New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Military Exercises, Air Force Response to Attacks, and More

From the History Commons Groups blog:

Many new entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, most of them describing events that took place on the day of 9/11.

Two important entries deal with events before 9/11, specifically regarding military training exercises. One entry reveals that prior to 9/11, NORAD practiced for hijackings five times per month at its operations center in Colorado. The other entry describes how, in the days before 9/11, the Army had been planning an exercise for the week after 9/11, based, remarkably, on the scenario of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.

Several entries give new details about the actions of the two F-15 fighter jets launched in response to the first hijacked plane. After being told by the military that the fighters had been given a "bad heading," an air traffic controller had to redirect the two aircraft. When he did this, he also notified the lead fighter pilot that Flight 11 had crashed into the WTC. And yet the two pilots have both denied learning this news until about 10 minutes later, when they were told that a second plane had hit the WTC. After being given the new heading, the lead pilot contacted the military, but apparently neither he nor the person he spoke with mentioned the crash during their call. The two fighters then headed into military airspace over the ocean.

A number of entries deal with the actions of the US Park Police Aviation Unit in Washington, DC, on September 11. That morning, the unit had been holding a large training event. Its two Huey helicopters promptly responded to the Pentagon attack, with one of them providing live video footage of the crash scene and also being put in charge of controlling the Washington airspace. However, its pilot's request that the Maryland State Police send helicopters to help out at the Pentagon was bluntly refused. The other Park Police helicopter subsequently had to respond to numerous reported emergencies that turned out to be false alarms. Furthermore, contrary to official accounts, a new timeline entry reveals that one of the Park Police helicopters was in the air before the Pentagon attack and was instructed to intercept the approaching aircraft.

A US Border Patrol agent who saw the helicopter from his hotel window also described seeing an American Airlines plane taking off from Washington's Reagan National Airport, flying north toward the nearby Pentagon, about a minute before the Pentagon attack occurred. And several witnesses have described hearing secondary explosions inside the Pentagon following the attack there.

An entry describes how National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice thought the first plane hitting the WTC was an accident when she was informed of it by her assistant. While phoning President Bush about the incident, Rice was told that the crashed plane was a commercial airliner, and she passed on this news to the president. Rice has also described how those in the shelter conference room below the White House were unable to hear the audio from television broadcasts and the White House video teleconference at the same time throughout the day, due to technical problems.

Unlike Rice, those in the office of the vice chief of naval operations at the Pentagon realized right away that the first crash must have been deliberate, and even speculated that the Pentagon was a likely target for any subsequent attack. But when a senior officer there was told of a suspicious aircraft approaching Washington, he instructed his deputy to keep quiet and not pass on this crucial information.

Some entries describe how United Airlines, as well as having two of its aircraft hijacked that morning, had to deal with numerous false alarms. These included threats that were found to be "misunderstandings or hoaxes"; a loss of contact with three aircraft at around 10:00 a.m.; nine aircraft reported missing about an hour later; and another of its aircraft reported as missing by the Secret Service.

Later in the day, those in the White House were told that a US Airways plane flying to the US from Spain had been hijacked, but this also turned out to be a false alarm.


Strange actions of Otis Air Base fighter pilot

Be sure to check out this new timeline entry:

8:55 a.m. September 11, 2001: Otis Fighter Pilot Told of First WTC Crash, but Later Denies Learning This

Fighter pilot Timothy Duffy, who took off in response to the Flight 11 hijacking, was told by air traffic control at 8:55 a.m. that Flight 11 had crashed into the World Trade Center. Yet, strangely, since 9/11 Duffy has repeatedly denied being informed of the crash at that time.

Furthermore, when Duffy then contacted NEADS, apparently neither he nor the person at NEADS bothered to mention the crash during the call. See:

(8:56 a.m.-8:57 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Otis Fighter Pilot Speaks with NEADS, but Crash at WTC Supposedly Not Mentioned

This is baffling!

(9:36 a.m.) September 11,

(9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001: American Airlines Plane Seen Taking Off from Reagan Airport, Flying toward Pentagon

The Marriott Residence Inn in Arlington, Virginia.The Marriott Residence Inn in Arlington, Virginia. [Source: Marriott International]An American Airlines plane takes off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, flying toward the Pentagon, just before the Pentagon attack occurs, according to a witness who says he sees the plane out the window of his hotel room.
Plane Takes Off toward Pentagon - Jeffrey Mark Parsons, an assistant chief patrol agent with the United States Border Patrol, is staying on the 17th floor of the Marriott Residence Inn in Arlington, Virginia. When later interviewed by Navy historian John Darrell Sherwood about his experiences of the 9/11 attacks, Parsons will recall: “I was looking out my window. I have a perfect view of Reagan National Airport. An American Airlines plane had just taken off, I mean, not 30 seconds before this plane [Flight 77] hit the Pentagon.” Parsons will add that the American Airlines plane is “taking off to the north, to the, different than the normal way. In other words, they were taking off toward the Pentagon.” [US Naval Historical Center, 12/13/2001; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 258] Reagan National Airport is less than a mile from the Pentagon. [St. Petersburg Times, 10/3/2001] Parsons will continue, “Well, this American Airlines plane had just taken off, I mean it couldn’t have been a minute, 30 seconds before this plane [Flight 77] hit the Pentagon.” [US Naval Historical Center, 12/13/2001] Flight 77 hits the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001) and, like the plane Parsons sees, is an American Airlines aircraft. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 10]
American Airlines and Reagan Airport Planes Supposedly Grounded - And yet Chris Stephenson, the supervisor in the Reagan National Airport control tower, reportedly stopped takeoffs from Reagan Airport in the minutes after 9:03 a.m., when Flight 175 hit the World Trade Center (see (9:04 a.m.-9:11 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [USA Today, 8/11/2002] And at 9:00 a.m., American Airlines ordered all its aircraft in the Northeast United States that had not yet taken off to remain on the ground (see Between 9:00 a.m. and 9:10 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 30 pdf file] Furthermore, the FAA ordered a nationwide ground stop at around 9:26 a.m., which was supposed to prevent any aircraft taking off across the US (see (9:26 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [US Congress. House. Committee On Transportation And Infrastructure, 9/21/2001; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 25] Parsons will ask Sherwood if anyone has interviewed the pilot of the American Airlines plane he saw taking off, since that pilot must have witnessed the attack on the Pentagon. Sherwood will answer no, but add, “[T]hat’s another good lead for either myself or one of the other people to follow up on.” Whether the pilot is ever identified or interviewed is unknown. [US Naval Historical Center, 12/13/2001]

Incredible account

If Parsons's recollections about this American Airlines plane taking off from Reagan Airport just before the Pentagon attack are accurate, then this is extraordinary! It would be virtually impossible that this was just a coincidence. Something very strange going on here!

is this the plane?

I assume that was the E-4B

I assumed the plane in that clip was the E-4B that was circling over Washington around that time.

The clip of Porter Goss appears in the National Geographic documentary Witness: DC 9/11, which you can watch in full here: (The section with Goss starts around the 14:30 mark.) From where it appears in the documentary, it seems the Goss interview took place shortly after the Pentagon was hit.

Also, you can hear an explosion in the background in the clip. I assume this would be the explosion reported by the New York Times, which stated: "Other witnesses said the plane crash [at the Pentagon] was followed by an explosion about 15 minutes later that could be heard miles away." See: So that would mean this clip is from around 9:55 a.m., quite a while after Parsons saw the American Airlines plane taking off.


I appreciate your contributions to this effort.

Link request

Shoestring, could you give a direct link to the transcript or recording where the following can be found?

"Let’s get rid of this goddamn sim. Turn your sim switches off. Let’s get rid of that crap"



Yes, of course. You can read/download the relevant transcript here:

The "Let’s get rid of this goddamn sim" quote appears on p. 30 of the PDF.

You can also downoad an audio file of the relevant NORAD tape from this page:

As the relevant tape is "DRMl DAT2 Ch.2 MCC Upside," this appears to be the file at the top of the list. The "goddam sim" quote is about 59 mins. 30 secs. through the recording.


Actually, I already had downloaded the right pdf, but the search failed to find "let's get rid" because the apostrophe was in a different font than that of the document...