9/11 Timeline: Where Were You When?


Thanks to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the National Archives for curating this timeline of history for the U.S.

5:45 a.m. Two Hijackers Pass Through Security

En route from Portland, Maine, to Boston, Massachusetts, two hijackers pass through security with knives on their bodies. At the time, blades under four inches were permissible.

7:59 a.m. Flight 11 Takes Off

The American Airlines flight from Boston to Los Angeles takes off with a full fuel tank and 76 passengers, 11 crew members, and five hijackers on board.

8:15 a.m. Flight 175 Takes off

The United flight, also traveling from Boston to Los Angeles, takes off with 51 passengers, nine crew members, and five hijackers on board.

8:19 a.m. Flight 11 Crew Contacts American Airlines Ground Personnel

With the cockpit unreachable, flight attendant Betty Ong reports that the plane is being hijacked. Daniel M. Lewin, an Israeli Army veteran, is stabbed and is most likely the first death in the 9/11 terror attacks. Flight attendant Madeline Amy Sweeney contacts a manager at Boston Logan Airport and provides a description of the hijackers.

8:20 a.m. Flight 77 Takes Off

American Airlines Flight 77 departs Washington Dulles en route to Los Angeles with 53 passengers, six crew members, and five hijackers on board.

8:24 a.m. Flight 11 Hijacker Speaks

“We have some planes. Just be quiet and you’ll be okay.”

8:37 a.m. Boston Logan Contacts the Military

The U.S. Air Force mobilizes NEADS—Northeast Air Defense Sector—to identify and follow hijacked Flight 11.

8:42 a.m. Flight 93 Takes Off

Delayed, United Flight 93 departs Newark International headed toward San Francisco with 33 passengers, seven crew members, and four hijackers onboard.

8:46 a.m. Flight 11 Strikes North Tower

Crashing between floors 93 and 99, Flight 11 destroys all three emergency stairwells. South Tower survivor Constance Labetti recalls:

I stood up and turned my body towards the window and I could see the big airline coming straight towards us. It looked like it was coming straight towards us. Didn’t look like the plane was in any kind of duress. It was going straight towards what I thought was our building. In actuality, Tower One was right in front of us.

I just stood frozen. I didn’t move – I couldn’t move. I just stood at the window. I could see it coming closer and closer. I could see the AA on its tail. I could see the cockpit. I could see inside the tinted windows of the cockpit. That’s how close I was.

8:46 a.m. First Responders Reach the North Tower, and Evacuation Begins

Police, fire, paramedics, and the Port Authority Police Department, along with countless volunteers, rush to assist those injured, dying, and fleeing.

8:50 a.m. President George W. Bush Alerted

Surrounded by school children, the president of the United States is quietly informed a plane has struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center, and it is assumed to be a terrible accident.

9:00 a.m. Flight 175 Passenger Brian Sweeney Calls His Wife Julie

Jules, this is Brian. Listen, I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked. If things don’t go well-and it’s not looking good-I just want you to know I absolutely love you. I want you to do good, go and have good times; same to my parents and everybody. And I just totally love you and I’ll see you when you get there. Bye, babe. I hope I call you.

9:03 a.m. South Tower Struck

Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower between floors 77 and 85. WCBS Newsradio 880 reported:

It looks like some kind of sick confetti parade. There is debris flying out of that South Tower.

9:05 a.m. President Bush Informs America That the Country Is Under Attack

Today we have had a national tragedy. Two plans have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.

9:37 a.m. Pentagon Struck

American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon, killing everyone on board, as well as 125 people in the building. Brian Birdwell told his colleagues he was going to step out of the office and go to the men’s room and then:

When I come out of the men’s restroom, I’m coming back to the E-Ring hallway and I’m about to turn right back into that hallway and go to my office. I’m about 15-20 yards from the nose of that aircraft when it makes impact with the building at 530 miles per hour with 3,000 gallons of gas.

Then there is an explosion, the vacuum, the concussion. I’m tossed around like a rag doll. I go from a well-lit hallway, in charge of my faculties, to an earthly hell of fire and smoke and the temperature of that hallway, and then I’m set ablaze and I’m burning.

9:59 a.m. South Tower Collapses

N.J. Burkett got as close to the site as possible for his news report when the tower fell. Just after showing a swarm of responding firefighters staging nearby, the camera pans up to the tower debris blossoming, almost in slow motion, snuffing out thousands of lives.

We don’t know what’s happened inside. What we know we have to do is just keep running the other way.

10:07 a.m. Flight 93 Crashes in Pennsylvania

Flight 93 passengers took a vote on whether or not to storm the cockpit. Storming the cockpit garnered the most votes. An open line between Todd Beamer and 911 operator Lisa Jefferson recorded the now-famous words:

Are you ready? Okay. Let’s roll.

10:28 a.m. North Tower Collapses

One hundred and two minutes after Flight 11 strikes the building, it collapses with roughly 1,600 people inside.

Never Forget

Every time you watch footage from 9/11, remember the 2,977 lives lost on live television. As a nation, we watched spouses become widows, children become orphans, and dreams become ashes. The horror and trauma we experienced that day 22 years ago are shared, as is the unmatched unity that came in the days and weeks after the attacks. Now more than ever, let’s focus on the common love for our country and neighbor, the heroism of the American spirit, and the bravery of those who returned again and again to save one more.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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