Skip to main content /US

Passengers voted to attack hijackers

September 13, 2001 Posted: 7:36 AM EDT (1136 GMT)

Passenger Thomas E. Burnett Jr. made four calls to his wife before the plane he was on crashed in Pennsylvania.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Passengers on board the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in rural Pennsylvania Tuesday apparently decided to attack the terrorists who had commandeered the plane, according to family members of one passenger.

Passenger Jeremy Glick, flying with his 2-month-old child Emerson, called his wife Liz and in-laws in New York on a cell phone to say the plane had been hijacked.

All 38 passengers, and possibly the crew, had been herded to the back of the plane.

Glick said they were aware a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and that some passengers were talking about retaking control of their plane.

Attack on America
Exclusive video of crash at WTC
Sights and sounds
Bush gets support from NATO
Brothers among hijack suspects
Rescue efforts halted by danger
Collapses equal to 2.0 quake
Chronology of terror
Partial list of those killed in Tuesday's attacks
Photo Gallery
CNNFN: Special Report
WTC architect discusses buildings
Text of Bush's address
Quotes from witnesses and leaders
Emergency contact information
Message Board

Moments earlier, according to a partial transcript of cockpit chatter obtained by CNN Wednesday, air traffic controllers heard someone shout, "Get out of here," through an open microphone.

The plane, which took off from Newark bound for San Francisco, was near Cleveland, flying at 35,000 feet.

The microphone goes off and comes back on. Scuffling is heard. Somebody again yells, "Get out of here."

The microphone goes off again, then on, and a voice in broken English -- an Arabic accent, according to a source who heard the tape -- says:

"There is a bomb on board. This is the captain speaking. Remain in your seat. There is a bomb on board. Stay quiet. We are meeting with their demands. We are returning to the airport."

The microphone goes off.

At that point, air traffic radar showed the plane abruptly turning 180 degrees, heading southeast, apparently toward Washington with the possible intention of crashing it into the White House or Capitol.

Joanne Makely, Glick's mother-in-law, told CNN Wednesday the family called New York state police on another phone while Glick was still on the line and relayed messages to them from Glick.

Glick told police he could see three men he described as Arabs and that the plane was over countryside, according to Makely.

One of the hijackers "had a red box he said was a bomb, and one had a knife of some nature," Makely said.

Glick was not the only person on the flight to make a phone call during the hijacking.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that a 911 dispatcher received a call from an unidentified man who said, "We're being hijacked!"

A flight attendant called her husband and told him three other attendants had been stabbed by the hijackers, according to an airline employee who asked not to be named.

Passenger Thomas E. Burnett Jr., 38, made four calls to his wife Deena in San Ramon, California, the AP said.

"A group of us are going to do something," Burnett said at one point, his wife told the AP. He also said one passenger had been stabbed.

Glick and Burnett both said in their calls the people on board knew of one or more attacks on the World Trade Center, evidently from the other phone calls.

"He wanted to know if that was true," Makely said.

After Glick was told the reports were true, he left the phone for a while, returning to say, "The men voted to attack the terrorists," Makely said.

"He left the phone and said he would be back," Makely said. "That's the last we heard."

Emergency workers look at the crater created when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Burnett's wife told the AP her husband "thought he was going to be home. He was going to solve this problem."

Passenger Mark Bingham, 31, called his mother to say the plane had been taken over by three men who said they had a bomb, the AP reported.

Alice Hoglan said she thinks her son may have helped prevent the hijackers from hitting a more populated area.

"It gives me a great deal of comfort to know that my son may have been able to avert the killing of many, many innocent people," she said.

Makely described Glick as 6-feet-2, 220 pounds, and an athlete. She did not know how many men voted to attack the terrorists.

Glick's father-in-law, Richard Makely, said he took the phone, hoping to hear Glick come back and say the passengers and crew had regained control of the plane.

Instead, he said, "I heard the end of the story."

He would not say exactly what he heard, other than to say "it would not have indicated" what ultimately caused the plane's nose dive into a field in Somerset County, southeast of Pittsburgh, 90 minutes after the first airliner hit one of the twin towers in New York.

-- CNN Correspondent Kelli Arena and Producer Jonathan Larsen contributed to this story.

Back to the top