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How the attacks of September 11th at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, Flight 93 unfold



Nineteen years ago, nineteen men hijacked four planes to carry out the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil in a mission organized by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

For generations of Americans, September 11th became their version of “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” and millions more can remember memories of that day as if it happened last week. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and on board Flight 93, and people die every year as a result of September 11th.

While the 9/11 attacks are memorable to millions of people, it is an event that others who were not alive in 2001 learned about from family members and in classrooms. As with other historical events, education has become increasingly important over the years, and September 1

1th is no exception.

2,977 people were killed and thousands more injured in the terrorist attacks in the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93. Remembrance events will take different forms this year as the new coronavirus pandemic continues to restrict gatherings and many people will celebrate the day virtually. Some will read firsthand accounts of survivors and victims or watch news clips, and many who were alive for the attacks will remember where they were during the day.

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9/11 timeline anniversary
The moon rises behind a ray of Tribute in Light as it is tested on September 4 from Jersey City, New Jersey, through Lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in New York City. Friday will mark the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attack.
Gary Hershorn / Getty

A timeline of the 9/11 attacks

7:59 am: American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Boston with 11 crew members, 76 passengers and five hijackers on board. It was originally intended for Los Angeles.

8:15 o’clock: United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Boston with nine crew members, 51 passengers and five hijackers. It was originally intended for Los Angeles.

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8:19 am: Betty Ann Ong, a flight attendant aboard Flight 11, advises ground crew that the cockpit is inaccessible, a passenger has been stabbed and the plane is being hijacked. The passenger identified as Daniel M. Lewin served four years in the Israeli army and one report speculated that he might have tried to stop the kidnappers. He is likely the first person killed during the attacks.

8:20 am: American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Washington Dulles International Airport with six crew members, 53 passengers and five hijackers on board. It was originally intended for Los Angeles.

8:24 am: Flight 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta accidentally sends a message to air traffic control: “We have a few planes. Just keep calm and you’ll be fine.”

8:37 am: The Boston air traffic control center warns the US Air Force’s Northeast Air Defense Sector, which is mobilizing the Air National Guard to follow Flight 11.

8:42 am: United Flight 93 takes off from Newark International Airport with seven crew members, 33 passengers and four hijackers on board. It was originally tied to San Francisco.

8:46 am: Flight 11 falls to floors 93 through 99 of 1 World Trade Center, known as the North Tower, separating all three emergency staircases. First aiders are dispatched to the site and an evacuation begins.

8:50 am: President George W. Bush is told that a supposedly small plane has struck the World Trade Center. At the time Bush was attending an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida, and was told it was likely an accident.

8:52 am: A flight attendant aboard Flight 175 reports to an airline that a hijacking is ongoing.

8:55 am: A Fire Safety Officer from the Port Authority tells people in the 2 World Trade Center, the South Tower, that it is safe and that no evacuation is required. Those in the process of evacuation are asked to use the re-entry doors and elevators to return to their office.

8:59 am: Sergeant Al DeVona from the Port Authority’s Police Department orders the evacuation of both towers, followed a minute later by an evacuation order for the entire complex.

9:02 am: A fire safety officer from the port authority announced that people can initiate a proper evacuation of the south tower if “the conditions on your floor warrant it”.

9:03 am: Flight 175 crashes into floors 77 to 85 of the south tower. Two of the three emergency stairwells are impassable.

9/11 timeline of events
Smoke pours from the twin towers of the World Trade Center after they were hit by two hijacked airliners in a September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York City.
Robert Giroux / Getty

9:05 am: Andrew Card, White House Chief of Staff, informs Bush that the South Tower was hit and it was not an accident. “A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack,” Card told MSNBC when telling the president.

9:12 am: Renee A. May, a flight attendant aboard Flight 77, called her mother and said the plane was hijacked. Your mother then calls American Airlines. Minutes after she called, passenger Barbara Olson calls her husband, Attorney General Theodore Olson, and tells him that hijackers have taken over the flight. He informs federal officials.

9:37 am: Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon.

9:42 am: The Federal Aviation Administration establishes all flights.

9:58 am: Flight 93 descends so low that Edward P. Felt, a passenger, can reach an emergency service in Pennsylvania.

9:59 am: The south tower collapses.

10:03 am: Passengers and crew storm the cockpit of Flight 93. It crashes in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, about 20 minutes flying time from Washington, DC

Flight 93 9/11 attack timeline Shanksville
A message left on the fence at the United Airlines Flight 93 Memorial during a 9/11 memorial service on September 11, 2008 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Jeff Swensen / Getty

10:28 am: The north tower collapses.

12:16 pm: US airspace closes.

8:30 p.m .: Bush addresses the nation from the White House.

The above timeline was compiled from the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, the main institution in the country for studying the events and aftermath of the attacks.


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