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(Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Office of Emergency Management Requests Air Cover over New York

Personnel with New York City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) request “air security” over the city following the second crash at the World Trade Center. Staffers in the OEM’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in WTC Building 7 contact the FAA and request air protection over New York “immediately” after Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower, at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001), according to a report by the Mineta Transportation Institute. The FAA assures them that federal support is on the way but it also instructs them to use New York Police Department and Port Authority Police Department air assets to clear the airspace around the WTC. Additionally, it mentions that the control tower at New York’s JFK International Airport is reporting that an unaccounted-for plane is heading for the city. [Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow, 9/2003, pp. 16 pdf file]
Firefighter Thought the First Crash Might Be an Attack - OEM staffers apparently contact the FAA on their own initiative. However, personnel in the EOC are also contacted by Richard Sheirer, the director of the OEM, after the second crash at the WTC and he tells them to request air protection over the city. [9/11 Commission, 4/7/2004] Sheirer is at the Fire Department’s command post in the lobby of the North Tower (see (Soon After 8:46 a.m.-9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [New York Magazine, 10/15/2001; 9/11 Commission, 5/18/2004 pdf file] He possibly calls the EOC to request air cover on the suggestion of firefighter Timothy Brown, a supervisor at the OEM who is with him at the command post. Brown started discussing the need to have fighter jets over New York before the second hijacked plane hit the WTC. “One of the first things I brought up with my bosses in the Fire Department was that we needed to get air cover from the military just in case this was a terrorist attack,” he will later recall. [Firehouse, 1/31/2003] “We weren’t sure [if] this was a terrorist attack, but we knew there was a good possibility that it was,” he will comment. [City of New York, 1/15/2002]
OEM Director Calls His Deputy to Request Air Support - After Sheirer and the other officials with him are notified about Flight 175 crashing into the South Tower, they realize this is definitely a terrorist attack. Sheirer then calls Richard Rotanz, the deputy director of the OEM, about getting air protection over New York. [9/11 Commission, 4/7/2004] Rotanz initially went to the North Tower following the first crash at the WTC, but he is now back at the EOC. [Urban Hazards Forum, 1/2002] Sheirer instructs him to call the State Emergency Management Office in Albany, New York, and get it to arrange for the Air National Guard to provide cover for the city. He also instructs Rotanz to contact the Pentagon and tell it to arrange “air support.” Rotanz says there are other unaccounted-for planes, besides the two that crashed into the WTC, which may be heading for New York and Sheirer passes this information on to the officials with him in the lobby of the North Tower (see (9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). It is unclear exactly when Sheirer calls Rotanz. Sheirer will tell the 9/11 Commission that he contacts the EOC “[a]lmost instantly” after Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower “to confirm that air support was on its way to New York.”
OEM Director Asks for Helicopters to Protect the City - Following his call with Rotanz, Sheirer gives the instruction for the Police Department’s aviation unit to prevent any other planes from hitting a target in New York. “But looking back, how could a helicopter stop a commercial jet going over 400 miles per hour?” he will comment. [9/11 Commission, 4/7/2004; 9/11 Commission, 5/18/2004 pdf file] Fighters will arrive over Manhattan at 9:25 a.m., according to the 9/11 Commission Report (see 9:25 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 24] However, numerous witnesses on the ground there will recall only noticing fighters overhead after 10:00 a.m. (see (9:45 a.m.-10:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Brown will later on try, unsuccessfully, to call the White House to make sure that air cover is being provided for New York (see (Shortly After 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [City of New York, 1/15/2002; Project Rebirth, 6/30/2002 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, New York City Police Department, Office of Emergency Management, Richard Rotanz, Richard Sheirer, Timothy Brown

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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