AA 11 was never successfully tracked by NEADS. The following is a comprehensive transcript with all transmissions relevant to the process of tracking attempts by the NEADS staff.
As anyone slightly familiar with the topic in question is aware, the story of the tracking attempts by NEADS staff has already been well told in an excellent article by Michael Bronner for Vanity Fair, which was released back in 2006.
However, Bronner’s narrative includes only a fractional amount of the relevant conversations among NEADS staffers, and between NEADS staffers and the controllers at the FAA who were tracking AA 11. This is no flaw in Bronner’s narrative, his approach is not exactly mine. But it’s a possibility for a step two in the description and analysis of the NEADS tracking attempts. So this is step two to Bronner’s article in some sense. The following timeline is an attempt to document every significant conversation which tells something about the positional information NEADS got from the FAA as well as the tracking attempts of the NEADS Technicians.
For this timeline, I used five channels from the NORAD Tapes.
DRM1 DAT2 Channel 2 MCC Op
Tape starts at 08:30:30 EDT.
DRM1 DAT2 Channel 3 MCC TK
Tape starts at 08:30:25 EDT.
DRM1 DAT2 Channel 4 ID Op
Tape starts at approximately 08:26:03.
DRM1 DAT2 Channel 7 ID2 OP
Tape starts at 08:30:20 EDT.
DRM1 DAT2 Channel 15 AST Op
Tape starts at 08:29:15 EDT.
For each transmission, I’ll provide the time of a particular conversation in EDT, followed by the time where one can find the conversation on Tape (in squared brackets). Since several conversations on different channels overlap each other, I as well included the time at which a conversation ended.
Background about the NEADS floors is provided in Bronner´s article mentioned above. Some short background essential to the topic in question: All the participants are located on one and the same floor, the Ops Floor, in the same building, the Sector Operations Control Center (SOCC) in Rome, NY.
MCC Op (2) is mainly the Mission Crew Commander, Kevin Nasypany, who is the officer in charge. He is moving about the room, having no own desk.
The ID channels, ID Op (4 & 7), are the channels for the Identification Technicians, who keep up contact between FAA and NEADS, and relay their information to the MCC. Senior Sergeant Stacia Rountree and Technical Sergeant Shelley Watson are the ones looking at their scopes and gathering information from the FAA, while Master Sergeant Maureen Dooley relays the information to the MCC.
MCC TK (3) apparently is part of the ID section.
AST Op (15) is the Air Surveillance Technician channel. The AST Jeffrey Richmond relays positional information from the ID Section to the Tracking Technicians (TT), who then try to track the target. The results are relayed to the MCC. There are some extra TT channels, but as far as I can see (viz. hear), all relevant transmissions are contained in the AST Op channel, too.
There are radar scopes all over the SOCC, and tracking attempts were made by the ID and AST staff as well as by Joe McCain, who was on the MCC Technician position on 9/11, fulfilling the role of a coordinator and an intermediary between the ID staff and MCC Nasypany. More information on the various attempts is contained in the MFRs released by NARA. I recommend the Huntress ID MFR, the McCain MFR, and the Richmond/LaMarche MFR.
On part of the FAA, we mainly have Colin Scoggins, the Military Operations Specialist with ZBW. He tracks the primary signal of AA 11 on a radar screen, and relays positional information as well as othe types of information to the NEADS ID staff and MCC Technician McCain. Most information NEADS gets comes from Scoggins.
In FAA´s ZNY, we have Sharon Majeski, who is not sitting in front of a radar screen, but at the ODAPS 87 position, which is explained in the ZNY Jack Jackson MFR:
The ODAPS 87 position has assumed the task of providing information to air defense on special interest flights coming into the continental United States. The ODAPS position is a supplemental position that simulates where flights may be in conjunction with their situational reports. D 87 and 0 87 are two different positions. 0 87 is equipped with additional tracking capabilities based on computer based simulations that are built off of the progress reports of flights over the ocean. 0 87 bases its simulation from pilot reports that are based on estimates of route, altitude and speed.
The timeline is split into three parts.