Monday, December 29, 2008

Cleveland Center supervisor memos on Flight 93

Transcript of handwritten statements concerning Flight 93 by Cleveland Center supervisors. Many thanks to for their efforts and the citizen (unknown to me) who initiated the FOIA to obtain these important documents.

Richard Barnett
(YN) Area Supervisor 9:00-11:00

The Franklin Controller advised me that UAL93 was unexpectedly changing altitude near EWC PA. I observed altitude deviation of approx. 500 feet high. Aircraft was on LOR freq. I was observing DAL1989 so this was a surprise however due to flight profile (long distance coast to coast) I became alarmed. I went to Area 4 to ascertain status and observed the turn, decent and transponder problem. I was advised by Area 4 sup(ervisor) that UAL93 was turning around and coming back. I returned to area to advise controllers. I became involved in other area activities (helping land aircraft, evacuating personnel, answering calls and combining sectors) when the Westmoreland and Indianhead controllers adivsed that UL93 was possibly entering our airspace over PIT. I observed the data block with only 350N, so I did not know altitude. As the aircraft approached near the Nesto intersection, the Westmoreland Controllers (D&R) both advised a visual confirmation of UAL93's altitude by another (VFR) aircraft. We verified and determined that UAL93 was at 7000'. I was very surprised at the low altitude. The aircraft that observed UAL93 stated that aircraft was rucking wings. UAL93 appeared as if it were heading to JST. We knew aircraft was hijacked so I ordered the controller (D-side) to call JST tower and evacuate and to give reason. Approximately 3 or 4 minutes later aircraft went into coast track and we started receiving reports from other airborne aircraft of smoke and an apparent crash. I asked the controllers to give me the track back coordinates and lat./long. of site which I passed on to the operations manager.

I do not remember what the various settings of the operational equipment were at the time of the accident.

Gary M. Klingler (GK) Command Post 10:00-22:30

Upon hearing of the Worls Trade Center accident, I left a meeting at NASA and returned to Cleveland Center (ZOB). I arrived at the watch desk area at approximately 1400Z. I observed that the Traffic Management Unit had been turned into a command post. The ATM and three operations managers were staffing the command post. I was briefed upon arrival by Rich Reid, operations manager, of the situation. The briefing focused on UAL93, DAL1989, reports of an aircraft circling over ZOB and the subsequent release of non-essential personnel. Numerous individuals were following up with the situation concerning UAL93 and DAL1989. I started to investigate the possibility of an unidentified aircraft circling over ZOB. Actual scanning the skies over the Center, discussion with law enforcement personnel on scene and discussions with Cleveland Approach Control about what they were observing on terminal radar led to the following determination: either the aircraft had left the Center area or personnel on the ground had observed DAL1989 turning back toward Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Upon return to the command post I learned of UAL93's accident. DAL1989 was being worked by CLE Approach. We received another report of a large aircraft over ZOB. My investigation revealed it was a military refueler which had been positioned to support the military fighter aircraft. I remained at the facility through the evening providing support at the command post. 9/19/01

Leo E. Wolbers (LV) Operations manager 2:00-10:00

About 0820 I heard that we were trying to find AAL77 that had lost its transponder in Boston Center airspace. I then went to the 0830 stand-up, after the stand-up I was told that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We were told by Central Flow that they thought the aircraft was AAL77. We were then told that a second aircraft believed to be UAL175 had hit the other tower. We were told both aircraft were thought to have departed BOS for LAX. We did a quick check and found we were working DAL1989 who had departed BOS for LAX. We advised Delta operations of what information we had at that time. The next thing we were told was that DAL1989 was a confirmed hijack and was diverting to CLE. While we were trying to assist DAL1989 we were informed that UAL93 was being hijacked and was on the LOR sector frequency. I went to Area 4 at that time to assist with UAL93. Since UAL93 was overhead our facility we made the decision to evacuate all non-essential personal and get as many controllers out as possible. We were then told to pur every aircraft we were working on the ground. I went to each area and advised them to land all aircraft ASAP. We were then advised an aircraft had hit the Pentagon. The next event was UAL93 was confirmed to have crashed at Somerset PA. After we got all of our aircraft on the ground we went to one person in each area until the building was searched and found to be secure.

To the best of my knowledge this is the order that events occured. The only time that I am sure of is the 0830 stand-up. 9/19/01

Craig Pass (CP) STMC 5:50-17:50

Operations Manager came into the unit from the Area 4 specializtaion advising of a possible problem with UAL93 in the Lorain (R49) sector. We brought up the frequency (133.37) for monitoring at Pos 96 in the Traffic Management Unit. Transmissions were made without call sign identification. Other aircraft on frequency overheard the unidentified transmissions and inquired if the controller was aware of situation. As UAL93 neared DJB, the data block reflected the aircraft climbing (without clearance). Then the target diappeared. Controller selected the primary button at his position and tracked UAL93's primary target. The primary target was observed making a left turn, heading southeast bound. Coordination with the ATCSCC was being accomplished by Traffic Management personnel. Another transmission was made which was unidentified. Information was relayed to the unit from aircraft in the vicinity of UAL93 that the aircraft was at a low altitude. Primary target assosciated with UAL93 was lost. Black smoke was reported in the are of the loss of primary target. Visual report by aircraft in vicinity confirmed a crash.

I do not remember what the various settings of the operational equipment were at the time of the accident. 9/19/01

Kimberly W. Warnica (KW) Watch Desk 8:40-11:20

I came to the watch desk to relieve Ed Wolbers the operations manager in charge. He was at the 8:30 stand-up. We received news that an aircraft had hit the World Trade Center. Central flow then informed us it was AAL11 a 767. ZNY went ATC Zero and I coordinated this with the areas. We were then told a second aircraft it the World Trade Center. Central flow called and told us to monitor DAL1989 who fit the profile (BOS to LAX) as the other 2 aircraft. I found out that the Franklin sector was working the Delta. So while the other s were coordinating with Delta, I went to Area 6 to talk to the controllers and supervisors. I told them that Delta fit the profile of the other two aircraft and to report anything out of the ordinary to me immediately. I asked who Franklin would be handing the aircraft off to and they told me the Lorain Sector. I then went to Area 4 to talk to the controllers and supervisor. While I was briefing them on DAL1989 the Lorain controller said he heeded someone to listen to his frequency because there was screaming on it. I told Mark Barnick, the supervisor, to plug in and I went up to the watch desk. I asked STMC Craig Pass to bring up the Lorain frequency so we could hear it because there was a problem. When we listened we heard the controller trying to track UAL93 several times, then I heard him talk to 2 other aircraft about the transmissions he had just heard. Both aircraft heard the screaming. Then a voice came on shouting and used the words "bomb onboard". The controller asked the caller to say again. I went to the area and confirmed that they also heard "bomb onboard". The sup(ervisor) confirmed this. I went back to the watch desk and was told and aircraft had hit the Pentagon. I was then told to have the controllers land everyone. Leo Wolbers and I went to the areas and told them to put everyone on the ground. When I returned to the watch desk, I was asked to take a phone call at the military position. It was Huntress and she told me that DAL1989 was a confirmed hijacking. I went to the Sandusky sector in Area 4 who was working DAL1989 inbound to Cleveland and told them he was a confirmed hijacking. The controller then used the word "trip" in his transmission to the Delta. He said "the pilot doesn't think he's a hijack. When I used the word trip, he said: not in less you know something we don't." I told them to treat him as a hijack anyway. I went back to the watch desk and the sup(ervisor) from Area 6 asked me to come to the area. I went to Area 6 and was informed by the Imperial controller that Gopher-06 saw a black cloud of smoke at his 9 o'clock and 30 miles which I recognized as the United jet's last known position. I gave my report to the watch and they told me to confirm it. I went back to Area 4 and asekd the controller to descend the Gopher to confirm it was the United. The controller coordinated for lower with Area 5. Area 5 then yelled to me that they had a report. I walked over to the Indianhead sector and the controller told me she had an aircraft that positively confirmed the aircraft was a United jet. I went back to the watch desk and told them about the positive confirmation. I went back to Area 4 who had put the Delta on Cleveland Approach's frequency. When I returned to the watch desk they told me to evacuate. I went outside the facility at this time.

I certify, to the best of my knowledge and recollection, the above statement is correct. 9/19/01

Rick Kettell Air Traffic Manager

At approximately 1310Z, I was advised that an air carrier at FL290 in ZBW airspace, destined through ZOB airspace had lost its transponder and communications with ATC. I then learned of events regarding the World Trade Center and at 1315Z established a temporary command post in the TMU. I began tracking aircraft in ZOB airspace identified by the STMC's as BOS-LAX flights. I observed DAL1989 as the aircraft entered the Lorain sector. At approximately 1330Z, I was told by OM Kim Warnica that NORAD confirmed that DAL1989 was possible hijack aircraft. I instructed OM Ed Wolbers to contact Delta operations. OM Warnica then advised me that UAL93 in the Lorain Sector may have reported a bomb on board. I then began monitoring the Lorain sector frequency and heard two aircraft (Am 1060 and EJA) confirm to the Lorain sector controller that they heard a report of a bomb aboard an aircraft. I then heard a transmission in English, but an Arabic accent stating "that a bomb was onboard the aircraft, the aircraft was returning to the airport until demands were met, stay in your seats and be quiet." I informed OM Rich Reid to contact the ROC, and reported the information on a national telecon to David Caroles in headquarters at 1340Z. I then continued to monitor the track of UAL93 until the transponder disappeared and then proceeded to follow the primary target as the aircraft turned southeastbound. I remained on the national telecon updating the position of the target until the target disappeared from ZOB radar at 1403Z. I received confirmation from OM Kim Warnica that two aircraft had confirmed smoke and fire in the vicinity that radar contact with UAL93 was last observed. I relayed that information to Mr. Caroles and remained on the telecon and continued to operate the temporary command post.

Mark E. Evans (YP) STMC 9:25-19:15

I entered the Traffic Management Unit at approximately 1323Z. At 1331Z we received a call from the ATCSCC asking us to inventory all flights and report any missing flights or unusual situations directly to the ATCSCC. At 1340Z I initiated a call from the TMCSC position in the TMU (Tape ID 45) to report erratic altitude changes by UAL93. At 1341Z I reported via the same line that we had lost the transponder on UAL93 and he was headed eastbound. This was a reversal of his flight plan. We were not in communication with the flight. A decision was made to leave the ATCSCC line open to facilitate updates on UAL93. I continued to coordinate all information provided to me by the area managers and traffic management personnel. This included updates on the primary target we believed to be UAL93, requests for military verification, and other data. We received verification from a VFR aircraft of a UAL jet in the location of our primary target at 8000! This was also forwarded along with location and direction for the flight (southeast). Shortly after this we had a report of black smoke in the vicinity of the last radar returns. This was reported along with location to the ATCSCC at 1404Z.

Mark Barnick (AB) Area 4 Ops Supervisor 8:51-11:54

On Tuesdax, september 11, 2001, I was working the Area 4 Operational Supervisor's position from 1251Z to 1554Z.

At approximately 1328Z, the Lorain radar controller (John Werth), advised med that he had lost radio contact (NORDO) with United Airlines Flight Number 93 (UAL93) and that he needed to talk to the aircraft. I telephoned United flight operations and advised them that we had lost radio contact with UAL93 and that we needed them to send the aircraft a message to contact the Lorain radar controller on frequency 133.37. The United flight operator was upset to hear about another NORDO aircraft but stated that he would send the message to the aircraft. A few minutes later, John Werth advised me that he had a problem with shouting on the frequency. Using a hand set, we plugged into the Lorain radar position and monitored the frequency. Shortly thereafter, I heard some type of yelling and screaming on the frequency as well as someone stating that "they have a bomb". Numerous other aircraft on the frequency confirmed that they also heard the "have a bomb" statement. At this time, John Werth was the Lorain radar controller and Daver Leister was the D-side associate. During this time, UAL93 was descending from FL350 without a clearance and would not answer any transmissions made to the aircraft.

I paged Mike Zientarski and Mark Saunders back to the area from their breaks. I assigned Mike Zientarski to track and assist John Werth on the radar position. I assigned Mark Saunders to assist Dave Leister with the D-side outies and to ensure that all coordination was completed with surrounding radar sectors.

I notified the watch operations manager (Leo Wolbers) and two other operation managers (Kim Warnica and Rich Reid) of the reported bomb and of the problem with UAL93. During this time, UAL93 continued on course (westbound) but began to climb from FL343 without a clearance or any communications.

I paged all Area 4 controllers back to the area in order to assist the other area radar positions. All controllers were advised of a possible bomb threat/hijacking on UAL93. Controllers were instructed to keep other aircraft be they above, below or at the same altitude, well clear of UAL93. I continued to monitor UAl93 on the radar scope and continued to monitor the Lorain radar frequency. More yelling and screaming could be heard at times but UAL93 would not answer any calls. The aircraft continued to climb without any radio contact.

When UAL93's transponder indicated an altitude of FL407, the aircraft began to turn to the south. Other aircraft in the area were vectored well clear of UAL93's new course. UAL93 then began to descend and when the transponder indicated FL397, the aircraft turned towards the southeast. I suggested to Rich Reid, who was in the area at that time, that the military should be contacted regarding this situation.

UAL93's transponder was then lost or shut off and the radar tag went into coast. Other aircraft in the area verified that they had visual ontact with UAL93 and that it was still flying southeastbound. In order to follow the aircraft, John Werth started a new flight following tag on UAL93's primary radar target. No altitude information was available and all other controllers were advised to keep all aircraft well away from the target of UAL93.

As UAL93 continued southeastbound, it was going to enter the airspace of Allegheny radar position in Area (?). UAL 93 continued not to respond to any broadcasts made to it. The Allegheny radar controller was advised of the situation with UAL93 and confirmed the position of the radar track in order to continue flight following. Altitude was still unknown.

Area 4 had no further contact with UAL93 after the aircraft left the Lorain radar airspace.

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