September 11, 2001. Four commercial airliners are hijacked by al Qaeda terrorists in a planned attack against the United States. Two are flown into the World Trade Center's twin towers. A third is flown into the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. A fourth plane, United Flight 93 bound from Newark, NJ for San Francisco, CA is delayed for 25 minutes before its scheduled takeoff.
After 46 minutes flying, when over eastern Ohio, hijackers in first class attack at 9:28 am, incapacitating the captain and first officer. Hijackers turn Flight 93 southeast headed for Washington DC.
Just before 10 am the plane is seen flying low and erratically over southwestern Pa. At 10:03 it crashes, upside down at 563 miles per hour into this Somerset County field. There are no survivors. All 33 passengers, seven crew and four hijackers are killed.
Why it crashed in this field and did not reach its target revealed itself as a story of heroic action. When the terrorists-hijackers took over the plane, passengers and crew began phoning families and authorities to report the hijacking. Their calls, 13 people placed 37 calls, told them of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. Their plane, they now realized, was part of a planned attack. Passengers and crew then made a collective decision by vote to rush the terrorists and try to retake the plane.
The Wall of Names
Names of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 are engraved in the white marble Wall of Names which follows the flight path at the Memorial Plaza.
Recovered from the crash site, the cockpit voice recorder captured the shouts, thumps, crashes and breaking of glass and plates. The 9/11 Commission reported that the hijackers, although remaining in control of the plane, must have judged that the passengers and crew were mere seconds from overcoming them. To continued sounds of the counterattack, Flight 93 crashed in this field.
The plaza includes a walkway from the parking area to the Memorial the same shape and size of the wing span of the plane.
There are benches along the walkway in groups of three, to represent the seating arrangements of the plane.
Colors of the Memorial: Black - representing the coal deposits of the area. Gray - the color of the plane. White - representing passengers and crew
Looking from the Wall of Names through a fence made of native Hemlock to the crash site.
The crash site is viewed along the walkway between the Visitor Shelter and the Memorial Plaza. Visitors can only see a large boulder and some small American flags. It is the final resting place of the 40 passengers and crew as their remains are still present. The crash site, open only to family members, is bordered by the Memorial Plaza and Hemlock Grove beyond.
Flight 93 Memorial is off Rt 30 (Lincoln Highway) via a 3.5 mile access road. Yet to be completed is the visitors center and walkway which will both be in the flight path.
Had the flight lasted but 3 seconds more, it would have crashed into a school filled with 100's of children from 3rd to 12th grade.
(Note: some of the above narratives were taken from the Flight 93 National Park Service brochure)