The Skies Over D.C. 9/11/2001


These notes are intended to give those not in the area a sense of what took place during some of this extremely strange day. I've included the WUN'ers since they've been quite interested in what is happening.

These are my own observations based only on my hand notes taken at the time.

I started listening to the events around 1030 EDT. The Trade Towers and the Pentagon had already been attacked. By that time there was not a peep of civil air traffic in the area. One of the first things I heard was Andrews tower announcing on their VHF & UHF freqs that their airspace was closed and that all intruders would be shot down. That certainly put an exclamation point on what I was to hear for the rest of the day.

Throughout the day the Regan National controller (125.65) was the overall controlling authority for the DC area. He authorized all departures and entries into the Class B airspace. That role still remains as of 2200 EDT.

As of 2100 EDT Andrews is starting to return to normal with Airevacs and some helos and VIP jets starting to fly in.


By 1030 there were two flights of DC ANG F-16s (Wild & Caps) up in Combat Air Patrol (CAP). At that time there were news reports of another, missing airliner, so I assume the F-16s were up protecting the DC area from that possibility. Soon these F-16s were joined by three more F-16s from Langley, North Dakota ANG aircraft normally deployed to Langley in an air defense mode. The DC ANG flight leader assumed the role as CAP commander trying to keep all the aircraft straight. DC ANG F-16s assumed control the airspace below 23,000 ft and the Langley F-16s and alter, F-15s took the airspace above that.

After about an hour, two Langley F-15s (First) joined the CAP and took up position high above the area. They were also joined by some F-18s up from Oceana. This caused some problems as far as refueling was concerned. The KC-10s, who had the drogue capability, were ready to RTB and were out of fuel. One of the KC-10s (Team 23) took it upon himself to set up to refuel his aircraft from the available KC-135 (Tazz) so that he would be in a position to refuel both the boom aircraft (F-16s & F-15s) and the drogue guys (F-18s).

In the early afternoon, a flight of two VA ANG F-16s (Fury) came up to the DC area to join the CAP group. The CAP commander later sent them back to the Richmond area because there were too many aircraft in the DC area. After about 30 minutes the VA ANG guys decided to end their CAP around Richmond and RTB'ed to Harry Byrd International.


By 1030 there were two McGuire KC-10s (Team 23 & 24) up in the area. I'm not sure if they were already in the general area when the events unfolded or they were scrambled from McGuire. They started refueling the DC & Langley F-16s so they could stay in the area. For awhile, in the morning, Team 23 also assumed the role of an AWACS giving target and vectoring information to the CAP fighters. Team 23 eventually recovered at Andrews and refueled and went back up in the late PM (1740). What a crew. They deserve a medal. They've been up there since at least 1030 this morning.

Around the same time as the McGuire tankers were noted, two KC-135s from the Maine ANG (Maine 85 & 86) were also in the area working with the McGuire tankers. I believe that these guys had been up off the East Coast and were diverted to the area to support operations.

Later in the morning and in the early afternoon two OH ANG KC-135s (Tazz & Flop) and two PA ANG KC-135s (Steel) also joined the support crowd.


About an hour after I started listening, an AWACS (Bandsaw Kilo) was noted off the MD/VA coast and started taking control of the airspace. However, the DC ANG CAP commander continued to control the immediate airspace around downtown DC. Later in the afternoon he was joined by another AWACS (Chalice). I'm assuming that these aircraft were deployed from Langley or possibly Seymour-Johnson. Bandsaw and Chalice were both in the area until quite late in the evening.


They were so many medevac helos trying to get into the Pentagon area to extricate the wounded that I couldn't keep track of all of them. Interspersed among the medevacs were several 1st Helo Sqdn (Mussels) getting into the Pentagon area to take out some of the military VIPs (JCS).

There were also a couple of US Navy helos (HU-720) and another ) that came up to Andrews from Norfolk. I'm assuming that these were carrying VIPs from CincLant. News reports said that the area of the Pentagon that was struck by the plane housed mostly USN & Marine offices.

Late in the PM there were several Nighthawk helos operating back & forth between MCAF Quantico and Andrews. I'm assuming that they were shuttling military VIPs.


Huntress assumed NCS role sometime in the late morning and set up on 255.8, 228.9 & 234.6. Huntress assumed responsibility for designating targets and releasing fighters to prosecute these targets.

The DC ANG F-16s and Langley F-15s as well as the AWACS and tankers have been up continuously, -all day. They are still up and it's 2200 EDT. They must be bushed.

These crews certainly have shown a very high level of professionalism and devotion to duty. I for one am glad they are up there looking over us. Those of you who support our military you can be VERY PROUD of their actions on this day.