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Background Attack Aftermath Evidence Misinformation Analysis Memorial

Flight 11

The First Jet Commandeered on September 11th

American Airlines Flight 11 is the plane that hit the World Trade Center's North Tower. It was a Boeing 767-223ER on a scheduled flight from Boston to Los Angeles, with 81 passengers, nine flight attendants, and two pilots.


Known Course

flight 11 route
This illustration from USA Today shows the alleged flightpath of Flight 11. Note that Albany is positioned about 50 miles south of its actual location.
More accurate flight path descriptions are found in NTSB reports published in 2006.

At 7:59 AM, Flight 11 took off from Boston's Logan Airport. 1   At 8:13, the pilots last radio communication was made from the pilots to ground control: "twenty right American eleven." 2   At 8:15 Boston Air Traffic Control began unsuccessful attempts to contact the pilots after the plane failed to respond to an order to climb. 3   At 8:20, Flight 11 stopped transmitting its transponder signal, and veered northward and departed dramatically from the westward heading of its planned route. The controllers concluded that the plane had probably been hijacked. 4   5   At 8:24, the following transmission was reportedly received from Flight 11:

We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you'll be okay .. we are returning to the airport.
Nobody move. Everything will be okay. If you try to make any moves, you'll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet.
Nobody move please we are going back to the airport .. don't try to make any stupid moves. 6  

Neither of the pilots pressed the distress call button. At 8:28 controllers reportedly watched the plane make a 100-degree turn toward the south. 7   Presumably, Flight 11 continued south along the Hudson River until it reached the World Trade Center, though documentation of this is sparse given the lack of public information.

According to NORAD's September 18 timeline, the FAA did not notify NORAD of the signs that Flight 11 was hijacked until 8:40, 25 minutes after the first signs of trouble. 8  


Phone Calls

Betty Ong
Flight attendant Betty Ong

At 8:21, phone calls from two flight attendants began. Betty Ong called Vanessa Minter at American Airlines reservations. 9   Flight attendant Madeline Sweeney called American Airlines ground manager Michael Woodward at Logan and spoke calmly to him for 25 minutes until the plane crashed. Supposedly the call was not recorded and Woodward took notes. Her first comment is "Listen, and listen to me very carefully. I'm on Flight 11. The airplane has been hijacked." At 8:45, just before the crash, she said "I see the water. I see the buildings. I see buildings," then after a pregnant pause, a quiet "Oh, my God!" 10  



At 8:46 Flight 11 collided with the North Tower. The NTSB places the crash time at 8:46:40. (There is no evidence for the assertions by some people, such as proponents of the bumble planes theory, that the North Tower was hit by something other than Flight 11.) Human remains recovered from Ground Zero were identified as belonging to Flight 11 victims.


1. Timeline in Terrorist Attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Washington Post, 9/12/01 [cached]
2. Transcript American Airlines Flight 11, New York Times, 10/16/01 [cached]
3. 'We have planes. Stay quiet' - Then silence, Guardian, 10/17/01 [cached]
4. , ABC News, 9/14/01
5. , New York Times, 9/15/01
6. Flight Path Study - American Airlines Flight 11, NTSB, 2/19/02
7. , Christian Science Monitor, 9/13/01
8. NORAD's Response Times, NORAD, 9/18/01 [cached]
9. Probe reconstructs horror, calculated attacks on planes, Boston Globe, 11/23/01 [cached]
10. Calm Before the Crash, ABC News, 7/18/02 [cached]

page last modified: 2011-09-18