Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dulles Airport controllers on the "loop" of Flight 77

Here's another collection of air traffic controller statements, written on 9/11 or the day after and therefore of superb authenticity. Many thanks again to http://911workinggroup.org/ for their efforts to obtain and publish the documents. The URL of these hand-written notes is a pdf file - scroll down to page 145:


I have not evaluated the position data in detail yet, but the bottom line is: none of the observations match the official Flight 77 loop, some of them are absolutely incompatible with it. The reports of Todd Lewis and Rosanne McConnell, for instance, imply that the plane was east of the Potomac at one point.


AML - AML VORTAC navigoid, at Dulles Airport
DAA - Davison Army Airfield, approx. 12 miles southwest of the Pentagon
DCA - Reagan National Airport
P-56 - Restricted airspace over the White House
1330z - Zulu time, corresponds to 9:30 EDT (subtract four hours)

Todd Lewis (TL), South Departure position, 9/11/01

I was working South Departure radar postion when someone mentioned a primary target south of AML heading east at a high rate of speed. This or another controller said we need to call National Approach and warn them. This was done immediately over the handoff line. The target went just south of the White House then turned southeast and disappeared.

William T. Howell, West/South arrival, 9/12/01

I was working the West Arrival and South Arrival positions combined. Danielle O'Brien was working the final position next to me. She leaned in my direction and asked if I have a primary target on my scope just south of Dulles. I scanned the scope and observed the same target. I told her I see it, ad it appears headed eastbound. At that point I yelled for the supervisor and told him we had a target headed eastbound towards the White House. I continued to watch the target move eastbound and then turn southbound. The target went a few miles south of DCA and then made a sharp turn northbound, back in the direction of DCA. I was continuing to give position reports to the supervisor. Shortly after he turned northbound. I no longer observed the target on radar.

James E. Walsh (FM), 9/12/01

The following is a preliminary statement from FM regarding the observation of a primary target just prior to the attack on the Pentagon being reported. It was dictated to TW over the telephone at approximately 9 am on 9/12/01. It should be noted that due to this being dictated and copied inaccuracies may be present.

FM was alerted to a fast moving primary target by QZ ((Danielle O'Brien)), who was working the target 2 miles east of AML. The target proceeded to a point 1 mile west of Chrystal City and turned southwest to a point 5 miles northeast of DAA. It then made a right turn, 2 miles north of DAA, and proceeded northbound. 3 miles later the target turned northeastbound and shortly thereafter radar contact was lost.

The elapsed time of the observation was 1,5 to 2 minutes. During this time FM kept JH and Bob Birckly updated on the position of the aircraft.

Danielle O'Brien (QZ), Final West/East, 9/12/01

I was working the Final West/East position. I observed a primary target approximately ten miles northwest of the Manassas Airport, proceeding southeastbound at a high rate of speed. I adjusted the filter limits on the scope so as to display limited data blocks for altitudes higher than standard to the final control position. No transponder information was displayed for the target.

I moved to the West Arrival position located immediately to my left. I asked the West Arrival controller if he observed a primary target south of Dulles now moving eastbound at a high rate of speed. He agreed with my observation. I was suspicious because I had viewed the media video of the incidents in New York City, and I was aware an aircraft was unaccounted for with Washington ARTCC.

I tried to gain the attention of the TRACON Operations Supervisor (OS) by yelling for him. I again adjusted my filter limits. I tried to contact Washington National's radar controllers via the 62 line. I advised the Dulles TRACON OS of the target's heading and rate of speed. I again adjusted the filter limits. I provided updates to the OS as I observed the target tracking toward the White House. I heard the OS relaying the information vial landline (ICSS) and then via the dedicated phone to the White House switchboard.

I heard Washington National state over the ladline to hold their traffic because the Pentagon had been hit. I do not recall the equipment configuration at the time of the incident.

Rosanne McConnell (RO), North Arrival, 9/12/01

While working radar on the North Arrival position I was alerted by the final controller that there was a primary target in Dulles airspace heading for the White House. I looked for the target and saw it west of the White House. It was primary only and it appeared to be traveling at a very high rate of speed. It then started a right turn and came back towards DCA and the White House. Myself and other controllers gave the supervisor up-to-the-second information as the position of the target. When the target was just west of DCA the target disappeared. Seconds later an unknown DCA c0ntroller told us that the Pentagon was hit.

Robert J. Brickley Jr. (BY), 9/12/01

I observed a primary target approximately 8 miles east of Manassas Airport moving eastbound at a high rate of speed. I advised the OS (other controllers were doing the same). The aircraft proceeded to a point approximately 8 miles southwest of P-56, made a right 360 degree turn, proceeded northeastbound and dropped from radar approximately 6 miles south-southwest of P-56.

Equipment configuration was unknown.

John Hendershot (JH), RS position, 9/12/01

Both World Trade Centers had been crashed into. There was a report that one aircraft had been hijacked and another was missing. Several controllers reported simultaneously to me that they saw a primary target moving at a high speed in DCA airspace heading for the White House. I immediately picked up the hotline to the White House and advised them that Dulles Approach observed a target closing on the White House at a high speed. The White House operator acknowleged. I then immediately advised DCA Approach of the same. I then described the movements of the aircraft on the Critical Event Eastern Region Hot Line as they were described to me by the controllers observing the primary return. I continued this for a short period of time until we lost radar contact with the aircraft. The equipment configuration is unknown.

Robert Devery (DR), North Departure, 9/12/01

I was working the North Dept position when the incident occurred. We had been advised that all departure would be stopped. I was told that I had 2 more coming to me. Both aircraft did depart, were radar identified and handed off to North High as per (SoP?). Shortly after handing off the 2nd aircraft, I heard final controller mention a primary target. The time is not fixed in my mind but it was at 1330z-1335z. The target was eastbound at a high rate of speed based on the tracking of it. I believe that I saw the target initially just to the SE of Dulles. To me it appeared as though it were heading 090 degree +- 10 degree ((east to east-north-east)). It appeared that it was heading towards P-56 where the White House is.

I called to anyone at DCA on the 62 line to advise of a primary target moving fast forward towards P-56. After the 2nd call, someone acknowledged "I see him". At that time or shortly after, someone on the 62 line confirmed "notifying P-56". Then, the aircraft (target) turned south to parallel the North final to DCA as though it was entering a west downwind for Rw((Runway)) 1 at DCA. For a few miles, it continued south. Then, it made a right turn for a moment, it appeared as though it were turning towards a DCA departure being handed off to our High Sector. At that moment, I thought it may try to hit the dept. or perhaps it may be a U.S. fighter checking the area (since the observed target movement was still very fast). However, the target continued the right turn back to a NE heading - again, aimed, in my opinion, at P-56. I think I called again on the 62 line to try to warn DC(A?). Everything was a blur at that moment. Thought someone reaffirmed contacting the White House. Target disappeared approx. 3-4 miles from P-56. Shortly after, DCA called on 62 line to advise that the target had hit the Pentagon.

Robert Utley (UY), AD/DD position, 9/12/01

I observed a primary target approximately 7 miles east of AML, heading eastbound, when the target was about 1 mile west of DCA it made a right turn heading southwestbound. When it was about 3 miles north of DAA it made a sharp turn northbound, when it was about 10 miles east of AML it made a sharp turn eastbound, the target then dropped out of radar about 3 miles west of DCA. Equipment configuration was unknown to me.