- Cockpit Voice Recorder Transcript (Reader discretion advised)
- Flight Path Study - National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
- Phone Calls from the Passengers and Crew of Flight 93 (PDF-2.48 MB)
See also evidence below from the Department of Justice.
United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui-Trial Evidence
- Flight 93 Seating Chart - Source: Department of Justice (PDF-1.27 MB)
- Evidence Photographs of the Crash Site - Source: Department of Justice
Frequently Asked Questions - Flight 93 and September 11
Flight 93 took off from Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey (later re-named Liberty International Airport). The flight left from Terminal A, Gate 17. The scheduled departure time from the gate was 8:00 am. Flight 93 was scheduled to land at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California at 11:14 am, Pacific Time.
There were forty-four people on board: 2 pilots, 5 flight attendants, 33 passengers and 4 hijackers. There were 6 passengers and 4 hijackers in first class, and 27 passengers in coach.
The thirty-seven passengers (including the four terrorists) represented a load factor of 20% of the plane's capacity of 182. Some authorities believe that those planning the terrorist attacks purposely chose flights to hijack which were commonly low in passenger numbers so they would face less resistance when trying to take over the plane. The other planes hijacked on September 11, 2001 were similarly low in passengers.
After forty-six minutes of normal flight, at 9:28 am, as the plane neared Cleveland, Ohio, terrorists broke into the cockpit, incapacitated the pilot and first officer, and took control of the plane, turning it southeast, on a path toward Washington D.C.
Cleveland Air Traffic Controllers, heard this transmission from the cockpit: "Mayday. Hey get out of here. Get out of here. Get out of here." Pilots of other planes in the vicinity also heard the transmission on their radios and reported it to Cleveland Center.
According to one air traffic controller, the plane "started to [fly] erratically right after that. The plane's altitude suddenly dropped 700 feet. I told the immediate supervisor who was within earshot that I think we have another one [hijacking]." One of the flight attendants on board Flight 93 telephoned United Airlines at 9:35 to report the hijacking.
The terrorist who was trained as a pilot, Ziad Jarrah, was from Lebanon. The other three terrorists were from Saudi Arabia. Their names were: Saeed al Ghamdi, Ahmad al Haznawi, and Ahmed al Nami.
According to one source, the terrorists were armed with "at least one box cutter that appeared to have been store-bought and another cutting device that seemed to be homemade-a piece of metal wrapped in tape." A published report describes "a stout fighting knife" with a locking, serrated blade that was found at the crash site.
The FBI reported that 14 knives and parts of knives, including a box cutter, were found at the Flight 93 crash site. None of the blades were longer than 3.5 inches. Several of the passengers who made phone calls from on board the plane reported that one of the terrorists had a bomb strapped around his waist. Some of the callers expressed doubt about whether the bomb was real. No evidence of explosives was found at the crash site.
Osama bin Laden began issuing statements calling for Muslims to kill Americans as early as 1992. In 1998, Bin Laden warned that he was going to "move the battle to American soil." Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 plot says they began talking about the "planes operation" in 1995. The men who would become the pilots of the four hijacked planes began working on the plot in 1999, traveled to the US in 2000, and enrolled in flight training schools.
Ziad Jarrah, the Flight 93 hijacker-pilot, arrived in the United States in June, 2000 and began training in Venice, Florida. The other three so-called "muscle hijackers" were identified and trained overseas in 2000 and arrived in this country on May 28, June 8, and June 27, 2001.
We know that Flight 93 was destined for Washington D.C. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, at 9:55 am, the terrorist pilot Ziad Jarrah dialed in the frequency for the navigational aid at Washington Reagan National Airport, clearly indicating that the attack was planned for the nation's capital.
Two possible Washington targets have been discussed: the White House and the Capitol Building. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Mohamed Atta, the leader of the 9/11 plot and pilot of Flight 11, met with Ramzi Binalshibh in Spain in July, 2001 to receive final instructions conveyed from Osama bin Laden. Binalshibh, coordinator for the 9/11 plot, and now in U.S. custody, said that Atta understood Bin Ladin's interest in striking the White House, but Atta said he thought this target too difficult. Atta explained to Binalshibh his plan to have two of the planes hit the World Trade Center, one fly into the Pentagon, and one hit the Capitol Building. If any pilot could not reach his intended target, Atta said, he was to crash the plane. Statements entered at the Moussaoui hearing in April 2006 also indicate that the Capitol Building was the most-likely target for Flight 93. There is also evidence that the date of the attack was chosen to coincide with the return of both the House and Senate to session after the summer break. However, at least one family member has indicated that she was told by the authorities that the plane was destined for the White House.
The passengers and crew were forced to the back of the plane and told to sit down and be quiet. Using Airfones from the seat backs in the rear of the plane, they began calling their families, friends, and authorities to report the hijacking. They soon learned the shocking news that other hijacked planes had struck the World Trade Center and quickly realized that Flight 93 was part of a larger attack on America. This realization led to a vote and a collective decision to fight back.
Thirty-seven phone calls were made by 13 persons on board the plane between the time of the hijacking at 9:28 am and the time of the crash at 10:03 am.
At 9:57 am, the passengers and crew began their assault on the cockpit. At least two passengers and one crew member terminated phone calls in order to join the revolt. The plane was passing over Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania at this time, east of Pittsburgh. The terrorists responded by rolling the plane to the right and left, repeatedly, apparently attempting to knock the passengers off balance. Planes in the sky over western Pennsylvania and persons on the ground witnessed this erratic flying. The cockpit voice recorder captured the sounds of the assault which continued until the time of the crash. According to the 9/11 Commission, the terrorists remained in control of the plane and chose to crash it here rather than risk the passengers and crew regaining control of the plane.
The plane crashed in an open field next to a wooded area in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania at 10:03:11 am. The nearest town is Shanksville. Flight 93 struck the ground at a 40 degree angle almost upside down, hitting right wing and nose first, at a speed of between 563-580 miles per hour. It was carrying approximately 7,000 gallons of Jet A fuel at impact.
Had the plane maintained its speed and flight path, rather than crashing in Stonycreek Township, it would have arrived in Washington D.C. in 18-20 minutes. The nation's capital is about 125 air miles from the Flight 93 crash site.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was in charge of the investigation. Evidence recovery teams combed the area in thorough, systematic sweeps. Heavy equipment excavated the crater to an area measuring about 85' x 85' and 27' to 40' deep to recover debris and evidence. Soil removed from the crater during the investigation was raked and sifted by hand and machine to remove debris, then returned to the crater. More than one thousand persons representing more than 70 state, federal, and local agencies had credentials to work on the site.
The large body of investigators and the Pennsylvania State Police who were securing the perimeter left the site after thirteen days, on September 24, 2001. The crater was backfilled between October 1 and October 3, 2001. A six inch layer of topsoil was spread over the backfilled crater area and seeded with grass and wildflowers.
Paul Murdoch Architects of Los Angeles, CA with Nelson Byrd Woltz of Charlottesville, VA were the winners of an open, international design competition in 2005. Their design was selected from over 1,000 designs submitted from 48 states in this country and 27 countries.
The most prominent features will be constructed in the grassy field encircling the crash site. The Visitor Center will be built in line with the flight path. The curving Walkway and 40 Memorial Groves will circle around the bowl and wind down through the wetlands. The Memorial Plaza at the crash site has been built along the edge of the crash site, following the fence line established by the County Coroner. At the far end of the plaza, visitors can walk along the flight path, reading the names of the passengers and crew engraved on eight-foot high white marble panels.