20th anniversary of 9/11
Very few events can change the world in an instant. But on September 11, 2001, the world changed forever. America was under attack.
September 11, 2001, was a beautiful day in the U.S. Northeast and across most of the United States. With clear blue skies, it was an excellent day to fly.
On that fateful morning, four commercial airliners travelling from the northeastern United States to California were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists.
Their goal was to crash each plane into a prominent American building and cause mass casualties plus partial or complete destruction of the buildings.
American Airlines Flight 11 was the first plane to hit its target. It was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 am.
Seventeen minutes later at 9:03 am, the World Trade Center's South Tower was hit by United Airlines Flight 175.
A third flight, American Airlines Flight 77, was hijacked over Ohio. At 9:37 am, it crashed into the west side of the Pentagon causing a partial collapse of the building's side.
United Airlines Flight 93 was flown in the direction of Washington, D.C. The plane's passengers attempted to regain control of the aircraft away from the hijackers and ultimately diverted the flight from its intended target; it crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:03 am.
Flight 93's target was either the White House or the U.S. Capitol.
Ben Sliney, in his first day as the National Operations Manager of the FAA, ordered that American airspace would be closed to all international flights, causing about 500 flights to be turned back or redirected to other countries. Canada received 226 of the diverted flights and launched Operation Yellow Ribbon to deal with the large numbers of grounded planes and stranded passengers.
Gander International Airport took in 38 wide-body aircraft, mostly heading for U.S. destinations. The number of passengers and crew accommodated at Gander was about 6,600. The population of Gander at the time was fewer than 10,000 people.
The attacks resulted in 2,977 fatalities, over 25,000 injuries, and substantial long-term health consequences, in addition to at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage.