Point PC-1A: The Todd Beamer Call from UA Flight 93: A Serious Problem
Point PC-1A: in the Timeline

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As explained in Point PC-1, the famous “Let’s Roll” story of how Todd Beamer led a passenger revolt aboard UA Flight 93, thereby preventing the plane from reaching the Capitol, [1] was based on an alleged telephone call from Mr. Beamer to GTE telephone supervisor Lisa Jefferson. [2]

In November 2001, President Bush used “Let’s Roll” to call America to arms in a rallying speech to hunt down the terrorists. [3]

In 2002, the Washington Post wrote: “Embraced and promoted by President Bush as a patriotic battle cry,” the phrase “Let’s Roll” was also “emblazoned on Air Force fighter planes, city fire-trucks, school athletic jerseys, and countless T-shirts, baseball caps and souvenir buttons.” [4]

Point PC-1: “The Alleged Calls of Todd Beamer, Flight UA 93,” raised eight serious questions about the authenticity of the Beamer calls. The present point (PC-1A) raises another problem: a fatal contradiction between three official reports and the telephone records, concerning the start time of the hour-long Beamer airphone call to GTE supervisor Lisa Jefferson.

The Official Account
  1. According to the The 9/11 Commission Report of 2004, the hijacking of UA Flight 93 began at 9:28 AM (Eastern):

    “The hijackers attacked at 9:28. While traveling 35,000 feet above eastern Ohio, United 93 suddenly dropped 700 feet. Eleven seconds into the descent, the FAA’s air traffic control center in Cleveland received the first of two radio transmissions from the aircraft. During the first broadcast, the captain or first officer could be heard declaring ‘MayDay’ amid the sounds of physical struggle in the cockpit. The second radio transmission, 35 seconds later, indicated that the fight was continuing. The captain or first officer could be heard shouting: ‘Hey get out of here – get out of here – get out of here.’” [5]

    The 9/11 Commission Report cited several studies from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and the Aircraft Communication and Reporting System (ACARS) to substantiate the time of the beginning of Flight 93’s hijacking as 9:28 AM. [6]

  2. The evidence presented by the FBI under oath to the Moussaoui Trial in 2006, and backed by telephone records, shows that the Beamer call reached GTE supervisor Lisa Jefferson at 9:48:48 and lasted 3,925 seconds (or 65.4 minutes). [7]

The Best Evidence

The two official timelines presented above in The Official Account are glaringly at odds with one another.

In addition, GTE supervisor Lisa Jefferson reported in her interview with the FBI on September 11, 2001 that at approximately 8:45 AM (Central Time, 9:45 AM Eastern):

“Beamer called to state that the airplane was about to be hijacked. He stated that three individuals, two wielding knives, the third with a bomb strapped to his waist with a red belt, were preparing to take control of the flight. Jefferson estimated that she spoke to Beamer for seven minutes before the two hijackers with arms entered the cockpit, securing the door behind them.” [8]

Serious Problems with the Beamer Call:

  1. There is an insurmountable conflict between:
    1. the NTSB, FAA, and ACARS reports of 9:28 AM as the start time of the Flight 93 hijacking, and
    2. the telephone records presented to the Moussaoui trial showing that the call to Jefferson was placed by Beamer at 8:48 AM Central time (9:48 AM Eastern) which Jefferson estimated was seven minutes before the hijacking began.
  2. Jefferson’s estimate that she spoke with Beamer for seven minutes “before the two hijackers armed with knives entered the cockpit” places the Beamer account of the hijacking at approximately 9:52 AM, more than 20 minutes after the 9:28 AM time shown in the various NTSB, FAA, and ACARS flight data reports.
  3. Although The 9/11 Commission Report stated that the plane dropped abruptly [9] from 35,000 feet at 9:28 AM, Jefferson reported in her FBI interview that during his (approximate) 9:45 AM call, “Beamer stated that after a short period, the aircraft maneuvered erratically and continued to do so.” [10]
  4. Although The 9/11 Commission Report stated that there were struggles and shouts of “MayDay” and “Get out of here” from the cockpit during the hijacking, [11] Jefferson noted in her FBI interview “that there was an unusually low amount of background noise.” [12]
  5. The problem about the time of the start of the Beamer call reinforces the 6th problem discussed in Point PC-1 about the ending of the call (namely, that Beamer, according to Jefferson, had left the phone after saying “Let’s roll.” Although she held on for “probably 15 minutes,” she said, she “never heard a crash” and, she added: “I can’t explain it. We didn’t lose a connection because there’s a different sound that you use. It’s a squealing sound when you lose a connection. I never lost connection, but it just went silent.”)

    Thus the call, according to Jefferson’s report, remained open 10-15 minutes after the official crash time of 10:03 AM. [13])

The two conflicting timelines differ by more than 20 minutes. Given the problems with the Beamer call outlined in the preceding Point PC-1, three questions arise:

  1. Why was Beamer describing an event that had, according to three official sources, occurred 20 minutes earlier, as if it were unfolding in the present moment?
  2. Why do the telephone records presented by the FBI to the Moussaoui trial in 2006 place the Beamer hijacking call at 9:48 AM, although three official sources place the hijacking 20 minutes earlier?
  3. Given that airphones are powered by the airplane’s electrical system, how could the Beamer line have remained open for the Moussaoui-Trial reported 45 minutes after the plane had crashed and disintegrated?

Hence, these questions about the beginning of the alleged Beamer call complement the time-related questions about the end of the alleged call raised in PC-1, thereby reinforcing the doubts about the authenticity of the Todd Beamer call to Lisa Jefferson – upon which was founded the entire “Let’s roll” campaign glorifying the heroism of the passengers of UA Flight 93.

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References for Point PC-1A
Lisa Beamer and Ken Abraham, Let’s Roll: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage, Tyndale House, 185, 2002.
Lisa D. Jefferson and Felicia Middlebrooks, Called: Hello, My Name Is Mrs. Jefferson. I Understand Your Plane Is Being Hijacked. 9:45 Am, Flight 93, September 11, 2001 (Northfield Publishing, 2006), 53; Jim McKinnon, “13-minute call bonds her forever with hero,Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 22 September 2001.
Bush: ‘My Fellow Americans, Let’s Roll,’” Jessica Reaves, Time Magazine, November 9, 2001.
Peter Perl, “Hallowed Ground,” Washington Post, May 12, 2002 (www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A56110-2002May8). This URL is defunct; evidence of it is here.
Ibid., p. 456 (pdf: 473), footnote 70: “ … ‘Commission review of Aircraft Communication and Reporting System (ACARS) messages sent to and from Flight 93 (which indicate time of message transmission and receipt)’ … ” and footnote 71: “On FDR [flight data recording], see NTSB report, ‘Specialist’s Factual Report of Investigation — Digital Flight Data Recorder’ for United Airlines Flight 93, Feb. 15, 2002; on CVR [cockpit voice recording], see FBI report, ‘CVR from UA Flight #93,’ Dec. 4, 2003; FAA report, ‘Summary of Air Traffic Hijack Events: September 11, 2001,’ Sept. 17, 2001; ‘NTSB report, Air Traffic Control Recording — United Airlines Flight 93’ (backup), Dec. 21, 2001.”
Wendy Schuman, “‘I Promised I Wouldn’t Hang Up’,” Beliefnet, 2006.


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