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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 April 2006, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
The fight for life on Flight 93
By Richard Allen Greene
BBC News, Alexandria, Virginia

Memorial near crash site of Flight 93
The plane crashed into a wooded area on the outskirts of Shanksville

The last minutes of the doomed United Airlines Flight 93 came dramatically to life for jurors in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui on Wednesday, as the prosecution played a recording from the cockpit.

The plane pitched and swung madly before it crashed into a field in Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001.

Prosecutors used voice and data recorders to build an audiovisual recreation of the last 32 minutes of the flight - and of the lives of the 44 people on board, including four hijackers - for jurors who will decide if Moussaoui will be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison.

They, and those in court with them, will probably be the only ones to hear the cockpit tape, as families of the victims have objected to its being released to the public.

'Bomb aboard'

It begins dramatically, with the hijackers shouting "Shut up, stop, don't move, sit down, sit down, sit down."

Please, please don't hurt me - Oh God, no more
Victim, Flight 93

And it is immediately apparent to the crew on the flight deck that the hijackers are deadly serious.

"Please, please don't hurt me. Oh God, no more," a voice says. "I don't want to die. I don't want to die. I don't want to die."

There are sounds of a struggle, after which it becomes clear that the hijackers have gained control of the plane.

Then one of them made an announcement over the intercom: "Ah, here's the captain. We have a bomb aboard. We're going back to the airport. We'd like you to sit down and remain quiet."

Desperate calculation

But famously, the passengers did not sit down and remain quiet.

There were eight phones on the plane, and the passengers quickly learned that planes had been crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

They made a desperate calculation, as a rushed exchange on the voice recorder shows:

Tell my children I love them very much, and I'm so sorry, baby
Cee Cee Lyles
Flight attendant
"In the cockpit?"

"If we don't, we'll die."

The struggle began moments later.

"Allah is the greatest!" one of the hijackers shouted twice before issuing an order to cut off the oxygen.

Crashing sounds followed, alarms rang, and, with a tremendous screech, the plane rolled over.

The video came to a halt.

Emotional case

Moussaoui, a confessed al-Qaeda conspirator, smiled as it played.

He was arrested in August 2001 after arousing suspicions at a flight school, and was in prison on 11 September.

The prosecution argues that he should be executed because he withheld information that could have helped to prevent the 9/11 attacks.

Lawyers for the government have been building an emotional case against the bearded man who leaned back casually in his seat in the courtroom on Wednesday, his hands clasped over his stomach.

'I love you'

Lorne Lyles, 35, was asleep when United Flight 93 was hijacked - with his wife Cee Cee, a flight attendant, on board.

He did not wake in time to catch her first call, but she called again moments later.

"Babe, I need for you to listen to me. My plane has been hijacked," she said.

"I heard the panic in her voice. I could hear nervous talking behind her," he told the court.

"Tell my kids I love them," she said. "I need you to take care of my kids."

That was his last conversation with the woman he described to the court as "my Cee Cee".

But it was not the last time he was to hear from her.

A week after 11 September, he realised she had left a message when she called the first time.

"Tell my children I love them very much, and I'm so sorry, baby," her voice played out across the courtroom.

"I hope to be able to see your face again, baby. I love you."

American Airlines Flight 11: Boston-Los Angeles (AA 11)
0759 Flight takes off
0814 Last routine radio communication; likely takeover
0846 Fighter jets scrambled to find aircraft
0846 Flight crashes into 1 World Trade Center (north tower)
United Airlines Flight 175: Boston-Los Angeles (UA 175)
0814 Flight takes off
0842 Last radio communication
0842-0846 Likely takeover by hijackers
0903 Flight crashes into 2 World Trade Center (south tower)

American Airlines Flight 77: Washington DC-Los Angeles (AA 77)
0820 Flight takes off
0851 Last routine radio communication
0851-0854 Likely takeover by hijackers
0854 Flight makes unauthorised turn to south
0937 Flight crashes into Pentagon
United Airlines Flight 93: Newark-San Francisco (UA 93)
0842 Flight takes off
0927 Last routine radio communication
0928 Likely takeover by hijackers
0957 Passenger revolt begins
1003 Flight crashes into field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

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