- Dear Jeff,
- The vital perspective provided by this pilot raises
as many questions as it answers on - "Where Was The U.S. Air Force
When We Needed It On 9-11?" - the answer is, they were in-flight
along the Atlantic seaboard, but didn't follow regulations to intercept
those off-course and unresponsive airliners - WHY? I hope you will post
this along with the testimony given on September 13th, two days after,
by General Richard Myers before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The
questions by senators on 9-11 and his answers outrageously insult the
intelligence of the senators, and by extension the congress and the American
public. Nevertheless General Myers was promoted to Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs, in spite of his dereliction of duty and criminal negligence on
the morning of 9-11.
- Posted on the KPFK 90.7 FM Listener Online Bulletin
- By Michael Guillaume
- I am a pilot and I know what happens to me when I lose
my transponder. The controllers console immediately alerts him to the fact
since he no longer has my transponder code and altitude. This causes him
a graet deal of trouble and very shortly I get trouble also. I am usually
instructed to stay below 3,500 feet and return to the airport. The reason
for the concern is that I am a hazard to navigation. Now imagine the situation
in the Air Route Traffic Control Center (commonly abreviated to "center").
- This is in the northeast corner of the U.S., the busiest
airspace on the planet. Each controller has a wedged shaped sector that
he is responsible for. His airspace is also bounded by altitude limits.
Commercial flights, refferred to as heavies, are always under positive
control. They must constantly be in communication with the controllers
in order to maintain legal seperation. If one of these heavies loses its
transponder, it causes instant problems for more than one controller since
altitude information is lost.
- The controllers still have a skin paint, or passive echo
from the airframe, but the blip now shows up on all consoles for that sector,
not just the original one that was handling the altitude range of the flight.
If that same flight loses communication with the controllers as well, the
controller work load takes another giant step upward. Keep in mind that
this is in an area that is normally stretched to the breaking point with
controller overload. This flight is now a hazard to air navigation, and
the controllers primary function of seperating the planes is in jeopardy.
- The procedure for lost communication emergencies is simple:
follow your last clearance. If the flight under discussion follows its
last clearance, the controllers can predict where it will go and can still
keep other flights out of harms way. If in addition to losing communication
and transponder the flight starts to deviate from its last clearance, the
whole system is in an emergency condition. Alarms all over the country
would be going off. One interesting piece of information is the recording
of controller and pilote conversations. These tapes are a matter of public
record and are written over after a few days unless something interesting
happens. These tapes would show the response of the system. Where are they?
- So, we know that the traffic control system would be
in panic mode within two to three minutes of the initial events. We know
that Otis Airforce Base is only five minutes from Manhatten by F15. We
know that the controllers always had a passive return form the planes and
could vector an intercept. The last Airmans Informatiion Manual I bought
has a date of 1989 and it describes intercept procedures. So we know that
intercepts have been routine low level events since at least that time.
- We know that there is an Air Defence Intercept Zone just
off shore for the entire Atlantic Coast. This zone is constantly being
patrolled. In general fast movers would not need to be scrambled. They
can be diverted from routine patrol and training flights for the intercept.
I know from experience that early morning flights are every pilots favorite.
You preflight the plane in the dark and take off. Even in a Cessna breaking
out into the bright clear sunshine from the dark earth below is a kick.
In an F15 doing Mach 1 straight up would make it impossible to stop grinning.
The odds are that many flights would be on patrol just off shore. It would
be most improbable that even one commercial flight could go more than ten
minutes without being intercepted. The intercepting plane would slowly
close from the left and take station slightly above and ahead of the errant
heavy. At this pont he would rock his wings and expect the other plane
to do the same as a form of non verbal communication. After this he would
perform a gentle turn to the left and the intercepted plane is required
to follow. If this does not occur, there are many actions short of firing
the fighter can take to prevent the commercial jet from harming either
itself, any other plane, or any ground structure.
- Interceptions are routine daily occurrances. The fact
that they didn't happen under extreme provocation raises some serious questions.
I hope Mary Schiavo will ask them.
- General Myers' Confirmation Hearing
- Senate Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing On Nomination
of General Richard Myers to be Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff,
Washington, D.C. , SEPTEMBER 13, 2001
- SENATOR LEVIN: Was the Defense Department contacted by
the FAA or the FBI or any other agency after the first two hijacked aircraft
crashed into the World Trade Center, prior to the time that the Pentagon
- GENERAL MYERS: Sir, I don't know the answer to that
question. I can get that for you, for the record... That order, to the
best of my knowledge, was after the Pentagon was struck. ... I was with
Senator Cleland when this happened and went back to the Pentagon. And
they were evacuating, of course, the Pentagon at the time. And I went
into the National Military Command Center because that's essentially my
battle station when things are happening.
- SENATOR LEVIN: Was the Defense Department contacted
by the FAA or the FBI or any other agency after the first two hijacked
aircraft crashed into the World Trade Center, prior to the time that the
Pentagon was hit?
- GENERAL MYERS: Sir, I don't know the answer to that
question. I can get that for you, for the record.
- SENATOR LEVIN: Thank you. Did the Defense Department
take -- or was the Defense Department asked to take action against any
- GENERAL MYERS: Sir, we were . . .
- SENATOR LEVIN: And did you take action against -- for
instance, there has been statements that the aircraft that crashed in
Pennsylvania was shot down. Those stories continue to exist.
- GENERAL MYERS: Mr. Chairman, the armed forces did not
shoot down any aircraft. When it became clear what the threat was, we
did scramble fighter aircraft, AWACS, radar aircraft and tanker aircraft
to begin to establish orbits in case other aircraft showed up in the FAA
system that were hijacked. But we never actually had to use force.
- SENATOR CLELAND: General, it's a good thing that, as
I look back at that morning, that you and I were meeting. It's a good
thing we were meeting here and not us meeting in the Pentagon because
about the time you and I were having our visit, discussing the need to
boost our conventional forces, to look at the question of terrorism and
attacks on the United States, at just about that very moment, the Pentagon
was being hit.
- GERERAL MYERS: Yes, sir.
- SENATOR BILL NELSON: ... General Myers, The second
World Trade tower was hit shortly after 9:00. And the Pentagon was hit
approximately 40 minutes later. That's approximately. You would know specifically
what the timeline was.
- The crash that occurred in Pennsylvania after the Newark
westbound flight was turned around 180 degrees and started heading back
to Washington was approximately an hour after the World Trade Center second
explosion. You said earlier in your testimony that we had not scrambled
any military aircraft until after the Pentagon was hit. And so, my question
would be: why?
- GENERAL MYERS: I think I had that right, that it was
not until then. I'd have to go back and review the exact timelines.
- SENATOR BILL NELSON: ... If we knew that there was a
general threat on terrorist activity, which we did, and we suddenly have
two trade towers in New York being obviously hit by terrorist activity,
of commercial airliners taken off course from Boston to Los Angeles, then
what happened to the response of the defense establishment once we saw
the diversion of the aircraft headed west from Dulles turning around 180
degrees and, likewise, in the aircraft taking off from Newark and, in
flight, turning 180 degrees? That's the question.
- I leave it to you as to how you would like to answer
it. But we would like an answer.
- GENERAL MYERS: You bet. I spoke, after the second tower
was hit, I spoke to the commander of NORAD, General Eberhart. And at that
point, I think the decision was at that point to start launching aircraft...
- In this case, if my memory serves me -- and I'll have
to get back to you for the record -- my memory says that we had launched
on the one that eventually crashed in Pennsylvania. I mean, we had gotten
somebody close to it, as I recall. I'll have to check that out.
- SENATOR BILL NELSON: ... Commenting from CNN on the
timeline, 9:03 is the correct time that the United Airlines flight crashed
into the south tower of the World Trade Center; 9:43 is the time that
American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. And 10:10 a.m.
is the time that United Airlines flight 93 crashed in Somerset County,
- So that was 40 minutes between the second tower being
hit and the Pentagon crash. And it is an hour and seven minutes until
the crash occurred in Pennsylvania.
- SENATOR LEVIN: The time that we don't have is when the
Pentagon was notified, if they were, by the FAA or the FBI or any other
agency, relative to any potential threat or any planes having changed
direction or anything like that. And that's the same which you will give
us because that's . . .
- GENERAL MYERS: I can answer that. At the time of the
first impact on the World Trade Center, we stood up our crisis action team.
That was done immediately.
- So we stood it up. And we started talking to the federal
agencies. The time I do not know is when NORAD responded with fighter
aircraft. I don't know that time.
- SENATOR LEVIN: Or the time that I asked you for, which
was whether the FAA or FBI notified you that other planes had turned direction
from their path, their scheduled path, and were returning or aiming towards
Washington, whether there was any notice from any of them, because that's
such an obvious shortfall if there wasn't.
- GENERAL MYERS: Right.
- SENATOR LEVIN: And in any event, but more important,
if you could get us that information.
- GENERAL MYERS: It probably happened. As you remember,
I was not in the Pentagon at that time, so that part of it is a little
hazy. After that, we started getting regular notifications through NORAD,
FAA to NORAD, on other flights that we were worried about.
- And we knew about the one that eventually crashed in
Pennsylvania. I do not know, again, whether we had fighters scrambled
on it. I have to . . .
- SENATOR LEVIN: If you could get us those times then.
We know you don' t know them.
- GENERAL MYERS: But we'll get them.