Thursday, September 6, 2012

The FAA: MIA on 9/11

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8:30 a.m. September 11, 2001: Several Senior Members of FAA Staff Away From Base When Attacks Begin

A number of key senior FAA personnel happen to be away from their usual bases this morning, at the time of the attacks.

Bill Peacock, the FAA director of air traffic services, is in New Orleans for a meeting with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). Among his many duties, Peacock is “the ultimate manager of all the air traffic controllers in the country’s system.” He will be transported from New Orleans later in the day in an FAA business jet, one of the few aircraft permitted to fly, and only arrive at FAA headquarters shortly after 5:00 p.m. [FRENI, 2003, PP. 12 AND 70]

Jack Kies, the FAA’s manager of tactical operations, is in Nashua, New Hampshire for a meeting with representatives of the Canadian air traffic control organization. [FRENI, 2003, PP. 65-66] Consequently Linda Schuessler, the deputy director of system operations, has to take his place in charge of the FAA Command Center in Herndon, Virginia. [FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, 5/18/2006]

Tony Ferrante, the manager of the FAA’s air traffic investigation arm, is in Chicago to testify at a hearing. He will become frustrated later in the day about being stuck there, knowing he should he at his post in Washington gathering forensic data on the hijackings and crashes. [FRENI, 2003, PP. 7, 19 AND 47-48]

Rick Hostetler, a member of the FAA’s planning and procedures organization, is at the dentist’s in Waldorf, Maryland when the attacks begin. His job includes acting as the FAA’s primary air traffic liaison for the Secret Service, the US Special Operations Command, and the Pentagon. After seeing the second WTC tower hit live on television, reportedly while sitting in the dentist’s chair, he will quickly set out for his duty station at the FAA Command Center. But due to the heavy traffic, his journey will take hours and the attacks will be over by the time he gets there. [FRENI, 2003, PP. 27, 47 AND 90]

Mike Canavan, the director of the FAA’s Office of Civil Aviation Security, is visiting the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He will only make it back to Washington in the evening, on a special Army flight. [9/11 COMMISSION, 5/23/2003] As part of his job, Canavan is the FAA’s hijack coordinator, responsible for requesting military assistance in the event of a hijacking (see 8:30 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 17-18]

FAA Administrator Jane Garvey is in a breakfast meeting at the Department of Transportation, in Washington, DC. She will quickly relocate to FAA headquarters soon after the first attack (see (8:48 a.m.-9:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [FRENI, 2003, PP. 62-63]
Source: History Commons

But wait, there’s more!

(8:30 a.m.-8:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001: CONR Commander Arnold in Teleconference, Unavailable to Immediately Authorize Scrambling of Fighters
Major General Larry Arnold, the commander of the Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR), participates in a video teleconference with other senior NORAD officials and is therefore unavailable when NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) tries contacting him for authorization to scramble fighter jets in response to the hijacked Flight 11. [FILSON, 2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 5/23/2003; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 20; SPENCER, 2008, PP. 31] Arnold is in the video teleconferencing room at CONR headquarters, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
What’s this ‘Lucky Larry’ up to these days?

Making BIG BUCKS as a lobbyist for the defense industry, since he’s retired from the Air Force, but not before he had time to spin some BIG whoppers about what he DIDN’T do on 9/11.


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