FAA commemorates 9/11 anniversary with air traffic controller reflections

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McCormick said as he realized other planes were also hijacked, he ordered the air space over New York City shut down.

"With two hijacked aircraft merging in the New York area, you have to clear the airspace, because you have an obvious safety threat, not only a security threat, against other aircraft," he said.

On 9/11, United Flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 11 both took off from Boston's Logan Airport, heading for Los Angeles, Calif. But the planes were taken over and crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York instead.

Around the same time, hijackers took over United 93 from Newark International Airport in New Jersey, en route for San Francisco, and American Airlines Flight 77 from Washington's Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles.

The terrorists crashed the American flight into the Pentagon in northern Virginia. The United flight was also believed to be heading for a target in Washington, but passengers aboard the plane fought back for control of the aircraft and it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

The FAA grounded the entire nation's aviation after realizing the planes had been taken over. FAA Eastern Region Air Traffic Division Manager Frank Hatfield said it was very clear to employees of the aviation system the scope of the attacks when the airplanes stopped responding to radio outreaches.

"Our occupation, air traffic, was under attack by enemies of this country," he said in the video. 

"The fog of war was very evident that day," Terry Biggio, who was the Air Traffic Operations Center in the Boston area, added.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt praised the air traffic controllers in the video and the rest of the agency's response for their quick response to the attacks.

“The men and women who control air traffic in this country realized we were under attack on that terrible day and had the skill to quickly land thousands of planes,” Babbitt said in a statement. “Ten years later we are still incredibly proud of their work.”