The Flight 93 Phone Calls-- Part IX, Todd Beamer
This was the longest of the calls made by flight 93, and he talked for a long time, by Airphone. But oddly, Todd Beamer decided he didn't want to talk to his wife but rather he preferred talking to a GTE operator. The call started at 9:45am.
His description of the hijack: "Three people had hijacked the plane. Two with knives went into the cockpit and locked the door. The third person stood in first class with what appeared to be a bomb strapped aorund his waist with a red belt. He ordered everyone to sit down, then closed the curtain that separated first class from coach."
Beamer gave the number of passengers to the operator, it's not clear if he counted them, or if he got the flight manifest.
He said there were two people lying on the floor in First Class. A flight attendant told Beamer they were the pilot and co-pilot. Beamer didn't know if they were alive.
Beamer said he was free to talk. He asks the operator if she knew what the hijackers wanted. (consistent with the terror drill, problem solving idea.)
Says the plane is going down, the turns around, then he thinks it is going north. (This is quite diferent from the known flight path for flight 93.)
Beamer says a few of the passengers were going to jump the hijacker with the bomb and try to get back control of the plane.
Towards the end of the call, the operator could hear "an awful commotion", men's voices raised and hollering, women screaming "oh my god", "god help us" and "help us Jesus". Todd talks to someone away from the phone then says "You ready? Okay, let's roll." There was silence on the line, and the operator hung up at 10am.
(What was everybody so upset about BEFORE the passenger revolt? Was the plane flying badly? Why would it, since the crazy flying was supposed to occur when the hijackers tried to break up the passenger revolt?)
Now, from a newspaper article, there is more details of Beamer's call than is in Longman.
"Beamer said he could account for 37 of the plane's 38 passengers. The hijackers had forced 27 of them into the first-class compartment near the front.
Beamer, nine other passengers and five flight attendants were ordered to sit on the floor in the rear of the plane*.
He did not know the whereabouts of the pilot, copilot and the remaining passenger.** He said a flight attendant had told him the pilot and copilot had been forced from the cockpit and may have been wounded.***
Two of the hijackers were in the cockpit with the door locked behind them. The man with the bomb stayed in the back of the plane, near Beamer's group."****
*This was not in Longman.
**This was not in Longman. Is the missing passenger Ed Felt? Or the mysterious fourth hijacker no one ever saw?
***Different from Longman.
**** Completely different from Longman.
Why the differences in accounts?
Moreover, this latter account is completely different from any other account of the hijacking. Does it make any sense for a hijacking strategy: put most of the passengers up in first class, then put the flight attendants and some other passengers in the back, with one hijacker between these two groups of passengers?
Even if the hijacker had a bomb, he is incredibly vulnerable to being attacked by the passengers. This makes no sense to me.
Also, if Beamer is on the floor in the back of the plane, how can he count all the passengers in the front? How can he see past the curtain the hijacker supposedly puts up.
Finally, first class only has 12 seats and there is not so much aisle space-- how did they squeeze 27 people up there?
In an upcoming post, I will try to go over all the discrepencies and problems with the nine phone calls I have been posting about from flight 93.