The horror and confusion of Sept. 11, 2001, comes to gut-wrenching life in newly published audio offering a real-time picture of the civil and military aviation responses during the first two hours after the hijackings. The 114 recordings, published by Rutgers Law Review and available in part on the New York Times website, were originally prepared by 9/11 Commission investigators, but were not completed before the commission shut down. One of those investigators, Miles Kara, tracked down the files this year in order to review, transcribe, and publish them.
In one chilling call from just after 9am, after the first plane hit the World Trade Center, a caller asks a New York air traffic control manager to look out his window. Both watch a plane descending quickly, and then voices in the background erupt: “Another one just hit the building. Wow. Another one just hit it hard. Another one just hit the World Trade.” Other excerpts show the confusion as controllers attempted to respond to a situation they were not trained for: In one, another air traffic control manager calls the FAA in a desperate attempt to get the military involved as the situation is “escalating big, big time.” Listen here.