The Telephone

The Telephone

The Telephone

The Telephone

Excerpt

More than two dozen telephone calls were made from an airplane as it flew over Ohio and western Pennsylvania on the morning of September 11, 2001. The plane was United Airlines Flight 93, a commercial airliner that had been hijacked by terrorists. The calls, made on cell phones, may have changed U.S. history.

Some of the thirty-seven passengers on the hijacked airplane had access to cellular telephones. Filled with confusion and fear, they used the phones to call loved ones and to seek help. The first call was from a passenger to his wife in California, telling her to alert the authorities. Another passenger, Todd Beamer of New Jersey, reached an emergency operator in Illinois. He reported that the hijackers had seized the cockpit and were flying the plane erratically. Other passengers also called family members, to reassure them or to bid them farewell. During these calls, the terrified passengers of Flight 93 learned what was happening elsewhere in the United States that morning. They were told that three other planes had also been hijacked, and that those planes had already been flown into buildings—two into the twin towers of New York City’s World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Defense Department in Washington, D.C.

Then the passengers and flight crew of Flight 93 knew that theirs was no ordinary hijacking, and that they had little or no chance of coming . . .

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