9/11: The Heroes of the Doomed Flight 93

What is left of Flight 93/Courtesy of Pinterest

It was a bright, beautiful morning in New York on September 11, 2001. Beautiful weather makes for a perfect day for air travel, which many people had in mind on that day. Many people, like Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, and Jeremy Glick, chose air travel due to either business meetings, vacations, or just returning home to visit family. However, four out of the thirty-seven passengers on their flight had a different intention on booking a flight on that September 11. When Todd Beamer boarded the plane, he sat in an assigned first-class seat in Row 10.1 While Jeremy Glick approached Row 11, he called his wife, Lyz, to say goodbye and to let her know that he would call her when he landed.2 Mark Bingham began to settle in his first class row in seat 4D, just a couple of rows in front of Todd and Jeremy. Sitting in the first row of the plane was Ziad Samir Jarrah and behind him were three other Muslim passengers.3 The flight was scheduled to depart at 8.00 a.m, but there was a delay, and the plane eventually took off at 8:43, just three minutes before an alleged plane flew into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Planes from the eastern part of the United States had been hijacked, and it was no coincidence that the plane that the three men were on was going to be in the same turmoil as well. Their flight was United Airlines Flight 93, a flight that will be forever infamous in American history. However, it’s what the passengers on board the doomed flight did that made the hijacking of the plane unique from the other three hijackings that took place on that day.4 

Image of Todd Beamer, hero of Flight 93 | Courtesy of Pinterest

A few days before that Tuesday morning, Todd Beamer was planning to schedule a flight to San Francisco for a business meeting. While scheduling his flight, Todd was originally going to book a flight for Monday night, the night before the tragic event. However, Todd and his wife, Lisa, just returned home to New Jersey from a week-long business trip in Italy, so he wanted to spend some time with his young sons, David and Andrew, before he departed to San Francisco. Due to this, Todd made the decision to book a flight on United Airlines Flight 93. A few hours earlier on that Tuesday morning, at 5:45, Lisa was awakened by an alarm clock that Todd had set for his flight. When he was ready, he drove off to Newark International Airport for his flight on the condemned Boeing 757.5

Several days before that horrific Tuesday, 32-year-old Mark Bingham decided to book a flight towards the west coast. Just like Todd Beamer, Mark planned to fly to San Francisco a day earlier; however, celebrating his roommate’s birthday and having a hangover the next day, prevented him from that. Due to his mother’s occupation as a flight attendant, Mark had two flights on September 11 that were available to him: one at 7:00 and one at 8:00. Mark set his alarm for 6:00, but he did not wake up until thirty minutes later, causing him to miss the earlier flight and make it barely on time for the later one. If only he had made that 7:00 flight!6

Before September 11, 31-year-old Jeremy Glick was booking a flight to San Francisco for a business trip. However, for Jeremy, there was nothing usual about the flight that he was about to board. Ironically, just like Todd Beamer and Mark Bingham, Jeremy was originally scheduled for a different flight on Monday due to his flight being cancelled. Consequently, Jeremy chose the 8:00 flight on United Airlines Flight 93.7

At 8:42 United Airlines Flight 93 departed from Newark International Airport. The north tower of the World Trade center was already hit by American Flight 11 at this time, resulting in air traffic control casually alerting pilots in the air: “Beware, cockpit intrusion.” About thirty minutes later, around 9:25, most of the thirty-seven passengers on board the large Boeing 757 were either dozing off or reading for the long flight ahead of them. The exceptions were the four unusually suspicious individuals in the front of the plane that some of the passengers in first class could not help but notice. Around this time, Ziad Samir Jarrah and three other passengers on board began tying red bandannas around their heads, which seemed bizarre to Mark Bingham and some other first-class passengers. The four individuals hastily rushed towards the cockpit of the plane. When they entered the cockpit, the pilots were communicating with Air Traffic Control, when all of a sudden Jarrah and his three other men appeared out of nowhere. Through the microphone, air-traffic control could hear a struggle ensue between the pilots and the perpetrators. The pilots were heard shouting, “Get out of here! Get out of here!” Then, there was a sudden and eerie silence. The Arabic men most likely grabbed the flight attendant in the cockpit, proceeded to hold a box cutter to her throat, while the two other men grabbed the pilots from their seats and sliced their throats, killing them. By this point, it is safe to assume that these four Middle Eastern individuals were not just average passengers aboard a plane, or average hijackers for that matter. They were terrorists with only disastrous intentions in their minds, and there was no going back. After they ambushed the pilots, the hijackers had complete control of the plane. They then took the controls and began to turn the Boeing 757 around towards their intended target, the Washington D.C. Capitol Building. Meanwhile, one of the men, probably Jarrah, spoke into the intercom and told the passengers, “Hi, this is the captain. We’d like you all to remain seated. There is a bomb on board. We are going to turn back to the airport.” They said this while the voice recorder was recording them, quickly realizing that air-traffic control could hear them speaking to the passengers. Recognizing this mistake, the terrorists cut off all communication with air traffic control. During this time, anxiety began to loom among the passengers. Travelers such as Mark Bingham, Jeremy Glick, and Todd Beamer felt that something was awry. That’s when the three men and several other passengers began to walk towards the back of the plane and developed a strategy for what to do. This is when Jeremy Glick met with Mark Bingham and Todd Beamer, who both had the same idea. They were planning to ambush the hijackers. Though a risky scheme, the odds were not against them. They were all fit, they were over six feet tall, they weighed over two-hundred pounds, and they were athletic. Jeremy was an expert in judo, Mark played rugby, and Todd had the desire to always win, no matter the situation. Furthermore, there was also an off-duty pilot on board as a passenger; maybe the men could confront the hijackers, and the pilot could try to attempt to land the Boeing 757 safely.8  

Mark Bingham, hero of Flight 93 | Courtesy of Wikipedia

At 9:45, many passengers, including Jeremy Glick and Mark Bingham, began phoning loved ones before ambushing the terrorists. However, instead of calling his wife, or other loved ones that he may have had, Todd Beamer phoned Lisa Jefferson, an operator for GTE Customer Center, who effectively worked as a 911 operator for aircraft. She began to ask Todd a series of questions regarding the situation that he was in. Todd told Lisa Jefferson all of the details, both trying to stay as calm as possible. During their conversation, Todd told Lisa about their planned attack against the terrorists. Lisa tried to reassure Todd as much as possible throughout their conversation; however, she did not inform Todd about what was simultaneously occurring in New York with the other attacks. She wanted him to have as much hope as he could. When Todd was about to leave the air phone to ambush the hijackers, both he and Lisa Jefferson began to pray an “Our Father” together. After they prayed, all of the men were ready to attack the terrorists. Lisa Jefferson heard Todd yell “Are you guys ready? Let’s Roll,” and that is the last she heard from him.9

Around 9:57 the counterattack of Flight 93 took place. Todd, Mark, Jeremy, and other individuals aboard the plane, began to storm the cockpit of the Boeing 757. As the heroes attempted to confront the terrorists, the hijackers tried to hold the door of the cockpit in order to prevent the passengers from entering. After enough strength from the other passengers, the men forced themselves in the cockpit, where loud crashes and screaming could be heard on the cockpit voice recorder. The terrorists were outnumbered by the passengers; however, the hijackers were determined that people would die on that day. The terrorists began demanding each other for control of the plane, as the plane began to make a dive towards the surface. The Boeing 757 was plunging 90 degrees straight towards the ground, until it crashed in a rural field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The plane was almost completely destroyed and there were no survivors aboard the doomed flight.10

Crash site of United Flight 93 | Courtesy of Flickr

The deaths of Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Jeremy Glick, and all of the other passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 may have seemed lost for nothing. It may have seemed small compared to the number of casualties on that day in September, 9/11. However, their deaths were not in vain. Todd, Mark, and Jeremy knew that the situation did not look good and that they were probably not going to make it out of that plane alive; however, they were not going to let themselves die in fear, pain, and misery. They went down with a heroic battle against the terrorists. Furthermore, what makes Todd, Mark, and Jeremy, heroes was that they prevented the terrorists from ramming into another national landmark. Instead, thirty-seven lives were sacrificed to save hundreds by ambushing the terrorists on the doomed flight. Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, and Jeremy Glick were just three out of so many passengers aboard that plane who saved lives, by giving their own.11

  1. Jere Longman, Among The Heroes (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 18.
  2. Jere Longman, Among The Heroes (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 19-20.
  3. Karen Breslau, Eleanor Clift, Evan Thomas, “The Real Story of Flight 93,” Newsweek, October 3, 2001, 2-6.
  4. Angie Cannon, Janet Rae-Dupree, Suzie Larsen, and Cynthia Salter, “Final Words from Flight 93,” U.S. News and World Report, October 29, 2001.
  5. Angie Cannon, Janet Rae-Dupree, Suzie Larsen, and Cynthia Salter, “Final Words from Flight 93,” U.S. News and World Report, October 29, 2001.
  6. Jere Longman, Among The Heroes (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 27-28.
  7. Jere Longman, Among The Heroes (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 19-20.
  8. Karen Breslau, Eleanor Clift, and Evan Thomas, “The Real Story of Flight 93,” Newsweek, October 3, 2001, 2-6.
  9. Charlotte Faltermayer, “The Team Player,” Time International, December 31, 2001.
  10. Karen Breslau, Eleanor Clift, and Evan Thomas, “The Real Story of Flight 93,” Newsweek, October 3, 2001, 2-6.
  11. Karen Breslau, Eleanor Clift, and Evan Thomas, “The Real Story of Flight 93,” Newsweek, October 3, 2001, 2-6.
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19 Comments

  • This story was beautifully pieced together and did a wonderful job of showcasing a truly heroic battle. As time passes, it seems like stories of terrorism are shaking our nation on a regular basis. Unfortunately, Jeremy Glick, Todd Beamer, and Mark Bingham, lost their lives trying to take back control over a flight. While they weren’t able to do this, they were at least able to take the plan off an even tragic path of flying into another building and taking many more innocent lives.

  • This was a superb article of such a horrible mishap in United States history. This article concentrated on one part of the overwhelming assault which was flight 93. This decimation is known by name yet I am not very beyond any doubt numerous individuals new what occurred on this flight. These three legends particularly. I had never heard one of their single names said. This demonstrates the creator took an extraordinary time examining. Great job man keep up the good work

  • this was extremely sad story todd mark and jeremy are true american heroes who analyzed their situation and made the best decision. I do wish their original plan of beating the terrorist and getting the off duty pilot a chance to land the plane safely would have worked out. i wonder if these men have a memorial dedicated to them cause they should.

  • The tragedy of September 11th changed our country forever. Although the majority of attention surrounded the attacks at the twin towers in New York, the crash of flight 93 was a heroic act that perhaps prevented another major attack. I remember hearing about this flight because of a movie that was made about the events. This article is incredibly well written and informative, I really enjoyed reading and learning more about this part of the 9/11 attack.

  • Great article! The tragedy of 9/11 is one that will never be forgotten in out history so reading this article was defiantly impactful. I found this article really interesting because it tells the story of the people on flight 93 and how they prevented another tragedy that could have occurred on 9/11. If the people of flight 93 had not acted there would have been more lives lost and more tragedy’s to talk about. Overall I really enjoyed reading this article and found the details used in this article to be very good. I also enjoyed the phots used because they gave a face to the hero’s that acted on the flight.

  • This article did a great job shedding light on this story, because we always here about the three plans that originally hit U.S landmarks but rarely do I hear of this story about the passenger in this flight that stood up and sacrificed their lives in hopes of saving hundred of more as they potentially did. Many speculated that flight 93 was headed to the White house in hopes of crashing their and if that was the case then these men and women did save countless lives and who knows what have happened if they never risked their lives like they did.

  • This was a very interesting article to read! I knew about flight 93 but never knew the events that took place within the flight nor the heroic acts committed by some of the passengers, without these individuals the events of 9/11 could’ve been more tragic than they already were. The plane was supposably headed towards the capital building, imagine how many more people would’ve lost their lives if the terrorist evil plans had followed through… the author did an amazing job at providing great information and details! great job!

  • This was a wonderful article of such a traumatic event in United States history. This article focused on one aspect of the devastating attack which was flight 93. This devastation is known by name but I am not too sure many people new what took place in this flight. These three heroes especially. I had never heard one of their single names mentioned. This shows that the author took a great time researching. Therefore great job Timothy!

  • 9/11 is one of those defining historical events that will have reverberations for decades to come. It not only set U.S. foreign policy back years, it rolled back our simple civil liberties under the Bush administrations Patriot Act. The passengers of Flight 93 are simply heroes. It is a shame so many lives were lost senselessly, but at least due to these peoples actions, they allowed some men and women in the capitol to go home that day to their loved ones. That is the key take away, I think, to this article.

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