9-11: VIVI 36; another airborne command post, not a mystery either

This short article concerns a NAOC (National Airborne Operations Center) aircraft, an E4B, stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB.  At 9:39, after the nationwide ground stop had been declared, the E4B, call sign VIVI 36, requested clearance from Patterson Tower to fly to Kennedy airport in New York.

The issue was referred to Herndon Center because of the ground stop.  Here is the primary source communication with Herndon. The caller was Indianapolis Center, ZID.   093907 VIVI 36 Patterson to JFK

The caller continually refers to the flight as “Presidential support.”

The answer soon came back that someone up the chain of command would have to make the decision.  Herndon would not allow the plane to depart.  094217 Answer to ZID on VIVI 36


The National Military Command Center (NMCC) has just segued from a Significant Events Conference to an Air Threat Conference.  The latter had SIOP (Single Integrated Operations Plan) implications according to NMCC officers that Commission Staff interviewed.

Concurrently, a decision was being made as to where the President would fly; he is on his way to the airport to board Air Force One.  At the same time, Venus 77, another E4B has told Andrews Tower it is going to take off VFR, initially declaring for either Wright Patterson or Offut and then changing its plan to fly a holding pattern over Richmond, Virginia.

There is nothing remarkable or unusual about any of this activity.  It is what we would expect the National Command Authority to be doing, given the unfolding attack, the NMCC’s activation of an Air Threat Conference, and the determination as to where it was the President should fly.  It is likely, given the VIVI 36 flight plan request, that one option on the table was for the President to fly to New York.