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After 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001: Air Force One Personnel Receive Confusing Reports and One Officer Wonders if a Nation-State Is behind the Attacks

Personnel on Air Force One, the president’s plane, are unclear about what is happening in the United States and receive a number of incorrect reports about the terrorist attacks, leading one officer to wonder if a nation-state is responsible for the attacks. [Politico Magazine, 9/9/2016] Air Force One is currently on the ground at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport in Florida. [US President, 9/2001; US Air Force, 2/29/2012 pdf file] Master Sergeant Dana Lark, superintendent of communications on the plane, followed the television coverage of the first crash at the World Trade Center and then saw the second plane hitting the WTC live on TV, at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). However, she and her colleagues are unable to acquire precise information about what is happening. She will later recall: “We still didn’t know what the hell was going on. We’re just monitoring the Secret Service and staff radio channels. It was chaos. What’s next?” They subsequently receive inaccurate reports about the attacks. “All of a sudden, other reports start coming in—explosion at the White House, car bomb at the State Department” (see (Between 9:50-10:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001), Lark will say. In the confusion, Lark wonders if a nation-state such as Russia is responsible for what is happening. “I’m thinking Cold War, the big bad Soviet bear,” she will recall. “This was an extensive attack. Could this be a nation-state?” Even after Air Force One takes off from the Sarasota airport, at around 9:55 a.m. (see 9:54 a.m. September 11, 2001), personnel on the plane continue receiving incorrect reports and remain unclear about what is going on. “As we’re taking off, you’re still getting all this misinformation” and “[y]our head was spinning, trying to figure out what had actually happened,” Lark will describe. “The only thing we knew for sure, because we’d seen it with our own eyes,” according to Lark, “was that the World Trade Center had been hit.” [Politico Magazine, 9/9/2016]

Entity Tags: Dana Lark

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


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