September 13, 2001, New York Times, Flight 93: On Doomed Flight, Passengers Vowed to Perish Fighting, by Jodi Wilgoren and Edward Wong,
They told the people they loved that they would die fighting.
In a series of cellular telephone calls to their wives, two passengers aboard the plane that crashed into a Pennsylvania field instead of possibly toppling a national landmark learned about the horror of the World Trade Center. From 35,000 feet, they relayed harrowing details about the hijacking in progress to the police. And they vowed to try to thwart the enemy, to prevent others from dying even if they could not save themselves.
Lyzbeth Glick, 31, of Hewitt, N.J., said her husband, Jeremy, told her that three or four 6-foot-plus passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark bound for San Francisco planned to take a vote about how to proceed, and joked about taking on the hijackers with the butter knives from the in-flight breakfast. In a telephone interview last night, Ms. Glick said her husband told her "three Arab-looking men with red headbands," carrying a knife and talking about a bomb, took control of the aircraft.
"He was a man who would not let things happen," she said of her high school sweetheart and husband of five years, the father of a 12-week-old daughter, Emerson. "He was a hero for what he did, but he was a hero for me because he told me not to be sad and to take care of our daughter and he said whatever happened he would be O.K. with any choices I make.
"He said, `I love you, stay on the line,' but I couldn't," added Ms. Glick, 31, a teacher at Berkeley College. "I gave the phone to my dad. I don't want to know what happened."
Another passenger, Thomas E. Burnett Jr., an executive at a San Francisco-area medical device company, told his wife, Deena, that one passenger had already been stabbed to death but that a group was "getting ready to do something."
"I pleaded with him to please sit down and not draw attention to himself," Ms. Burnett, the mother of three young daughters, told a San Francisco television station. "And he said: `No, no. If they're going to run this into the ground we're going to have to do something.' And he hung up and he never called back."
The accounts revealed a spirit of defiance amid the desperation. Relatives and friends and a congressman who represents the area around the crash site in Pennsylvania hailed the fallen passengers as patriots.
"Apparently they made enough of a difference that the plane did not complete its mission," said Lyzbeth Glick's uncle, Tom Crowley, of Atlanta. In an e-mail message forwarded far and wide, Mr. Crowley urged: "May we remember Jeremy and the other brave souls as heroes, soldiers and Americans on United Flight 93 who so gallantly gave their lives to save many others."
Like others on the doomed plane, Mr. Glick, 31, and Mr. Burnett, 38, had not originally planned to be aboard the 8 a.m. flight. Mr. Glick, who worked for an Internet company called Vividence, was heading to the West Coast on business, and Mr. Burnett, chief operating officer for Thoratec Corporation, was returning home from a visit to the company's Edison, N.J., office.
Lauren Grandcolas of San Rafael, Calif., left an early-morning message on her husband's answering machine saying she would be home earlier than expected from her grandmother's funeral. Mark Bingham, 31, who ran a public relations firm, had felt too sick to fly on Monday, but was racing to make an afternoon meeting with a client in San Francisco.
The plane was airborne by 8:44 a.m., according to radar logs, and headed west, flying apparently without incident until it reached Cleveland about 50 minutes later. At 9:37, it turned south and headed back the way it came. Mr. Bingham, a 6-foot-5 former rugby player who this summer ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, called his mother, Alice Hoglan. "He said, `Three guys have taken over the plane and they say they have a bomb,' " said Ms. Hoglan, a United flight attendant.
CNN reported last night that it had obtained a partial transcript of cockpit chatter, and that a source who had listened to the air-traffic control tape said a man with an Arabic accent had said in broken English: "This is the captain speaking. Remain in your seat. There is a bomb on board. Stay quiet. We are meeting with their demands. We are returning to the airport."
Another passenger on the sparsely populated plane barricaded himself in the bathroom and dialed 911. Ms. Grandcolas tried to wake her husband, Jack, but got the answering machine. "We're having problems," she said, according to her neighbor, Dave Shapiro, who listened the message. "But I'm comfortable," she said, and then, after a pause, added, "for now."
Mr. Glick, a muscular 6-foot-4 water sportsman, and Mr. Burnett, a 6-1 former high school football player, called their wives over and over, from about 9:30 a.m. until the crash at about 10:10 a.m., chronicling what was happening, urging them to call the authorities, vowing to fight, saying goodbye.
"He sounded sad and scared, but calm at the same time," Ms. Glick said. "He said people weren't too panicked. They had moved everybody to the back of the plane. The three men were in the cockpit, but he didn't see the pilots and they made no contact with the passengers, so my feeling is they must have killed them."
In a radio interview with KCBS in San Francisco, Ms. Burnett said her husband of nine years called four times ? first just reporting the hijacking, later asking her for information about the World Trade Center disaster, eventually suggesting the passengers were formulating a plan to respond.
"I could tell that he was alarmed and trying to piece together the puzzle, trying to figure out what was going on and what he could do about the situation," Ms. Burnett said. "He was not giving up. His adrenaline was going. And you could just tell that he had every intention of solving the problem and coming on home."
Ms. Glick said that at one point, she managed to create a conference call between her husband and 911 dispatchers. "Jeremy tracked the second-by-second details and relayed them to the police by phone," Mr. Crowley wrote in his e-mail account of the calls. "After several minutes describing the scene, Jeremy and several other passengers decided there was nothing to lose by rushing the hijackers."
At the crash site near Shanksville, Pa., a local politician and law enforcement officials said the wives' accounts made sense.
"I would conclude there was a struggle, and a heroic individual decided they were going to die anyway and, `Let's bring the plane down here,' " said Representative John P. Murtha, a Democrat who represents the area and serves on the Defense Appropriations Committee.
An F.B.I. official said of Mr. Murtha's theory, "It's reasonable what he said, but how could you know?"
While the women cherished their final words and their husbands' seeming heroism, other people's relatives and friends struggled to reconstruct their last conversations with their lost loved ones.
Between sobs, Doris Gronlund recalled how her daughter, Linda, an environmental lawyer from Long Island who was headed for a vacation in wine country with her boyfriend, Joseph DeLuca, called on Monday to relay her flight numbers, just in case anything happened.
David Markmann last saw his upstairs neighbor, Honor Elizabeth Wainio, on Sunday night, standing on her balcony in Plainfield, N.J. Ms. Wainio, 28, who was a regional manager of the Discovery Channel's retail stores.
When the Newark flight crashed, "things started clicking in my mind," Mr. Markmann said. He dialed Ms. Wainio's home number ? no answer. The cell phone rang four times and went to voice mail. He called again, and again and again and again, 15 times or more, until 2 p.m. yesterday, when he saw the list of Flight 93's passengers on the United Airlines Web site.
"I wasn't getting a phone call back," he said, "so I kind of had a feeling."
Vivian S. Toy contributed to this article.