The Untold Story Of Flight 11: Part 2

Following The Hudson?

48 Hours reports what really happened during the flight.

Three of the five suspected hijackers on board were sitting in business class. The other two were in first class. According to the FBI, suspected ringleader Mohammed Atta had a boarding pass for a seat across the aisle from David Angell and his wife. Angell was the executive producer of "Frasier." Another terrorist sat next to Atta, and another in seat 10B. The hijacking itself likely began about 15 minutes into the flight.

"It sounds like they attacked a passenger to cause a commotion," says Tom Roger.

There are first-hand reports of what happened on the plane because two flight attendants, Amy Sweeney and Betty Ong, grabbed phones and called supervisors on the ground. The FBI and American Airlines told families what they said.

Tom Roger learned a lot from what he was told about Amy Sweeney's call: "What she was reporting is that the hijackers had attacked a passenger and either killed him or cut his throat. They had also attacked the two flight attendants who were in First Class."

Karen Martin was one of those flight attendants. "I know she went down fighting," says her brother, Paul Martin. The Martin family was also told details of Amy Sweeney’s call. The Martins say that they have been told that Sweeney said that Karen Martin had been stabbed and was on oxygen.

Paul Martin believes his sister put herself between the hijackers and the cockpit.

"She would defend her whole life to save that cockpit door because you don’t want them to get control of that," he says. "And she would not let them in. I know she went down fighting and she would never give up easily. Even though she’s 5' 8", she has as much feistiness in her as Muhammed Ali or any type of hero."

Flight attendant Betty Ong was still on the phone and reports hijackers had knives and some sort of gas that she thought was mace. On the ground, air traffic controllers were trying to reach Flight 11. They radioed Captain Ogonowski, telling him to climb to a higher altitude. There was no response.

Air traffic controllers were getting more concerned. Flight 11 made a sharp turn over Albany, N.Y. and headed south, radically off course. Then the radar transponder that sends vital information about altitude and speed was shut off. The controllers tried repeatedly to reach the plane, without response.

Suddenly the Captain’s microphone begins transmitting and the controllers overheard a chilling warning to the crew: "Don't do anything foolish, you're not going to get hurt. We have more planes. We have other planes."

Flight attendant Amy Sweeney was still on the phone with her supervisor. She told him the hijackers were Middle Eastern, and they’d made it to the cockpit. According to Tom Roger, she reported that the hijackers were in control of the plane and the pilots were either disabled or dead.

Both Amy and Betty, felt the plane descending. It's hard to believbut they said that most passengers in the main cabin, far from the cockpit, seemed unaware that anything was wrong.

Jean Roger's family believes she and the rest of the crew were thinking the terrorists planned to land and negotiate.

As the plane approaches New York, it slowed down, probably so it could maneuver into its target. It was still flying at more than 300 miles per hour. Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney remained on the phone with American Airlines as they flew towards the World Trade Center. To the people on the ground, they sounded calm. But at a certain point, Betty seemed to realize what was happening and asked the people on the phone to pray for Flight 11. Amy kept the reports coming right until the end.

Says John: "Near the end, they’re asking her 'What do you see? What do you see?' She said: 'I see water. I see water.' And then all of a sudden there was a pause and she said, 'Oh my God.'"

The Air Force scrambled two F-15s to find the plane, but by the time they took off, Flight 11 had already hit.

There is still a lot unknown about what happened on Flight 11. Jean's brother Jimmy has made peace with the little information there is. He is comfortable filling in the gaps himsself.

"I'm comfortable Jean was probably busy ,just doing her job," he says. "Keep passengers in their seats. Keep them calm. Get them ready for any kind of emergency scenarios that they go through. I would be certain she was doing that. I don't care if they find the data recorders to disprove my scenario. They may. But for now, I’d be comfortable knowing just what I know."

Recently, a memorial service was held for the plane's 11 crew members. All the families attended. Part of the service was the birthday card that Jean Roger gave to her boyfriend the night before: "May you have love, happiness, and peace of mind because really, in the end, everything else just comes and goes."

Her father, Tom, hopes to arm flight crews. "I think there should be a lethal weapon in the cockpit on the plane," he says. He is calling for panic alarms and mace for flight attendants, tighter screening of passengers and drastically reducing the number of allowed carry-ons. Airlines have started making some changes since Sept. 11.

"There has to be something to come from it. Otherwise these people really will have died in vain," he says.

Jim Ogonowski, the brother of Captain Ogonowski has a more focused fight on his hands. He’s a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard. Parts of his unit were mobilized after the attack.

Like all the victims of Sept.11, the crewmembers' families are left to find their own meaning in the death of their loved ones. They refuse to accept that they died just because a group of desperate men were consumed by hate.

"One image that people have given me about why Jean was on that flight," her father said, "all those people had to go at that time, who better to lead them over into the other life than our dauhter. My image, our image, is her saying 'Come on, what are you waiting for? It's time to start again.'"

Go back to Part 1.

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