History of the USA - An Online Guide to September 11th, 2001


September 11th, 2001, is a date that will forever be remembered in America as the worst terrorist attack in the nation's history. 19 terrorists hijacked four airplanes in a coordinated attack on the country. Two planes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York City, one was crashed into the Pentagon in northern Virginia, and the last crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. They all had erratic flight paths toward the end. The events leading up to the attacks have been the subject of much scrutiny over the past decade, and will surely continue to be studied in great detail. A government commission was created to investigate the events and have released the 9/11 Commission Report. What follows is a time line of September 11th, 2001.

5:45 a.m.Mohammed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari pass through security screening at Portland International Jetport in Maine. Atta was selected for his checked bags to undergo extra security screening by the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS). No additional screening was required for Atta himself.

6:00 a.m. - The polls opened in New York City for the primary election.

6:30 a.m. - The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is in the middle of its week-long exercise called Vigilant Guardian, which simulates attacks on the United States and gauges the military response. Due to the ongoing exercise simulations, NORAD is fully staffed and prepared for any contingency. Lieutenant Colonel Dawne Deskins was the on duty Aircraft Control and Warning Officer (AWACO).

6:32 a.m. - The sun rises over New York City.

6:45 a.m. – Two workers at the Odigo instant messaging company receive warning messages about the World Trade Center Attack. The company’s headquarters is located two blocks from the WTC.

7:59 a.m. - Mohammed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari take off with American Airlines flight 11 out of Boston's Logan International Airport (BOS) bound for Los Angeles, California.

8:14 a.m.United Airlines flight 175 (PDF) takes off from BOS, bound for Los Angeles, with hijackers on board. Also, this is the exact time that flight 11 is hijacked.

8:20 a.m.American Airlines flight 77 takes off from takes off from Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., bound for Los Angeles.

8:37 a.m. - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) center in Boston contacts NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) and informs them of the hijacking of flight 11. The FAA also requested that NEADS send fighter planes to intercept the plane, which is en route to New York City.

8:42 a.m. - The last of the hijacked flights, United Airlines flight 93, takes off from Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, bound for San Francisco, California with hijackers on board.

8:46 a.m. - This is the approximate time that flight 175 is hijacked. Simultaneously, two F-15 fighter jets are scrambled from Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts. They are attempting to intercept flight 11. At the same time as the fighters were lifting off, flight 11 crashes into the north face of tower 1 of the World Trade Center. (Youtube video)

8:49 a.m. - CNN becomes the first major news network to break into its programming to cover the attacks.

8:52 a.m. - Flight 77 is hijacked and shortly after changes course toward Virginia.

8:55 a.m. - President George W. Bush is notified that an aircraft has crashed into the World Trade Center.

9:03 a.m.Flight 175 crashes into the south face of tower 2 of the World Trade Center. As many news organizations are covering the first crash, this second crash is caught from many different angles on camera.

9:26 a.m. - The FAA grounds all civilian flights nationwide and all military bases in the country are ordered to increase the threat level to Delta.

9:28 a.m. - Flight 93 is hijacked by a threat of a bomb on-board.

9:37 a.m. - Flight 77 crashes into the western face of the Pentagon, right across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

9:59 a.m. - Tower 2, the second tower to be crashed into, collapses completely to the ground.

10:03 a.m. - Flight 93 crashes in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The passengers revolted and attempted to take the plane back from the hijackers.

10:20 a.m. - President Bush authorizes any and all remaining hijacked and hostile airplanes to be shot down by military jets.

10:28 a.m. - Tower 1, the first tower to be hit, begins to collapse in on itself. (Youtube video)

12:15 p.m. - This is the approximate time that all airspace over the lower 48 states is determined to be free and clear of all civilian aircraft.

5:20 p.m.Building 7 of the World Trade Center collapses due to damage sustained from fire and falling debris from the two towers.

6:54 p.m. - President Bush arrives back at the White House.

8:30 p.m. - President Bush addresses the nation from the Oval Office.