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Profile: Paul Weaver
Positions that Paul Weaver has held:
- Director of the Air National Guard
Paul Weaver was a participant or observer in the following events:
The two F-15 fighter jets that took off from Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod head toward the New York area. But accounts will be unclear regarding what speed they fly at as they respond to the hijacking of Flight 11. The two jets were scrambled from Otis at 8:46 (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001), and are airborne by 8:53 (see 8:53 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 20]
Flying Supersonic - In a number of accounts, it is claimed the fighters fly faster than the speed of sound. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/2002] Lead pilot Lt. Col. Timothy Duffy will tell the BBC: “I was supersonic.… I don’t know what we could have done to get there any quicker.” [BBC, 9/1/2002] He tells ABC News, “[W]e go supersonic on the way, which is kind of nonstandard for us.” [ABC News, 9/11/2002] According to author Lynn Spencer, “against regulations, [Duffy] takes his plane supersonic, breaking the sound barrier as he passes through 18,000 feet. This is a violation that can get a pilot into a good deal of trouble since the sonic boom tends to break windows in the homes down below.” When the other Otis pilot, Major Daniel Nash, radios and says, “You’re supersonic,” Duffy responds, “Yeah, I know, don’t worry about it.” Then, “Without hesitation, [Nash] follows his lead” and also goes supersonic. [Spencer, 2008, pp. 43]
Flying 'Full Blower' - Duffy will recall, “I was in full blower all the way,” as he flies toward New York. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002] In another account, he similarly says, “When we took off I left it in full afterburner the whole time.” [Filson, 2003, pp. 57] F-15s can fly at up to 1,875 miles per hour. [Cape Cod Times, 9/12/2001; US Air Force, 3/2008] According to an Otis Air Base spokeswoman, “An F-15 departing from Otis can reach New York City in 10 to 12 minutes.” [Cape Cod Times, 9/16/2001] But, according to the Boston Globe, while “In their prime, the planes can go Mach 2.5 [and] could have been to New York in less than 10 minutes,” Duffy and Nash are “flying F-15 Eagles that were built in 1977.… Because of their age and the three large fuel tanks they were carrying… the planes couldn’t attain that speed, both pilots said.” [Boston Globe, 9/11/2005]
Different Speeds Given - Various speeds will later be given for how fast the Otis jets are traveling. Consistent with Duffy’s claims of flying “supersonic,” ABC News says the two fighters fly “at Mach 1.2, nearly 900 miles per hour.” [ABC News, 9/11/2002] According to the Boston Globe, the fighters are flying at “about Mach 1.4—more than 1,000 miles per hour.” [Boston Globe, 9/11/2005] Major General Larry Arnold, the commanding general of NORAD’s Continental Region, says they fly at “about 1.5 Mach, which is, you know, somewhere—11 or 1,200 miles an hour.” [MSNBC, 9/23/2001; Slate, 1/16/2002] Major General Paul Weaver, the director of the Air National Guard, says the jets fly “like a scalded ape,” but as to their exact speed, he only says they are “topping 500 mph.” [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/2001] And by 9:03 a.m., when the second World Trade Center tower is hit, the Otis fighters are still 71 miles from New York, according to NORAD. [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/18/2001] The 9/11 Commission will state that they only arrive over Manhattan at 9:25 a.m. (see 9:25 a.m. September 11, 2001), though accounts of most witnesses on the ground indicate they do not arrive until after 10:00 a.m. (see (9:45 a.m.-10:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 24] Accounts are contradictory regarding what exact destination the Otis jets are initially heading toward after taking off (see (8:53 a.m.-9:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
Paul Weaver. [Source: US Air Force]The Air National Guard’s Crisis Action Team (CAT) is activated and coordinates the Air National Guard’s response to the terrorist attacks. [Air National Guard, 9/18/2001; US Congress. Senate, 4/24/2002; Rosenfeld and Gross, 2007, pp. 39-40] Major General Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard (ANG), instructs Brigadier General Paul Kimmel, chief operating officer of the ANG, to run the CAT. [Daytona Beach News-Journal, 9/7/2004 ]
Crisis Team Activated 'Immediately' after the Pentagon Attack - Weaver had been watching the crisis unfold on television in his 12th-floor office at Jefferson Plaza in Crystal City, Virginia, and heard the crash when the Pentagon was hit, at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). He had seen the smoke from the burning Pentagon, which the wind had blown in the direction of his building, but, he will later recall, had mistakenly thought it was caused by “airplanes that had been blown up at [Washington’s Reagan] National Airport.” [Air National Guard, 10/22/2001 ; 9/11 Commission, 4/29/2004] He activates the CAT “immediately” after the Pentagon has been hit, according to an ANG memorandum from late September 2001. Kimmel, meanwhile, was in a staff meeting at the Pentagon when the attacks in New York occurred (see (9:00 a.m.-9:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001). After that meeting ended, he was scheduled to attend another meeting at the Pentagon, at 9:30 a.m., but decided to go to his 12th-floor office at Jefferson Plaza. He arrived there shortly after the Pentagon was hit.
Crisis Team Leader Contacts NORAD Commander - Kimmel and Weaver now confer, and Weaver instructs Kimmel to go to Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, DC, to run the CAT. Kimmel and his executive officer are quickly driven to the base, covering the 17-mile journey in just 12 minutes. The CAT carries out its operations at the ANG Readiness Center at Andrews. When Kimmel and his executive officer arrive there, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Nobody knew the extent of the attack or what was going to happen next.” “My job was to get folks ready to do whatever it took,” Kimmel will comment. The first call he makes after arriving is to Major General Larry Arnold, commanding general of NORAD’s Continental US Region. Kimmel will recall that Arnold tells him “to get everything we’ve got in the National Guard ready and loaded.” This, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, means “89 different flying units and 200 other kinds of geographically separated units.” [Air National Guard, 9/18/2001; Daytona Beach News-Journal, 9/7/2004 ]
Crisis Team Arranges for Fighter Jets to Defend the US - The CAT contacts ANG fighter, tanker, and airlift units across the nation, so as to prepare as many aircraft as it can, as quickly as possible, to defend the US. “Our role was to coordinate the necessary Air National Guard resources to assist in making sure all civilian pilots knew to ground their aircraft,” Major General Paul Sullivan, assistant adjutant general for the Ohio ANG who is also the acting deputy director of the ANG, will recall. The CAT also has to “get key members of the government back to Washington, including President Bush, who was flying aboard Air Force One,” Sullivan will say. [Rosenfeld and Gross, 2007, pp. 39; Coshocton Tribune, 9/11/2011]
Crisis Team Continues Operating around the Clock - The CAT will be staffed mostly by personnel from ANG headquarters, but also by some ANG personnel from the Air Education and Training Command who are in the area on temporary duty, along with some individuals who are trapped in the area due to the terrorist attacks. [Air National Guard, 9/18/2001] For example, Sullivan was in Crystal City for a meeting this morning. After learning of the attacks in New York, he had offered to fly back to Columbus, Ohio, immediately, but was ordered to stay in the Washington area and take charge of the CAT as its senior director. The CAT, according to an official history of the ANG, serves as “the central point of contact assisting the mobilization, coordination, and monitoring of ANG resources worldwide for emergency missions concerning natural and man-made disasters, including terrorism.” It will start working around the clock as the 1st Air Force expands the air defense of the nation in response to today’s attacks. [Rosenfeld and Gross, 2007, pp. 39-40; Coshocton Tribune, 9/11/2011]
Shortly after 9/11, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will say the nearest fighter jets to Flight 93 at the time it crashes are the F-16s from Langley Air Force Base that are flying a combat air patrol over Washington, DC (see (Between 9:49 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/18/2001; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 34] Other accounts will conflict over whether or not there are any fighter jets near Flight 93 when it goes down:
Two days after the attacks, it will be reported that an unnamed New England air traffic controller has ignored a ban on controllers speaking to the media, and this controller claims “that an F-16 fighter closely pursued Flight 93.… [T]he F-16 made 360-degree turns to remain close to the commercial jet.” The controller adds that the fighter pilot “must’ve seen the whole thing.” He reportedly learned this from speaking to controllers who were closer to the crash. [Telegraph (Nashua), 9/12/2001; Associated Press, 9/13/2001]
Five days after the attacks, on September 16, CBS News will report that two F-16s are tailing Flight 93 and are within 60 miles of it when it goes down. [CBS News, 9/16/2001; Independent, 8/13/2002]
But, also on September 16, Major General Paul Weaver, the director of the Air National Guard, will say that no military planes were sent after Flight 93. [Seattle Times, 9/16/2001]
In April 2002, Anthony Kuczynski will tell the University of St. Thomas’s weekly newspaper that he had flown toward Pittsburgh alongside two F-16s on 9/11. He says he was piloting an E-3 Sentry AWACS plane, which has advanced radar and surveillance equipment that can be used to direct fighter jets to their targets. He was just about to intercept Flight 93 when it crashed. He says, “I was given direct orders to shoot down an airliner.” (E-3s are unarmed, so, if this account is accurate, the order presumably applied to the fighters Kuczynski was accompanying.) [St. Thomas Aquin, 4/12/2002; US Air Force, 9/22/2015]
A year after the attacks, ABC News will report that the “closest fighters” to Flight 93 when it crashes “are two F-16 pilots on a training mission from Selfridge Air National Guard Base” near Detroit, Michigan. These are ordered after Flight 93, according to some accounts, even though they are unarmed. [ABC News, 8/30/2002; ABC News, 9/11/2002] However, other accounts will state that these jets are in fact ordered to intercept another aircraft, Delta 1989, or are simply told to return to their base (see (9:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (9:56 a.m.-10:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 28; Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal, 9/6/2006; Spencer, 2008, pp. 178]
Stacey Taylor, an air traffic controller at the FAA’s Cleveland Center, will claim not to have seen any fighter jets on radar around the area of the crash. [MSNBC, 9/11/2002]
Five years after 9/11, Bill Keaton, a Cleveland Center controller who tracked Flight 93 as it flew eastward (see (9:41 a.m.-10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001), will be asked whether there were fighter jets in the vicinity of the plane when it crashed. He will reply, “[T]hat goes beyond the scope of what I can comment on.” (Air traffic controllers reportedly can lose their security clearances if they discuss the movements of military aircraft.) [Cleveland Free Times, 9/6/2006]
Officials admit that two planes were near Flight 93 when it crashed, which matches numerous eyewitness accounts. For example, local man Dennis Decker says that immediately after hearing an explosion, “We looked up, we saw a midsized jet flying low and fast. It appeared to make a loop or part of a circle, and then it turned fast and headed out. If you were here to see it, you’d have no doubt. It was a jet plane, and it had to be flying real close when that 757 went down… If I was the FBI, I’d find out who was driving that plane.” [Bergen Record, 9/14/2001] Later the same day, the military says it can “neither confirm nor deny” the nearby planes. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/14/2001] Two days later, they claim there were two planes near, but that they were a military cargo plane and business jet, and neither had anything to do with the crash. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/2001] Supposedly, the business jet was requested to fly low over the crash site to help rescuers find the crash site, 25 minutes after all aircraft in the US had been ordered to land. However, the story appears physically impossible since the FBI says this jet was at 37,000 feet and asked to descend to 5,000 feet. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/2001] That would have taken many minutes for that kind of plane, and witnesses report seeing the plane flying very low even before the crash. [Bergen Record, 9/14/2001] Another explanation of a farmer’s plane 45 minutes later is put forth, but that also does not fit the time at all. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/2001] Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz states: “We responded awfully quickly, I might say, on Tuesday [9/11], and, in fact, we were already tracking in on that plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. I think it was the heroism of the passengers on board that brought it down. But the Air Force was in a position to do so if we had had to.” [NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 9/14/2001] The next day, Maj. Gen. Paul Weaver, the director of the Air National Guard denies that any plane was scrambled after Flight 93. [Seattle Times, 9/16/2001] That in turn contradicts what Vice President Cheney will say later. [Washington Post, 1/27/2002]
Major General Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard, provides reporters with details of the 9/11 attacks and the US military’s response to the hijackings. Speaking at the Pentagon, Weaver gives reporters a detailed account of what happened on September 11. He says Air National Guard planes responded to the hijackings on orders from NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), which was alerted to the hijackings by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Fighters Took Off Too Late to Catch Flight 175 - Weaver says that at 8:53 a.m., seven minutes after Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001), two F-15 fighter jets took off from Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in pursuit of Flight 175, the second plane to be hijacked (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001 and 8:53 a.m. September 11, 2001). However, Weaver says, the FAA had only told NEADS that “there was an airplane that had a problem,” and at that time it was unclear if Flight 175 had been hijacked. He says that although the fighters flew at over 500 miles per hour, they were unable to catch up with Flight 175 before it hit the South Tower of the WTC at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001).
More Fighters Were Launched Just before Pentagon Was Hit - Weaver says Flight 77, the third aircraft to be hijacked, flew west for 45 minutes and then turned east, and its transponder was turned off. He does not claim that the military received notice that it had been hijacked, but says NEADS scrambled F-16 fighters that were on alert at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia at 9:35 a.m. (see 9:24 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (9:25 a.m.-9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Two minutes later, at 9:37 a.m., the Pentagon was hit (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). The F-16s, he says, subsequently remained on patrol over the Pentagon.
No Fighters Took Off to Intercept Flight 93 - Weaver says no fighters were scrambled to chase after Flight 93, the fourth hijacked plane, which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania (see (10:03 a.m.-10:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001). “There was no notification for us to launch airplanes,” he tells the reporters. “We weren’t even close.” [Dallas Morning News, 9/14/2001; Farmer, 2009, pp. 244] (However, also on this day, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz contradicts Weaver’s claim. He tells PBS’s NewsHour, “[W]e were already tracking in on that plane that crashed in Pennsylvania,” and adds, “[T]he Air Force was in a position to do so [i.e. shoot Flight 93 down] if we had had to.” [NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 9/14/2001; Farmer, 2009, pp. 245] ) Weaver says that even if fighters had caught up with the hijacked planes, they may have been unable to stop them reaching their targets. “You’re not going to get an American pilot shooting down an American airliner,” he says. “We don’t have permission to do that.” According to Weaver, only the president can issue an order to shoot down an American airliner. [Dallas Morning News, 9/14/2001]
Weaver's Account Is the 'Most Accurate' Prior to the 9/11 Commission's Investigation - The account he gives to reporters today, according to John Farmer, the senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, will be “the last public statement uttered by General Weaver on the subject and proved to be the most accurate account of events issued until the 9/11 Commission’s investigation.” [Farmer, 2009, pp. 245] Apparently after Weaver issues his statement to the reporters, an Air Force spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, adds that no regular Air Force planes were scrambled during the 9/11 attacks, “because continental air defense is the mission of the Air National Guard.” He says regular Air Force fighters “have air superiority as their mission,” which means they train “to deploy somewhere where we are engaged in hostile action and secure the skies.” These fighters, according to the spokesman, “ordinarily are not ready to fly on short notice and their pilots are not on standby to defend the United States.” [Dallas Morning News, 9/14/2001]
Pentagon Has Been Slow to Answer Questions about Response to Hijackings - The Washington Post will comment, “Questions about the time it took US military planes to respond to the threat of several hijacked aircraft speeding toward the nation’s financial and military centers have dogged the Pentagon since the attacks.” It will add, “Top Pentagon officials have been slow to respond to press inquiries for a timeline that would establish the exact times that civil aviation authorities became aware of the hijackings, when US military commanders were notified, and when US fighter jets took to the air.” [Washington Post, 9/15/2001] The previous day, Air Force General Richard Myers was questioned about the military’s response to the attacks before the Senate Armed Services Committee, but his answers were vague and confused (see September 13, 2001). [US Congress, 9/13/2001; Farmer, 2009, pp. 241-242] NORAD will release its own timeline of the events of September 11 and its response to the hijackings on September 18 (see September 18, 2001). [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/18/2001; 9/11 Commission, 7/29/2004]
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