is known: American Airlines Flight 11 departed
from Logan Airport in Boston at 7:59 AM; United
Airlines Flight 175 departed from Logan Airport at 8:14
AM. Both were Boeing 767 airliners. Within
20 minutes after take off, they were hijacked
and converted to semi-stealthed missiles by turning
off their transponders. They crashed into the
North and South Towers of the World Trade Center at
8:46 and 9:03 AM. The FBI further determined from
passenger lists and passport records the identities
used by ten hijackers to buy tickets and board the two
were no voice communications with the airline pilots
on the two planes after they climbed to their cruising
altitude. There were no May day signals or even utterances
from them heard during the attacks of their cockpits.
There were no reports from witnesses who saw the actual
attacks on the cockpits. There were no data, voice recorders,
bodies or other evidence recovered from the debris.
So what we know is based on two sources.
First, announcements overheard from the
planes' public address system, presumably by the hijackers,
instructing the passengers to keep their seats, which
indicated that they had established control over the
cockpit within a few minutes after the planes had reached
their cruising altitudes.
cell phone calls. On flight 11, two flight attendants,
Betty Ong and Madeline Amy Sweeney, called American
Airlines officials in Boston. Ong's conversation,
which continued from 8:20 to 8:43, was recorded. She
was seated in a jump seat in back, relaying information
from others. She reported that four men in first-class
seats had killed a passenger seated behind them. She
said that they had used a chemical weapon on her that
made her eyes burn and made it difficult for her to
breathe. Sweeney, the flight attendant in the rear compartment,
reported that three of the the hijackers had been seated
in seats 9D, 9G and 10B and were of Middle Eastern descent.
She also reported that one of the hijackers showed
her a bomb with red and yellow wires and that the hijackers
had wounded or killed members of the crew. Her report
was not recorded and their was some discrepancy over
whether she had said stabbed or shot. The
initial secret FAA memo, summarizing what
had been reported by Sweeney, said the passenger had
been "shot." Subsequently. the FAA changed
"shot" to "stabbed" explaining that
there had been a "miscommunication."
In any case, she provided enough information so that
the airline knew its plane had been hijacked by five
men with Arab names.
On Flight 175, two passengers made cell phone
calls. One left a message that the plane had been hijacked,
the other that a stewardess had been stabbed.
Here is what we do not know:
1) What weapons did the ten hijackers
a stabbing is reported, the only weapons described
by the two witness (Ong and Sweeney) aboard Flight
11 was a paralyzing chemical spray and a bomb. (The
stories about plastic knives and box-cutters are erroneous.)
2) How did these get these weapons through security
scanners at Logan or Portland Airport?
of the hijackers went through the security screening
in Boston on September 11th and boarded flights 11
and 175. Two of those hijackers drove from Boston
on September 10th in a rented car to Portland, Maine,
and at 5 AM the next morning passed through security
at Portland Airport, and then again in Boston. Did
someone in Boston assist the hijackers in smuggling
weapons past the security checkpoints?
3) How did the hijackers gain entry to the cockpits?
The attacks on the cockpit were so sudden that none
of the pilots had the opportunity to sound a May Day
alert or scream. The cockpits doors are required to
be locked. How did the hijackers open these doors
so as not to alert the pilots?
4) How did the hijackers immobilize the pilots without
causing the planes to swerve out of control?
The pilots are strapped by harnesses into their seats
and have microphones connecting them to ground controllers.
How did the hijackers managed to get the pilots out
of their seats and take over the controls?
5) Were the planes on auto pilot? If so, how did the
hijackers determine this prior to the attack?
6) How did the hijackers guide the planes to their
targets? Did they have global positioning devices?