9/11 aviation recordings reveal confusion

Sept. 8, 2011 at 11:32 AM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Newly released audio recordings of civil and military aviation responses to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks reveal confusion and a lack of coordination.

The New York Times reports the responses include 114 recordings of air traffic controllers, military aviation officers, airline and fighter jet pilots and two of the hijackers from Sept. 11, 2001.

In one recording, 16 minutes after a plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center, a radio transmission came into the New York air traffic control radar center.

The radar control manager takes a call from someone who describes a second plane quickly descending toward the south tower.

In the background, people then shout, "Another one just hit the building. Wow. Another one just hit it hard. Another one just hit the World Trade."

The responses are part of a chronicle initially prepared by investigators with the Sept. 11 Commission. Miles Kara, a retired Army colonel and commission investigator, tracked down the original electronic files in the National Archives and reviewed and transcribed them with the help of law students and John Farmer Jr., dean of Rutgers Law School, senior counsel to the commission, the Times said.

"The story of the day, of 9/11 itself, is best told in the voices of 9/11," Kara said.

At 9 a.m., a manager of air traffic control in New York called Federal Aviation Administration headquarters in Herndon, Va., to see if civil aviation officials were working with the military.

"Do you know if anyone down there has done any coordination to scramble fighter-type airplanes?" the manager asked. "We have several situations going, going on here, it is escalating big, big time, and we need to get the military involved with us."

"Why, what's going on?" a man at the FAA responded.

A plane had already crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center and a second was about to crash into the south tower.

"Just get me somebody who has the authority to get military in the air, now," the manager said.

And in an exchange that began at 9:34 a.m., a military aviation official contacted the Washington center of the FAA and was surprised to discover American Airlines Flight 77 had disappeared from radar more than a half-hour earlier, but no one had told the military.

"They lost radar with him, they lost contact with him, they lost everything, and they don't have any idea where he is or what happened," an FAA official said.

The plane crashed into the Pentagon 3 minutes later.

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