Who Is Major Kevin Nasypany?

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(8:38 a.m.-8:43 a.m.) September 11, 2001: NORAD Personnel Mistake Hijacking for Part of an Exercise
When Boston flight control first contacts NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) to notify it of the hijacking of Flight 11 (see (8:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001), personnel there initially mistake it for a simulation as part of an exercise. Lieutenant Colonel Dawne Deskins, mission crew chief for the Vigilant Guardian exercise currently taking place (see (6:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001), later says that initially she and everybody else at NEADS thought the call was part of Vigilant Guardian. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/2002] Although most of the personnel on the NEADS operations floor have no idea what the day’s exercise is supposed to entail, most previous major NORAD exercises included a hijack scenario. [USA Today, 4/18/2004; Utica Observer-Dispatch, 8/5/2004] The day’s exercise is in fact scheduled to include a simulated hijacking later on. Major Kevin Nasypany, the NEADS mission crew commander, had helped design it. Thinking the reported hijacking is part of this exercise he actually says out loud, “The hijack’s not supposed to be for another hour.” In the ID section, at the back right corner of the NEADS operations floor, technicians Stacia Rountree, Shelley Watson, and Maureen Dooley, react to the news. Rountree asks, “Is that real-world?” Dooley confirms, “Real-world hijack.” Watson says, “Cool!” [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold, who is at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, also says that when he first hears of the hijacking, in the minutes after NEADS is alerted to it, “The first thing that went through my mind was, is this part of the exercise? Is this some kind of a screw-up?” [ABC News, 9/11/2002; 9/11 Commission, 5/23/2003] At 8:43 a.m., Major James Fox, the leader of the NEADS Weapons Team, comments, “I’ve never seen so much real-world stuff happen during an exercise.” [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006]

8:40 a.m. September 11, 2001: NEADS Learns of Threat to Flight 11 Cockpit
The communications team at NEADS is trying to quickly find out all they can about the hijacked plane, such as its flight number, tail number, and where it is. ID tech Shelley Watson calls the management desk at Boston flight control, which had alerted NEADS to the hijacking minutes earlier. The man who answers tells her, “We don’t know where he’s goin’. He’s heading towards Kennedy [International Airport in New York City]. He’s… 35 miles north of Kennedy now at 367 knots. We have no idea where he’s goin’ or what his intentions are.” He adds, “I guess there’s been some threats in the cockpit.” Master Sergeant Maureen Dooley is standing over Watson, relaying any pertinent information she hears to Major Kevin Nasypany. She calls to him, “OK, he said threat to the cockpit!” [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006]

(8:46 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Fighters Ordered to Scramble to Flight 11 Nine Minutes after NORAD Notification
Two F-15 fighters are ordered to scramble from Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts to find Flight 11, approximately 190 miles from the known location of the plane and 188 miles from New York City. [Channel 4 News (London), 9/13/2001; Washington Post, 9/15/2001; CNN, 9/17/2001; Los Angeles Times, 9/17/2001; North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/18/2001; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] On the NEADS operations floor Major Kevin Nasypany instructed Major James Fox, the leader of the Weapons Team, to launch the Otis fighters a minute earlier, at 8:45 a.m. [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] Interestingly, the 9/11 Commission will later state that “Because of a technical issue, there are no NEADS recordings available of the NEADS senior weapons director and weapons director technician position responsible for controlling the Otis scramble.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 459] According to the commission, NORAD makes the decision to scramble after only one phone call, as the decision is made to act first and get clearances later. Yet there is a nine-minute gap between when the 9/11 Commission says NORAD is notified about the hijacking at 8:37 a.m., and when the fighters are ordered scrambled. This delay has not been explained. The pilots had already received several unofficial warnings before this order—possibly as early as 8:34 a.m., 12 minutes earlier. One of the pilots recalls sitting in the cockpit, ready and waiting for the scramble order to come. [BBC, 9/1/2002; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] According to some reports, the Otis fighters only take off six minutes after the scramble order, at 8:52 a.m. [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/18/2001; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] The fighters’ initial target, Flight 11, is already crashing into the WTC at this time. NEADS Commander Robert Marr later claims, “My intent was to scramble Otis to military airspace while we found out what was going on.” [Filson, 2004, pp. 56]

8:52 a.m. September 11, 2001: Fighters Ordered Toward the Crashed Flight 11
Two F-15s take off from Otis Air National Guard Base. This occurs six minutes after being ordered to go after Flight 11(which has already crashed); 26 minutes after flight controllers were certain Flight 11 was hijacked; and 39 minutes after flight controllers lost contact with Flight 11. [Washington Post, 9/12/2001; Washington Post, 9/15/2001; CNN, 9/17/2001; North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/18/2001; ABC News, 9/11/2002; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] According to the Cape Cod Times, as soon as the pilots strap in, the green light to launch goes on, and they’re up in the air even before their fighters’ radar kicks in. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/2002] In Rome, NY, NEADS has just received news of the plane hitting the WTC (see (8:50 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Major Kevin Nasypany, the facility’s mission crew commander, is asked what to do with the Otis fighters. He responds, “Send ‘em to New York City still. Continue! Go! This is what I got. Possible news that a 737 just hit the World Trade Center. This is a real-world.… Continue taking the fighters down to the New York City area, JFK area, if you can. Make sure that the FAA clears it—your route all the way through.… Let’s press with this.” [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] Yet there are conflicting reports of the fighters’ destination (see 8:52 a.m. (and After) September 11, 2001), with some accounts saying they are directed toward military-controlled airspace off the Long Island coast. NEADS Commander Robert Marr says, “My intent was to scramble Otis to military airspace while we found out what was going on.” [Filson, 2004, pp. 56-59; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004]

(9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Contradictions over Otis Fighter Mission and Whereabouts
The minute Flight 175 hits the South Tower, pilot Major Daniel Nash says that clear visibility allows him to see smoke pour out of Manhattan, even though NORAD says he is 71 miles away. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/2002] The other Otis pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Duffy, recalls, “We’re 60 miles out, and I could see the smoke from the towers.” They call NORAD right then for an update, and Duffy relates, “At that point, they said the second aircraft just hit the World Trade Center. That was news to me. I thought we were still chasing American [Airlines Flight] 11.” [ABC News, 9/14/2002] In another account Duffy again relates, “It was right about then when they said the second aircraft had just hit the World Trade Center, which was quite a shock to both [Nash] and I, because we both thought there was only one aircraft out there. We were probably 70 miles or so out when the second one hit. So, we were just a matter of minutes away.” [BBC, 9/1/2002] He asks for clarification of their mission, but the request is met with “considerable confusion.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002] Bob Varcadapane, a Newark, New Jersey, flight controller who sees the Flight 175 crash, claims, “I remember the two F-15s. They were there moments after the impact. And I was just—said to myself, ‘If only they could have gotten there a couple minutes earlier.’ They just missed it.” [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] However, the 9/11 Commission appears to believe that the pilots never get near New York City at this time. According to the commission’s account, from 8:46 a.m. until 8:52 a.m., NORAD personnel are unable to find Flight 11. Shortly after 8:50 a.m., and just before the fighters take off, NORAD is given word that a plane has hit the WTC (see (8:50 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Lacking a clear target, the fighters take off toward a military controlled airspace over the ocean, off the coast of Long Island. A map released by the 9/11 Commission indicates that at 9:03 the fighters are about 100 miles away and heading southwest instead of west to New York City. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Tape recordings of the NEADS operations floor reveal Major Kevin Nasypany telling Colonel Robert Marr, “Fighters are south of—just south of Long Island.” [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] The 9/11 Commission says that, at 9:10 a.m., Boston flight control tells the Otis fighters about the second WTC tower being struck. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 459]

(9:08 a.m.-9:13 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Fighters Put in Holding Pattern over Ocean instead of Defending New York City
The two F-15s scrambled to find Flight 11 in New York are now ordered to circle in a 150-mile window of air space off the coast of Long Island. It is not clear whether they reach New York City before being directed over the ocean. Pilot Major Daniel Nash states, “Neither the civilian controller or the military controller knew what they wanted us to do.” [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/2002] By 9:08 a.m., Major Kevin Nasypany, the NEADS mission crew commander, has learned of the second WTC crash and wants to send the fighters to New York City. However, according to Vanity Fair, the NEADS “weapons techs get ‘pushback’ from civilian FAA controllers, who have final authority over the fighters as long as they are in civilian airspace. The FAA controllers are afraid of fast-moving fighters colliding with a passenger plane, of which there are hundreds in the area, still flying normal routes.” At 9:10 a.m., the senior director on the NEADS floor tells the weapons director, “I want those fighters closer in.” NEADS controllers are concerned about refueling, and are simultaneously working with a tanker to relocate close to the Otis fighters. Then, at 9:11 a.m., either the senior weapons director at NEADS or his technician instructs the Otis fighters to “remain at current position [holding pattern] until FAA requests assistance.” According to the 9/11 Commission, the record of this instruction is the only NEADS recording of the NEADS senior weapons director and weapons director technician responsible for controlling the Otis scramble that is available to them. This, they state, is because of a “technical issue.” The commission says the Otis fighters remain in a holding pattern over the ocean until 9:13 a.m. while the FAA clears the airspace. The fighters will then establish a Combat Air Patrol over the city at 9:25 a.m. What the fighters do between 9:13 a.m. and 9:25 a.m. is unclear. The distance between the two locations is unknown but presumably not large. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 23-24, 459; Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] These fighters will remain over New York City for the next four hours. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/2002]

9:09 a.m. September 11, 2001: NORAD Said to Order Langley Fighters to Battle Stations Alert; Pilots Say This Happens Much Later
Major Kevin Nasypany, the mission crew commander at NEADS, wants to launch F-16s at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, towards New York to provide backup for the Otis fighters. However, the command area at NEADS overlooking the operations floor (the “Battle Cab”) refuses his request, and orders “battle stations only at Langley.” “Battle stations” means the pilots are in their cockpits, but with the engines turned off. The 9/11 Commission later accepts this account, claiming that the intent was not to protect Washington, but because there is a concern that the fighters currently hovering over New York City will run low on fuel, and need to be replaced, and also because of the general uncertainty of the situation in the sky. Around this time, the FAA Command Center reports that 11 aircraft are either not in communication with FAA facilities, or flying unexpected routes (see (9:09 a.m. and After) September 11, 2001). [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002; Filson, 2004, pp. 55; 9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 460; Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] NEADS Commander Robert Marr says that after seeing Flight 175 hit the WTC (at 9:03 a.m.), “we’re thinking New York City is under attack,” so he directs the Langley pilots to battle stations. “The plan was to protect New York City.” [Filson, 2004, pp. 60] However, at least one pilot, Major Dean Eckmann, asserts that the battle stations alert does not occur until 9:21 a.m. Another pilot, code-named Honey (presumably Craig Borgstrom), asserts that this does not occur until 9:24 a.m. [BBC, 9/1/2002]

9:23 a.m. September 11, 2001: NEADS Wants Fighters to Track Phantom Flight 11
According to the 9/11 Commission, NEADS has just been told that the hijacked Flight 11 is still in the air and heading toward Washington. Major Kevin Nasypany, the mission crew commander, says to NEADS Commander Robert Marr, “Okay, uh, American Airlines is still airborne. Eleven, the first guy, he’s heading towards Washington. Okay? I think we need to scramble Langley right now. And I’m gonna take the fighters from Otis, try to chase this guy down if I can find him.” After receiving approval to do so, Nasypany issues the order. “Okay… scramble Langley,” he says. “Head them towards the Washington area.” The Langley, Virginia, base gets the scramble order at 9:24 a.m. (see (9:24 a.m.) September 11, 2001). NEADS keeps its fighters from the Otis base over New York City. In 2004 the 9/11 Commission will state, “this response to a phantom aircraft, American 11, is not recounted in a single public timeline or statement issued by FAA or DOD. Instead, since 9/11, the scramble of the Langley fighters has been described as a response to the reported hijacking of American 77, or United 93, or some combination of the two.” Yet the “report of American 11 heading south as the cause of the Langley scramble is reflected not just in taped conversations at NEADS, but in taped conversations at FAA centers, on chat logs compiled at NEADS, Continental Region headquarters, and NORAD, and in other records.” [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004; Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006]

9:36 a.m. September 11, 2001: Report of Airliner Approaching White House Sets off ‘Frenzy’ at NEADS
Colin Scoggins at Boston flight control calls NEADS to report a low-flying airliner he has spotted six miles southeast of the White House. He can offer no details regarding its identity. The plane is reportedly Flight 77, but as it has its transponder turned off, no one realizes this at the time. The news of the plane “sets off a frenzy.” Major Kevin Nasypany orders Major James Fox, head of the NEADS Weapons Team, “Get your fighters there as soon as possible!” Staff Sergeant William Huckabone says, “Ma’am, we are going AFIO [emergency military control of the fighters] right now with Quit 2-5 [the Langley fighters]. They are going direct Washington.” [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] The Langley fighters will arrive over Washington some time around 10 a.m. (see (9:55 a.m.-10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

(9:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Hijacking Simulation Scheduled as Part of NORAD Exercise
As part of a NORAD training exercise, a simulated hijacking was scheduled to occur around this time. It was to have been based around politically motivated perpetrators taking command of an aircraft, landing it on a Cuba-like island, and seeking asylum there. The hijacking was one of several simulated scenarios prepared for the day. Details of the other scenarios are unknown. Major Kevin Nasypany, the NEADS mission crew commander who’d helped designed the exercise, initially thought the reports of Flight 11 being hijacked were because “Somebody started the exercise early.” [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] The exercise was canceled after the second plane hit the World Trade Center (see After 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001).

10:07 a.m. September 11, 2001: Report of Aircraft over White House Causes Confusion; NEADS Orders Langley Fighters to Intercept It
One of the fighter pilots launched from Langley Air Force Base calls NEADS with an urgent message: “Baltimore is saying something about an aircraft over the White House.” In response, and acting on the immediate order of the NEADS mission crew commander Major Kevin Nasypany, Master Sergeant Steve Citino tells the pilot, “Mission is intercept aircraft over White House. Use FAA for guidance.” Major James Fox, the leader of the NEADS Weapons Team, adds, “Divert the aircraft away from the White House. Intercept and divert it.” As the Langley fighters head for the White House, the NEADS controllers are unable to find the building on their dated equipment, and also have trouble communicating with the fighters. NEADS personnel speculate whether the unidentified aircraft is a helicopter or just smoke from the Pentagon. Apparently, the fast-moving object is soon realized to be one of the Langley fighters, mistakenly reported by a civilian controller unaware of the military’s scrambles. Citino says, “That was cool. We intercepted our own guys.” [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006]

Well done Jon

For some time now I have been meaning to congratulate you for this work. Excellent. Your whole series is so well done, nicely laid out and clear, so informative and useful.

Thank you.

Thank you.