"Shockingly Calm": The Phone Calls From the Planes on 9/11

A number of people received phone calls the morning of September 11, 2001 that they believed were made by individuals on board the planes that crashed in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Descriptions of these calls, however, reveal something odd. According to the official story we have been told, the callers were in an unprecedented crisis, stuck on planes under the control of murderous terrorists, and with no knowledge of whether they were going to be allowed to live or die. Yet in many of the phone calls, the caller appears to have been remarkably calm. Perhaps if just a few of them--for example, those with specific personal experiences, like the flight attendant who was a former police officer--had maintained their composure, then this would be less remarkable. Yet the large majority of the callers displayed this same calmness. In their recollections, some of the people who received the calls have indeed commented on this fact, apparently surprised by it. Some of them have also commented on the absence of panic, screaming, or other sounds of chaos in the background.

At the very least, these details appear highly unusual. As with much else about the events of 9/11, these phone calls raise serious questions. Were they really being made from the four planes targeted that morning, by passengers and crew members? Or is it possible the perpetrators of the attacks were faking them, in a cruel deception intended to help establish the official story, and this was why the callers were able to maintain such calmness? The calls need to be subjected to far closer and more critical scrutiny than has so far occurred, as part of a real investigation into the attacks, in order to establish the truth.

The following summary shows how odd the calls appear to be:

A computer presentation shown during the 2006 trial of Zacarias Moussaoui summarized the phone calls allegedly made from the four flights targeted on 9/11. According to this presentation, two people successfully made calls from Flight 11, the first plane to supposedly be taken over by hijackers: flight attendants Betty Ong and Madeline "Amy" Sweeney. [1]

Betty Ong called the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in North Carolina, and spoke for about 25 minutes with employees there. Ong said she thought her plane was being hijacked, that two flight attendants had been stabbed and injured, and that a passenger had perhaps been fatally stabbed. She said Mace spray had been used, and "we can't breathe." [2] Despite these harrowing circumstances, as the New York Times described, Ong "could not have sounded much calmer." [3] Nydia Gonzalez, one of the American Airlines employees who received the call, described Ong as speaking in "a very calm, professional, and poised demeanor," and added, "Betty was calm, professional, and in control throughout the call." [4] Reportedly, when Ong's family heard the recording of her call, they "couldn't believe the calm in Betty's voice." [5] In the plane's final moments, when Ong asked those on the other end of her call to "pray for us," she was still speaking "in a composed voice." [6] As the plane approached the World Trade Center, according to Vanessa Minter, another of the employees receiving Ong's call: "You didn't hear hysteria in the background. You didn't hear people screaming." [7]

Amy Sweeney contacted the American Airlines Flight Services Office at Boston's Logan Airport. After her first calls got broken off, she was finally able to speak for 13 minutes, up to about 8:45. Sweeney reported "that the plane had been hijacked; a man in first class had his throat slashed; two flight attendants had been stabbed ... the flight attendants were unable to contact the cockpit; and there was a bomb in the cockpit." [8] Michael Woodward, the manager with whom Sweeney talked, later told the FBI that despite reporting such horrific events, "during the entire conversation," Sweeney's voice "remained calm and even." [9] Even just before Flight 11 crashed, Sweeney retained her composure. After reporting that her plane was flying very low, Woodward recalled, she "took a very slow, deep breath and then just said, 'Oh, my God!' Very slowly, very calmly, very quietly. It wasn't in panic." [10] Furthermore, Woodward noted, he "did not hear any noise in the background during the conversation." [11]

Three people reportedly made successful phone calls from Flight 175, the plane that hit the South Tower of the WTC: one flight attendant and two passengers. While brief descriptions are available of the call made by the attendant--thought to be Robert Fangman--these reveal no details of his level of composure. [12] Some relevant information is available regarding the other calls from this aircraft.

Passenger Brian Sweeney left a short message on his wife's answering machine, and then called his mother. [13] In his message to his wife, Julie, he stated, "The plane I'm on has been hijacked, and it doesn't look good." According to Julie Sweeney, Brian "sounded calm. ... He was not crying." [14] Details of his composure during the call to his mother are unstated. The other passenger, Peter Hanson, twice called his father, and told him about the hijacking. [15] According to the Los Angeles Times, "In the first call, Peter was calm." According to Hanson's father, "His voice was soft, not too nervous." Whether he was also calm in his second call is unstated. [16]

Two individuals have been reported as making phone calls from the third hijacked plane, Flight 77: attendant Renee May and passenger Barbara Olson. No details have been revealed of whether Renee May remained calm during her call. But, according to Newsweek, Barbara Olson phoned her husband and "was calm and collected as she told him how hijackers had used boxcutters and knifes to take control of the plane and had herded the passengers and crew to the back." [17] Her husband Ted Olson--who at that time was the United States solicitor general--described to CNN: "She sounded very, very calm. ... In retrospect, enormously, remarkably, incredibly calm." [18]

The majority of the phone calls made from the planes allegedly came from Flight 93, the aircraft said to have crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to retake control from the hijackers. At least 12 individuals reportedly made calls. Most of them displayed a surprising degree of calmness.

1) Flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw phoned the United Airlines maintenance facility in San Francisco and reported her plane had been hijacked, and that the hijackers had pulled a knife and killed a flight attendant. The manager who took the call later described Bradshaw as being "shockingly calm." [19] Bradshaw subsequently phoned her husband, who later recalled, "She sounded calm, but like her adrenaline was really going." [20]

2) Another flight attendant, CeeCee Lyles--who was a former police officer--called her husband. He described, "She was surprisingly calm," considering the screaming he heard in the background. [21]

3) Passenger Mark Bingham called his family, and talked to his aunt and his mother. His aunt found him sounding "calm, matter-of-fact." His mother recalled: "His voice was calm. He seemed very much composed, even though I know he must have been under terrible duress." [22] She also said a background discussion between passengers she could hear, about taking back the plane from the hijackers, sounded like a "calm boardroom meeting." [23]

4) Another passenger, Tom Burnett, called his wife Deena four times. Deena Burnett later recalled his third call: "[I]t was as if he was at Thoratec [the company he worked for], sitting at his desk, and we were having a regular conversation. It was the strangest thing because he was using the same tone of voice I had heard a thousand times. It calmed me to know he was so confident." [24] According to journalist and author Jere Longman, in his fourth call, Tom was "speaking in a normal voice, calm." [25]

5) Passenger Lauren Grandcolas called her husband, Jack, and left a message on the answering machine. Jack Grandcolas later recalled, "She sounded calm." [26] According to Jere Longman, "It sounded to Jack as if she were driving home from the grocery store or ordering a pizza." [27] Furthermore, Jack Grandcolas has described: "There is absolutely no background noise on her message. You can't hear people screaming or yelling or crying. It's very calm, the whole cabin, the background, there's really very little sound." [28]

6) Jeremy Glick called his wife, Lyz, and told her his plane had been hijacked. She recalled, "He was so calm, the plane sounded so calm, that if I hadn't seen what was going on on the TV, I wouldn't have believed it." [29] She has added: "I was surprised by how calm it seemed in the background. I didn't hear any screaming. I didn't hear any noises. I didn't hear any commotion." [30]

7) Todd Beamer talked for 13 minutes with GTE-Verizon supervisor Lisa Jefferson. According to Jefferson, Beamer "was amazingly calm and composed as he told her of the hijacking of Flight 93 and passengers' plans to rush their captors." [31] Jefferson said he "stayed calm through the entire conversation. He made me doubt the severity of the call." [32] She later told Beamer's wife, "If I hadn't known it was a real hijacking, I'd have thought it was a crank call, because Todd was so rational and methodical about what he was doing." [33]

8) Honor Elizabeth Wainio spoke with her stepmother, Esther Heymann. Heymann has said that Wainio "really was remarkably calm throughout our whole conversation." [34] According to Jere Longman, when Wainio was not talking, Heymann "could not hear another person. She could not hear any conversation or crying or yelling or whimpering. Nothing." [35]

9) Linda Gronlund left a voice mail message at the home of her sister, saying that terrorists who said they had a bomb had hijacked her plane. [36] Her sister has described that, during the call, Gronlund "got real calm and said, 'Now my will is in my safe and my safe is in my closet. And this is the combination.'" [37]

10) Edward Felt spoke with 911 dispatcher John Shaw just minutes before Flight 93 reportedly crashed, and said his plane had been hijacked. According to Shaw, Felt "was crying ... frightened, scared, and anxious." But Felt's brother Gordon, who heard the recording of the call, has disputed this, saying: "My brother was not scared. He was very composed, under the circumstances." [38] Felt's wife, who heard the recording of the 911 call and also the Flight 93 cockpit voice recording, said Edward "was very calm in the face of death." [39]

Indeed, author Jere Longman said he'd "heard tapes of a couple of the phone calls made from [Flight 93] and was struck by the absence of panic in the voices." [40]

Only two other people are reported to have made successful calls from Flight 93. Passenger Marion Britton appears to be the only clear example of a caller sounding panicked. She called her friend Fred Fiumano. According to Fiumano, Britton "was crying and--you know--more or less crying and screaming and yelling." [41] Fiumano said he heard a lot of screaming in the background near the end of the call. [42] Joseph DeLuca, also a passenger, called his father and reported there were terrorists on his plane. But he has been described simply as having "sounded sad" during the call. [43]

[1] U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, "Summary From Flight 93 Depicting: The Identity of Pilots and Flight Attendants, Seat Assignments of Passengers, and Telephone Calls From the Flight." July 31, 2006.
[2] Public Hearing. 9/11 Commission, January 27, 2004; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (Authorized Edition). New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004, p. 5.
[3] Philip Shenon, "A Calm Voice as Disaster Unfolded in the Sky." New York Times, January 28, 2004.
[4] Public Hearing. 9/11 Commission, January 27, 2004.
[5] Jennifer Julian, "One of the Last Calls." ABC11 Eyewitness News, September 11, 2002.
[6] Steven Knipp, "Sept. 11: An Angel Named Betty Ong." Pacific News Service, September 8, 2004.
[7] "Calm Before the Crash." ABC News, July 18, 2002.
[8] 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 6 and 453; U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, "Summary From Flight 93."
[9] "FBI FD-302, Michael Woodward." Federal Bureau of Investigation, September 14, 2001.
[10] "Calm Before the Crash."
[11] "FBI FD-302, Michael Woodward."
[12] Scott McCartney and Susan Carey, "American, United Watched and Worked in Horror as Sept. 11 Hijackings Unfolded." Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2001; "The Four Flights: Staff Statement No. 4." 9/11 Commission, January 27, 2004; 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 7-8; 9/11 Commission, Staff Report. August 26, 2004, p. 21.
[13] 9/11 Commission, Staff Report, p. 22; U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, "Summary From Flight 93."
[14] K. C. Myers, "Message From Air is Final Goodbye." Cape Cod Times, September 12, 2001.
[15] 9/11 Commission, Staff Report, pp. 21-23.
[16] Richard A. Serrano, "Moussaoui Jury Hears the Panic From 9/11." Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2006.
[17] Michael Isikoff, "'I Can't Just Sit Back.'" Newsweek, September 19, 2001.
[18] "Recovering From Tragedy." Larry King Live, CNN, September 14, 2001.
[19] 9/11 Commission, Staff Report, p. 40; United States of America v. Zacarias Moussaoui. United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, April 11, 2006.
[20] Angie Cannon, "Final Words From Flight 93." U.S. News & World Report, October 29, 2001.
[21] Brad Townsend, Chip Brown, and Gerry Fraley, "Trapped in the Skies, Captives Fought Back." Dallas Morning News, September 17, 2001.
[22] "World Leaders Express Horror, Outrage." CNN, September 12, 2001; Jere Longman, Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back. New York: HarperCollins, 2002, pp. 129-130.
[23] Phil Hirschkorn, "More 9/11 Families Testify for Moussaoui." CNN, April 21, 2006.
[24] Deena Burnett with Anthony Giombetti, Fighting Back: Living Life Beyond Ourselves. Altamonte Springs, FL: Advantage Books, 2006, p. 66.
[25] Jere Longman, Among the Heroes, p. 118.
[26] David Segal, "A Red Carpet Tragedy." Washington Post, April 26, 2006.
[27] Jere Longman, Among the Heroes, p. 128.
[28] United 93: The Families and the Film. Directed by Kate Solomon, Working Title Films, 2006.
[29] Matthew Brown, "Hero's Family Perseveres." Bergen Record, October 5, 2001.
[30] Jane Pauley, "No Greater Love." NBC News, September 11, 2006.
[31] Jim McKinnon, "13-Minute Call Bonds her Forever With Hero." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 22, 2001.
[32] Wendy Schuman, "'I Promised I Wouldn't Hang Up.'" Beliefnet, 2006.
[33] Lisa Beamer and Ken Abraham, Let's Roll!: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2002, p. 211.
[34] "Stories of Flight 93." Larry King Live, CNN, February 18, 2006.
[35] Jere Longman, Among the Heroes, pp. 171-172.
[36] 9/11 Commission, Staff Report, p. 44.
[37] Jane Pauley, "No Greater Love."
[38] Richard Gazarik, "Felt Reaches 911 Just Before Crash." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 8, 2002.
[39] Chuck Biedka, "911 Dispatcher Recalls Frantic Cell Phone Call From Flight 93." Valley News Dispatch, September 11, 2002.
[40] Jere Longman, Among the Heroes, p. xi.
[41] Jane Pauley, "No Greater Love."
[42] "FBI FD-302, Unidentified Person re: Marion Britton." Federal Bureau of Investigation, September 20, 2001; United States of America v. Zacarias Moussaoui.
[43] Jere Longman, Among the Heroes, p. 161.

thank you

The purported phone calls from the planes are one of the weirdest/creepiest aspects of 9/11, and it is nice to have this well-documented summation.


Commendable research. Thanks for supplying the sources. Hope everyone follows your lead on how to do the research.

What about the pilots?

I do not recall anything about this being mentioned and if so please post the info or a link. This always sits in the back of my mind. Why no mention by the passengers/flight crew on the status of the Pilots? Where they killed in the cokpit, and if so, how did the "hijackers" remove the bodies from the cockpit, let alone anyone else noticing. If the Pilots managed to relinquish command of the cockpit to persons that they would not have known were capable of flying the aircraft and they were hearded to the section of the plane with everyone else, or were separated from the other passengers, how come the passengers were alowed to make calls out and not the Pilots? I would gather that the "Highjakers" would want someone in authority to make the calls.

On all four planes

in addition to the pilot and co-pilot was at least one passenger that had extensive flying experience.

Here's a link to my findings:

All of the planes had extra pilots

I wonder why no one has written a biography on Mark Bingham

Such a book (or tv movie) would probably be a best seller as Mark's heroics captivated the entire world. I saw his mother give some brief interviews years ago, but haven't heard anything about her since.

(Sort of reminds me of the Naudet brothers who virtually vanished after releasing their highly acclaimed 9/11 documentary. Why no follow-ups of any type?)

Consider mass emailing truth messages. More info here: http://www.911blogger.com/node/13321

Does anyone else find it

Does anyone else find it strange that so many of these calls were made by flight attendants?I mean if you take the number of people on the planes in total & compare that to the number of flight attendants what are the odds that so many calls would have come from so few?Flight attendants are also people to whom 'they' would have access.People whose voice patterns,inflections etc. could be studied & duplicated & people they could put on any flight of a particular airline they wanted.This needs lots more research!There may be something here.

Just one more thing,of all people flight attendants would know that these calls would be damn near impossible! I don't think they would have even bothered to try!

Wait a minute..

"I was surprised by how calm it seemed in the background. I didn't hear any screaming. I didn't hear any noises."

""[I]t was as if he was at Thoratec [the company he worked for], sitting at his desk, and we were having a regular conversation."

What about the engine noise? It's present throughout the plane, and it's so loud that most frequent flyers own a pair of noise-canceling headphones. In fact, it's typically louder in the back of the plane, and isn't that where most of the calls were made?

We're not talking about some minor background noise that could be overlooked - there's nothing "minor" about 90-100 decibels.

I agree

If we could get our hands on a recording or two, it would be very easy to isolate the frequency that a jet engine operates at and cross reference with a phone call or radio transmission from a flight that was known to occur on the same type of plane. This is a great example of evidence that can be used to expose the massive deception and lie, and I think we need to pounce on this. Also, Truth Rising is a tremendous work, I am feeling more infuriated and motivated than ever before to drive the tyrants out of power. Eyes on the prize, let's move in for the kill.

I was a fight attendant

I was a fight attendant for TWA for 18 years. None of this makes sense to me. When we went through the hijackings in the 70's we had special training to prepare us in the event of a hijacking. If there was a reason to be on the alert we were informed during our preflight breifings ,and security was increased. I have never understood why...with all of the warnings just prior to 9/11, the crew members and ground personnel were not

Also, I have never seen a person use a cell phone in flight . Some of the calls from the towers were horrific. In at least two calls you can hear the building collapse. It is interesting that so many of the callers were described as being calm and the calls were void of background noise.


The calls were faked no doubt about it. So this research is a good contribution. The other side will say: if they could fake all the other more sophisticated features of 9-11, then surely it would have been easy to gimmick a little emotion into the stage voices, and game it further by running a blow dryer in the background, why didn't the plotters think of doing things like that? So as usual it would be the fake quality of the event becoming the best proof of its authenticity.

I would note that I have worked extensively with voice morphing to create synthetic vocal messages from digital samples of real speech and one thing that is always very tricky in that game is to staple appropriate human emotion back into the re-assembled output wave. It's much easier to create a bland uniform tone and timbre. David Griffin has speculated on the possibility of voice morphing (and by implication, reassembly and possibly voice synthesis) having been used to craft these messages/conversations. This article should be forwarded to him.

Voice Morphing

the nail in the coffin to let it look real:

To some, PSYOPS is a backwater military discipline of leaflet dropping and radio propaganda. To a growing group of information war technologists, it is the nexus of fantasy and reality. Being able to manufacture convincing audio or video, they say, might be the difference in a successful military operation or coup.


Really disappointing, Shoestring....

It's so frustrating, depressing even, to see the truth movement spinning its wheels on this issue. This blog shows the soft headedness of someone who I had considered to be one of the better investigators of 9/11. I guess we're doomed to be in a state of continually rehashing this same Loose Change silliness for at least the near future.

All the calls made to loved ones were certainly real. (That of course excludes the call made by "Todd Beamer" to a Verizon operator.) Any scenario involving voice-morphing has to be rejected as ridiculous-- especially since some of these calls provide information contrary the official story. I've argued this point repeatedly on this forum, but I guess Shoestring doesn't pay the same attention to my essays as I pay to his. That's too bad. I guess it's easier to just throw out the suggestion that "something's funny about these calls...." than it is to follow the faked calls theory to its absurd conclusion.

It was Loose Change that first gave us the notion that Betty Ong was too calm in her phone call, and that people should have been "screaming" in the background. People who fly on airplanes tend to be more intelligent and educated than the average person. Maybe the passengers figured that yelling and screaming was likely to do them no good in their situation. And of course, the vast majority of the people in the back of that plane did not know they had been hijacked, since they hadn't witnessed the hijacking that took place in first class.

As for Betty, it's no surprise that she was as calm as she was during the phone calls. She was an experienced professional in her early forties. She didn't break down like a sorority girl, and that is not surprising. I don't agree with the New York Times Times quote that "she couldn't have sounded much calmer." Her voice is quaking and she is clearly nervous. Listen for yourself:


The call sounds completely authentic to me. The only part of that episode that sounds fabricated to me is the claim, made by the 9/11 Commission, that the majority her call was not taped because the recording device at American Airlines had a default mechanism that turned off the tape after about six minutes. That is a lie. What we really should be investigating is, "what occurred on the remainder of her phone call that is being covered up?"

As for the other phone callers, it is possible they were a lot more emotional than the accounts we have read have led us to believe. Think about it, a loved one who receives a call is not likely to report that the caller betrayed panic in his voice, even if it is true. And media reports are not likely to portray the 9/11 victims as going to their deaths in a state of terror when the trend was to see them as heroes. We only have two recordings that we can listen to of callers, Ong's and Cee Cee Lyles' "good-by baby" message to her husband that she left on an answering machine. Both show some level of emotion.

Shoestring, this is the second article you've written recently suggesting the phone calls are not real. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to do more than just throw out such a suggestion with no further analysis. I'd like you to answer some of the questions I raised regarding the fake calls scenario:

"David Ray Griffin Burrows Further Down the Rabbit Hole of No-Calls-From-the-Planes"

"David Ray Griffin and Cell Phone Calls: Serious Logical Errors in '9/11 Contradictions' "

Andrew, thanks

That is really interesting. It honestly hadn't occurred to me that a lot of the whole cell phone issue could be put down to simply sloppy reporting by the major media. I was looking at the "calm phone call" issue more in the context that there were all these bogus cell phone calls which couldn't have been made from airplanes, which is a much more concrete objection to the official story.

DRG does seem a little weak on this issue. I first heard from him the story of "Mom, this is Mark Bingham," which does sound odd, but I guess his mother said he would do that from time to time, and some people are in professions where presenting their full name on the phone becomes a matter of habit.

I still feel the whole cell phone issue is an interesting anomaly, but it is not something that should be pushed as evidence until or unless we have something a lot more substantial.

Thanks again. :-)

Another possibility

is that the calls were real, made by the people who claim to have made them, but they were not made from the planes while they were still in the air.

When you look at the people on the planes who made the calls, it soon becomes apparent that these weren't ordinary people, or a random selection of people who might be flying on any given day. 9/11 was a made for TV event, and the most of the cast of characters that became instantly famous, the ones whose stories became the Official Myth, were part of the operation.

Fundie Xians and 9/11

Would that apply to all of them, though?

I'm aware that there were a somewhat unusual array of individuals on the planes, such as Barbara Olson and individuals who worked for Raytheon and possibly many others. But would this apply to everyone who made the calls, like flight attendant Betty Ong?

I don't have the answer either. :-)

Linda Gronlund Voice Mail Message vs. Voice Morphing

I was really struck by the Linda Gronlund message. I have have been, up to now, subscribing to the theory that a voice morphing system had been used to make these messages. But in the Gronlund message, she gives some pretty specific details, the combination to her safe, for example. This tends to rule out the use of voice morphing technology, at least for that one call, because you can morph all you want but that's not going to get you the combination to the safe.

So, if it wasn't morphing, what was it?

Good points

Good points. It is so important that we focus on the glaring smoking guns upon which we agree. To debate issues of lesser importance wastes energy and provides material to those claiming that we are lost in endless debates about conflicting "theories."

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Couldn't the "calmness"...

Be attributed to the fact that they didn't want to bring attention to themselves for fear of one of the "hijackers" hearing them, thereby putting themselves in danger?

Do these people deserve to know how and why their loved ones were murdered? Do we deserve to know how and why 9/11 happened?


how do you record a live phone call? can yo record a phone call made to yor own cellphone? was the person receiving the phone call talking back? where all of the calls made that day left recorded on answering machines?

if there was a conversation between the hijacked victim and the person she called, then how can a software voice modulator could have logically have had a conversation with a real human being?

We need a new investigation!

Couldn't the "calmness" be attributed to the fact that they didn't want to bring attention to themselves for fear of one of the "hijackers" hearing them, thereby putting themselves in danger?

This is a question that can only really be answered by a proper, unrestrained, and thorough investigation.

My main intention with this posting was just to summarize what has been reported, and draw attention to something that I personally find odd and suspicious. I hope the one thing we can all agree on, at least, is that this is yet another reason why we so urgently need a new investigation of 9/11.


The very fact...

That we're having this discussion shows that we need a new/real investigation into 9/11. I just get nervous when I see something like this because I'm afraid we'll start hearing, "the phone calls were faked. You can tell because they were "shockingly calm."

Do these people deserve to know how and why their loved ones were murdered? Do we deserve to know how and why 9/11 happened?