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Context of 'Shortly Before 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001: Pentagon Heliport Tower Controllers Concerned about Plane Hitting Pentagon'

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Air traffic controllers at Washington’s Reagan National Airport fail to notify the Pentagon and a nearby Army airfield about an unidentified aircraft, later determined to be Flight 77, which they are tracking as it approaches the capital. [US Army Center for Military History, 11/14/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 33]
Controllers Call Secret Service but Not Military - Controllers in the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) at Reagan National Airport are aware of the unidentified, fast-moving aircraft that is approaching the White House from at least as early as 9:33 a.m. (see (9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Federal Aviation Administration, 9/17/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 9, 39; Spencer, 2008, pp. 145-146] (However, those in the airport’s control tower possibly only learn of it slightly later (see (9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Spencer, 2008, pp. 158] ) Although a supervisor at the TRACON promptly alerts the Secret Service at the White House to the aircraft (see (9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001), none of the Reagan Airport controllers contact the Pentagon or the nearby Davison Army Airfield about it. [Federal Aviation Administration, 9/17/2001 pdf file; US Army Center for Military History, 11/14/2001 pdf file]
Aviation Unit Located near Pentagon - Davison Army Airfield is located at Fort Belvoir, an Army base 12 miles south of the Pentagon. The airfield’s principal missions include maintaining “a readiness posture in support of contingency plans,” exercising “operational control” of the local airspace, and providing “aviation support for the White House, US government officials, Department of Defense, Department of the Army, and other government agencies.” The 12th Aviation Battalion, which is the aviation support unit for the Military District of Washington, is stationed at Davison Airfield. The battalion operates UH-1 “Huey” and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. [Pentagram, 5/7/1999; Military District of Washington, 8/2000] Its airfield operations unit—Davison Airfield Management—operates and maintains the heliport at the Pentagon. [Soldiers Magazine, 7/2006]
Tower Supervisor Unhappy - The supervisor of air traffic control currently working in the control tower at Davison Airfield will be unhappy about the failure of the Reagan Airport controllers to alert his unit or the Pentagon to the approaching aircraft. He will voice his complaints when he later talks to one of those controllers. The supervisor will later recall: “I was asking him, ‘Did you know that the aircraft was coming this way?’ And he said: ‘Yes. We were tracking him for so many miles.’”
Controller: 'It Never Occurred to Me' to Call Military - The supervisor will ask the controller: “Why you didn’t say anything to Davison? Why you didn’t say anything to the Pentagon? Because if you would have said something, my controller at the Pentagon would have called the DPS unit,” meaning the Defense Protective Service, which guards the Pentagon, “and it would have alerted them that there was something coming to Washington, DC, an aircraft with hostile intentions or something.” The controller will reply, “Well, you know what, it never occurred to me,” and say, “we didn’t know that he was going to hit the Pentagon.” [US Army Center for Military History, 11/14/2001 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Pentagon, Davison Army Airfield

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Jacqueline Kidd and Sean Boger.Jacqueline Kidd and Sean Boger. [Source: Jennifer Lilly]The air traffic controller and his assistant in the control tower at the Pentagon’s heliport are concerned that they are in a prime location for another terrorist attack, and discuss the possibility of a plane crashing into the Pentagon. [Pentagram, 11/16/2001; Fort Belvoir News, 1/18/2002; Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 21] The controller, Sean Boger, a civilian who is working for the Army, and his assistant, Army Specialist Jacqueline Kidd, are working in the control tower located between the Pentagon and its heliport, from where they direct helicopter landings and departures. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 27; Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 21] They have seen the reports on television about the planes hitting the World Trade Center, and so realize that a terrorist attack is taking place. [Pentagram, 11/16/2001; Fort Belvoir News, 1/18/2002]
Controllers Discuss Possibility of Crash at Pentagon - Kidd will later recall that, after seeing the second crash on television, she and Boger begin “discussing the possibility of if it was a terrorist attack, and how we were at a prime spot to be hit. We started talking about that immediately.” She will add that Boger mentions to her that the flight path of Reagan National Airport, which is about a mile away, “comes right by the Pentagon, and I said, ‘Oh, yeah.’ And he said, ‘They can do the same thing to us.’” However, Kidd and Boger reportedly talk “casually” about the possibility of a plane hitting the Pentagon, “without seriously feeling threatened.” [Fort Belvoir News, 1/18/2002] According to other accounts, Boger wonders aloud why no airliner has ever hit the Pentagon, considering how close it is to Reagan Airport. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 27] Kidd tells him, “You’ve been saying that for three years,” and he responds, “Yeah, you’re right.” [Creed and Newman, 2008, pp. 21] Reportedly, Boger is “talking about an accident, not a terrorist attack.” [Pentagram, 11/16/2001]
Controller Discusses Concerns with Supervisor at Airfield - Boger also calls the control tower at Davison Army Airfield, which is about 12 miles south of the Pentagon, around this time, and discusses his concerns with the supervisor of air traffic control there. Boger works for the supervisor’s unit and has already called the supervisor to alert him to the attacks in New York. Boger now tells the supervisor how worried he is “that an aircraft can just easily do that,” presumably referring to the possibility of a plane crashing into the Pentagon. He also says, “I don’t know what I’m going to do if I see a plane coming like that towards—towards us.” The supervisor will later comment, “I always was aware of that, of how close some aircraft would fly over the facility… and how easy it would be for somebody to kind of storm the small tower.” The supervisor tells Boger that if he sees an airplane heading his way, “what you do is you grab [Kidd] and get out of the building, and just go towards Route 27,” the road in front of the heliport area. [US Army Center for Military History, 11/14/2001 pdf file] However, while personnel like Boger, Kidd, and the supervisor of air traffic control are considering the possibility of a plane hitting the Pentagon at this time, no steps are taken to alert workers at the Pentagon before it is struck (see Before 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001), and an order to evacuate the building will only go out over the Pentagon’s public address system shortly after the attack there. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 137-138; Vogel, 2007, pp. 429]
Pentagon Hit Close to Tower - Boger and Kidd will both suffer minor injuries when the Pentagon is hit less than 100 feet from where they are, and the heliport tower will be badly damaged by the explosion. [US Army Center for Military History, 11/14/2001 pdf file; Fort Belvoir News, 1/18/2002] Kidd will be on the tower’s ground floor, on her way outside to her car, when the crash occurs. [Pentagram, 11/16/2001; Fort Belvoir News, 1/18/2002] Boger will still be up in the tower, and, he will say, sees Flight 77 flying low and fast toward—and then into—the Pentagon. [US Army Center for Military History, 11/14/2001 pdf file; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 27]

Entity Tags: Jacqueline Kidd, Pentagon, Davison Army Airfield, Sean Boger

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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