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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Final calls from doomed flights
A wife of a senior US official was on one flight
Last minute calls from terrified passengers may help United States officials investigating hijacked plane attacks.

Reports suggest hijackers armed with knives took over three aircraft, before forcing them to crash into targets in New York and Washington. A fourth hijacked plane crashed into the ground near Pittsburgh.

She called from the plane while it was being hijacked.
I wish it wasn't so but it is

Theodore Olson
Reports of the passengers' cell phone calls suggest the hijackers stabbed flight attendants before taking control of the aircraft.

One of the 266 passengers on the four jets was Barbara Olson, wife of senior Justice Department official Theodore Olson.

She called her husband moments before American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon in Washington.

Mrs Olson is reported to have told her husband the attackers used knife-like instruments to overpower the flight crew.

'We're going down'

She is reported to have said "Can you believe this, we are being hijacked" before the cell phone went dead.

Mr Olson confirmed his wife made the calls before dying with the 63 other people on board.

Second plane about to hit World Trade Center
Calls were made moments before impact
"She called from the plane while it was being hijacked. I wish it wasn't so but it is," he said.

A businessman on a United Airlines flight which left Boston on Tuesday called his father twice before the plane hit New York's World Trade Center, a US official told Associated Press.

Reports say the man, who has not been named, made two calls.

In one he said a stewardess had been stabbed. In the second he told his father the aircraft was "going down".

Cockpit conversation

An American Airlines source has said a flight attendant on the second airliner to plunge into the World Trade Center managed to call an emergency number.

The flight attendant is also said to have reported that her fellow attendants had been stabbed, the cabin had been overpowered, and they were going down in New York.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that air traffic controllers heard hijackers instructing the pilots in English from inside the cockpit of American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center

A flight controller in Nashua handling the flight told the paper: "One of the pilots keyed their mike so the conversation between the pilot and the person in the cockpit could be heard.

"He was saying something like, 'Don't do anything foolish. You're not going to get hurt.'"

But cockpit tapes reveal that Captain John Ogonowski would have already known that two stewardesses were being killed at the back of the plane.

The Boston Herald quoted an unnamed source as saying: "They started killing stewardesses in the back of the plane as a diversion. The pilot came back to help and that is how they got in the cockpit."

Flight recorder hopes

The controller also heard someone in the cockpit telling the pilot: "We have more planes, we have other planes."

One passenger on United Airlines Flight 93 locked himself in one of the plane's toilets and called 911 from his cell phone to report the hijacking.

Reports say he managed to say: "We are being hijacked, we are being hijacked", before the plane crashed into the ground near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Security analysts said the crash site in Pennsylvania could be a source of quick clues if the plane's flight data recorder can be located.

Investigators hope the flight recorder, which captures instrument readings and recordings from the flight deck, may have captured voices of those who crashed the plane.

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