Ben Sliney, FAA’s National Operations Manager, orders the entire nationwide air traffic system shut down. All flights at US airports are stopped. Around 3,950 flights are still in the air. Sliney makes the decision without consulting FAA head Jane Garvey, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, or other bosses, but they quickly approve his actions. It’s Sliney’s first day on the job.
Also, at about this time, Tom Burnett makes yet another phone call to his wife Deena. By now he knows what has happened with the other flights, and he tells her, “[The hijackers are] talking about crashing this plane into the ground. We have to do something. I’m putting a plan together. There’s a group of us.” Deena is amazed at how calm he sounds.
Meanwhile, Todd Beamer has still been unable to contact his family, but is still on the phone with GTE. He tells Lisa Jefferson the details of what’s going on, and she fills him on the details of what has happened outside his plane.
My sister-in-law is stranded in Ft. Lauderdale, FL (yes, I know...not a terribly bad place to be stranded, all things considered) after her flight lands safely there, but all outbound flights are canceled.