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(8:25 a.m.-8:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Military Liaison Arrives Late at Boston Center, Learns of First Hijacking

Colin Scoggins.Colin Scoggins. [Source: John P. Meyer]Colin Scoggins, the military liaison at the FAA’s Boston Center, arrives at work an hour late and is informed of the hijacking of Flight 11. (Federal Aviation Administration 9/20/2001; WAMU 8/3/2006; Spencer 2008, pp. 32-33) Scoggins is an experienced air traffic controller and specializes in airspace, procedures, and military operations. He is responsible for managing operating agreements between the Boston Center and other air traffic control facilities, and between Boston Center and the military. He is also responsible for generating the military schedules that keep FAA facilities synchronized with military airspace requirements, and has therefore developed personal relationships with most of the military units in his region. (Spencer 2008, pp. 32-33)
Arrives One Hour Late - In a 2006 radio interview, Scoggins will recall that he arrives at work one hour late, saying, “That morning I actually came in, took an hour early on the front of my shift, so I didn’t get in until 8:30.” (WAMU 8/3/2006) But in a statement that will be provided to the 9/11 Commission, he says he arrives at the Boston Center slightly earlier, at “about 8:25 a.m.” (Federal Aviation Administration 9/20/2001) When he enters the building, a colleague tells him about the hijacking of Flight 11. (Spencer 2008, pp. 33)
Heads to Credit Union - Rather than going immediately to help deal with the hijacking, Scoggins heads to the credit union at the center. He will recall, “I wasn’t in a rush because when hijacks do occur, sometimes too many people try to get involved, but instead they just get in the way.”
Mentions that Hijacked Plane Could Hit a Building - When he gets to the credit union, Scoggins decides he should go to the center’s traffic management unit, to make sure that fighter jets are launched in response to the hijacking. As he will later recall, he says to an employee at the credit union that “if it really came to it,” and fighter jets “had to stop the hijack from hitting a building or something, there wasn’t much [the fighters] could do.” (Federal Aviation Administration 9/20/2001)
Updated on Hijacking - Scoggins then heads to the center’s operational floor, arriving there at about 8:35. (WAMU 8/3/2006; Griffin 2007, pp. 335) He goes to the traffic management unit and the desk of Daniel Bueno, who is the unit’s supervisor. Bueno brings Scoggins up to date on the details of the hijacking. He tells him: “It sounds real. We heard a Mideastern or Arabic voice on radio. They’ve also turned off the transponder to prevent the hijack code from appearing.” Bueno says the Boston Center controllers are still tracking the primary radar return for Flight 11, but they lack information on its altitude. According to author Lynn Spencer, it occurs to Scoggins that NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) might be able to provide altitude information for Flight 11, “because the FAA radar system filters out certain altitude information that NEADS gets.” He will therefore phone NEADS as soon as he arrives at his station (see (8:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Spencer 2008, pp. 33)

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