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Murderers onboard Flight #175:
Marwan Al-Shehhi Alleged Pilot Fayez Rashid Ahmed Alghamdi Hamza Alghamdi Mohand Alshehri
United Airlines #175 - Boeing 767
8:14 a.m. Departed Boston for Los Angeles --- 9:03:11 a.m. Crashed into South Tower of World Trade Center

United Airlines Flight 175
TIMELINE
[Passengers and Crew of UA Flight 175]

Victims at:
World Trade Center    AA Flight 11    AA Flight 77
UA Flight 93    UA Flight 175    Pentagon

United Airlines Flight 175 was a morning flight that regularly flew from Logan International Airport in East Boston, Massachusetts to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California. On September 11, 2001, UA Flight 175 (United Airlines Boeing 767-222, registered N612UA), was hijacked and later crashed in New York City.

United Airlines Flight 175 was the second plane hijacked that day and flown into the World Trade Center. American Airlines Flight 11 had struck the top of the North Tower just 17 minutes earlier, engulfing the floors between 94 and 98 in flames, drawing live, mass media attention.

When UA Flight 175 was purposefully manipulated and crashed into the South Tower, it was broadcasted — live — on every TV station to be witnessed, worldwide. The eerie images of black, billowing smoke and flames as Flight 175 crashed into the Trade Center Tower will forever be enblazened in our memories.

Having witnessed the absolute evil of these horrendous acts, it was very clear that retribution was imminent.

Hijackers

There were a total five hijackers aboard Flight 175, they were:

Marwan al-Shehhi (United Arab Emirates) (pilot) ; Fayez Banihammad (United Arab Emirates) ; Mohand al-Shehri (Saudi Arabia) ; Hamza al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabia) ; Ahmed al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabia)

The Flight

UA 175 flight path from Boston to New York City
UA 175 flight path from Boston to New York City

UA 175 was scheduled to depart Logan International Airport in East Boston at 8:00am EDT and left gate 26 at 7:59. ("A September morning, four flights, a collision course with tragedy", Associated Press, September 12, 2001.) Captain Victor Saracini was the pilot with Michael Horrocks as first officer. Due to routine morning taxiing times, the flight never departed the runway until 8:14am. Had the flight departed 15 minutes earlier, it would most likely have been hijacked at the same time as Flight 11.

At 08:37:08, flight control asked the pilots of UA 175 whether they could see American Airlines Flight 11 from their viewpoint, and the response was affirmative. UA 175 was ordered to maintain distance as AA Flight 11 had been hijacked.

Approximately 7 minutes later, UA 175 was also hijacked.

Hijacking

The hijackers claimed they had a bomb, though this is not substantiated. The assailants used knives and mace to subdue members of the flight crew and the pilots.

At 8:41, the pilots overheard suspicious transmission ordering people to "stay in your seats" and reported to air traffic control.

At 8:47, air traffic control received the first indications that the plane was hijacked. The transponder code was changed twice but was never turned off. This allowed ATC to continually track the flight and monitor flight data, including altitude.

Minutes later, as the plane radically changed course and was not responding, there was no longer any doubt that UA 175 was in trouble.

By 8:58 Flight 175 descended from an altitude of 28,500 feet over New Jersey and was heading towards New York City.

From the time al-Shehhi completed the turn toward New York (approximately 8:58) to the moment of impact (9:02:40), the plane went into a sustained power dive, descending more than 24,000 feet in 4 minutes 40 seconds -- over 5,000 feet per minute.

New York Center air traffic controller Dave Bottiglia reported he and his colleagues "were counting down the altitudes, and they were descending, right at the end, at 10,000 feet per minute. That is absolutely unheard of for a commercial jet."

Near collision with Delta 2315

Delta Air Lines Flight 2315 was in flight from Hartford, Connecticut to Tampa, Florida and nearly collided in midair with Flight 175 just minutes before UA 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. This near-miss was dramatised in the movie, United 93.

United 175 had flown within 200 feet (60 m) of Delta 2315. Air traffic controller Dave Bottiglia frantically told the Delta pilot to take evasive action. Bottiglia was the first person in the control center to realize that Flight 175 was hijacked, when he gave directions for a turn and Flight 175 did not respond. Instead, the plane accelerated and headed toward Delta Air Lines Flight 2315. The controller commanded the Delta pilot, "Take any evasive action necessary. We have an airplane that we don't know what he's doing. Any action at all."

Flight 175 was added to the list of hijacked planes.

Phone Calls

Three passengers — Peter Hanson, Brian David Sweeney, and Garnet Bailey — made phone calls, all from GTE airphones from United Airlines Flight 175. Flight attendant Robert Fangman also made phone calls.

At 8:52 a.m., Peter Hanson called his father, Lee Hanson in Easton, Connecticut, telling him of the hijacking. Pete was travelling with his wife, Sue, and 2 1/2 year old daughter, Christine. Pete said that the hijackers had taken over the cockpit, that a flight attendant had been stabbed, and possibly someone else in the front of the aircraft had been killed. He also reported that the plane was flying erratically.

Flight attendant Robert Fangman called a United Airlines office in San Francisco, and spoke with Marc Policastro. He reported the hijacking, and said that both pilots had been killed. He also reported that a flight attendant was stabbed, and said that the hijackers were flying the plane. The call was disconnected after a minute and 15 seconds.

At 8:58 a.m., Brian David Sweeney tried calling his wife, Julie, and left her a message, telling her that the plane had been hijacked. He then called his parents at 9:00 a.m., and spoke with his mother, Louise. Sweeney told his mother about the hijacking, and mentioned that passengers were considering storming the cockpit and taking control of the aircraft.

Peter Hanson called his father again at 9:00 a.m.

"It's getting bad, Dad. A stewardess was stabbed. They seem to have knives and Mace. They said they have a bomb. It's getting very bad on the plane. Passengers are throwing up and getting sick. The plane is making jerky movements. I don't think the pilot is flying the plane. I think we are going down. 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....Oh My God.., oh my God, oh my God."

As the call abruptly ended, Hanson's father heard a woman screaming.

United 175 continued its descent into Lower Manhattan and two minutes before impact, then 9:01 am, New York Center alerted another nearby Air Traffic Facility responsible for low-flying aircraft. As the flight neared the World Trade Center, ATC was able to monitor the flight's impact path.

Crash

A sequential look at United Flight 175 crashing into the south tower of the World Trade Center
A sequential look at United Flight 175 crashing into the south tower of the World Trade Center.
Photo by CNN

Flight 175 crashed into the southern facade of Tower 2 of the World Trade Center (south tower), at 9:03 am, travelling at approximately 545 mph and impacting between floors 77 and 85. The plane was carrying about 10,000 gallons of jet fuel. Onboard were 56 passengers, 5 hijackers and 9 crew members. There were no survivors. Hundreds more were killed within the tower from its ensuing explosion, fires, and ultimate collapse.

Approximately 600 people were killed instantly, or trapped in and above the floors of impact in the South Tower (2 WTC).

The aircraft appeared to execute a banking left turn in the final moments as it appeared that the plane might have otherwise missed the building or merely clipped it with its wing. Upon crashing, the plane was banked left. Those seated on the left side of the plane would have had a clear view of the towers approaching — with one burning — until the final moment of their own impact. (Lord have mercy!)

The crash of Flight 175 was caught on video from numerous vantage points and broadcast live across every tv network in the world. For the next few weeks, these images would be broadcast around the clock.

Some debris from the aircraft was recovered nearby: landing gear was found on top of a building on the corner of West Broadway and Park Place; an engine was found at Church & Murray Street; a section of the fuselage landed on top of 5 World Trade Center.

Unlike at the North Tower, one of the three stairwells was initially still intact. Only 18 people passed the impact zone through the available stairway and left the South Tower safely before it collapsed. One of those 18 people, Stanley Praimnath, was on the 81st floor and witnessed Flight 175 coming towards him. Some people above the impact zone made their way upward toward the roof in hope of a helicopter rescue. However, access doors to the roof were locked. Unfortunately, it really didn't matter, because the intense heat and thick, black smoke had made a roof-top rescue impossible.

At 9:59:04 the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. It was viewed and heard by a vast television and radio audience. The Tower had stood for 56 minutes and 10 seconds after the impact of Flight 175, giving those below the site of impact precious minutes to evacuate.

Further information: Collapse of the World Trade Center

References and Resources:

  1. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. NTSB Brief. NTSB.
  3. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (2004). "Chapter 7", 9-11 Commission Report. Government Printing Office.
  4. "A September morning, four flights, a collision course with tragedy", Associated Press, September 12, 2001.
  5. Special Report: Attack on America. Guardian Report.
  6. FREE PDF Reader from AdobeNTSB Report for Flight 175. NTSB (2002-02-19).
  7. Flight 175: As the World Watched (TLC documentary). The Learning Channel (December 2005).
  8. A Loss of Control. Newsday, Inc.
  9. Report: hijacked plane nearly hit flight from Bradley. The Associated Press
  10. Exhibit #P200018, United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui. United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia.
  11. FREE PDF Reader from AdobeThe Four Flights - Staff Statement No. 4. 9/11 Commission.
  12. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (2004). "Chapter 1", 9-11 Commission Report. Government Printing Office.
  13. Flight 175: As the World Watched (TLC documentary). The Learning Channel (December 2005).
  14. FREE PDF Reader from AdobeNIST NCSTAR 1-5: Reconstruction of the Fires in the World Trade Center Towers. National Institute of Standards and Technology (October 2005).
  15. Carmen Taylor, amateur photographer from Lavaca... She then took the photo of United Airlines Flight 175 as it hit the south tower.
  16. FREE PDF Reader from AdobeNIST report (58mB pdf) table 6-1: "Video file V4, footage taken at ground level near the Castle Clinton National Monument" ... Appendix E (end of the report) = still images from the video with the Michael Hezarkhani name on it (quick preview: http://img263.imageshack.us/img263/8219/nisthezpicdw9.jpg).
  17. United Airlines provides further update on UA Flights 93 and 175. PR Newswire Europe Ltd.
  18. Logan Airport bears memory of its fateful role with silence. Boston Globe
  19. United Airlines Worldwide Timetable.
  20. "Surprise Senate speedup in ITT, Kleindienst case," The Independent (Long Beach, Ca.), Mar. 6, 1972, pA-1, A-4
  21. "Airliner returns safely after losing cabin pressure," European Stars and Stripes, August 8, 1988, p5

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