Info on NORAD, FAA, NTSB, Aircraft Capabilities,
Piloting Issues, Phone calls from planes, "War Games"

Main 9/11 Links Page


The NORAD Response to 9/11 (excellent summary by Andrew Burfield with link to detailed timeline, includes description of war games on 9/11.)

Vanity Fair Article on the NORAD 9/11 response with excerpts from NORAD's recordings

NORAD 9/11 Tapes hosted at

Transcript of NORAD Northeast Air Defense Sector control center recordings from 9/11/2001

JREF: Andrew Burfield on FAA-Military protocol pre- and post-9/11

JREF: Andrew Burfield on NORAD shootdown authorization, command chain, intercepts

Andrews AFB not an alert base on 9/11: F-16 pilots considered ramming threatening airliner

June, 2002 NORAD exercises.Excerpt:
Since Sept. 11, NORAD has had more than 300 domestic aviation 'events' involving a mix of small and larger commercial aircraft, Snyder said. NORAD typically scrambles aircraft at the request of the FAA, which has people at NORAD and at the organization's Cheyenne Mountain operations center, also in Colorado Springs. Scrambles -- launches -- take just minutes, he noted.

Snyder said NORAD hopes potential air threats can be "intercepted on the ground before becoming a bigger issue."

"If something is questionable in the air," Snyder said, "NORAD critiques and evaluates the threat using a graduated response." That process starts with identifying the aircraft, he added. The worst case is a shootdown.

FEMA and the FBI are also involved in any real-life situation involving hijacked airliners. They also have a role in consequence management on the ground "as we saw during 9-11, unfortunately," Snyder noted.

Regarding future NORAD involvement in hijackings of commercial airliners and other types of aircraft, Snyder noted: "Well-established rules of engagement were in place before 9-11." Those rules, he added, have been modified since to clarify new potential threats and situations.

"Truly, it's a difficult situation; time is of the essence," he said of aircraft hijackings. "The more time we have … the better."

Snyder said the time clock starts at the airlines' crisis operation centers. "Somebody has to decide if a plane has been hijacked and what the hijackers' intentions are," he concluded.

DOD memo CJCSI 3610.01A June, 2001 "Aircraft Piracy and Destruction of Derelict Airborne Objects" (pdf)

DoD Directive 3025.15, "Military Assistance to Civil Authorities"(pdf) February 18, 1997 ("Reference D" from DOD directive DOD memo CJCSI 3610.01A)

DOD Directive 3025.1 "Military Support to Civil Authorities" (pdf) ("MSCA" Reference "G" from DoD Directive 3025.15)

9/11 Hijacker Piloting Issues, Aircraft Capabilities, Seatback Phones, "Pilots for 9/11 Truth"

9/11 Commission Staff Statement: The Four Flights. Excellent, brief summary of what happened on the planes. (PDF)

A Boeing Pilot and Instructor on the skill needed to do what the hijacker pilots did (PDF) "Ask the Pilot" takes on 9/11 conspiracy theorists

FAA Commercial Pilot Practical Test Standards (pdf)

JREF: Apathoid, a Boeing 757/767 Avionics Technician, on the "Remote Takeover" theory

JREF: Apathoid on difficulty of airline pilot squawking hijack code while under attack

Airline pilots using corkscrew descents: "fairly standard piloting skills"

Reference source:'s The Hangar: calculating glide slope, distance to descend & slow, etc.

Aerospaceweb: Pentagon & Boeing 757 Ground Effect

Phone calls made from the planes

9/11 Commission records: "Four Flights - Phone Calls and Other Data" (Includes FBI interviews with call recipients. 25.6 Mb PDF. Thanks, Mike Williams of

9/11 Commission record includes the airfone records for the four hijacked flights, providing in-depth information on the calls that were made. (PDF) Thanks, Mike Williams of

JREF: AMTMAN, an American Airlines mechanic, on February, 2002 AA order to turn off seatback phones

JREF: Creator of voice-morphing technology rejects 9/11 conspiracy theories


February, 2009: FAA's central command audio recordings are now available. A wealth of information that – surprise – doesn't support truther claims. Some transcripts, produced by JREF forum members, are now available.

NTSB: The 4 flights: FDR Reports, Air Traffic Control Reports, Flight Path Studies, Autopilot studies, Recorded Radar Data Studies

Flight paths of 4 planes (Wash. Post)

Ref's Q&A With 9/11 Boston Center Air Traffic Controller who notified NORAD of flight 11 hijacking

NBC News: "The Air Traffic Controllers of 9/11" (video, aired 9/11/02)

"Four Hours of Fear" (excellent USA Today article about U.S. aviation on 9/11 - PDF)

"On The Front Lines of 9/11" (Book about civilian and military pilot response on 9/11, to be published in

Mike Bellone fraud: didn't recover black boxes at WTC

Airline flight manifests showing all hijackers (zipped file hosted by

"Sept 12, 2001: American Airlines has released the names of some of the people who died on its flights in the terror attacks on New York and Washington. The airline has honoured the requests of those families who have asked that their loved ones' names not be included. Additional names will be released as passengers' relatives are notified.

Undercover agents slip 90% of bombs past airport screeners (March, 2007)

Book:The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede
This book tells the unique story of what occurred in Gander, Newfoundland, on Sept. 11. Thirty-eight airplanes carrying 6,595 travelers were diverted to this Canadian island city marked by hardiness, desolation, and high unemployment. From now on, Gander will be associated with the spirit of welcome and brotherhood, seen in its demonstration of true humanity.

"Sept 12, 2001: American Airlines has released the names of some of the people who died on its flights in the terror attacks on New York and Washington.

The airline has honoured the requests of those families who have asked that their loved ones' names not be included. Additional names will be released as passengers' relatives are notified.

"We are horrified by these tragic events," said Donald J. Carty, American's chairman. "Our employees are working with these families to assist however we can."

The following is a list of passengers whose next-of-kin have been notified..."

Moussaoui trial summary from Flight 11: identity of pilots and flight attendants, seat assignments of passengers, and telephone calls from the flight [This exhibit also includes information about the other three flights hijacked on September 11]

Information related to the Digital Flight Data Recorder of American 77
Airline pilots using corkscrew descents: "fairly standard piloting skills"
Gumboot on AA77 time "missing"/timeline
"Pentagon Crash Highlights a Radar Gap"
Photo scans from Pentagon 9/11 book, aircraft parts

AOPA-commissioned report concludes general aviation not a threat to nuclear power plants
...Even a large commercial airliner such as a Boeing 757 would not likely penetrate the outer containment vessel of a nuclear power plant. But even if it did, the reactor vessel, which contains the nuclear fuel, would remain intact, according to Jefferson.

Cheney Authorized Shooting Down Planes (Wash. Post June 18, 2004)
Only later did White House Deputy Chief ofStaff Joshua B. Bolten suggest that Cheney call Bush once more to confirm the engagement order, according to the commission. Logs in Cheney's bunker and on Air Force One confirm conversations at 10:18 and 10:20, respectively.

Later, Cheney spoke to Rumsfeld via videoconference. When the vice president said the orders had been relayed to the jets and "a couple of aircraft" had been downed, Rumsfeld replied: "We can't confirm that. We're told that one aircraft is down but we do not have a pilot report that they did it."

F.A.A. Alerted On Qaeda in '98, 9/11 Panel Said (NYT Sept 14, 2005)
ABSTRACT - "Previously secret portions of Sept 11 commission report show that US aviation officials were warned as early as 1998 that Al Qaeda could try to hijack commercial airliner and 'slam it into a US landmark,' and that FAA realized months before attack that two of airports used in hijackings had had repeated security lapses; report for FAA also warned in 2001 that airport screeners' ability to detect weapons had 'declined significantly,' but little was done; Bush administration, criticized for allowing only heavily redacted report last January, posts new public version on National Archives Web site; material shows FAA had ample reason to suspect Al Qaeda's intentions, including 52 intelligence documents mentioning group or Osama bin Laden, but FAA intelligence unit considered US hijacking 'unlikely' and saw greater threat overseas; known inadequacies at Logan and Dulles airports also cited, as well as criticism of American Airlines for cockpit security."

Did FAA officials knowingly make false statements to the 9/11 Commission?
DOT Memo: Results of OIG investigation of 9/11 Commission Referral

Report Urges F.A.A. to Act Regarding False 9/11 Testimony (NYT Sept. 2, 2006)
Excerpt: The Transportation Department's inspector general urged the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday to consider disciplinary action against two executives who failed to correct false information provided to the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The acting inspector general, Todd J. Zinser, whose office acts as the department's internal watchdog, found in a new report that the F.A.A. executives, as well as a third official who is now retired, learned after the fact that false information was given to the commission in May 2003 about the F.A.A.'s contacts with the Air Force on the morning of Sept. 11.

The false information suggested that the aviation agency had established contact with its Air Force liaison immediately after the first of the four hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m.

In fact, the commission's investigators found, the Air Force's liaison did not join a conference call with the F.A.A. until after the third plane crashed, at 9:37 a.m. The 51-minute gap is significant because it helps undermine an initial claim by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which is responsible for domestic air defense, that it scrambled quickly on Sept. 11 and had a chance to shoot down the last of the hijacked planes still in the air, United Airlines Flight 93.

The inspector general's report, prepared in response to complaints from the independent Sept. 11 commission, found that the three F.A.A. executives failed to act on an ''obligation'' to correct the false information provided to the commission, which found widespread confusion within the aviation agency and the military on the morning of the attacks.

The F.A.A., part of the Transportation Department, declined to identify the three executives, whose names and titles were not revealed in the inspector general's report. Nor did the agency say whether it would consider disciplinary action.

The inspector general's office found that while false information was given to the Sept. 11 commission, there was no evidence that F.A.A. executives had done it knowingly or had intentionally withheld accurate information about the agency's actions on the morning of the attacks.

That finding was welcomed by the F.A.A., which said in a statement that the ''inspector general's investigation has clarified the record and found no evidence that F.A.A. officials knowingly made false statements.'' The Pentagon's inspector general issued a similar finding last month about military officers who provided inaccurate testimony to the commission, saying their inaccurate statements could be attributed largely to poor record-keeping.

Richard Ben Veniste, a commission member, said in an interview on Friday that he was troubled that it had taken the inspector general two years to complete his investigation -- ''more time than it took the 9/11 commission to complete all of its work'' -- and that he released the report ''on the Friday afternoon before the Labor Day weekend.''

Mr. Ben Veniste said he was convinced that the failure of the aviation agency and the North American Aerospace Defense Command to provide early, accurate information about their performance had ''contributed to a growing industry of conspiratorialists who question the fundamental facts relating to 9/11.''

Mr. Zinser, the acting inspector general, said in an interview that the investigation had taken so long because of ''the very complicated issues'' his office reviewed.

Commentary on procedural changes in the aftermath of September 11 by Barry Schiff
Barry Schiff retired as a captain for TWA in 1998 after a 34-year career. He is a columnist for AOPA Pilot and author of numerous aviation books.

In the past, aerial piracy was more often than not a relatively benign event. Although there were noteworthy exceptions, a hijacking usually meant diverting to Havana, buying a few Cuban cigars, and returning home — albeit somewhat behind schedule.

Skyjacking was relatively simple. The only things that a hijacker needed to do to gain control of an airliner were to threaten a passenger or flight attendant, or threaten to detonate a (usually) nonexistent bomb. Airline training suggested that pilots acquiesce to such a hijacker's demand and divert to the hijacker's airport of choice. This was considered more prudent than agitating or destabilizing the criminal into taking aggressive and harmful action.

It also was known that some hijackers intended to fail in their attempt, which is why crews were advised to simply request that the hijacker surrender. And a few did. (Handcuffs were used to prevent them from changing their minds.) Pilots also were advised to attempt feigning a mechanical problem or fuel shortage to increase the likelihood of landing in the United States or other friendly nation.

After landing, crews were trained to configure the aircraft in a certain way while taxiing to the parking area as a signal to law enforcement personnel that the on-board situation was grave and armed intervention was desired. If the aircraft was not so configured, ground personnel would know that intervention was not desired at that time.

In the late 1980s, the last of the holdout governments agreed to arrest hijackers and extradite them to the country in which the airliner was registered or the flight originated. This is when potential hijackers began to realize that their goals would be more difficult to achieve, and the era of conventional aerial piracy effectively drew to a close.

But our perception of hijacking and the manner in which pilots should deal with it came to a horrific end on September 11, 2001. The conversion of an airliner into a guided missile obviously cannot be tolerated.

The most obvious way to prevent aerial piracy is simple in concept: Keep the would-be criminal(s) out of the cockpit. Period. The only way to guarantee this is to install a bulletproof, crash-proof cockpit door, a modification that can be made to any airliner. El Al Israel Airlines has had such doors for years.

Although separating pilots from passengers is simple on short-range flights, the problem of isolation is more complex on long-range flights when flight crews must be provided meals, have access to rest facilities and restrooms, and be able to swap position with required relief crews. Much of this can be resolved through the use of double doors.

Cockpit doors are currently light and relatively fragile so that rescue personnel can crash through the door in case of an accident. It appears now, however, that cockpit security will take precedence over the need to facilitate rescue.

Isolating the flight deck from the cabin implies, of course, that pilots would have to ignore threats made in the cabin to harm passengers or to detonate a bomb. Pilots would be compelled to conclude in light of the World Trade Center tragedy that a hijacking could endanger more people on the ground than there are on board the aircraft. The immediate concern would be to land as soon as possible (preferably at a military base) and allow law enforcement personnel or the military to take command of the situation.

There are, of course, other steps that need to be considered:

* Although controversial, train pilots in the use of firearms and equip them appropriately. The cockpit fire ax should be kept at the ready. A weapon should be wielded, however, only if the crewmember is prepared to kill an intruder. Otherwise the weapon could be turned against him.
* The government needs to publicize that there could be more than one federal air marshal aboard every flight.
* Security checkpoints at airports need to be manned by adequately trained and qualified personnel working either for or under the auspices of the FAA or the military. (If every high school graduate were required to serve in the armed forces for two years, there would be adequate military personnel available to satisfy the need for homeland security. Young adults would also learn more about the responsibilities of being a U.S. citizen.)
* Profiling at security checkpoints needs to be reinstated, and innocent individuals singled out for additional scrutiny need to be tolerant of such measures.
* Passengers need to recognize that pilots cannot afford to appease the new breed of hijackers. Those in the cabin might be forced to neutralize a hijacker.

Aerial pirates should expect pilots to take extraordinary actions that might seem like scenes from a Hollywood action movie. These include but would not be limited to sharp fishtailing of the aircraft and altering G loads to throw hijackers off balance (an additional reason for passengers to keep their safety belts securely fastened at all times). Also under consideration is depressurizing the aircraft. If all passengers are "asleep," a pilot can walk into the cabin with a portable oxygen bottle, secure the hijacker(s), and restore cabin pressure.

There have been a number of recent suggestions about technological solutions such as remote-control devices that could be used by ground controllers to assume control of an airliner and guide it to a safe landing irrespective of what a hijacker might attempt to do with the controls. Such schemes would be expensive, probably would not satisfy airworthiness requirements, and would meet with disapproval by cockpit flight crews.

Just as the hijackers of a previous era learned that hijacking an airplane would lead to arrest and extradition, terrorists of the twenty-first century should be put on notice that any attempt to take command of a U.S. jetliner will result in failure under any and all circumstances.

AOPA evaluates NORAD's visual warning system in live flight demo (D.C. Capital area ADIZ)
...The VWS consists of at least seven turrets, each housing a red and a green laser, placed around the Capital region. The 1.5-watt lasers are diffused through lenses to produce wide, low-intensity beams covering an area roughly 100-feet in diameter 10 nautical miles from the turret. The lasers are visible at distances up to 20 nm. Each turret is connected to a command center and will be operated by military personnel.

...Their conclusion? The unique red-red-green light sequence of the Visual Warning System (VWS) was bright enough to be seen, but not so bright as to be blinding or excessively distracting, even inside the cockpit of a small general aviation aircraft.
View a 23-second video of the VWS.

Weather Impairs New D.C. Warning System (LA TImes, May 24, 2005)
WASHINGTON -- A new system of lasers designed to warn pilots they have entered restricted airspace over Washington can't be used on planes flying in or above the clouds.

Trouble is, clouds cover most of the sky almost half the time in the nation's capital.

The limitations of the laser warning system were evident during an airspace violation Monday, when military F-16s escorted a small plane from a restricted area to a nearby airport.

The laser system wasn't engaged because it couldn't penetrate the layer of clouds over which the pilot was flying, said 1st Lt. Lisa Citino, a spokeswoman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.

"We know we can't use the system 100 percent of the time, but, remember, the system isn't a stand-alone one," Citino said. "It's just one of the other systems we have in place."