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(Between 9:05 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001: DC Air National Guard Pilots Upload Required Flight Data to Disks, Which Still Contain Information from Recent Exercise

Pilots with the District of Columbia Air National Guard at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, have to take time to reprogram the data disks they will need once airborne, apparently because these disks still contain the data from a training exercise their unit has just returned from. The pilots belong to the 121st Fighter Squadron. (Spencer 2008, pp. 236-237) This is part of the 113th Wing of the DC Air National Guard, which is based at Andrews. (District of Columbia Air National Guard 7/24/2001; GlobalSecurity (.org) 8/21/2005) According to author Lynn Spencer, pilots with the squadron who are preparing to take off in response to the attacks grab their gear and upload “flight data” onto computer disks. These disks “contain all the navigational waypoints, maps, and frequencies that they will need once airborne.” (Spencer 2008, pp. 236) The pilots presumably begin uploading the data after learning of the second crash in New York, and realizing this is a terrorist attack (see (9:04 a.m.) September 11, 2001). They apparently need to take the time to upload the data as a consequence of their unit’s recent involvement in a major training exercise: Three days earlier, members of the 121st Fighter Squadron returned from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, where they had spent the previous two weeks participating in the “Red Flag” exercise (see Late August-September 8, 2001). (Vogel 4/8/2002; Spencer 2008, pp. 122-123, 156) Spencer will describe one of the squadron’s pilots, Heather Penney Garcia, staying busy this morning, “reprogramming flight data disks, which still contain all the Nellis data from the Red Flag training exercise they just returned from,” before taking off at 10:42 a.m. (see 10:42 a.m. September 11, 2001). (Filson 2003, pp. 82; Spencer 2008, pp. 237-238)

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