9-11: NEADS Mission Crew Commander; a valiant effort, ultimately futile, Part V


This is the fifth and concluding article in a series describing the battle on the morning of September 11, 2001, from the perspective of the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), Mission Crew Commander (MCC) Major Kevin Nasypany.  The account is based on primary source information, the NEADS audio tapes.

In the first four articles (part I, part II, part III, part IV) we covered Major Nasypany’s actions up to 1010 EDT.  NEADS had just heard about a fourth hijacked aircraft, UA 93, and, concurrently an aircraft over the White House.  It had also heard of a potential threat of an unknown aircraft from Canada headed toward the nation’s capital.

We will pick up the story at that point, but first we need to tend to some unfinished business.  In Part IV we left hanging the story of how the Langley fighters finally arrived on station and we did not identify the source of the unknown aircraft over the White House.

Unfinished Business

Langley fighters. In part IV the status of the Langley fighters was described as follows: “ At 0946 the CAP point provided, 3825N 07702W was transposed in its northern component, which should have been 3852N, a separate story for another time.” Now is that other time.

While comparing notes on other activity the Weapons Controller and Weapons Controller/Technician realized that Quit (corrected Jul 12, 2012.  Original text was “Caps”)  25, Langley lead, was astray.  Quit 25 informed the controllers that “the CAP point you gave us [was wrong]” and asked for a “lat long.”  The correct lat long was 3852N 07702W.  Quite 25 acknowledged, “eight FIVE TWO.”

Readers will recall that in Part IV, at that same time, Major Nasypany gave this explicit instruction: “Talk to me about my Langley guys.  I want them over the NCA, NOW!! Immediately, the Weapons Controller said, “where are the fighters.”  And that’s when the Langley fighters were turned back North, vectored, correctly, toward the CAP point, the last location of track B32, AA 77. 0952 Langley CAP point corrected (DRM 2, Channel 13)

There are two things that historians and researchers need to know about this event.  First, Quit 25, when interviewed, took full blame, stating that he had an equipment malfunction in his cockpit display.  That was admirable of him, but it was not his fault.  It was a controller transposition of two digits in a latitude designation, according to the primary source information of the day.  On a separate note, it is also to Quit 25’s credit that he took full responsibility for missing the Norfolk TRACON controller question asking him which direction he wanted to go.  His comment when he heard the air traffic control tape was straight forward and professional, “there was an opportunity missed.”

Second, this event is yet another example of how responsive NEADS SOCC personnel were to every order or suggestion given by Major Nasypany.  Subordinate personnel consistently took immediate action to his leadership, without hesitation.

Unknown over the White House

Once the Langley fighters got squared away they began a combat air patrol over the nation’s capital at 1000.  Had someone in the Pentagon courtyard looked straight up with binoculars he would have seen one of the Quit flight at 23,000 feet, vertically overhead at exactly 1000 EDT.  The approach of the Langley fighters, however, itself became chaotic.

Two of the three fighters, Quit 25 and 26, were squawking identical Mode 2 and Mode 3 codes.  Quit 27 was supposed to also be squawking the same Mode 3 code, 7777, but was not.  In the resulting confusion, at NEADS and both the FAA’s Washington Center and Baltimore TRACON, military and civilian controllers became confused.  The net result was that one of the Langley fighters became the unknown over the White House.  The air defense intercepted itself, as we shall find out.

The initial report came from an FAA air traffic controller in the Baltimore area and was reported by Quit 25.Baltimore is saying something about an aircraft over the White House, any words (mission)?”  The Weapons Controller/Technician reported that the information came from “Center,” meaning Washington Center. Moreover, the fighter the controller was talking to was actually Quit 26, as we shall hear. Here is how all that played out at the Weapons Controller/Technician position from 1007 to 1011 resulting in a mission to Quit 26 to “identify by type and tail.”  1007 unknown near the White House

That situation was concurrent with Major Nasypany learning about United 93.  We return to his operations position to pick up the story.

Back to the MCC Position

We ended Part IV with this clip.  1007 UA 93 bomb on board unknown over White House.

A relisten, after hearing from the controllers, provides yet more insight into Major Nasypany as floor commander.  Note that he speculated that the unknown over the White House might be that fifth airplane, a reference to the false report of an unknown headed toward Washington from Canadian airspace.  Nasypany also mused, quickly, to someone that “he had had better days.”

Nasypany continued to juggle two competing issues, United 93 and the unknown over the White House.  He also fielded a quick question from someone asking if he needed MCC help.  His quick response was, “we are fine for MCCs, right now.”

Nasypany’s evenhanded demeanor comes through clearly when he asks about, probably, the Toledo fighters, “any weapons?”  He answers his own question, “we don’t know, we’ll press with that.”

His explicit and profane exchange with Major Fox concerning the unknown over the White House is also revealing.  “Negative clearance to shoot,” was his guidance from the Battle Cab to Jamie (also “Foxy”).  Major Fox responded that “he wasn’t really worried about the code words (possible reference to authentication).  Nasypany’s immediate response was “Fuck the code words, that’s perishable information.”  Nevertheless, the explicit guidance was “negative clearance to fire, ID type, tail.”  1010 Negative clearance to fire

Major Nasypany then turned his attention to the United 93 situation and spoke with the commander at Syracuse about United 93 and “the special,” (Delta 1989).  The commander advised that he had “hot guns, that’s all I’ve got.”  Nasypany’s matter-of-fact response was, “that’s good enough for me, for now.”  Further, he dealt directly with the commander to arrange for the preparation for launch of two additional fighters. Nasypany did this on his own recognizance.  This  vignette is an example of Nasypany’s ability to deal with a senior officer while balancing the requirement of managing his crew on the SOCC floor. 1012 Conversation with Syracuse

United 93 Down

Immediately thereafter, at 1014, Major Nasypany learned that United 93 was down.  The confusion on the SOCC floor is captured in this next audio clip.  NEADS personnel equated the report of a bomb on board with an explosion and speculated that the plane exploded near Camp David.  The voices of the Identification Technicians are clearly heard in the background as they help sift through information. At one point MSGT Dooley stated emphatically that “this is making no sense, whatsoever.”

Separately, but intertwined, the E-3 support issue was briefly discussed. MCC position personnel learned that an E-3 was headed Northeast, one they wanted headed toward Chicago, and that two more were on immediate status.  1014 NEADS learns UA93 is down

At 1016 Nasypany took a call front CONR which provides insight as to how he dealt with the next higher headquarters.  The issue was that CONR did not know the disposition of fighters over the NCA (National Command Authority) area because NEADS was falling behind in forward telling (electronically forwarding) the track information.  CONR did not have radar scopes and relied on NEADS (and the other sectors) to forward tell tracks of interest, friendly and enemy.  Nasypany, again, gave explicit direction to his crew to get the tracks forwarded and told CONR, “I’m protecting the NCA, as best I can.”

This next clip establishes two things.  First, CONR, and by extension (Granite Sentry, the Cheyenne Mountain display system) NORAD, and by further extension (Air Threat Conference) the NMCC, knew as of 1017, that there were three air defense fighters protecting the NCA.  Second, in a background conversation, Nasypany informed Major Deskins that a track, “this guy,” (Delta 1989) faded over Cleveland.  1016 CONR call protecting NCA best I can

Time for a Summation

At this point in the Major Nasypany story it is time to stop for a moment and speak to the larger narrative, the NORAD story concerning the events of 9-11.  As documented in primary source information at the MCC position on the NEADS SOCC floor we can conclude two things.

First, as of 1017 EDT, the status of friendly forces protecting the nation’s capital could have and should have been known at every echelon, including the NCA–the Secretary of Defense and the President, and by extension the Vice President and the Secretary of Transportation, to include the Secret Service.  Major Nasypany told CONR, explicitly, that he was protecting the NCA as best he could.

Second, the status of both United 93 and Delta 1989 was established by that same time.  United 93 was known down, possibly exploded, and Delta 1989 had faded over Cleveland.  Those facts were known to the NEADS Battle Cab and, by extension, CONR and NORAD.  The clarity of the dual situation of those two airplanes, whose stories were intertwined, was firmly established at the MCC position, but never established in the aftermath by the staffs at NEADS, CONR, and NORAD.

Unfinished Business, Finished

At this point, readers may ask what happened to the unknown over the White House?  That story is instructive as to how the NEADS SOCC floor operated, particularly under Major Nasypany’s command.  It was the nature of operations that important information flew immediately to everyone who needed to know it.  If it become unimportant the flow stopped immediately and the issue was resolved at the scope or position level.

It is worth restating at this point that the Mission Crew Commander had the capabililty to “plug in,” to listen to any position on the SOCC floor.  That capability makes it confusing for researchers to sort out what is going on and to track issues of particular interest since conversations were recorded concurrently on one channel even though they took place disparately on the SOCC floor.

The unknown aircraft over the White House issue was resolved by the controllers, as we hear on this next clip from DRM 2, Channel 13. Quit 26 reported that Washington now knew about the Quit flight squawks: “They do now, they didn’t earlier.”  The controller immediately said to those nearby, “It was our guys, It was our guys.  Washington was reporting our guys flying around.”  And, later, “we intercepted one of our own guys.” 1014 We intercepted one of our own guys

Back to the MCC Position

With that issue resolved by subordinates and the Delta 1989 and United 93 issues clarified things quieted down at the MCC position and by 1018 Major Nasypany had unplugged from all other positions. For an extended period of time we hear primarily his voice as he dealt with the occasional issue of interest to him.

One such issue was the report to him at 1026 that Air Force One was airborne out of Florida headed for Washington.  He was also briefed that the First Fighter Wing at Langley would provide escort at the appropriate time.  Southeast Air Defense Sector was to have fighters on Air Force One, according to the report.  Nasypany tasked Major Fox to take over fighter escort once “they hit our AOR (area of responsibility).  1026 AF One Airborne headed for Washington

None of that happened the way it was recorded at NEADS.  Air Force One took off at 0955 and was vectored west to Barksdale Air Force Base at 1010, well before NEADS was informed the plane was airborne.  There was no fighter escort until just before landing at Barksdale when fighters from the Texas Air National Guard joined the flight.  Even though a requirement did not materialize, Nasypany anticipated that NEADS would be tasked.  However, he had no assets.  The flight of four fighters from Langley did not materialize, a story for another day.

You Need to Read This

At 1032 activity at NEADS took an interesting turn as Major Nasypany verbalized what he was reading off the chat log. “Hey, you need to read this.  The Region Commander has declared that we can shoot down tracks if they do not respond to our direction.”   He then repeated what he had read, “OK, the Region Commander has declared that we can shoot down aircraft that do not respond to our direction. OK?”  “Copy that?”  So if you try and divert somebody and he won’t divert.”

Nasypany broke the thought process to announce that Atlantic City was scrambled at 1430 [Zulu time].  He then picked up the thread by asking “Foxy, you got a conflict with that?”  Fox responded, “right now, no.” Then, “you read that from the Vice President has cleared,” and another voice picked up the recitation, “the Vice President has cleared us to intercept tracks of interest and shoot them down if they do not respond per CONR CC [General Arnold].”  1032 You need to read this

The preceding account is how that event was recorded at the MCC position.  In the June 2004 Commission hearing the Staff presented the same information but recorded at a different position on the SOCC floor.  At that position a voice commented that the DO (Director of Operations) said no.  That voice was not picked up on the MCC channel.


We leave the story of 9-11 as told in the voice of Major Nasypany at this point.  The battle was over, his job thereafter was maintenance and continuity.  Life on the NEADS floor would thereafter follow two main threads.  The first was the one we just heard, shootdown authority and what to do about that.  The second was the emergence on the scene of fighter augmentation from an unexpected source, Andrews Air Force Base.

We hear the voice of Major Nasypany one last time in this story as he asks the logical question when told at 1041 that fighters were scrambling from Andrews.  “Are the coming under our control?”  1041 Andrews scrambled under our control

The key point here is that NEADS, and by extension CONR and NORAD, knew that the Andrews fighters were joining the fray.  They knew because Colonel Brooks from the Air National Guard Crisis Action Team  told them at 1039 before Andrews launched the Caps flight (Sasseville and Penney). 1039 Andrews CAT checks in with NEADS

Colonel Brooks was referred to the Senior Director position and when the phone was answered the story of the battle of 9/11 came full circle back to the original call from Boston Center just two hours earlier.  Sergeant Jeremy Powell, still on duty as the Senior Director/Technician, greeted the Andrews caller by saying “Huntress Weapons, Sergeant Powell.”  Powell was precise and effecient as always but did say, “The 113th, I hate to ask, where’s that?” 1039 Huntress Weapons Sergeant Powell

The initial assumption by Major Nasypany was that NEADS would control.  However, Sergeant Powell told Colonel Brooks that control would remain with FAA and that NEADS would be backup.  We will pick up that point when I retell the Andrews story in the voice of the Reagan National (DCA) controller.

9-11: NEADS Mission Crew Commander; a valiant effort, ultimately futile, Part IV


This is the fourth in a series of articles describing the battle on the morning of September 11, 2001, from the perspective of the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), Mission Crew Commander (MCC) Major Kevin Nasypany.  The account is based on primary source information, the NEADS audio tapes.

In the first three articles (part I, part II, part III) we covered Major Nasypany’s actions up to 0941 EDT.  NEADS had heard about three hijacked aircraft, AA 11, UA 175, and AA 77.  NEADS established track B032 on a fast moving unknown near the White House which, retrospectively, was AA 77.  As we pick up the story, track B032 has faded, AA 77 is reported down well to the West, and the Mission Crew Commander, Major Nasypany has learned that the Langley fighters are not where he thought they were.

We concluded part III with this clip (0941 Delta what) that announced yet a fourth hijacked plane, Delta 1989.  Here is how things proceeded at NEADS from Major Nasypany’s perspective.

The Langley fighters, continued

Major Nasypany was listening to the weapons controllers working with the Langley fighters.  This next clip establishes three things.  First, NEADS was now in radio communication with the Langley flight lead, Quit 25.  Second, with Quit 25 squawking the AFIO code 7777, the controllers were responsible for clearing the route through traffic, as we hear.  Third, the last known location of track B032 (AA 77) was to become the Z point to establish a CAP (combat air patrol) over Washington.  0941 Establish CAP over Washington

Quit 25 asked for that specific point and was told to stand by and continue current heading.  According to the radar track, as depicted in the Part III graphic, that heading was toward Baltimore (BWI), and that explains why, as of 0942, the fighters were still not vectored toward the nation’s capital.

Expanded Operations

At this point NEADS was activating additional scope positions on the sector floor to expand operations to the Midwest.  Major Nasypany was now engaged on two fronts as we hear in this next clip.  His train of thought is difficult to establish since he was listening to the Weapons Controllers for the Langley fighters and his conversations, specifically with the Battle Cab, were continually overridden. This next audio fragment captures a portion of his 0943 brief to the Battle Cab concerning the possibility of additional assistance from Langley, the 1st Fighter Wing, for the eastern situation, and his concurrent order to contact Selfridge to seek help for the situation in the Midwest.  0943 Brief Battle Cab Langley Selfridge

In the continuation of the brief, at 0944, Nasypany briefed another aircraft spotted near the Pentagon, a probable reference to track B32 (AA 77) and “Delta eight niner” south south east of Toledo on which a “special track” had been established.  0944 Battle Cab brief continuation

Langley fighters approaching DC

As Nasypany concentrated on the Midwest, Selfridge and Duluth, the Langley fighters were about to go astray for a second time.  At 0946 the CAP point provided, 3825N 07702W was transposed in its northern component, which should have been 3852N, a separate story for another time.  Moreover, Quit 25 confirmed that “all birds” were squawking quad seven (7777), the AFIO code.  Quit 27 was not, according to the 84th RADES radar files. 0946 Quit 25 wrong coordinates

While that was happening Nasypany’s authority was questioned by a commanding officer in Toledo.  This next audio clip provides insight into Nasypany’s thought processes and performance.  He was prepared to “schmooze” his way to get units to respond but also prepared to summon Colonel Marr for support, if needed.  He also received a call from an off duty person who volunteered to come in.  Nasypany’s response is clear evidence that he had all the support he needed: “I have beau coup folks here!” 0948 Toledo questions authority

Over the next few minutes we gain even more insight into Nasypany, who tended to verbalize everything, either to himself or to those near him or listening to him.  First, he matter of factly stated that “Pentagon just got hit, CNN,” and then immediately turned to another person and told them to just do “the best they can.”  Then he returned to the Toledo situation musing that “God dammit, I can’t even protect my NCA (National Capital Authority),”  and then for, likely, the Toledo fighters demanded that they be “hot turned,” “I’ll pay for it, I got a credit card.”  Then someone asked about the Langley fighters and Naspany stated explicitly and profanely, “I’ll tell you what the history on that is, fuckin’ Giant Killer sent them out to 386 (Whiskey 386 training area).”  0950 Can’t even protect my NCA

By 0952 Nasypany’s attention had returned to the Langley fighters and protecting Washington.  In this next clip he gave explicit directions: “Talk to me about my Langley guys.  I want them over the NCA, NOW!!  0952 Langley over NCA NOW His immediate side comment showed that his attention was focused on Washington and not the Midwest:  “Bravo zero eight nine [Delta 1989] is making a hard right turn, whoever that was.”

Nasypany did, however, continue to follow the Delta 1989 scenario but was thinking well beyond the immediate situation.  At 0958 he placed a call to his counterpart at the Western Air Defense Sector (WADS).  He told the WADS MCC that NEADS wasn’t “doing so good right now” and that the situation could be a “world-wide, CONUS type of thing.”  His specific interest was in generating fighter assets from Fargo, ND.  The WADS MCC agreed to the request.  Of note is the degree of authority delegated to the Mission Crew Commanders at each of the air defense sectors.  The WADS MCC made the decision to support on her own recognizance with no hesitation.  0958 Request to WADS The time was 1000 EDT.

The Chain-of-Command at Work

Nasypany, for his part, immediately back briefed the Battle Cab.  In the course of the conversation he vocalized two very specific thoughts that demonstrate that he knew he was in command and needed to take very specific action.  First, he pressed the Battle Cab for specific guidance on what he was supposed to do during an intercept.  “What are you going to do if this is it?  What are you going to do?  I gotta give my guys directions.”

Second, he realized that the SOCC (Sector Operations Control Center) Director, an officer that out ranked him but was not part of the operational chain-of-command, was interfering with his work.  “I gotta get Ian off the floor, he has been circumventing my system here.  He is not an MCC, he needs to stay up there [Battle Cab.]”

That comment about the SOCC director is a specific example of NEADS ability to maintain the integrity of the chain of the command and to delegate authority and then stay out of the road.  At no time did Colonel Marr ever come to the SOCC floor.  He would only have done so–the Toledo situation–at the direct request of Major Nasypany.  Otherwise, Nasypany and subordinates were to be left to do the job for which they were trained.  The SOCC director violated the chain-of-command and Nasypany took action.  1000 What are we going to do

By 1003, another problem confronted Major Nasypany, a 5th airplane, one out of Canada headed for Washington.  Nasypany’s guidance was colloquial and apt, let’s “do the Northern border thing.”  By that time he had been looking to generate fighter assets from the Alpina range in Michigan and though they could assist.  He also asked if he could get E-3 support, specifically for the Chicago area, and tasked that requirement to the Surveillance Section.  At the end of the clip we learn that the Canadian information came from the Battle Cab.  That threat never existed.  It was speculation by Canadian intelligence officers that something like that might occur, a fact that NEADS will later learn.  For the moment, to Nasypany, it was a very real threat, “a 5th airplane.”  1003 Unknown from Canada

Nasypany continued to work the generation of additional fighter assets from multiple locations.  As a result he was concerned that he did not have radar and radio coverage over Chicago and at 1005 issued explicit orders for some one to “call them,” (Tinker AFB) yet another example of Nasypany’s command presence, decisiveness, and leadership that morning. 1005 Need E3 over Chicago

Example of Staff Coordination

There was one additional person from the Battle Cab on the SOCC floor and she was there with Major Nasypany’s concurrence and for the explicit purpose of briefing him on the status of additional fighters.  Major Dawne Deskins told Commission Staff that she spent the majority of her time in the Battle Cab working on obtaining additional air assets.  Listen in as Deskins and Nasypany compare notes shortly after 1005.  This clip portrays dedicated staff officers at work performing their duties under intense conditions.  1006 Deskins Nasypany coordinate

Shortly thereafter, Nasypany’s day took two concurrent turns for the worse. He heard for the first time about United 93, with a bomb on board.  As that came to his attention he also learned, but not recorded on his channel, of an unknown over the White House.  He issued explicit instructions, which on first listen sound like he was responding to United 93.  He was not.  His guidance pertained specifically to the unknown.  Here is how those two events were recorded at the MCC position.  Note, that, again, Nasypany pushed the Battle Cab for explicit instructions for the unknown, “intercept and what else.  Aircraft   over   the   White   House.”  1007 UA 93 bomb on board unknown over White House


As of 1010, Nasypany, who had been working the generation of additional assets, the inaccurate threat posed by Delta 1989, and the false threat of an unknown from Canada, was suddenly faced with two very real threats, United 93–crashed but unknown to NEADS–and an immediate threat to the White House.  We will pick up that story in Part V.

To Be Continued

9-11: NEADS Mission Crew Commander; a valiant effort, ultimately futile, Part III


This is the third in a series of articles describing the battle on the morning of September 11, 2001, from the perspective of the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), Mission Crew Commander (MCC) Major Kevin Nasypany.  The account is based on primary source information, the NEADS audio tapes.

In the first two articles (part I, part II) we covered Major Nasypany’s actions up to 0921 EDT,  concluding with a brief to the Battle Cab on the friendly situation, tankers and fighters.  He had recently talked with Colin Scoggins at Boston Center and concluded the conversation with a request.  “If you get anything…give us a yell.”  Scoggins was about to do just that and we resume the next twenty minutes of the story with the results of that call.

American 11, Reborn

As we listen in to Major Nasypany’s channel, DRM1, Channel 2, it is clear that something was going on in the background.  Nasypany’s immediate reaction was, “Shit.  Give me the location.”  He immediately began briefing Colonel Marr in the battle cab.  Explicitly, the reported aircraft is identified by tail number, “November three three four alpha alpha.”  That was the tail number for AA 11 and was so recorded in the official NEADS record of important activity, the MCC/T log.

After concluding the brief to the Battle Cab, Nasypany acknowledged the capability of his adversaries, “these guys are smart.”  A voice responded, “They know exactly what they want.”  Some researchers have taken it upon themselves to pronounce the hijackers as incapable of mounting the attack that unfolded on 9-11.  Major Nasypany and the men and women on duty at NEADS that day could afford no such speculation.  They knew, in real time, they were up against a sophisticated enemy and grudgingly acknowledged that fact for posterity.

Here is the most problematic clip in all the NEADS files concerning the NORAD and FAA failure in the aftermath to explain what happened. 

0911 0922 N334AA

There is no question that NEADS, and by extension, CONR and NORAD, had the information available after 9-11 to tell an accurate story.  Specifically, the NEADS staff had three pieces of information available; the MCC/T log, the recording of Nasypany’s actions and brief to the Battle Cab, and a transcript of the relevant portion of Nasypany’s audio channel.  The verifiable tail number information, alone, was proof that the plane at issue was AA 11.  Not only did Major Nasypany know that and so brief the battle cab, but MSGT Dooley announced it to all in the area of the MCC position, as heard in the background on this singularly important clip.

Nasypany continued to discuss the American Airlines, the first one, and then fielded a call from an unidentified person and provided  the call signs for the Langley fighters.  0924 Quit 25 and 26

He then briefed the Battle Cab on the armament of both the Langley and Otis fighters, updated the scramble and discussed tanker support.  A discussion concerning a tail chase occurred in the background.  The Battle Cab said no.  Nasypany then acknowledged that they could not locate AA11, “even though we couldn’t find him.”  0925 Forget the tail chase

Nasypany was listening in to a controller position working with tankers and much of his floor conversation was obscured.  There is one fragment available which captured his plans for the Langley fighters.  He wanted them at an intercept point north of the NCA (National Capital Area), “ten miles north.”   0928 Intercept point north of NCA

In another conversation fragment Nasypany documented that as of 0929 EDT NEADS had just three planes unaccounted for, AA 11 still airborne, UA 175 hit the World Trade Center, and a third one they were not sure about.  That latter comment was not a reference to AA 77.  In context, it accounted for the fact that something struck the north tower, if not AA 11. 0929 Three planes unaccounted for

Nasypany then updated someone, most likely the Battle Cab, in a conversation overridden by a weapons controller.  Thereafter, he asked Major Fox whether they launched two or three fighters at Langley.  He was told they scrambled two but there was an extra pilot and fighter available.  Nasypany, on his own recognizance, directed “let’s launch them too.”  0929 two or three at Langley

At this point the electronic feed for the exercise Vigilant Guardian resumed. The exercise, itself, never restarted that morning.  Major Nasypany’s immediate response was to order, “turn the sim switches off, get rid of that crap.” That order was carried out immediately as discussed in my recent article, “9-11: Exercise not a detractor, the definitive story.” The exercise was never a hindrance to Major Nasypany that morning.  Here is the audio of Nasypany’s reaction and order.  0930 Get rid of that crap

As of 0933, Major Nasypany knew that the Quit, flight of three, was airborne.  The weapons control team discovered that the fighters were headed for an offshore training area, Whiskey 386.  The assistant controller, Sergeant Huckabone observed, “Quit 25 is headed into Whiskey three eighty six, and I have no idea why.”  That was just after the lead pilot and Norfolk TRACON decided that the flight plan of “090 for 60” (fly heading 90 degrees for 60 nautical miles) took precedence over the scramble order. 093100 Langley What Heading would like hand off Giant Killer

Here is a graphic to aid the reader.  It was created in the 84th RADES RS3 software and imported into powerpoint for annotation.  The times depicted in red are radar times for key maneuvers and other actions.  The times associated with NEADS audio files are depicted in blue.

The Commission Report stated that at the time AA 77 impacted the Pentagon, the Langley fighters were “about 150 miles away.”  As this graphic shows, at 0938 the fighters were just beginning their turn north and were at their furthermost distance from the Pentagon.  The slight turn to the right at 0933 marks the decision by the pilot and Norfolk TRACON to proceed on a heading of 090.

The Langley fighters were going to proceed to about the Delmarva Peninsula in any event.  That was the standard procedure for an eastern takeoff, the normal practice since the air defense alert facility was at the far western end of the runway.  The SOP in effect in 2001 called for runway heading to 4000 feet on takeoff.   Thereafter, a turn north at that point was problematic since a warning area to the north, Patuxent, was an issue, if active.  It was not, but that fact had to be determined.

The point is that there was reason for Langley Tower to enter a flight plan of “090 for 60” into the system.  It was a known, problem-free, egress route, one used over and over again.  It is worth noting that the Otis fighters, earlier, also took off to the east and then circled back.  Much later, the Atlantic City fighters would also take off to the east on a flight plan of 090 for 120, the ‘Jersey scramble.’  All of the tactics, techniques and procedures in place that day were predicated on a threat over water.

As we pick up the story, Nasypany’s voice can be heard in the background confirming that the fighters were airborne, asking for the airborne time.  0933 Quit flight airborne (See the Langley category for details on how that happened.)

At 0934 NEADS learned that AA 77 was lost.  As Nasypany was confirming airborne time for the Langley fighters, MSGT Dooley made the announcement about AA 77.  Nasypany responded, “where from…AA 77, write that down.”  Nasypany was listening in to the Langley weapons controllers and his report to the Battle Cab was overridden as the controllers worked with Giant Killer to get the Langley fighters to go direct Baltimore. Giant Killer was and is a Navy facility that controls aircraft in military training areas using FAA procedures.

Nasypany’s voice is occasionally heard in background making his report.  At this point in time all NEADS knew, operationally, was that AA 77 was reported lost and that the Langley fighters needed to be redirected north.  There is no correlation between those two events, AA 77 was not yet known as anything other than lost.  It is this NEADS-Giant Killer conversation that led to the NEADS erroneous conclusion that it was Giant Killer’s fault that the fighters were headed in the wrong direction. 0934 AA 77 Write it down

As of 0936 the weapons controllers were still working with Giant Killer on the redirection of the Langley fighters to hold over Baltimore [BWI airport].  At the conclusion of that coordination–it was determined that Washington Center would maintain primary control–Nasypany learned that he had an unknown aircraft in the vicinity of the White House.  Nasypany directed, “Foxy, got an aircraft six miles east [Boston corrected that, subsequently, to be west] of the White House.  Get your fighters there.  Jesus, Fox.” 0936 Fighters to hold over Baltimore

Nasypany immediately briefed the Battle Cab.  Two other things were happening concurrently on his channel. The controllers acknowledged that the information came from Boston and prepared to “turn and burn,” a “monster marsh”  The lead tanker, Team 21, confirmed that he was hearing the fighters “loud and clear.”  Nasypany reported that the target was deviating and he received orders to send the fighters “straight in, run ’em.”  He also asked if Marr was authorizing AFIO (Authority for Intercept Operations.), a significant decision that required NEADS to exercise air traffic control.  Nasypany’s final comment on this next clip was to ask if they were going “direct to DC?”  Fox responded that they were running them “right now.”  0937 AFIO a monster mash

Except they were not.  At 0937, just prior to AA 77 impacting the Pentagon, the controllers tried to reach Quit 25, direct.  Unsuccessful, they immediately called Giant Killer and directed that the fighters go direct Washington.  Giant Killer advised that the fighters were being handed off to “Center [Washington Center]”.  Giant Killer turned the fighters north at 0938.  Thereafter, the controllers looked to link the fighters to track B032 just as NEADS lost the track.  At that point Major Nasypany asked Where’s Langley at, where are the fighters? 0938 Where are the fighters

At 0939, Nasypany appeared to have acknowledged that the fighters were in W386, the person speaking is likely him. Soon thereafter, he directed “go super if necessary…I don’t care how many windows you break.”  At the point Quit 25 changed his mode 3 code to 7777, the AFIO code and the fighters were being turned by Giant Killer and Washington Center to head northwest, but still on an azimuth for BWI.  0940 Don’t care how many windows you break

As of 0940 the weapons controllers were futilely looking for the track of interest, “where did 0032 go.  I’ve gotta find that track.”  Nasypany learned the reason why the Langley fighters were in W386, “because Giant Killer send them out there.”  Nasypany’s frustrated and profane response was immediate, “God dammit!”  Ironically, the voice of MSGT Dooley can be heard in the background obtaining the last known location of AA77, “08252 west.”  It was the ultimate futile moment for NEADS, they knew nothing about the location of AA 77, the unknown tracked as B032 had disappeared, and the Langley fighters were astray in an offshore military training area. 0940 Giant Killer sent them there

As of 0941 an unknown voice summed up what NEADS knew about hijacked aircraft, “No, we’ve heard three now, United one seven five, American Airlines eleven, and American seven seven.”  The “three now” comment linked back to the 0929 summation when only two were known, by name.   0941 We’ve heard three now

But “three now” was temporary.  NEADS and Major Nasypany would, within seconds of that summation, learn about Delta 19890941 Delta what

To be continued

9-11: NEADS Mission Crew Commander; a valiant effort, ultimately futile, Part II


This is the second in a series of articles describing the battle on the morning of September 11, 2001, from the perspective of the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), Mission Crew Commander (MCC) Major Kevin Nasypany.  The account is based on primary source information, the NEADS audio tapes.

In the first article we covered the first eighteen minutes of the counterattack, from the moment the phone rang at NEADS with a request for military support from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Boston Center to the point that NEADS tacticians, Major Nasypany and Major Fox, the Senior Director (SD) had decided to place the just airborne Otis fighters in a holding pattern in a designated offshore military training area (Whiskey 105).

As we pick up the story Majors Fox and Nasypany are continuing on the basis that AA 11 might still be airborne.  As yet, they know nothing of the situations concerning UA 175 and AA 77, both known to FAA but not to the military.

Continue to hold

Major Nasypany continued conversations with both Colonel Marr in the Battle Cab and Major Fox, the SD.  Concurrently, and heard faintly in background, Colin Scoggins, Boston Center called the Identification (ID) Technicians and reported that Boston was pretty sure the AA 11 hit the World Trade Center.

During that time Nasypany mused, in jest, to either Fox or Marr, or both, “think we put the exercise on hold, what do you think?”  The time was just before 0858 EDT and the morning’s exercise activity had not yet begun. That is yet more evidence that NEADS clearly separated exercise and real world activity and that exercise Vigilant Guardian did not interfere with the military response to the hijackings.  Here is the audio clip.  0911121800 Continue to hold

Continuity of operations

As of 0900 EDT. NEADS had just one issue on its plate, guarding against AA 11 assuming it was not the aircraft that struck the World Trade Center north tower.  NEADS had committed 50% of its available assets and was now faced with the task of maintaining operations.  The Otis fighters had been vectored to a holding pattern south of New York City but could not remain there indefinitely without tanker support.

Major Nasypany in a brief to the Battle Cab concluded by pointing out they had a tanker, Maine 85 in Whiskey 105 that they could use.  That capability was coordinated with Giantkiller.  0911121800 We have Maine 85

Nasypany was listening in to the weapons controllers and remarked that it looked like Maine 85 was on his way home.  Concurrently, the controllers were discussing tanker operations in general and Sergeant Beluscio called McGuire to ask about KC 10 support.  During a series of two phone calls background voices can be heard discussing the situation, including the call signs for the Otis fighters.  A comment was made that they lost the hijacked airliner when the World Trade Center was struck.  Another comment indicated that the Battle Cab was following the tanker support situation and had asked how long Maine 85 would be available.

Toward the end of the second Beluscio phone call the MCC briefed the Battle Cab about a second hijack, real world, a United.  The time was 0904 EDT; United 175 had just struck the south tower.  0911121800 Second hijack a United real world

Nasypany, still listening to the Weapons Controllers, briefed the Battle Cab while Sergeant Beluscio was arranging for tanker support. Those concurrent events are heard intermingled in the next audio clip.  The net result of Beluscio’s work was guaranteed tanker support, already airborne, Team 23 and Team 24, two DC-10s, “heavyweights.”  0911121800 Battle Cab brief and tanker support

Thereafter, Nasypany directed Major Fox to “plug in’ and then told “Foxy” to work with FAA to get the fighters over Manhattan so that they would have some kind of play if this stuff continued.  Fox’s plug in is clearly distinguishable in this next clip and, briefly, radio comms are heard in the background, most likely the controller talking to the Otis fighters.  0911121800 Over Manhattan some kind of play

Langley, Battle Stations

Nasypany continued to brief the Battle Cab and advised that he was scrambling Langley.  He was immediately given countermanding guidance to put NEADS last remaining aid defense assets on battle stations only, which he did.  While NEADS continued to work the tanker support issue Sergeant Powell issuing the battle stations order for Quit 25 and 26. He documented the time as 0910.  0911121800 Langley Battle Stations Only

Three things were ongoing concurrently as heard on the next clip.  Fox attempted to contact New York Center, unsuccessfully.  Nasypany directed that he wanted the Otis fighters south of JFK and then gave orders to the trackers to cover Boston, Manhattan, and points in between, all the while keeping the Battle Cab informed.  Powell called Langley back to further coordinate and in the process was asked for the “words,” the mission.  All he could provide was “the hijacking going on.”  There was no target and therefore no intercept mission.  0911121800 Many voices no target

Tactical Plan Completed

By 0915 Nasypany’s tactical plan was complete, in consultation with the Battle Cab.  At that time NEADS had no targets, 50% of its air defense assets aloft in a holding pattern in Whiskey 105, and the other 50% on Battle Stations.  They were positioning tankers in support, Maine 85 in Whiskey 105 to support the Otis fighters and one KC 10 in Whiskey 107 to support the Langley fighters, if scrambled.  They were ready for any additional targets originating from Boston unaware that a new threat to the nation’s capital was approaching from the West.  0911121800 Tactical plan completed


Retrospectively, a summation of what was going on, in real time, is in order.  The time was 0908 EDT.  Two planes had been identified to NEADS as hijacked, AA 11 and UA 175.  NEADS had sufficient information to know that Mode 3 3321 (United 175) impacted the World Trade Center.  NEADS understood that AA 11 may have also impacted but did not know that with clarity.

AA 77 had been hijacked, but that fact was not known to either of the two persons who were fighting the battle or their organizations; Ben Sliney at Herndon Center, the Operations Manager of the National Airspace System (NAS), and Colonel Bob Marr at NEADS, the defender of the NAS.  Nor was that fact known to the tactical officers for Marr, Major Nasypany the Mission Crew Commander and Major Fox, the Senior Director.

There is nothing that any higher echelon in the chain of command, all the way to the National Command Authority, could do.  No definitive action had yet been taken at FAA, the Pentagon, or the White House. Yes, there was an understanding that the nation was under attack, but none of the coordinating mechanism–FAA’s primary net, the NMCC’s Significant Event Conference–had been activated.

The battle would soon get more chaotic and Nasypany and Fox, with guidance from Marr would, together and separately from Ben Sliney and Herndon Center, fight the rest of battle.  Marr and Sliney never communicated; they did not know each other, had never met, and did not understand one to the other that for there to be any success at all the had to share critical information in real time.

Information concerning AA 77 was never forthcoming in a timely manner.  At the time Nasypany was directing Fox to get the Otis fighters over Manhattan Indianapolis Center was taking action to spread the word about a potential threat from the West.  Dutifully, the Center notified its next higher administrative headquarters, Great Lakes Region.  The critical information that AA 77 was lost was simply held at the Region while they tried to grapple with a situation they did not understand.

Concurrently, under the assumption that AA 77 had crashed, the Center notified the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) at Langley AFB.  At Langley, as at Great Lakes the information simply stopped.  The RCC had no obligation to report further, its job was to take action to initiate rescue operations, which it did.

Unbeknownst to everyone, and even though AA 77 as a primary target only was not detectable at the scope level at Indianapolis Center, AA 77 came into range of the Joint Surveillance System radars supporting NEADS.  By 0910 NEADS could have refocused their search to the West and, in my assessment, would have quickly picked up the track.

I make that assessment for three reasons.  First, there was far less clutter to deal with.  Second, the JSS search algorithms would have tracked fore and aft to correlate the unknown track to the known track of AA 77 before the transponder was turned off.  Third, by that time Sergeant Richmond had sufficient trackers at his beckon to dedicate one or more to the new threat.

In sum, the time frame 0909-0910 was the critical opportunity for Herdon Center and NEADS working together to scramble the Langley fighters Westerly.  Instead, NEADS operating suboptimally with Boston Center, prudently, in my estimation given the information available to them at the time, opted to place those fighters on battle stations only, as we shall soon hear.  Further, NEADS committed the Otis fighters away from the Whiskey 105 holding pattern and they were no longer available.

With that opportunity never recognized, Nasypany and Fox continued their tactical work simply unaware that the second prong of a two-pronged attack was developing.

Nasypany, continued

AT 0916 EDT Colin Scoggins, Boston Center called with an update and a tail number for UA 175.  Scoggins asked the ID Technicians what the NEADS plan was in there were any more deviating aircraft.  The Technicians referred Scoggins to Nasypany and he picked up on DRM1 Channel 4 to brief Scoggins.  To conclude the conversation Nasypany asked Scoggins, “if you get anything…give us a yell.”  The time was 0919 EDT.  0911125341 Scoggins Nasypany Conversation

Major Nasypany then updated the Battle Cab on the Scoggins call.  He also advised on the tactics he would use, if necessary against a large aircraft, “AIM 9’s in the face.”

During the update Nasypany learned and briefed the Battle Cab that the Otis Supervisor of Flying had recalled the six aircraft on a training mission for possible use.  Nasypany misinterpreted this to mean the planes were back on the ground and were ready.  According to the 84th RADES radar files the fighters were then in the process of returning.  0911125834 Scoggins call briefed to Battle Cab

The Situation

It was 0921 and Nasypany was asking for a cup a coffee.  The NEADS counterattack had been in progress for forty minutes.  During that time they had been informed of two hijacked aircraft, AA 11 and UA 175 and knew that two aircraft had flown into the World Trade Center.  They had no targets and were arranging for tanker support and additional assets, specifically backup from Otis for Panta 45 and 46.  Their last remaining air defense fighters at Langley had been placed on battle stations.  Nasypany had tightened the relationship with Boston Center, specifically Colin Scoggins.  NEADS knew nothing of the developing situation to the West concerning AA 77, but they were about to find out, not in the form of a new plane, but an old foe reborn, AA 11. 

To be continued

9-11: NEADS Mission Crew Commander; a valiant effort, ultimately futile, Part I


This article tells the story of 9-11 by documenting the activity of then Major Kevin Nasypany, Commander, Alpha Flight, and the Mission Crew Commander (MCC) on duty at the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) on September 11, 2001.  (Picture at link) Alpha flight comprised all duty personnel at the NEADS Sector Operations Control Center (SOCC) other than the Senior Director and the Weapons Controllers who were from Delta Flight.

Major Nasypany sat facing the front of the SOCC floor with his back to the Battle Cab.  He was supported by his immediate staff in his general vicinity, the Identification Technicians to his immediate right and the Surveillance Technicians to his left.  The Senior Director and Weapons Directors were to his front.  Large screens high on the forward wall displayed status information and, in short order, live television coverage on a continuous basis.  Diagrams of the SOCC are available in my work files released by NARA.

Nasypany had the capability of “camping on” and listening to any position on the SOCC floor and often did.  Therefore, his voice was occasionally overridden by conversations or communications taking place elsewhere on the SOCC floor.  Moreover, his own voice was sometimes heard at other positions depending on where he was tuned in.

This article complements and adds to my several previous accounts of the battle on the morning of 9-11.

The Source Material

Major Nasypany’s story is best told primarily in his voice as recorded at NEADS using the Dictaphone .wav recovered files.  Those files are available as individual records or cuts of variable length, depending on dead space.

Each record or cut has a Dictaphone identifier in Zulu time.  There is an approximate 20 minute difference (+/- 10 seconds) between the Dictaphone identifier and actual time.  For example, cut 142148 on DRM1 Channel 4 begins about 144148Z (10:41:48 EDT).  All audio clips in this article have been converted from .wav to .mp3 format which degrades the original fidelity slightly.

In this article I use times derived from the original Dictaphone files provided to the Commission.  I have been provided a copy by NARA.  Times in this article may differ slightly from times established in my Commission work files as made public by NARA.  However, it is not the precise time of a conversation that is important to us here.  What is important is the time difference between conversations and events as spoken or described by Major Nasypany.

Here is the beginning segment of the time stamp as recorded on DRM1, Channel 1 at NEADS on 9-11.  The cut is titled by Dictaphone as CO101_11_09_2001_002817.wav.  DRM1 Time Stamp Beginning


Previously, I have thrice told the story of 9-11, first as a battle in a larger war on terror, then from the point of view of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as derived from Moussaoui trial documentation, and, finally, in terms of Chaos Theory.  This article expands on the battle in a larger war article.

In that article I established that the battle was a two-pronged attack on the National Airspace System, each prong with two prongs.  The NOM (National Operations Manager) of the NAS that morning was Benedict Sliney at the Federal Avaiation Administration’s (FAA) Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC or, simply, Herndon Center).

The defender of the  NAS in the North East was Colonel Robert Marr, Commander, North East Air Defense Sector (NEADS).  Colonel Marr sat in the Battle Cab immediately behind Nasypany and in direct communication with him.  Major Nasypany reported directly and continuously to Colonel Marr.  We only hear Nasypany’s end of the conversations.  The positions in the Battle Cab were not recorded.

Exercise Vigilant Guardian

NEADS was in the second week of Exercise Vigilant Guardian which increased in tempo each day.  The exercise was a series of discrete events and, heretofore, NEADS had conducted the exercise with regular manning.  In other words, duty personnel were handling both real world and exercise events.  NEADS was poised to go to 24-hour manning (12-hour shifts) that evening.  They went to 24-hour manning, but not because of the exercise.  Real world events intervened.

I have told the  Vigilant Guardian story in a series of articles which established that there was no exercise activity ongoing after about 0430 EDT.  NEADS had just re-established air sovereignty over the Northeast having passed that authority to the South East Air Defense Sector while NEADS assumed air sovereignty from the Western Air Defense Sector.  That return to normal was the last exercise activity in which NEADS participated.

9-11, the early morning hours

Major Nasypany’s was destined by routine scheduling to be the Mission Crew Commander that morning.  The NEADS tapes established that the day before.  A caller to the MCC/T (Mission Crew Commander/Technician) on Sep 10, asked Sgt Perry if “Nasty” was on duty.  (Nasty was Nasypany’s nickname and he was referred to by that name on occasion on 9-11).  The caller was told that “Nasty” would be on duty the next day.  0910231330 Nasypany status

Things were quiet when Nasypany and Alpha and Delta flights assumed duty.  There was no exercise activity ongoing and real world activity was limited to just two calls.  An Identification (ID) Technician took a call from Giant Killer (The Navy facility that controlled air activity in offshore training areas) to confirm that Otis AFB would be using a training area that morning.  Nasypany took the second call, a weather update concerning the status in the Langley area.

Nasypany had just four air defense aircraft at his command, two at Otis and two at Langley.  A weather update concerning those locations was routine and, as was established in the Vigilant Guardian tapes for previous days, applied to both real world and exercise activity.  Here is that call, an introduction to the voice of Major Kevin “Nasty” Nasypany, initials “kilo november.” (The use of initials is an air traffic control identifier used by NEADS, FAA, and Giant Killer)  0911114837 Nasypany Langley Weather The time was 0809 EDT.

However, Major Nasypany was present for duty well before that time.  About one-half hour earlier he provided an update to the Director of Operations for the night shift.  Here is that conversation.  0911111815 Major Nasypany

That was the extent of notable activity up to the hijack notification from Boston Center.  Nasypany took the quiet time opportunity to take his morning constitutional, in the efficient words of Michael Bronner in his Vanity Fair article, “9/11 Live: The NORAD Tapes.”  And that is where he was when he was abruptly summoned to the operations floor.

The alert, Nasypany summoned

Sergeant Powell took the original call from Boston Center and immediately established that the event was real world not exercise.  I have enhanced that audio clip to emphasize Powell’s reaction as he alerted the SOCC floor on his way to find a Mission Crew Commander.  0911121716 Phone Rings Boston Calling

Immediately, Major Nasypany was summoned to the operations floor. Here is that alert over the PA system by the Mission Crew Commander/Technician (MCC/T) but from Nasypany’s console.  0911121800 Major Nasypany Pronto

During a brief quiet moment just before 0900 EDT Nasypany announced, ultimately for posterity, exactly where he was in earthy and explicit language.  Even though his first thought was exercise he hastened to the operations floor.  0911121800 Nasypany where was I

A little over four hours later at 1709 EDT Nasypany referred again to the announcement by saying he would remember it the rest of his life.  0911164701 Nasypany remember rest of life

Nasypany returns to the SOCC floor

Nasypany was on the SOCC floor by 1240Z (actually 083940 EDT) when he can be heard sitting at his console.  Immediately, Major Deskins made reference to him, “hey Nasty,” during a pause in her conversation with Joe Cooper at Boston Center.  Shortly thereafter, Nasypany plugged in to her conversation.  That activity was recorded on DRM 1 Channel 2, the MCC position, as heard in this clip.  0911121800 Nasypany returns to Ops floor

The Deskins reference was more clearly recorded on DRM1, Channel 3, the MCC/T position, as heard on this next clip.  Deskins’ voice is merged with that of Sergeant Watson who was speaking with Colin Scoggins, also at Boston Center.  0911121934 Deskins Hey Nasty

Battle stations, the NEADS immediate response

Alpha Flight immediately went to work even though their Mission Crew Commander was not on the floor, a sign of a well-trained crew that knew its job.  Sergeant Powell found a trained Mission Crew Commander, Major Deskins.  She answered the call from Joe Cooper just before 1239 EDT.  She immediately asked for both of the critical pieces of information that NEADS needed the Mode 3 (Squawk) and the location.  Cooper had neither. At about 0840 Deskins obtained  a set of coordinates which became a “Z” point 40 miles north of JFK.  The MCC/T recorded that time in the official NEADS log book as the time of notification by FAA concerning AA 11.

Here is a continuous audio clip of just over two minutes duration beginning with Powell telling Cooper someone is coming to the phone and ending with the Weapons Section putting Otis on battle stations.  0911121826 Deskins Cooper First Exchange (DRM2, Channel 14)

Elsewhere, and without hesitation, Sergeant Shelly Watson, an Identification Technician, speed-dialed the Boston military desk.  Colin Scoggins answered that call. I have amplified the following audio clip to document the relationship between Powell’s reaction as he energized the SOCC floor and the trained response by Watson to contact Boston Center without waiting for some one to tell her what to do.  0911121746 The ID Reaction

Concurrently, Master Sergeant Joe McCain, the Mission Crew Commander/Technician (MCC/T) summoned Alpha Flight to the SOCC floor.  0911121844 Alpha Flight report to Ops

While all that was going on Sergeant Kelly from Otis called to report the hijack.  That was the end result of an initial call Boston Center had made to Otis. Here is a continuous audio clip of the first nearly four minutes of recording at the MCC position.  It places Kelly’s call in perspective.  Note that Deskins’s asked if Nasypany had been summoned.  (DRM1, Channel 2).  0911121800 MCC Position first 4 minutes

Further, the Weapons Section, specifically Sergeant Beluscio,  went immediately to work to put Otis on battle stations.  That action can be heard on this next clip as Major Deskins continued her conversation with Joe Cooper.  Weapons understood the plane to be a real world hijack 40 miles north of JFK.  Immediately, Sergeant Powell issued the battle stations order.  0911121826 Powell issues order He established the time as 1241Z (0841 EDT).

In summation, the phone rang at 083716; Powell picked up at 083724 and within 15 seconds had determined that the event was real world, not exercise.  Within 30 seconds he had alerted the SOCC floor to a serious situation. By 0840  Nasypany was on the floor, Deskins was talking to Cooper, Watson was talking to Scoggins and McCain had summoned Alpha Flight personnel to the floor.  By 0841 NEADS had put Otis on battle stations and was grappling with the issue of determining where AA 11 was located.

Otis scrambled, Nasypany takes charge

With Otis on Battle Stations, Major Nasypany turned his attention to three people.  First, he camped on Major Fox’s channel so that he could work the scramble of the Otis fighters.  We hear Fox muse that he had never seen so much real world activity during an exercise..

Second, Nasypany provided direction and guidance to Sergeant Richmond and the surveillance technicians. He directed that necessary radar coverage be maintained and provided a Z point with guidance to search in a 25-mile radius.

Third, he twice briefed Colonel Marr in the battle cab.  In the first brief he received direction to scramble Otis.  That direction was passed to Major Fox who immediately responded that he needed a distance and a direction.  Scramble orders required an altitude, a distance, a direction, and a target.  Fox was told to send the fighters toward the “Z” point.  Absent complete guidance Fox mused to himself “it doesn’t matter,” and worked to execute the scramble.  In the second brief Nasypany provided a status report, to include the scramble and was directed to work with FAA. 0911121800 Naypany takes charge

By that time AA 11 had impacted the North Tower of the World Trade Center, ironically, at the same time that Powell issued the Otis scramble order.  Nevertheless, Nasypany and Alpha Flight continued a search for AA 11 that had been underway for several minutes.

The Hunt for AA 11

In the previous clip Nasypany was heard provided directions to “Steve,” (Sergeant Richmond).  Richmond had two trackers, he advised them that Boston was requesting military assistance, that they did not have a position, and to look for primaries.

His first order of business with the MCC was to inform him of the radar status.  He informed Nasypany that North Truro, J53, was down for scheduled maintenance.  Nasypany responded immediately with guidance to use three other radars.  The time was 0842, Otis had been placed on battle stations and Richmond did not yet have a “Z” point. (DRM2 Channel 15)  0911121906 Richmond radar status

Richmond did not yet have a full crew from the break room and shifted resources commenting that the “exercise was just going to have to go on a bit of a hold.”  He assigned a tracker to hit up targets within 25 miles of the location he was given.  As he was making that assignment AA 11 impacted.  0911122413 Surveillance Richmond

Despite the NEADS response and search at all positions on the SOCC floor the lack of accurate position data did not give Alpha and Delta flights enough time to locate AA 11.  It did not matter, the Otis fighters had just been scrambled and were not yet airborne when AA 11 crashed.

A New Location

As Nasypany completed his update to Colonel Marr word of a new location for AA 11 came in, search track only.  At the same time Nasypany talked to CONR (General Arnold’s headquarters) for the first time and told them they could not enter a track into the system so that CONR (and, by extension, NORAD) could flight follow the hijacked aircraft.  0911121800 New location and call from CONR

By 0850, Nasypany still did not have a location for AA 11 when Colonel Marr called posing that question.  Nasypany told Marr about the CONR call and reported that he told them NEADS had not yet found AA 11, a 767.  Of note, as of the time of the CONR call and Nasypany’s update to the Battle Cab there was no evidence that NEADS knew anything about UA 175.  It is clear that a post facto NORAD timeline that included an 0843 notification time for UA 175 was in error.  0911121800 0850 Battle Cab update no info on UA 175

Managing the Otis Scramble

In the aftermath and by June, 2002, the Otis fighter pilots had internalized the scramble into a public account that was at once dramatic and wrong.  In the Scott Trilogy account, Duffy was reported as saying, “[he] had a bad feeling about the suspected hijacking: something didn’t feel right.  Consequently, he jammed the F-15s throttles into afterburner and the two-ship formation devoured the 153 mi. to New York City at supersonic speeds.”  Except, they did no such thing.  The account remained uncorrected until the Commission staff went to work.

The SOCC floor exchanges between Major Nasypany and Major Fox tell us exactly what happened as the Otis fighters lifted off at 0852 EST. Nasypany and NEADS learned that something hit the World Trade Center, possibly a 737.  Nasypany asked Fox “to plug in,” and gave him specific instructions to “continue taking the fighters down to New York City, JFK area, as best as you can.”  Nasypany still has no knowledge of the UA 175 situation.  0911121800 JFK area as best you can

The Otis fighters lifted off, officially, at 0852 EDT as can be heard on this next clip.  Nasypany turned the management of the scramble over to Major Fox and he determined that it was easier to head the fighters toward a military training area and hold.  He is heard providing that direction to the weapons team controlling the Otis fighters.  Nasypany concurred.  0911121800 Otis fighters to hold

This primary source data and the pertinent radar files are explicit and conclusive evidence that the Otis fighters did not proceed directly to New York City.  That information was knowable by NEADS, NORAD, and the fighter wing at Otis.  There is no excuse for the garbled public story and the subsequent failure of NORAD at the May 23, 2003 Commission hearing to accurately inform both the public and the Commission.

The Status

The time is now 0856 EDT.  NEADS was still looking for AA 11.  FAA had not notified them of the threat of UA175.  Because of the uncertainty about AA 11, NEADS tacticians, Majors Nasypany and Fox, directed a holding pattern for the Otis fighters.  Based on the information available to them in real time that was a logical maneuver.  They knew of only one threat, AA 11, which might be continuing south.  They knew something, possibly a 737 but possibly AA 11, had struck the World Trade Center.  They had just four air defense aircraft at their disposal.  Two were airborne and were being maneuvered, two were on the ground at Langley Air Force Base, on alert, but not on battle stations.

Just eighteen minutes had passed since the phone rang with the first, and so far only request for military support.  The situation was still linear and manageable with just the Otis fighters.  All that would change as we shall hear in succeeding installments.  Unbeknownst to NEADS, New York Center was dealing with a second hijacked airplane, UA 175.

(Added June 6, 2011)  Also, unbeknownst to NEADS,  Indianapolis Center had just lost AA 77 on radar.

To be continued