Tuesday, September 11, 2001
Virginia company tracks terror flights Washington Business Journal - by Taylor Lincoln Potomac Tech Journal
A Fairfax, Va., company that tracks and records the flight paths of airplanes has released dramatic animated illustrations of the flight path of the Boston-Los Angeles American Airlines flight that is believed to be the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center Tuesday morning.
The recording by Flight Explorer, a Fairfax-based subsidiary of Alexandria, Va.-based Flight Dimensions International Inc., shows the path of American Airlines Flight 11 heading west from Boston, then making an abrupt left turn in the vicinity of Albany, N.Y., and heading due south to New York City.
The plane crashed into the World Trade Center at about 8:45 a.m., about 15 minutes before a separate commercial plane crashed into the other World Trade Center tower.
The illustrations were depicted through a series of digital radar images that play back in a computer browser. Flight Explorer planned later Tuesday to distribute animated illustrations of the three other commercial flights that crashed Tuesday morning, said Jeff Krawczyk, chief operating officer of Flight Explorer.
Flight Explorer, which received requests for the illustrations from about 12 news agencies including all the major networks, also has learned that a United Airlines plane bound from Newark to San Francisco that crashed near Pittsburgh, Pa., at 10:10 a.m. had its flight path diverted. The flight was changed to arrive at Reagan National Airport, in Northern Virginia, Krawczyk said.
"When it got outside of Pittsburgh, it actually had a flight plan change to DCA," said Krawczyk said. "We hardly ever get a flight plan change. Very unusual."
Until the past few years, Flight Explorer was the only company that recorded flight paths and received frequent requests from the Federal Aviation Administration for recordings of flights, Krawczyk said.
After the death of golfer Payne Stewart in 1999, the FAA began recording flight paths, Krwczyk said. The company had not heard from the FAA by Tuesday afternoon.