military jets are ordered to depart from Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod, headed to New York.

  • 8:46:40 AM

    Hijackers on flight 11 fly the airplane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City. The impact occurs between floors 93 and 99. The crash instantly kills hundreds, including all those on board. Almost immediately emergency responders are sent to the building.

  • 8:51 AM

    Flight 175 changes from its assigned altitude, and repeated efforts by air traffic controllers to contact the plane are unsuccessful.

  • 8:51 AM

    Flight 77 has its last routine radio communication. It is believed the plane is hijacked shortly thereafter.

  • 8:52 AM

    A flight attendant on flight 175 calls United Airlines and informs officials that the plane has been hijacked and that both pilots are dead. During this time passengers are also phoning friends and family. Passenger calls will provide important information about the hijackings in subsequent investigations.

  • 8:54 AM

    Flight 77 heads south from its assigned path, and two minutes later hijackers turn off the plane’s transponder. Efforts to contact the aircraft are unsuccessful.

  • 8:55 AM

    U.S. Pres. George W. Bush, who has arrived at an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida, is told that a plane has struck the World Trade Center, though details are uncertain.

  • 8:58 AM

    Flight 175 sets a course for New York City.

  • 9:00 AM

    The Public Authority Police Department orders the evacuation of all civilians in the World Trade Center complex.

  • 9:00 AM

    A passenger on flight 175 contacts his father for the second time that morning and reportedly tells him, “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.”

  • 9:03:11 AM

    Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, striking between floors 77 and 85.

  • 9:05 AM

    President Bush, who is reading to schoolchildren in a classroom, is told by his chief of staff, Andrew Card, that a second plane has struck the World Trade Center and that “America is under attack.”

  • 9:24 AM

    Flight 93 is notified by a United dispatcher that two planes have flown into the World Trade Center. Two minutes later the pilot asks the dispatcher to confirm the message.

  • 9:25 AM

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bars all civil aircraft in the United States from taking off.

  • 9:29 AM

    Hijackers on flight 93 attack the cockpit. “Mayday” is declared over a radio transmission and sounds of a physical struggle are heard. On another transmission seconds later, someone yells “get out of here.”

  • 9:32 AM

    Controllers at Dulles observe an airplane traveling at a “high rate of speed.” Two minutes later officials at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport alert the Secret Service of a plane (later determined to be flight 77) headed in the direction of the White House.

  • 9:32 AM

    A hijacker on flight 93 announces, “Ladies and Gentlemen: Here the captain, please sit down keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board. So, sit.” Passengers begin making phone calls, and they learn about the World Trade Center.

  • 9:36 AM

    U.S. Vice Pres. Dick Cheney is evacuated to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, which is located under the White House.

  • 9:37:46 AM

    Flight 77 hits the Pentagon in Virginia with the throttle set to maximum power. In addition to all those on the plane, 125 people on the ground and in the building are ultimately killed.

  • 9:41 AM

    The transponder from flight 93 is turned off.

  • 9:42 AM

    The FAA orders all 4,546 civil aircraft flying in U.S. airspace to land.

  • 9:55 AM

    President Bush departs Florida on Air Force One. Although the initial plan had been to return to Washington, D.C., safety and other concerns result in a change of destination to an air force base in Louisiana.

  • 9:57 AM

    Following a vote, passengers aboard flight 93 rush the cockpit in an attempt to retake the plane. Despite a hijacker rolling the aircraft from side to side—and later up and down—the passengers continue to batter at the cockpit door.

  • 9:59 AM

    The South Tower collapses.

  • 10:00 AM

    All members of New York’s fire department are ordered to evacuate the North Tower. While many begin leaving, some do not hear the order, while others are unaware of its urgency. More than 400 emergency responders are ultimately killed in the WTC attacks.

  • 10:02 AM

    With the passengers apparently close to breaching the cockpit door on flight 93, the hijackers decide to “put it down” and begin a sharp descent. During this time, the plane rolls upside down. Subsequent audio recordings have led some to believe that the passengers managed to get inside the cockpit and struggle over the controls.

  • 10:03 AM

    Flight 93 crashes in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing everyone on board. The plane would have reached Washington, D.C.—its suspected destination—in about 20 minutes.

  • 10:24 AM

    All transatlantic flights headed to the United States are diverted to Canada.

  • 10:28 AM

    The North Tower collapses. In total, more than 2,700 people die at the World Trade Center complex.

  • 11:02 AM

    New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani orders the evacuation of Lower Manhattan.

  • 12:16 PM

    U.S. airspace is clear after the last plane lands.

  • 1:04 PM

    After landing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, President Bush vows to “hunt down and punish those responsible.” Osama bin Laden, founder of the militant Islamist organization al-Qaeda, is already suspected of being behind the attacks.

  • 1:48 PM

    Air Force One departs Louisiana, headed for Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, where the president will stay until 4:30 PM, when he leaves for Washington, D.C.

  • 5:20 PM

    Seven World Trade Center collapses, though no deaths are reported.

  • 6:54 PM

    President Bush arrives back at the White House.

  • 8:30 PM

    President Bush addresses the nation. During the speech, he announces that “terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”