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Free «United Flight 93» Essay Sample

The United Airlines Flight 93 is among the aircrafts that were hijacked by terrorists on 11th September, 2001 (Buell, 2003). On the day of the terrorist attack, the aircraft was flying from New Jersey to California. The United Airlines Flight 93 is the only aircraft that did not reach the intended target which was Washington, D.C. (Buell, 2003). When the terrorists took charge of the aircraft, several flight attendants and passengers were able to make calls and discover that the Virginia’s Pentagon and New York’s World Trade Center had been attacked by terrorists (Buell, 2003). Some passengers attempted to regain control of the plane but it rammed into a field before they could successfully take control of it (Longman, 2002). All passengers, including the hijackers, perished following the plane crash (Buell, 2003). Within a period of one hour, the incident was reported by the news agencies and those who witnessed the crash from the ground. Flight recorders were recovered and were used to reveal the passengers’ actions in preventing the plane from reaching the intended target (Buell, 2003). The profile of the hijacker as well as the description his intentions will be considered in this discussion.



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The profile of Ziad Jarrah    

      Ziad Jarrah was born on 11th May, 1975 in Lebanon, where he was brought up until 1996 (Cook & Allison, 2007). According to Cook & Allison (2007), Jarrah wanted to train as a pilot and enrolled at the University of Greifswald in 1996 with the aim of studying German. Later on, he entered Hamburg University of Applied Sciences for aeronautical engineering. While he was dwelling in Hamburg, Ziad Jarrah became a god-fearing Muslim and affiliated with the terrorist Hamburg cell (Cook & Allison, 2007). In 1999 he moved to Afghanistan and stayed for three months during when he met with Osama bin Laden, who was an al-Qaeda leader (Cook & Allison, 2007). Jarrah went back to Hamburg in January 2000 and was given a clean passport after reporting that his passport was stolen. He was officially allowed to enter the United States of America by receiving a visa (Cook & Allison, 2007). While in the United States, Jarrah started taking flying lessons and at the same time preparing hand-to-hand fighting (Cook & Allison, 2007). He led the terrorists, who hijacked the United Airlines Flight 93 on 11th September, 2001 (Buell, 2003).


      A Boeing 757-222 is the specific airplane that was attacked by hijackers on 11th September, 2001 (Buell, 2003). The capacity of the aircraft was 182 passengers but it carried seven crew and thirty-seven passengers on the day it was hijacked (Buell, 2003). The crew was comprised of First Officer Homer, Captain Jason Dahl, and flight attendants Sandra Bradshaw, Deborah Welsh, Wanda Green, Lorraine Bay, and CeeCee Lyles (Longman, 2002). Among the thirty-seven passengers were the hijackers, namely Ahmed al-Haznawi, Ahmed al-Nami, Mohand al-Shehri, and Hamza al-Ghamdi (Cook & Allison, 2007).


      According to Price & Forrest (2009), the hijackers signed in for flight from 07:30 to 07:39 EST. Nami and Ghamdi signed in at 07:03, Haznawi signed in at 07:24, and Jarrah signed in at 07:39 without luggage. The security checkpoint personnel did not recognize the hijackers because there was nothing unusual about them (Price & Forrest, 2009). Since the airport was congested, the United Airlines Flight 93 took off at 08:42 and not at 08:00 which was the scheduled time of departure (Buell, 2003). Three other airplanes that were hijacked on 11th September, 2001, include Flight 11, Flight 175, and Flight 77 (Buell, 2003). The three airplanes were commandeered earlier and the hijackers achieved their goals because they reached the target points. Air officials started to issue warnings by the Aircraft communication Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) after discovering the terrorist impact on the World Trade Center by Flight 175 (Price & Forrest, 2009). Ballinger, flight dispatcher, started sending warnings at 09:19. However, he did not send the warning to Flight 93 in time because he was responsible for very many flights at a time (Price & Forrest, 2009).  Ballinger’s warning was received by the pilot of Flight 93 at 09:24 regarding the attacks on World Trade Center (Buell, 2003). The pilot responded by sending a message back through ACARS at 09:26. The flight crew reacted to the routine radio traffic at 09:27, which was the last communication before the plane was hijacked (Buell, 2003).  

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      The hijacking of Flight 93 started at around 09:28, after Flights 175 and 11 had already rammed into the World Trade Center (Buell, 2003). Flight 77 was about to strike the Pentagon at the time when Flight 93 was being hijacked. The hijackers waited for about 46 minutes before they began their attack (Buell, 2003). Flight 93 dropped 209 meters in thirty seconds during when a member of the crew started shouting in the cockpit (Buell, 2003). The Cleveland Air Traffic Controller responded but there was no reply. After about half a minute, the crew member made another call and was not answered to.  The exact time when the hijackers took charge of Fight 93 could not be determined. It was likely that the hijackers attacked the cockpit and expelled the passengers to the back of the plane to reduce the chances of the passengers and crew interfering with the assault (Buell, 2003). At first, the passengers thought that there were only three hijackers because Jarrah continued to sit until his fellow hijackers overpowered the crew when he took charge of the flight out of the passengers’ sight (Price & Forrest, 2009).

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      The voice recorder in the cockpit recorded Ziad Jarrah telling the passengers to sit down and remain seated because there was an explosive device on board (Price & Forrest, 2009). The controller chose to reply to the transmission by informing the caller to repeat the message because of being unreadable for the first call. It was evident that a flight attendant was held captive because he was heard pleading not to be hurt by the hijackers (Buell, 2003). At about 09:35, Jarrah turned the plane to the east and made it to ascend to 12,400 meters to avoid interference from the air traffic controllers (Buell, 2003). Ziad Jarrah lied to the passengers that the plane was heading to the airport because the explosive device on board (Purpura, 2007). The crew and passengers started making calls to family members and officials from 09:30 by using mobile phones and GTE air phones (Longman, 2002). Tom Burnett successfully made many calls to his wife during which he explained to her that one of the passengers had been knifed by hijackers (Longman, 2002). At about 09:35, Sandra Bradshaw made a call to the maintenance facility from a seat in row 33. According to Bradshaw, the hijackers had knives and had knifed her fellow flight attendant (Longman, 2002).   

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      At about 09:57, revolt of passengers on Flight 93 started after the passengers decided to act (Longman, 2002). The hijackers realized the revolt almost immediately and Jarrah started to roll the aircraft left and right for the passengers to lose their balance (Buell, 2003). He changed tactics by pitching the aircraft up and down to interfere with the passengers’ attempts. Jarrah and his fellow hijackers agreed to finish it off any time the passengers could overpower them (Buell, 2003). While the passengers persisted in their attack, the hijackers decided to pull the plane down and it finally rolled onto its back, after which it rammed into an empty field (Longman, 2002). 


      At around 10:03 Flight 93 rammed into an empty field which was not the target of the hijackers (Buell, 2003). However, the target has never been confirmed with firmness. According to the report by the National Transportation Safety Board, the aircraft impacted at about 252 m/s (Price & Forrest, 2009). This impact formed a crater of about three meters deep and twelve meters wide. All the people that were on board including the hijackers perished in the crash (Buell, 2003). The death of the forty victims was classified as homicide while that of the four hijackers was suicide (Cook & Allison, 2007).

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      The United Airlines Flight 93 was hijacked for the purposes of accomplishing a terrorist attack. Analysis of the voice records show that the hijacking was led by Ziad Jarrah (Price & Forrest, 2009). Due to the overcoming force from the passengers, the hijackers did not reach attack their intended target (Longman, 2002). All the people that were on board perished as the Flight 93 rammed into an empty field.


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