American Airlines Flight 11, which regularly flew from Boston to Los Angeles, was running 15-minutes behind schedule on the morning of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001.
The 11-man crew – which included two pilots and nine flight attendants – were joined by 81 passengers that day, five of whom would eventually take control of the cockpit and turn the doomed plane 100-degrees towards New York City.
With the military now on alert, the two F-15 fighter jets assigned to intercept Flight 11 do not know which direction to travel to meet the plane, and less than three minutes later, the commercial airliner crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, landing violently between the 93rd to the 99th floors.
By the time Flight 11 settles into the building, two attendants and a passenger had been stabbed or had their throats slashed by the hijackers on board.
Its impact ensured there would be no survivors on the 767.
Those trapped on the highest floors began leaping to their deaths shortly after.
On the grounds surrounding the World Trade Center, witnesses reported seeing people jumping out of the North and South Towers one after another, some with improvised parachutes, while others – possibly lovers or co-workers — together, holding hands.
According to estimates, nearly 200 trapped people, facing thick smoke and intense heat from burning jet fuel, chose to jump to their deaths from the burning tower.
They became known as the World Trade Center “Jumpers.”
The force of such a great fall, nearly 150 miles per hour, ripped the shirts from the victims’ torsos and sent their bodies flailing wildly to the earth during their 12-second plunge.
The most famous of these jumpers, dubbed “The Falling Man” by the press, seems almost serene during his decline: headfirst, arms at his side, his composure appeared to be that of a man who has not embraced his fate, but engaged it.
Since September 11th there has been much speculation as to the identity of The Falling Man. It was first believed to be a man by the name of Norberto Hernandez, a theory that was later negated by members of the Hernandez family.
Later, a documentary would suggest The Falling Man is Jonathan Briley, a sound engineer who worked at a restaurant at the top of the North Tower, this also has never been confirmed.
The city of New York has identified over 1,600 bodies but is still unable to account for over 1,000 others, and as of this year, bone fragments were still being found as workers prepared the damaged Deutsche Bank Building for demolition.
I like to think of The Falling Man as the embodiment of all who died on September 11th, 2001. His image – now forever captured by photograph in mid-air descent – an eternal reminder of the day in American history in which, one after another,