The Official Story
UNITED AIRLINES FLIGHT 93
United Airlines Flight 93 was a domestic scheduled passenger flight that was hijacked by four al-Qaeda terrorists on board, as part of the September 11 attacks. It crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, during an attempt by the passengers and crew to regain control. All 44 people on board were killed, including the four hijackers, but no one on the ground was injured. The aircraft involved, a Boeing 757–222, was flying United Airlines‘ daily scheduled morning flight from Newark International Airport in New Jersey to San Francisco International Airport in California.
The hijackers stormed the aircraft’s cockpit 46 minutes after takeoff. The captain and first officer struggled with the hijackers, which was transmitted to Air Traffic Control. Ziad Jarrah, who had trained as a pilot, took control of the aircraft and diverted it back toward the east coast, in the direction of Washington, D.C., the U.S. capital. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, considered principal instigators of the attacks, have claimed that the intended target was the U.S. Capitol Building.
After the hijackers took control of the plane, the pilots may have taken measures such as de-activating the autopilot in order to hinder the hijackers. Several passengers and flight attendants learned from phone calls that suicide attacks had already been made by hijacked airliners on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia. Many of the passengers then attempted to retake the plane from the hijackers. During the struggle, the hijackers crashed the plane into a field near a reclaimed strip mine in Stonycreek Township, near Indian Lake and Shanksville, about 65 miles (105 km) southeast of Pittsburgh and 130 miles (210 km) northwest of Washington, D.C. rather than cede control of the plane. A few people witnessed the impact from the ground, and news agencies began reporting the event within an hour.
Of the four aircraft hijacked on September 11—the others were American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, and American Airlines Flight 77—United Airlines Flight 93 was the only aircraft that did not reach its hijackers’ intended target. A temporary memorial was built near the crash site soon after the attacks. Construction of a permanent Flight 93 National Memorial was dedicated on September 10, 2011, and the concrete and glass visitor center situated on a hill overlooking the site was opened exactly four years later.
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