9-11: UA 93; airphone call, not a cellphone call

This short article provides an example of how the terms “airphone” and “cellphone” became conflated and confused right from the first reports of use.  The pertinent conversation was recorded at Operations Position 28, Herndon Center, a few minutes after 10:00.

Great Lakes Region security notified the FAA Tactical Net of a report from the Oak Brook, Illinois, police that they had received a 911 airphone call from a passenger aboard UA 93 reporting three hijackers with knives and making bomb threats.

Concurrently, in the background another individual passed the information to someone else and substituted the word “cellphone” for “airphone.”  That conflation occurred as the report was received by the Tactical Net.

The audio of those conversations can be heard here.  100310 Airphone Call UA 93

A report that the White House, Treasury and State are being evacuated can be heard in the background at the beginning of the audio clip.  The time was 10:03, so that was a delayed report.  BBC video footage from “Clear The Skies” established that the White House evacuation began sometime after the Pentagon was struck, but  before 10:00.

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