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September 10, 2006

Five Years Later: Flight

At 7:59 AM, five years ago, American Airlines Flight 11 took off from Logan International Airport. Far from historical in its own right, but unfortunately, this would be the first of four flights hijacked that morning. Less than three and a half hours later, both major towers of the World Trade Center will have collapsed.

The events on American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77, and United Airlines Flight 93 are defined greatly by fear and immediacy. Flight 11 would be hijacked and reported as such in only 15 minutes following take-off. Flight 175 would call a sighting for this in another 25 minutes, and 5 minutes later would report a recording similar to that heard on Flight 11 before it was hijacked.

Then came the first strike, only 10 minutes later, into the north tower.

In another 17 minutes, the second tower would be hit. Meanwhile, President Bush is only aware of the first flight, preparing to read to some children in Florida. He finds out three minutes later, but elects to finish his visit to not alert the young children.

At 9:28 AM, another 22 minutes later, Flight 93 would be taken. By now, Flight 77 has been hijacked as well, and within 10 minutes will have crashed into the side of the Pentagon; this is later seen as somewhat fortunate, as there was some fear that the hijackers would instead target the Capitol or the White House, but a great toll was still taken.

Flight 93 at this point has already changed direction. However, this plane would never reach its destination. A half hour later, it would crash into rural Pennsylvania. Courageous words from Todd Beamer, "Let's Roll", would define this half hour. Many passengers attempted to foil the terrorists who had entered the flight and attempted to repeat what had already happened thrice that day. They succeeded, if only at the cost of their own lives. Sadly adding to the toll, their brave actions may have saved thousands more.

But this day was far from over.