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10:14 a.m. September 11, 2001: First of Three Fighters Returning from Training Lands at Base near Washington, but Does Not Take Off Again

The first of three District of Columbia Air National Guard F-16s that was away on a training mission at the time of the attacks in New York lands back at its base just outside Washington, DC, but does not take off again to defend the capital. The fighter jet is being piloted by Eric Haagenson. (9/11 Commission 2004; 9/11 Commission 2/17/2004; 9/11 Commission 2/27/2004) It belongs to the 121st Fighter Squadron, part of the 113th Wing of the DC Air National Guard, which is based at Andrews Air Force Base, 10 miles from Washington. (District of Columbia Air National Guard 7/24/2001; Scott 9/9/2002; GlobalSecurity (.org) 8/21/2005) Along with two other jets, it took off from Andrews at 8:36 a.m. for a routine training mission about 200 miles away, over North Carolina (see 8:36 a.m. September 11, 2001).
Denied Entry into Andrews Airspace - Haagenson apparently headed back to base earlier than the other aircraft with him over North Carolina because he was so low on fuel. Major Billy Hutchison, the flight lead of the F-16s on the training mission, learned over radio that Haagenson was then “being denied entry to airspace over Andrews” Air Force Base. (9/11 Commission 2/17/2004; 9/11 Commission 2/27/2004; 9/11 Commission 3/8/2004 pdf file) This was presumably because airspace restrictions had been implemented around Washington: The supervisor of flying with Haagenson’s unit had been concerned that such restrictions would be put into effect after he’d learned of the second attack on the World Trade Center. (Spencer 2008, pp. 122-123) Hutchison therefore instructed Haagenson to go to Pawtucket, Rhode Island (presumably to land at an airfield there), because he was so low on fuel, so that he would not run out. (9/11 Commission 2/27/2004) But by 10:14 a.m., Haagenson has been cleared to land at Andrews, and touches down at the base. (9/11 Commission 2/17/2004)
Haagenson Does Not Take Off Again - Hutchison will later recall that Haagenson “didn’t go back up” into the air after landing at Andrews, “because he was a brand new pilot.” The training mission he returned from “was his first flight outside an instructional arena.” The other two F-16s that were with him, piloted by Hutchison and Lou Campbell, will land at Andrews at 10:36 a.m., but Hutchison will be instructed to take off again immediately (see (10:38 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Scott 9/9/2002; 9/11 Commission 2/17/2004; 9/11 Commission 2/27/2004)


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