9-11 Combat Air Patrol

This was a message I got from the Military Communications Mailing List on 9-11


These notes are intended to give those not in the area a sense of what took
place during some of this extremely strange day. I’ve included the WUN’ers
since they’ve been quite interested in what is happening.

These are my own observations based only on my hand notes taken at the time.

I started listening to the events around 1030 EDT. The Trade Towers and the
Pentagon had already been attacked. By that time there was not a peep of
civil air traffic in the area. One of the first things I heard was Andrews
tower announcing on their VHF & UHF freqs that their airspace was closed and
that all intruders would be shot down. That certainly put an exclamation
point on what I was to hear for the rest of the day.

Throughout the day the Regan National controller (125.65) was the overall
controlling authority for the DC area. He authorized all departures and
entries into the Class B airspace. That role still remains as of 2200 EDT.

As of 2100 EDT Andrews is starting to return to normal with Airevacs and some
helos and VIP jets starting to fly in.


By 1030 there were two flights of DC ANG F-16s (Wild & Caps) up in Combat
Air Patrol (CAP). At that time there were news reports of another, missing
airliner, so I assume the F-16s were up protecting the DC area from that
possibility. Soon these F-16s were joined by three more F-16s from Langley,
North Dakota ANG aircraft normally deployed to Langley in an air defense
mode. The DC ANG flight leader assumed the role as CAP commander trying to
keep all the aircraft straight. DC ANG F-16s assumed control the airspace
below 23,000 ft and the Langley F-16s and alter, F-15s took the airspace
above that.

After about an hour, two Langley F-15s (First) joined the CAP and took up
position high above the area. They were also joined by some F-18s up from
Oceana. This caused some problems as far as refueling was concerned. The
KC-10s, who had the drogue capability, were ready to RTB and were out of
fuel. One of the KC-10s (Team 23) took it upon himself to set up to refuel
his aircraft from the available KC-135 (Tazz) so that he would be in a
position to refuel both the boom aircraft (F-16s & F-15s) and the drogue guys

In the early afternoon, a flight of two VA ANG F-16s (Fury) came up to the DC
area to join the CAP group. The CAP commander later sent them back to the
Richmond area because there were too many aircraft in the DC area. After
about 30 minutes the VA ANG guys decided to end their CAP around Richmond and
RTB’ed to Harry Byrd International.


By 1030 there were two McGuire KC-10s (Team 23 & 24) up in the area. I’m not
sure if they were already in the general area when the events unfolded or
they were scrambled from McGuire. They started refueling the DC & Langley
F-16s so they could stay in the area. For awhile, in the morning, Team 23
also assumed the role of an AWACS giving target and vectoring information to
the CAP fighters. Team 23 eventually recovered at Andrews and refueled and
went back up in the late PM (1740). What a crew. They deserve a medal.
They’ve been up there since at least 1030 this morning.

Around the same time as the McGuire tankers were noted, two KC-135s from the
Maine ANG (Maine 85 & 86) were also in the area working with the McGuire
tankers. I believe that these guys had been up off the East Coast and were
diverted to the area to support operations.

Later in the morning and in the early afternoon two OH ANG KC-135s (Tazz &
Flop) and two PA ANG KC-135s (Steel) also joined the support crowd.


About an hour after I started listening, an AWACS (Bandsaw Kilo) was noted
off the MD/VA coast and started taking control of the airspace. However, the
DC ANG CAP commander continued to control the immediate airspace around
downtown DC. Later in the afternoon he was joined by another AWACS
(Chalice). I’m assuming that these aircraft were deployed from Langley or
possibly Seymour-Johnson. Bandsaw and Chalice were both in the area until
quite late in the evening.


They were so many medevac helos trying to get into the Pentagon area to
extricate the wounded that I couldn’t keep track of all of them.
Interspersed among the medevacs were several 1st Helo Sqdn (Mussels) getting
into the Pentagon area to take out some of the military VIPs (JCS).

There were also a couple of US Navy helos (HU-720) and another ) that came up
to Andrews from Norfolk. I’m assuming that these were carrying VIPs from
CincLant. News reports said that the area of the Pentagon that was struck by
the plane housed mostly USN & Marine offices.

Late in the PM there were several Nighthawk helos operating back & forth
between MCAF Quantico and Andrews. I’m assuming that they were shuttling
military VIPs.


Huntress assumed NCS role sometime in the late morning and set up on 255.8,
228.9 & 234.6. Huntress assumed responsibility for designating targets and
releasing fighters to prosecute these targets.

The DC ANG F-16s and Langley F-15s as well as the AWACS and tankers have
been up continuously, -all day. They are still up and it’s 2200 EDT. They
must be bushed.

These crews certainly have shown a very high level of professionalism and
devotion to duty. I for one am glad they are up there looking over us. Those
of you who support our military you can be VERY PROUD of their actions on
this day.


4 thoughts on “9-11 Combat Air Patrol”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.