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The Only Plane in the Sky

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The Only Plane in the Sky

An Oral History of 9/11

Avid Reader Press,

15 min read
6 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Historian Garrett M. Graff details September 11, 2001 reporting the voices of those who lived through it.

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Eloquent
  • Engaging


The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were the first modern catastrophe watched by millions in real time on television. In this compilation of survivors’ voices, Garrett M. Graff captures the tragedy’s confusion, terror and desperation. President George W. Bush and his staff spent almost the entire day aboard the “only plane in the sky” as civilians thwarted hijackers in Pennsylvania, a plane struck the Pentagon and the Twin Towers collapsed. This harrowing, heartbreaking reconstruction will resonate with those who watched every minute on television and those too young to have seen it.


The weather in New York on September 11, 2001 was perfect, and the media had no big news events to report.

On the night of September 10, 2001, Monika Bravo, a visiting artist working on the 92nd floor in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, captured on video a beautiful storm as it descended on New York City. Her video contained the last images of New York from that vantage point. The next day was what meteorologists call “severe clear” – cloudless blue skies – and it started like any other day. President Bush was in Florida, reading a book to schoolchildren. Meanwhile, mayhem broke out aboard four planes in the air above the eastern seaboard: Nineteen hijackers seized control of American Airlines Flights 11 and 77 and United Airlines Flights 175 and 93.

News of Flight 11’s hijacking reached air traffic controllers at 8:30 a.m. A flight attendant called American Airlines to report that hijackers had stabbed personnel to gain access to the cockpit. Air traffic control cleared the airspace and notified the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). A Flight 93 passenger called his wife to report...

About the Author

Journalist and historian Garrett M. Graff’s books include The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller’s FBI and the bestseller Raven Rock. He contributes to WIRED and CNN and works with the Aspen Institute’s Cybersecurity & Technology Program.

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