9/11: The Heroes of the Doomed Flight 93

What is left of Flight 93/Courtesy of Pinterest

It was a bright, beautiful morning in New York on September 11, 2001. Beautiful weather makes for a perfect day for air travel, which many people had in mind on that day. Many people, like Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, and Jeremy Glick, chose air travel due to either business meetings, vacations, or just returning home to visit family. However, four out of the thirty-seven passengers on their flight had a different intention on booking a flight on that September 11. When Todd Beamer boarded the plane, he sat in an assigned first-class seat in Row 10.1 While Jeremy Glick approached Row 11, he called his wife, Lyz, to say goodbye and to let her know that he would call her when he landed.2 Mark Bingham began to settle in his first class row in seat 4D, just a couple of rows in front of Todd and Jeremy. Sitting in the first row of the plane was Ziad Samir Jarrah and behind him were three other Muslim passengers.3 The flight was scheduled to depart at 8.00 a.m, but there was a delay, and the plane eventually took off at 8:43, just three minutes before an alleged plane flew into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Planes from the eastern part of the United States had been hijacked, and it was no coincidence that the plane that the three men were on was going to be in the same turmoil as well. Their flight was United Airlines Flight 93, a flight that will be forever infamous in American history. However, it’s what the passengers on board the doomed flight did that made the hijacking of the plane unique from the other three hijackings that took place on that day.4 

Image of Todd Beamer, hero of Flight 93 | Courtesy of Pinterest

A few days before that Tuesday morning, Todd Beamer was planning to schedule a flight to San Francisco for a business meeting. While scheduling his flight, Todd was originally going to book a flight for Monday night, the night before the tragic event. However, Todd and his wife, Lisa, just returned home to New Jersey from a week-long business trip in Italy, so he wanted to spend some time with his young sons, David and Andrew, before he departed to San Francisco. Due to this, Todd made the decision to book a flight on United Airlines Flight 93. A few hours earlier on that Tuesday morning, at 5:45, Lisa was awakened by an alarm clock that Todd had set for his flight. When he was ready, he drove off to Newark International Airport for his flight on the condemned Boeing 757.5

Several days before that horrific Tuesday, 32-year-old Mark Bingham decided to book a flight towards the west coast. Just like Todd Beamer, Mark planned to fly to San Francisco a day earlier; however, celebrating his roommate’s birthday and having a hangover the next day, prevented him from that. Due to his mother’s occupation as a flight attendant, Mark had two flights on September 11 that were available to him: one at 7:00 and one at 8:00. Mark set his alarm for 6:00, but he did not wake up until thirty minutes later, causing him to miss the earlier flight and make it barely on time for the later one. If only he had made that 7:00 flight!6

Before September 11, 31-year-old Jeremy Glick was booking a flight to San Francisco for a business trip. However, for Jeremy, there was nothing usual about the flight that he was about to board. Ironically, just like Todd Beamer and Mark Bingham, Jeremy was originally scheduled for a different flight on Monday due to his flight being cancelled. Consequently, Jeremy chose the 8:00 flight on United Airlines Flight 93.7

At 8:42 United Airlines Flight 93 departed from Newark International Airport. The north tower of the World Trade center was already hit by American Flight 11 at this time, resulting in air traffic control casually alerting pilots in the air: “Beware, cockpit intrusion.” About thirty minutes later, around 9:25, most of the thirty-seven passengers on board the large Boeing 757 were either dozing off or reading for the long flight ahead of them. The exceptions were the four unusually suspicious individuals in the front of the plane that some of the passengers in first class could not help but notice. Around this time, Ziad Samir Jarrah and three other passengers on board began tying red bandannas around their heads, which seemed bizarre to Mark Bingham and some other first-class passengers. The four individuals hastily rushed towards the cockpit of the plane. When they entered the cockpit, the pilots were communicating with Air Traffic Control, when all of a sudden Jarrah and his three other men appeared out of nowhere. Through the microphone, air-traffic control could hear a struggle ensue between the pilots and the perpetrators. The pilots were heard shouting, “Get out of here! Get out of here!” Then, there was a sudden and eerie silence. The Arabic men most likely grabbed the flight attendant in the cockpit, proceeded to hold a box cutter to her throat, while the two other men grabbed the pilots from their seats and sliced their throats, killing them. By this point, it is safe to assume that these four Middle Eastern individuals were not just average passengers aboard a plane, or average hijackers for that matter. They were terrorists with only disastrous intentions in their minds, and there was no going back. After they ambushed the pilots, the hijackers had complete control of the plane. They then took the controls and began to turn the Boeing 757 around towards their intended target, the Washington D.C. Capitol Building. Meanwhile, one of the men, probably Jarrah, spoke into the intercom and told the passengers, “Hi, this is the captain. We’d like you all to remain seated. There is a bomb on board. We are going to turn back to the airport.” They said this while the voice recorder was recording them, quickly realizing that air-traffic control could hear them speaking to the passengers. Recognizing this mistake, the terrorists cut off all communication with air traffic control. During this time, anxiety began to loom among the passengers. Travelers such as Mark Bingham, Jeremy Glick, and Todd Beamer felt that something was awry. That’s when the three men and several other passengers began to walk towards the back of the plane and developed a strategy for what to do. This is when Jeremy Glick met with Mark Bingham and Todd Beamer, who both had the same idea. They were planning to ambush the hijackers. Though a risky scheme, the odds were not against them. They were all fit, they were over six feet tall, they weighed over two-hundred pounds, and they were athletic. Jeremy was an expert in judo, Mark played rugby, and Todd had the desire to always win, no matter the situation. Furthermore, there was also an off-duty pilot on board as a passenger; maybe the men could confront the hijackers, and the pilot could try to attempt to land the Boeing 757 safely.8  

Mark Bingham, hero of Flight 93 | Courtesy of Wikipedia

At 9:45, many passengers, including Jeremy Glick and Mark Bingham, began phoning loved ones before ambushing the terrorists. However, instead of calling his wife, or other loved ones that he may have had, Todd Beamer phoned Lisa Jefferson, an operator for GTE Customer Center, who effectively worked as a 911 operator for aircraft. She began to ask Todd a series of questions regarding the situation that he was in. Todd told Lisa Jefferson all of the details, both trying to stay as calm as possible. During their conversation, Todd told Lisa about their planned attack against the terrorists. Lisa tried to reassure Todd as much as possible throughout their conversation; however, she did not inform Todd about what was simultaneously occurring in New York with the other attacks. She wanted him to have as much hope as he could. When Todd was about to leave the air phone to ambush the hijackers, both he and Lisa Jefferson began to pray an “Our Father” together. After they prayed, all of the men were ready to attack the terrorists. Lisa Jefferson heard Todd yell “Are you guys ready? Let’s Roll,” and that is the last she heard from him.9

Around 9:57 the counterattack of Flight 93 took place. Todd, Mark, Jeremy, and other individuals aboard the plane, began to storm the cockpit of the Boeing 757. As the heroes attempted to confront the terrorists, the hijackers tried to hold the door of the cockpit in order to prevent the passengers from entering. After enough strength from the other passengers, the men forced themselves in the cockpit, where loud crashes and screaming could be heard on the cockpit voice recorder. The terrorists were outnumbered by the passengers; however, the hijackers were determined that people would die on that day. The terrorists began demanding each other for control of the plane, as the plane began to make a dive towards the surface. The Boeing 757 was plunging 90 degrees straight towards the ground, until it crashed in a rural field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The plane was almost completely destroyed and there were no survivors aboard the doomed flight.10

Crash site of United Flight 93 | Courtesy of Flickr

The deaths of Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Jeremy Glick, and all of the other passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 may have seemed lost for nothing. It may have seemed small compared to the number of casualties on that day in September, 9/11. However, their deaths were not in vain. Todd, Mark, and Jeremy knew that the situation did not look good and that they were probably not going to make it out of that plane alive; however, they were not going to let themselves die in fear, pain, and misery. They went down with a heroic battle against the terrorists. Furthermore, what makes Todd, Mark, and Jeremy, heroes was that they prevented the terrorists from ramming into another national landmark. Instead, thirty-seven lives were sacrificed to save hundreds by ambushing the terrorists on the doomed flight. Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, and Jeremy Glick were just three out of so many passengers aboard that plane who saved lives, by giving their own.11

  1. Jere Longman, Among The Heroes (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 18.
  2. Jere Longman, Among The Heroes (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 19-20.
  3. Karen Breslau, Eleanor Clift, Evan Thomas, “The Real Story of Flight 93,” Newsweek, October 3, 2001, 2-6.
  4. Angie Cannon, Janet Rae-Dupree, Suzie Larsen, and Cynthia Salter, “Final Words from Flight 93,” U.S. News and World Report, October 29, 2001.
  5. Angie Cannon, Janet Rae-Dupree, Suzie Larsen, and Cynthia Salter, “Final Words from Flight 93,” U.S. News and World Report, October 29, 2001.
  6. Jere Longman, Among The Heroes (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 27-28.
  7. Jere Longman, Among The Heroes (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 19-20.
  8. Karen Breslau, Eleanor Clift, and Evan Thomas, “The Real Story of Flight 93,” Newsweek, October 3, 2001, 2-6.
  9. Charlotte Faltermayer, “The Team Player,” Time International, December 31, 2001.
  10. Karen Breslau, Eleanor Clift, and Evan Thomas, “The Real Story of Flight 93,” Newsweek, October 3, 2001, 2-6.
  11. Karen Breslau, Eleanor Clift, and Evan Thomas, “The Real Story of Flight 93,” Newsweek, October 3, 2001, 2-6.

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This Post Has 76 Comments

  1. 9/11 is a tragedy that still impacts American citizens today. It marked the beginning of the fight against terrorism and is a symbol of American unity. When the topic of the event comes up, we automatically think of the Twin Towers leaving the other two planes forgotten. The article was informative as well as effectively planned out. I appreciated learning about the heroes that perished in the state of Pennsylvania.

  2. Such a tragic, but great story to hear about the heroes. I had written an Extended Essay during my high school years ad I focused on 9/11 and the effect it had on airport security. I learned a lot about each flight, but never about the heroes that were involved with this specific American Airlines flight. A very good read, and a very informative article! Congrats.

  3. I was born in 1999 and I truly don’t remember anything from 9/11 but I know what a terrible day it was. I became really interesting into it and I studied it and even visited New York and Ground Zero. I watched documentaries and videos and even read articles on it much like this one. I could understand how the United States felt after that day. Terrified and in shock.

  4. 9/11 was such a tragic event that affected everyone’s lives. Every time I think about this I imagine what the victims went through, and to be frank it really is unimaginable. It’s so sad that this particular plane crashed, but in doing so they saved a lot more lives and did what they could. What they did was courageous and simply amazing, I just wish that it didn’t end in such tragedy.

  5. September 11th 2001 is a day that everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when they heard. I of course was too young to remember, but eventually when I was old enough to understand what happened, I understood why the country felt so connected and united after it happened. Although four planes went down the ones everyone hears about the most are the ones that hit the Twin Towers. The heroes of the flight that went down in Pennsylvania are seldom mentioned but they should be mentioned more.

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