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8:25 a.m. September 11, 2001: American Airlines Manager Asks Dispatcher to Contact Flight 11, Tells Her to Keep Information about Crisis to Herself

Craig Marquis, the manager on duty at the American Airlines System Operations Control (SOC) center in Fort Worth, Texas, calls Peggy Houck, the dispatcher at the SOC who is in charge of Flight 11, and asks her to try and contact the pilot of Flight 11, but he also instructs her not to tell anyone else that there is a problem on the plane. [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 23; 9/11 Commission, 11/19/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 2004, pp. 4] Marquis is currently also on the phone with Nydia Gonzalez, a supervisor at the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in North Carolina. Gonzalez told him that she was in contact with Betty Ong, a flight attendant on Flight 11, who was describing to her the trouble on the plane (see 8:21 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 9; Spencer, 2008, pp. 17-18] Marquis said he would call the flight dispatcher in charge of Flight 11 and ask them to contact the pilot (see (8:21 a.m.) September 11, 2001). He therefore calls Houck, who is working at the desk for American Airlines’ transcontinental flights and so is responsible for Flight 11. [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001, pp. 5-7; 9/11 Commission, 1/8/2004 pdf file]
Marquis Describes Problems on Flight 11 - After introducing himself, Marquis says, “I have an interesting call: Flight 11, from Boston to LA.” He then relays to Houck the information Gonzalez has given him, saying: “The number three flight attendant on board, by the name of Betty Ong, has contacted Raleigh Reservations and says that there’s a passenger on board that’s stabbing this flight attendant, and [Ong is] trying to get hold of the cockpit crew and she can’t get through, and the cockpit cabin door is closed.” Marquis then asks, “Could you SELCAL this captain and confirm that everything’s okay?” [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 23] “SELCAL” is short for “selective calling,” a technique that enables a ground radio operator to let an aircraft’s crew know that the operator wants to communicate with them. It involves a chime sounding in the cockpit, which lets the pilots know they are about to receive a voice transmission. [International Virtual Aviation Organisation, 4/2/2006; Aviation Spectrum Resources, Inc., 9/14/2011, pp. 2-1, 4-1 pdf file]
Marquis Tells Houck, 'Don't Spread This Around' - Houck agrees to SELCAL the pilot on Flight 11. Marquis then instructs her to keep the information about the trouble on Flight 11 to herself. He says: “Don’t spread this around. This is between you and me right now, okay?” Houck replies, “Okay.” [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 23] In response to Marquis’s request to SELCAL Flight 11, Houck will contact ARINC, a company that provides a backup communications capability for airborne flights, and ask it to try and contact Flight 11 (see (Shortly After 8:25 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 24-25; 9/11 Commission, 1/8/2004 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Peggy Houck, Craig Marquis

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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