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8:37 a.m.-8:39 a.m. September 11, 2001: Flight 11 Attendant Betty Ong Says Her Plane Is ‘Flying Sideways’ and Descending

Betty Ong, a flight attendant on the hijacked Flight 11, tells American Airlines employees on the ground that her plane is flying erratically, and then says it is in a rapid descent. [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 13] Ong is on the phone with employees at the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in North Carolina (see 8:18 a.m. September 11, 2001). One of these employees, Nydia Gonzalez, is simultaneously relaying the information Ong provides to Craig Marquis, the manager on duty at the American Airlines System Operations Control (SOC) center in Texas (see (8:21 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 11/19/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 8-9] Ong reports that all of the passengers on Flight 11 have been moved out of the first class section of the plane, back to the coach section. Gonzalez passes this information on to Marquis.
Ong Says Flight 11 Is 'Flying Sideways' - Gonzalez then asks Ong, “What’s going on honey?” Ong previously mentioned that Flight 11 was flying erratically (see 8:25 a.m. September 11, 2001), but she subsequently said it had stabilized (see 8:28 a.m. September 11, 2001). She now says the plane is flying erratically again. [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 13] Vanessa Minter, an employee at the reservations office, will later recall that Ong describes the way the plane is being flown by saying it is “flying sideways.” According to Minter, another reservations office employee, Winston Sadler, then asks Ong if she means the plane is flying erratically and Ong says yes. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001, pp. 38-41] Gonzalez will similarly recall that Ong says the plane is “flying sideways, erratically.” [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001, pp. 69-71] Gonzalez relays the information to Marquis, telling him, “The aircraft is erratic again, flying very erratically.”
Ong Says Flight 11 Is in a Rapid Descent - About a minute later, Gonzalez again asks Ong, “What’s going on?” [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19] Ong says her plane is descending rapidly. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11/2001, pp. 1-8; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/12/2001, pp. 69-71] Gonzalez passes this information on to Marquis, telling him, “Seems like the aircraft is descending quite a bit right now.” Marquis replies, “Okay, I have it on the radar here.” Marquis then asks Bill Halleck, an air traffic control specialist at the SOC, if Flight 11 is descending. [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission, 11/19/2003 pdf file] When Halleck recently contacted the FAA’s Boston Center, he was told that air traffic controllers had lost Flight 11’s transponder signal (see 8:29 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 3/25/2004, pp. 15] He therefore tells Marquis: “We don’t know [if Flight 11 is descending]. The transponder is off, so we have no active read on him.” [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission, 11/19/2003 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Betty Ong, American Airlines, Vanessa Minter, Bill Halleck, Nydia Gonzalez, Craig Marquis, Winston Sadler

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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