If you’ve never been to the site of the most horrific day of our time, I strongly encourage you to go. In the meantime, thank an officer, firefighter or member of our armed forces (past or present). These pictures are from my trip there this year with my sister. The firefighters were called to our hotel for a false alarm. Oddly, I’m just realizing that we took a picture of Todd Beamer‘s name at the memorial. Though the trip was back in March, neither of us had caught it before today.
I’ve pasted some notes from a Wikipedia timeline below. They certainly don’t do justice to the story, our story. One day, I may read the entire commission report found here.
8:46:30 Flight 11 crashes at roughly 466 mph (790 km/h or 219m/s or 425 knots) into the north face of the North Tower (1 WTC) of the World Trade Center, between floors 93 and 99. (Many early accounts gave times between 8:45 and 8:50). The aircraft enters the tower intact. It plows to the building core, severing all three gypsum-encased stairwells, dragging combustibles with it. A powerful shock wave travels down to the ground and up again. The combustibles and the remnants of the aircraft are ignited by the burning fuel. As the building lacks a traditional full cage frame and depends almost entirely on the strength of a narrow structural core running up the center, fire at the center of the impact zone is in a position to compromise the integrity of all internal columns. People below the severed stairwells start to evacuate—no one above the impact zone is able to do so.
8:48 to 10:28: At least 100 people (some accounts say as many as 250), primarily in the North Tower, trapped by fire and smoke in the upper floors, jump to their deaths. One person at street level, firefighter Daniel Suhr, is hit by a jumper and dies. No form of airborne evacuation is attempted as smoke is too dense for a successful landing on the roof of either tower, New York City lacks helicopters equipped for horizontal rescue and the roof tarmac would have been too hot with too much smoke to land a helicopter.
9:03:02: Flight 175 crashes at about 590 mph (950 km/h, 264 m/s or 513 knots) into the south face of the South Tower (2 WTC) of the World Trade Center, banked between floors 77 and 85. All 65 people on board the aircraft die instantly on impact, and unknown hundreds in the building as well. By this time, several media organizations, including the three major broadcast networks (who have interrupted their morning shows), are covering the first plane crash—millions see the impact live. Parts of the plane, including the starboard engine, leave the building from its east and north sides, falling to the ground six blocks away.
9:37:46: Flight 77 crashes into the western side of the Pentagon at 530 mph (853 km/h, 237 m/s, or 460 knots) and starts a violent fire. The section of the Pentagon hit consists mainly of newly renovated, unoccupied offices. All 64 people on board are killed, as are 125 Pentagon personnel.
9:58:59: The South Tower of the World Trade Center begins to collapse, 56 minutes after the impact of Flight 175. Its destruction is viewed and heard by a vast television and radio audience. As the roar of the collapse goes silent, tremendous gray-white clouds of pulverized concrete and gypsum rush through the streets. Most observers think a new explosion or impact has produced smoke and debris that now obscures the South Tower, but once the wind clears the smoke it becomes clear that the building is no longer there. On ABC, Good Morning America correspondent Don Dahler, who was home at the time of the incident and lived near the site, reports to anchor Peter Jennings on air that he has witnessed the tower collapse; this is perhaps the first official word of the collapse as Dahler’s report is filed seconds after the building collapsed.