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Murderers onboard Flight #11:
Satam Suqami Waleed Alshehri Wail Alshehri Mohamed Atta Abdulaziz Alomari
American Airlines #11 Boeing 767
7:59 a.m. Departed Boston for Los Angeles --- 8:46:40 a.m. Crashed into North Tower of World Trade Center

American Airlines Flight 11
TIMELINE
[Passengers and Crew]

World Trade Center    AA Flight 11    AA Flight 77
UA Flight 93    UA Flight 175    Pentagon


Fireball after Flight 11 impacts the North Tower of the World Trade Center

American Airlines Flight 11 was the first flight hijacked in the September 11, 2001 attacks. It was an American Airlines flight aboard a Boeing 767-223ER aircraft, registration number N334AA, which regularly flew from Logan International Airport in East Boston, Massachusetts, to Los Angeles International Airport. On September 11, 2001, the aircraft on this route was hijacked, and was crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City at 8:46 a.m. Out of all the planes hijacked that day, Flight 11 had the most people on board with 92.

Hijackers

Five hijackers were aboard the flight:

Muhammad 'Ata as-Sayyid (Egyptian) - the leader and pilot, was in seat 8D. ; Waleed al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian) - sat in seat 2B ; Wail al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian) - sat next to Waleed, in seat 2A ; Abdulaziz al-Omari (Saudi Arabian) - sat in seat 8G, had earlier flown with Atta to Logan Airport from Portland, Maine ; Satam al-Suqami (Saudi Arabian) - had paid in cash that day, sat in seat 10B. He also stabbed a passenger who tried to intervene in the hijacking.

Four of the hijackers were selected by CAPPS for extra screening of their checked bags for explosives. Mohamed Atta was selected when he checked in at Portland International Jetport, while Satam al-Suqami, Wail al-Shehri, and Waleed al-Shehri were selected in Boston. Since Waleed had checked no bags, CAPPS screening had no effect on him, while the others merely had their bags undergo extra screening. CAPPS selectees did not undergo any extra scrutiny at the passenger security checkpoint.

7:00 AM

7:35: Atta and al-Omari board American Airlines Flight 11.

7:39: The rest of the American Airlines Flight 11 hijackers board the plane.

7:59: American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767, departs 14 minutes late from Logan International Airport, bound for Los Angeles, California. Five hijackers are aboard.

8:00 AM

8:13: Flight 11 has its last routine communication with the FAA's air traffic control center in Boston.

8:14: Flight 11 fails to heed air traffic controller's instruction to climb to 35,000 feet.

8:19: Betty Ong, a flight attendant on Flight 11 alerts American Airlines via an airphone, “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.” She then tells of the stabbings of two flight attendants.

AA 11 flight path from Boston to New York City
AA 11 flight path from Boston to New York City.

8:20: The Federal Aviation Administration's Boston Center flight controllers decide that Flight 11 has probably been hijacked.

8:21 Flight 11's transponder signal is turned off, but the plane remains on radar screens as a blip without additional information. (Prior to the 9/11 Commission's report, news organizations reported this time as 8:13 or immediately thereafter.)

8:24 Flight 11 makes a 100-degree turn to the south heading toward New York City. A radio transmission comes from Flight 11: “We have some planes. Just stay quiet, and you'll be okay. We are returning to the airport.” It is believed Atta mistakenly held a button directing his voice to radio rather than to the plane's cabin as he intended. A few seconds later, Atta's voice says, “Nobody move. Everything will be OK. If you try to make any moves, you'll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet.” Air traffic controllers hear the transmission.

8:25: Boston Center flight controllers alert other flight control centers regarding Flight 11. However, NORAD is not yet alerted.

8:34: A third transmission from Flight 11: “Nobody move please. We are going back to the airport. Don't try to make any stupid moves.” Boston Center contacts Otis Air National Guard Base at Cape Cod through the FAA's Cape Cod facility, on the hijacking of Flight 11.

8:37: Flight 175 confirms sighting of hijacked Flight 11 to flight controllers, 10 miles (16 km) to its south.

8:37:52: Boston Center control notifies NEADS (Northeast Air Defense Sector), the northeast sector of NORAD, of the hijacking of Flight 11, the first notification received by the military at any level that American 11 had been hijacked. The controller requests military help to intercept the jetliner.

8:41: The FAA's New York Center requests information about Flight 11 over the radio. Flight 175 responds: “[...]ah we heard a suspicious transmission on our departure out of Bostan ah with someone ah, ah sound like someone sound like someone keyed the mike and said ah 'everyone ah stay in your seats'” New York Center acknowledges and says it will pass the information on.

8:44: Flight attendant Amy Sweeney, aboard Flight 11, reports by telephone to American Airlines Flight Services Office in Boston, “Something is wrong. We are in a rapid descent... we are all over the place.” A minute later, she is asked to describe what she sees out the window. She responds, “I see the water. I see the buildings. I see buildings...” After a short pause, she reports, “We are flying low. We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low.” Seconds later she says slowly, “Oh my God.” The call ends with a burst of very loud, sustained static.

A frame from Pavel Hlavas video, which shows Flight 11 crashing into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
A frame from Pavel Hlava's video, which shows Flight 11 crashing into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

8:46: Two F-15 fighter jets are scrambled from Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts, intended to intercept Flight 11. Because Flight 11's transponder is off, United States Air Force pilots do not know the direction they should fly to meet the jetliner. NEADS spends the next several minutes watching their radar screens in anticipation of Flight 11 returning a radar contact.

8:46:40: Flight 11 crashes at roughly 490 mph (790 km/h or 425 knots) into the north face of the North Tower (1 WTC) of the World Trade Center, between floors 94 and 98. (Many early accounts gave times between 8:45 and 8:50). The aircraft enters the tower mostly intact. It plows to the building core, severing all three gypsum-encased stairwells, dragging combustibles with it. A massive shock wave travels down to the ground and up again. The combustibles and the remnants of the aircraft are ignited by the burning fuel. As the building lacks a traditional full cage frame and depends almost entirely on the strength of a narrow structural core running up the center, fire at the center of the impact zone is in a position to compromise the integrity of all internal columns. People below the severed stairwells start to evacuate—no one above the impact zone is able to do so.

God Bless the Victims!

CAPPS: The Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (often abbreviated CAPPS) is a counter-terrorism system in place in the United States air travel industry. The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) maintains a watchlist, pursuant to 49 USC 114 (h)(2) [1], of "individuals known to pose, or suspected of posing, a risk of air piracy or terrorism or a threat to airline or passenger safety." The list is used to pre-emptively identify terrorists attempting to buy plane tickets or board planes traveling in the United States, and to mitigate perceived threats.

CAPPS systems rely on what is known as a Passenger Name Record, often abbreviated PNR. When a person books a plane ticket, certain identifying information is collected by the airline: full name, address, etc. This information is used to check against some data store (e.g., a TSA No-Fly list, the FBI ten most wanted fugitive list, etc.) and assign a terrorism "risk score" to that person. High risk scores require the airline to subject the person to extended baggage and/or personal screening, and to contact law enforcement if necessary.

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