Remembering Sept. 11
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Flight 11

At Logan Airport, Nobody Saw Plane's Sharp Turn South

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By Hanna Rosin and Pamela Ferdinand
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 12, 2001

BOSTON, Sept. 11 -- American Airlines Flight 11 began routinely, in every way.

At 6 a.m., pilot John Ogonowski left his wife and three daughters asleep in their farm house in Dracut, Mass., and headed for Boston's Logan Airport. He had flown the Boston-to-Los Angeles route for three years, every couple of weeks, so he was used to getting up early.

On his way, he drove by his uncle Al's house and tooted the horn, the requisite family greeting in a town sprinkled with Ogonowskis.

About an hour later, he reached the plane, which had been at the airport since the night before.

Like most morning flights in late summer, Flight 11 left nearly on time, at 7:59 a.m., with little notice or incident -- one of 220 flights that took off from Boston between 7 and 9 a.m. today.

The plane was less than half full; its 81 passengers filed onto the Boeing 767 from Terminal B along with nine flight attendants. Ogonowski and co-pilot Tom McGuinness were already on board.

Flight 11 began on its normal path from Boston west toward central New York, radar shows. But about a half-hour into the flight, around the time flight attendants would have been serving drinks, the passengers must have known something was wrong.

Somewhere near Albany, the plane took a sharp turn and headed south, following the course of the Hudson River straight to downtown New York City.. It had been hijacked by terrorists armed with knives, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft said.

About 8:45 a.m. the plane became the first of two aircraft to crash into the World Trade Center, smashing into the North Tower. At that moment Cathy Carron, 50, was two blocks away at the American Stock Exchange. She looked up and saw a huge, low-flying plane bank into the side of the World Trade Center.

Then she saw chaos, random bits of debris -- chunks of fuselage, a Louis Vuitton bag, papers fluttering to the ground. Then blinding smoke, people running from the building, screaming.

Boston airport officials said they did not spot the plane's course until it had crashed, and said the control tower had no unusual communication with the pilots or any crew members.

But a source said a crew member aboard the flight had called American Airlines' operation center in Fort Worth to report that something was going on. The airline would not confirm that report.


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© 2001 The Washington Post Company

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