The Only Plane In The Sky By Garrett M. Graff

A chilling chronological recap of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S soil, told by those who experienced it first hand.

RATING: 4.4/5

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KEY TAKEAWAYS:

• The morning of 9/11 was a really nice morning, weather-wise. As a pilot we say “Clear Blue and 22” when it’s clear skies and not a cloud in the sky.

• While some were selected for extra screening or had their checked bags searched, no one gave the knives they carried on board a second look—they were allowed under the security regulations at their time.

• Flight 11 hit between the 93rd and 99th floor, exploding 10,000 gallons of jet fuel. The crash immediately destroyed all exits from the floor above, leaving trapped 702 employees and visitors.

• In the initial aftermath of the collision, many occupants reasoned that the incident would be similar to the ‘93 bombing; there wasn’t necessarily mass panic or initial concern— even from some above the impact zone, who figured they could evacuate from the roof or just wait for firefighters to extinguish the fire below.

• City officials struggled to organize a response to the attacks, in part because New York’s $13 million emergency command center was housed on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center, and it was evacuated soon after the attacks— there was no back up location.

• At 9:29 AM, FDNY issued a full “recall,” bringing all of its employees back to work. Ultimately, 60 of the FDNY personnel killed on 9/11 we’re supposed to be off-duty that morning.

• The force of the impact sent the plane through the first three of the Pentagon’s five rings of corridors, penetrating the building the length of more than a full football field. Instantly, 40,000 ft.² of the Pentagon erupted in flames.

• By the time the second tower collapsed, more than 2,600 people would be dead in the rubble around the World Trade Center.

• For those at the tip of lower Manhattan, the only viable evacuation route turned out to be the water. By the end of the day, they had collectively evacuated somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 people from Manhattan—a maritime rescue larger than the World War II evacuation from Dunkirk.

• The fires at Ground Zero would burn for another 99 days, until they were finally extinguished for good on December 19th.

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