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‘Let’s roll’: The heroic final moments of United Flight 93 on 9/11

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Four commercial jets were hijacked on September 11. Only one did not meet its target. As chronicled in “History 9/11: The Final Minutes of Flight 93,” airing Friday at 8 p.m. on History, the bravery of passengers and crew aboard the United Airlines flight from Newark to San Francisco prevented death, heartache, destruction. Heroic Americans, they stopped terrorists from flying into the Capitol building. Instead, as they fought for control, the plane crashed into a field near rural Shanksville, Pa., at 10:03 a.m.

Duncan Bulling, director of the documentary, worked with audio forensics specialist Ed Primeau to analyze cockpit recordings that give a fuller picture of what happened.

“What those people did was such an amazing act of courage,” Bulling told The Post. “They fought against the odds to stop an airplane from crashing into the Capitol building.”

The 40 passengers and crew members, all of whom died, will be honored Friday when President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden both pay their respects at the site of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville.

As laid out in the documentary, here is a minute-by-minute chronicle, with freshly revealed details, of what took place aboard an airplane set on a collision course with the heart of our nation.

The PentagonWall of Names Flight 93 Memorial.
The Pentagon
Wall of Names Flight 93 Memorial.
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Four minutes after Flight 93 had taken off — at 8:42 a.m., following a 40-minute delay — the first airplane flew into the World Trade Center. In short order, all planes were grounded, but Flight 93 was already en route to San Francisco.

At 9:27, when Captain Jason Dahl checked in with Cleveland’s air traffic control, all was well. Minutes later, though, there were frantic calls of “Mayday! Mayday!”

Within 60 seconds, the audio cut out. According to Primeau, two terrorists were struggling to take control of the cockpit. “The Final Minutes” maintains that terrorists could have breached the locked cockpit with an extra key kept near the door.

“It sounds like the pilot has been moved away from the controls,” Primeau says in the doc. “And then, radio silence.”

Audio forensics specialist Ed Primeau
Audio forensics specialist Ed PrimeauA+E NETWORKS

The forcefulness of the takeover leads Bulling to believe that Saeed al-Ghamdi and Ahmed al-Nami infiltrated the cockpit. They were both trained by al Qaeda in unarmed combat.

First-class passenger Tom Burnett called home at 9:30 a.m. and told his wife, Deena, that a fellow passenger, Mickey Rothenberg, had been stabbed and murdered. He asked his wife to call authorities and report a hijacking.

“I was trying to think who you call for a hijacking,” she says in the documentary.

Deena Burnett
Deena BurnettA+E NETWORKS

Five minutes into the takeover, terrorist Ziad Samir Jarrah (who had recently completed a piloting course) was in the cockpit and at the controls. Representing himself as the plane’s captain, he announced that he had a bomb. He turned the plane around, heading toward Washington, DC, and the Capitol building, which, according to Bulling, captured terrorists have identified as the target.

Meanwhile, on the ground, there was talk about sending a military airplane to “scramble” the United flight.


By 9:37, passengers were corralled past row 33. They were encouraged to call loved ones — “I suspect it was a way of showing [that the terrorists] were in control,” said Bulling. Passengers began formulating a plan as relatives despaired.

Alice Hoagland, the mother of passenger Mark Bingham, left a final voicemail message: “You’ve been hijacked by terrorists. They are planning to use the plane … to probably hit some site on the ground. Try to overpower these guys … I love you, sweetie. Good luck. Bye bye.”

At 9:41, the plane was 34 minutes from the Capitol. Jarrah shut off most mechanisms that would allow it to be tracked — save for what one air traffic controller calls “bleeps on a radar scope” that provided minimal information.

(L to R, top to bottom) Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Ibrahim A. al-Haznawi, Ziad Samir al-Jarrah, and Saeed Alghamd.
(Clockwise from top left) Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Ibrahim A. al-Haznawi, Saeed Alghamdi and Ziad Samir al-JarrahGetty Images

All 4,500 aircraft in flight at that moment were ordered to land immediately. A decision to scramble — in which fighter jets surround an airplane and may shoot it down — was still not reached. At 9:47, Tom called Deena a final time. She asked if he wanted to speak with their children. As Deena recalls in the documentary, Tom told her, “No. Tell them I’ll see them tonight.”

Another bid was made to scramble aircraft. But authorities remained indecisive. “Nobody was prepared for this,” Bulling said. “They were ready for a plane in distress, not for terrorists taking over a plane.”

Al Ghamdi and now Jarrah, according to the doc, were in the cockpit. The other two terrorists guarded the remaining 33 passengers and seven crew members. At 9:56, the plane was near Shanksville when flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw called her husband. She told him they were “boiling water and are about to race to the front of the plane and attack the hijackers.”


The cockpit tape of Flight 93’s final minutes remains classified by the FBI. But victims’ relatives were allowed to hear it. “It was a lot to take — listening to our loved ones die,” Elsa Strong, sister of passenger Linda Gronlund, says in the doc. “That’s hard.”

Elsa Strong
Elsa StrongA+E NETWORKS

But they did not die without a fight. Recalling what she heard on the tape, Deena says, “The hijackers realized that passengers and crew were coming to get them. There was the sense that [passengers and crew] were working together.”

Todd Beamer, who would be the subject of a book co-authored by his wife, Lisa, recited the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm before famously calling out, “Are you ready? OK. Let’s roll.”

Suddenly the plane began flying erratically. Altitude was lost. Course was reversed. “Then they ran up the length of a 757 with all their improvised weapons and you can hear them coming,” says Hoagland. “It became louder and louder … They were chanting, ‘In the cockpit! In the cockpit!’ They rattled the heck out of those guys in the front. They were terrified.”

Those who heard the tape make clear that there was scuffling in the cabin. “You can hear a hijacker being hit,” says Deena. He let out a “cry and a wail as if he had been fatally struck.”

As 10 o’clock neared, the plane was rocking back and forth. Hijackers discussed “putting it in the ground” as the battle came to them. The plane went into a series of climbs and dives. Panicked terrorists hoped to disorient their attackers.

Officials examine the crater September 11, 2001 at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Officials examine the crater on Sept. 11, 2001, at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.AFP via Getty Images

Beamer and other passengers attacked the cockpit door with a food and drinks trolley.

They eventually broke through. Loved ones who heard the audio recall the melee in the cockpit, with pitched combat for the controls. “Jarrah,” says the doc’s narrator, “turns the plane upside down.”


Flight 93 nosedived toward the ground at more than 500 miles per hour. It crashed at 10:03 and 10 seconds.

Twenty-nine minutes later, the military was cleared to take action and “shoot down aircraft that do not respond to our direction.” But it was too late for Flight 93.

“Those heroes on United 93 averted an enormous potential catastrophe,” Ben Sliney, national operations manager, air traffic command, says in the documentary. “I don’t doubt at all that they came to the right decision and did the right thing on that day — even though it cost them their lives.”

Ben Sliney
Ben SlineyA+E NETWORKS

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The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses

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When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.

What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?

As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.

  1. It saves your money

Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.

  1. It allows you to try several games

Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.

  1. It will make future gambling more profitable

Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.

Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.

We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.

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3 Key Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Blackjack

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Blackjack is the most popular casino game in the world. The card game, sometimes referred to as ‘21’, accounts for an average of 31 percent of all casino table traffic – this is consistent both online and in physical casinos. For reference, the second most popular is roulette (24%) followed by poker (21%).

It’s easy to understand blackjack’s popularity. It’s a simple game to grasp and offers players a mix of luck and skill: luck in the cards that are drawn, skill over how those cards are dealt and a player’s eventual hand. Compare that to roulette, which is based entirely on luck, and poker, which has a huge skill element to it.

However, while the beauty of blackjack is in its simplicity, there are also a number of complexities to the game, and as is the case with almost anything in life, you learn more from mistakes than successes.

With that in mind, here are three key mistakes to avoid when playing blackjack that can significantly increase your chances of winning, while limiting your losses.

Choosing the Wrong Table

Before a single card is drawn, being at the wrong table – whether live or online – is the first mistake to avoid.

First of all, each blackjack table will have different minimum bet requirements so avoid choosing one that is out of your budget. For instance, if you choose a table with a $100 minimum bet and your budget is $200, you might only play two hands.

Secondly, check the payout odds on the blackjack table. These are typically 6:5 and 3:2 and will affect how much gets paid out when you hit blackjack and land other bonus wins. Where possible, choose a 3:2 table as it pays out higher.

Thirdly, choose between a virtual and a live table. This is not so much a mistake to avoid but more comes down to personal preference. Virtual tables allow players to play against an automated computer, so you can play at your own pace, while live tables are usually quicker paced as human dealers are keen to move the game along.

When to Hit and Stand

As a general rule, most blackjack players know to hit when the hand is 12 and to stand when the hand equals 17. However, there are plenty of variables to consider that could influence when to hit and stand. Getting these right can really boost your chances of beating the house, while getting it wrong could prove costly.

One key move to implement is to always hit on a soft 17 – when the two cards are an ace and a six. This means that if you draw a 10 or picture card (jack, queen, king), then you convert your hand into a hard 17. It also gives greater flexibility if you draw a smaller value card as the ace can be used as a one.

While many players adopt a strict ‘never bust’ policy, meaning they always stand when their hand equals 12 or more, this can be ill-advised as it depends almost entirely on the dealer going bust.

Instead, analyze the value of your two cards compared to the dealer’s first card and weigh up the risk factor in drawing another card before the dealer draws their second. As a strict rule, if your first two cards equal 17 or more, then stand – anything else can be hit depending on the situation.

When to Split and Double

If you are playing in a blackjack tournament, either online or live, learning when to split and double can make all the difference to your chances of success. The same also applies to individual games of blackjack.

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Splitting is when you split two cards when dealt the same value cards, so a pair of eights for example. Doubling is when you are given the option to double your bet after being dealt your initial two cards.

While it can be tempting to split and double at every opportunity to increase your winning, doing at the right time is the key.

It is not recommended to split when:

  • You are dealt two picture cards or two 10s
  • You are dealt two 9s
  • You are dealt two 5s
  • The dealer holds a 10 or picture card

It is best to split when:

  • You are dealt two 8s
  • You are dealt two aces
  • The dealer holds a 5 or 6 (as this is the highest probability of a bust)

Similar to knowing when to hit and stand, take a brief moment to assess the dealer’s drawn card compared to your own two cards and determine whether the probabilities are in your favour.

Likewise, knowing when to double down – when not to double down – can change the complexities of your blackjack game. A simple rule to know when to double is if your two cards equal 10 and the dealer’s card is between 2-9. Additionally, if you hold an ace, you can consider a double as these have the flexibility of playing as 11 or 1. But if the dealer’s card is an ace, ignore the double.

Conclusion

Blackjack may be a simple game but there are some important strategies to keep in mind next time you head to the virtual or live table. The game itself is still rooted in luck so there are never any guarantees to long-term success. However, by keeping these three important rules in mind, you can at least avoid making avoidable mistakes.

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Top 5 Entertainment Activities for College Students

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The life of college students is sometimes too complicated. They have to face tons of homework assignments that steal their time. Many students get stressed because of continuous learning. They seem to forget how to relax. If you’re a busy student, you should remember that you’re still young and shouldn’t waste this precious life stage. You can undertake some entertainment activities sometimes. Take your friends and organize funny games to unwind and let off some pressure. We asked writing experts from a professional essay service Smart Writing Service to share their ideas and provide you with top-5 entertainment activities for college students you may like. 

Who Are You?

Students, especially freshmen, don’t know each other perfectly. They may be taken by surprise when some of them tell something quite unexpected about their hobbies, preferences, and so on. If you want to know other students better, suggest playing a game called “Who Are You”.

Form at least three teams. If there are many folks, you can form more teams. Choose a speaker of the game. It may be even one of your teachers or professors. All groups will be given topics to discuss. The speaker is supposed to announce a new topic every few minutes. You may discuss and answer the following topics:

  • What is the greatest challenge you are facing?
  • What do you like or hate most about yourself?
  • What is your greatest value in life?
  • What emotions do you express easily?
  • What is the most valuable thing in friendship?
  • Who you want to become in five years?
  • What is your major objective for next year?
  • Is there something you want to improve about yourself?
  • What motto do you try to live by?
  • Where would you like to travel?
  • If you were to study abroad, what country would that be?

Students should write their answers on index cards. The speaker should gather the answers of every student and shuffle them. Afterward, he/she redistributes them randomly to students. Each person should guess whose card he/she is holding. Play this game after you spend some time together and already know at least something about one another.

Sentence Completion

Another fun activity is “Sentence Completion.” Most people like it because it’s commonly accompanied by laughter and good mood. It’s necessary to prepare a list of sentences. Those sentences should have a beginning, but with no end. Every student should finish the sentence he/she gets. Oftentimes, students give funny answers. At times, they are quite serious, and we can learn something important about other students. Here are several sentence beginnings you may choose:

  • Before I came to college, I was interested in…
  • When I was a child, I wanted to become…
  • The best moment I remember most about high school is…
  • My favorite pet is…
  • The things I value most are…
  • Five years from now I hope to be…
  • My greatest personality trait is…
  • My favorite subject at high school was…
  • If I could change one thing in the world, it would be…
  • My greatest fear is…
  • After I graduate from college, I…

The Reception Line

You may likewise try another entertaining activity for college students. It is called “The Reception Line.” Gather all the mates eager to participate. Divide yourselves into two groups. If you form more, it won’t fit the rules of the game. Each person talks to the person in front of him/her until he/she must move. The person at the end of one line goes to the end of the other line. This method makes it possible to meet new people. Thus, students will learn more about each other. You can make shifts every next topic or set a limit. For example, the pair should discuss 5 topics and afterward move to change partners. Here are some interesting topics to discuss:

  • Where would you like to travel?
  • What motto do you try to follow?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What music do you like?
  • What is your favorite hobby?
  • Why did you choose this college?
  • What do you like about college life the most?

Take Sides

You can likewise suggest a game, which offers only two options. It’s called “Take Sides.” Create a list of questions with two answers. Students should obligatorily choose one of them. Afterward, you may discuss the answers. Let everyone explain his/her choices. Thus, you’ll learn more about each other, and it will bring you closer. Here are several suggestions:

  • Watermelon or banana?
  • Sweat or bitter?
  • Short trips every weekend or a journey around the world for three months?
  • Partying or hiking?
  • Listen or speak?
  • Rock or pop?
  • Morning or night?
  • Superman or Batman?
  • Robocop or Terminator?
  • Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings?
  • Los Angeles or New York?
  • Liberal or conservative?
  • American football or ice hockey?

My Most Embarrassing Moment

You can likewise tell each other about the most embarrassing moments. It’s important to be honest and don’t imagine a story that never took place. All the participants should agree on this term. Commonly, it is a very entertaining activity. Students tell funny stories they’ve been through. It commonly makes them closer.

These activities for college students are very simple to follow. They are really entertaining. Mind that we have mentioned only 5 of them. However, you can try a hundred activities more. Use our examples to have fun and relax. They may inspire you and your friends to look for other entertaining activities.

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