You are on page 1of 12

Interview with Lt Col Tim Duffy and Leslie Filson no date

Beginning of Tape side A

(This is a phone interview, sounds like airplanes in the background. Also she is typing the
tape is very hard to understand)

F: Your name is Tim right?

T: Yes

F: Lt Col Tim Duffy, okay since you know what I'm looking on and I already talked to
Chris McDonald and he was cool with me calling you guys. So as long as you're okay
with it well get started.

T: Okay

F: How long have you been with the unit there?

T: Little over 10 years.

F: Part time?

T: Yes, go back 1 year, I was on active duty for 2 years and back here for 1?????

F: You have been there awhile, are from there originally?

T: Yes, I am, when I was active duty, I was all over.

F: So you're an airline pilot as well?

T: Yes, ma'am

F: What I want to talk to you about is the initial response on September 11 th , when you
guys got the scramble order from the Northeast there. From what I here, you actually got
a phone call from JCA(?).

T: It didn't happen the way it was suppose to (inaudible) the way it came down was
(inaudible) contacted right away and as soon as we hear there was something about a
high jack we got moving. We're proactive, we were proactively moving before the air
division had any idea about it.

F: I need to ask you. Do you mind if I tape this phone conversation? I'm sorry, I meant
to tell you that the minute we got on the phone, just so 1 can have a copy of all my notes.
It's all going to be unclas stuff anyway.

T: Right
F: Okay, so tell me kind of the sequence of events and what happened. I'll just ask you
stuff from there, about when you guys got the first call and what you saw.

T: Well, we swap out at around 8 o'clock in the morning, so I showed up at 7:30 to set
up my material and get all my flying gear together, (inaudible) so about 8:00 we were
ready to go and the guys were getting ready to fly the morning go and it was a 9:00 take
off. One of the guys that was flying with me was suppose to be in the morning go, so
nasty(?) was just going to hold the alert for him until he got back on the ground then he
was going to resume his alert. I guess at about 8:30, 8:35 out by the ops desk I got a
phone call from one of the sergeants he said you've got a phone call. I just assumed it
was my wife, nobody else knew I was here. I said "who is it", he said "it's Otis tower,
something about a highjacking", that's not something that we throw around blatantly,
that word, so I had a radio with me and I called for a (?) suit up right away. So I was a
little bit ahead of nasty getting suited up, probably about a minute or two, so when he
came in I said "have you ever done a highjacking before?" he said "no", I said "I have"
he said "okay you get the lead."

F: Let me back up on the highjacking, I think Col Marr told me you flew a highjacking
in 92?

T: Yea

F: Real quick, I guess that...

T: 92, the jet that was high jacked in the Kennedy.

F: That's kind of weird, okay , go ahead.

T: He said "okay you've got the lead" ?? command post because the sergeant at the desk
as soon as I called for the suit up, I just yelled to him "patch us through to the command
post." The squadron commander Tracer (?) was supervisor of flying that day, so he was
in the command post already, 1 told him "I'm #1 and nasty is gong to be #2" at the time,
he was on the phone trying to get if the air division was being notified yet.

F: Who is the squadron commander again?

T: He was at the time, he's not here anymore, he's retired moved down to Washington

F: Okay

T: Lt Col John Tracy

F: So he's trying to get in touch with the Northeast then?

T: When I run in, I'm all suited up and he has a phone in both ears, but he looked at me,
I told him "I'm 1 Nasty is 2" he said "this looks like the real thing." It is American 757
on route to California. I said "okay, we're going to the jets" so at that point, I ran out and
told Nasty "?? the truck let's go straight to the planes" so we hopped in the truck and
going out to the alert jets, we were about half way there when we got battle station, which
at that point now the air division was in the loop on what's ??

F: When you are at battle stations, am I correct, you see a light that indicates that?

T: Yes, when we run out there ??? in the way, but when the horn goes off, we have a
large PA that goes off and we also have radios that we carry with us all the time. They
go off and say "off kilo 1 and 2 battle stations" and then when we get out there, they have
like stop lights, red, green, yellow and depending on what light is on tells us what status
we are in.

F: So you actually at this point, you here there is an American 67, so you know
something is pretty serious?

T: Right now it is a suspected highjacking. We are not sure what the problem is, I mean
it was one of prettiest days I'd ever flown, literally not a cloud in the sky, visibility was
probably better than 100 miles.

F: Wow

T: It was funny when I was driving in that morning, I knew I wasn't on the flying
schedule and I was "what a day to go flying" it was a beautiful fall morning, just crystal

F: If you don't mind me asking .



9/11 P e r s o n a l P r i v a c y





T: \1 Personal Pr







I'm just trying to find out, so what's happening


T: We are in the jets strapped in but we're not started, that's a battle station ?

F: You have been notified and you know this is looking fairly serious.

T: We are at battle stations now and basically we are prepped to get scrambled, so we're
standing by and just waiting. We were there about 4 minutes or so, 1 had enough time tell
a crew chief what's going on. I'm all strapped in, they were like "what's up?" I got a
chance to fill them in on the suspected high jacking out of Boston at 67, you know I had
to go through all that and tell them, if we can and if we have time to let the crew chiefs
know what we are doing. Then the horn went off, we went into a scramble, the lights

F: From what I heard about the time line, you guys were scrambling about the same time
the first plane hit.

T: Yea, we got the scramble order at 8:47, which is right when American hit.

F: Heard you guys were pushing it up pretty fast trying to get there., at this point it is still
suspected, you don't really know what has happened.
T: Yea, this is one of those things that I can't really explain why I did it the way I did.
You know we took off, I left it in after burner the whole time. So we climbed up ???
going up toward Long Island (inaudible) at the time I just wanted to get there and see
what was going on. We were high enough ?? that we wouldn't do any damage to
anybody, then I figured out if anybody cares later, I could probably take the heat for
trying to get there quickly. Again, we had no idea what we were going towards. We
figured we were going to help somebody. Let's get there quickly and see what the status
is of the situation.

F: Did you have like intuition? You said you can't explain why, you just felt the
suspected highjacking it's important to do what we could?

T: Yea, and I had the Weapons officer say "why did you leave it flowing the whole way?
That's not our standard procedure, that's not what we normally do." I said, "I don't
know, I can't give you a good answer."

F: That's interesting anyway. Okay, so you are going as fast as you can go, full
afterburner and

T: We get up to altitude and I call for ???? to try to find out where the contact is. Bogy is
unidentified aircraft ??? I'm still trying to find out where he is or where the plane is.
They say "here contact over ??"

F: Are you calling for NEADS to get this information?

T: Yes

F: Okay

T: We've already checked and authenticated and gone through all that with them. As
soon as I check in I authenticate to make sure I've got the right person. Then we
authenticate any change to our status, (inaudible) So they told me contact ?? which I
don't realize that American has already hit. I think I'm still chasing the American and so
I talk to ?? over Kennedy, and we're just going down right down over Long Island and
about three or four minutes later, I still have my head down on the scope and I call ??
again and right then they said the second aircraft just hit the World Trade Center,
(inaudible), I looked out there and we were about 60 to 70 miles outside Manhattan and I
could see the towers burning.

F: I know you've talked about it a lot, but what are you thinking at this point?

T: Right then, I look up and said "okay, obviously everything just changed" that from
my personal mind set that we took off to go help somebody then we look up and see it
burning and say "okay now people are dieing." It is kind of hard to explain, basically

you switch into the combat mind set at that point. You take it real serious real fast, even
more so than when it was when you were going to go help somebody, (inaudible) what
you really have to do and you start getting emotional but you just have to put that aside,
because you don't have time for it.

F: You probably have had experience flying in the desert and stuff too?

T: Yea, Desert Storm, (inaudible) and all that. So you just crawl back at least for me
personally, into that mind set.

F: It's in your country.

T: Yea, but it didn't matter, it was very surreal kind of experience as far as flying over
Central Park at 1000 feet and 500 knots or whatever we were doing to identify
(inaudible) that's just wrong, you know. You should never be doing this over downtown
Manhattan, (inaudible) getting down on the ground (inaudible) and you have special ??
and the towers building around behind it. As soon as I saw the towers were burning
(inaudible) what do you want me to do next. What do you need from me right this
second? We had the airspace just off of Long Island (inaudible) I said "how about if we
just jump into the warning area ?? 105, I'll hold the Northwest corner ?? Kennedy
basically. I said "let's hold here" (inaudible)

F: Did you have the tanker there yet from Maine?

T: The tanker was scheduled for the training ?? that morning.

F: That was lucky?

T: Yea, it was just a coincidence.

F: (inaudible)

T: We had two tanks of gas.

F: ?? at this point, I guess it wasn't until after 93 crashed that you had clearance to shoot
an airliner if you have to. So you guys are kind of up there, can you say you were
confused or didn't know what the heck to do?

T: No, at this point, you sit and look at it and we are probably where we need to be. I'm
only 40 or 50 miles outside the city. It is clear in a million, right now we are just waiting
for guidance. We're here and as close as we can be, "what do you want us to do?" I was
surprised, it was a couple of minutes ?? before they came back on. I just came up and
said "NORAD just took control of all of the airspace in the country and they are directing
the combat air patrols." I said "okay", I called Boston Center???, I didn't ask anyone
(inaudible) "combat air patrol I need in lower" he brought me down to 11,000 feet and I
told him "that isn't good enough, I need in lower" so he ?? me over to New York tracon

(?), so I called up tracon (?) told him who I was, said I was over Manhattan and I needed
lower, he came back and said "you are cleared all altitudes" which is perfect. So that
meant they basically gave us the airspace.

F: Kind of amazing.

T: Yea, it was, it was exactly what I needed right then. I needed to figure out a plan and.
I'm coming over to the buildings, I need to go check out what is going on and figure out
how we are going to orchestrate ourselves and the resources that we have to do this right.
Make sure there is no more - him giving me all the airspace really helped out a lot.

F: Tracon (?) is the center?

T: No, it is the terminal approach control for the three airports, they handle all the
sequencing of aircraft in the low altitude, which falls around LaGuardia and Kennedy. .

F: Okay, now that it's over a year later now. What kind of effect did this have on you?

T: I was surprised at the university, it was a lot harder than I thought. I think for the
most part we were out just doing our jobs, (inaudible) we were just doing what we do, I
think people make it out to be a little bit bigger than what it was. (inaudible) so once we
set up the CAPs, we were really busy doing that (inaudible) there was a lot of
unidentified planes at that point, a lot of confusion between both the air division and ??
they both had us ?? on different contacts to identify them and turn them away from the
area and I identify them and try to get them on the ground.

F: So you are getting calls from?

T: Both radios

F: (inaudible) You are getting directions from two different sources.

T: Right

F: That must have been confusing?

T: No, just what we did was ??? with one of us always over the city. Nasty had
mentioned that we had a tanker in the airspace. So I called up ?? and said "we'd like that
tanker, put him over Kennedy at 20,000 feet. They told me to stand by and we'll come
up and get gas as needed. That left one of us always over the city while the other one is
running an intercept or going to get gas or whatever, (inaudible) then we used all the gas
from that tanker over the hours and then he ended up diverting, he had to go back home.

F: I talked to those guys

T: Then we got a KC-10 that was coming back I guess from Europe. Our guys in Boston
basically we sent them down to New York so then we had more gas available to us, so it
worked out real well.

F: How long did it take some other air refueling guys to come up and join you?

T: We took off about 8:50 or so. The other air refuelers came up around 12:30

F: You and Nasty were just flying around up there(inaudible)

T: We were pretty busy intercepting up there but we got it, ?? went down to a couple
hundred feet, helicopters were down there and they wanted us to go down and identify
who they were. All of the sudden you get contacts coming toward the city that are
unidenfied and aren't talking to anybody and we were getting real nervous.

F: So I suppose unfortunately, you witnessed the towers collapsing?

T: Actually, the South tower collapsed, we were both over by Kennedy. I just looked
over my shoulder and all of the sudden, I could see all of Manhattan (inaudible) they
came back a minute later and said that the South tower had collapsed. I thought it had
fallen over, I didn't realize who it exploded. So we went over by Kennedy and turned a
plane away that was over there and them I was going to go back and check out the tower
because we had somebody coming down the Hudson that was unidentified, so we ran
another intercept. It took a few minutes to get everything done. I'm going to go check
out the North tower and see how it's doing. So I flew by (inaudible) it looked like the top
floor was just going burn out. I didn't think there was anyway of saving anybody that
was above the hit line there. Where the plane went in, there was just so much smoke,
(inaudible) I just couldn't imagine, (inaudible) I was looking straight at it, I thought
maybe they would be able to save it (inaudible) I realized it was exploding right before
my eyes.

F: It must have been horrible

T: Yes, it was the sickest feeling I've ever had in a plane, (inaudible)

F: I appreciate you talking about it. It is important to have this stuff down.

T: You can't imagine how many interviews I've done.

(conversation about people calling him at home for intennews)

T: I think there was only one thing that we disagreed on the whole day and that was, it
was sometime before the towers had gone down. We'd got a call on (inaudible) are you
going to be clear to shoot down the next high jack attack. I was flying right by the towers
at that time, they were both still up. They guy said "do you have a problem with that?" I

said "no, no I don't." Again (inaudible) went we came back and started talking about it
that is what we disagreed on.

F: I'm happy you didn't have to make that kind of decision.

T: Yea, me too. That was a big ?? "what would you have done?" I said "I would have
taken it out."

F: You kind of have a choice, but that is your job.

T: Plus, I kind of took offense when the guy said "do you have a call on that?" I said "it
is a little late to ask me that now." Then at some point later in the day (inaudible) in DC.
That was kind of hard to imagine, (inaudible)

F: I don't know if I have any other questions for you right now. I know you have a
really busy schedule and everything, but if I come up with something else, can I call you

T: Sure I don't know if I'll be here that much, just because I'm a traditional guardsman.

F: Okay, I can email you and maybe get the questions from you that way. Thanks a lot
for calling, I really appreciate it. You may be sick of telling this but I think it is very
interesting for this project.

T: Your welcome

F: Okay, thank you very much, bye bye.


End of Tape Side A

Tape Side B is blank


Interview with Lt. Col. Tim Duffy, 102nd Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National .Guard
Conducted by Leslie Filson, Oct. 22, 2002

10 years - part time at unit, full-x for one year

active duty for 8 years

airline pilot as well


Didn't happen way it was supposed to, the way it came down, it really didn't hurt us as all

Showed up at 7:30, get all flying gear together -

Guys getting ready for morning go, 9 a.m. takeoff
Nasty was doing alert, guy on alert was flying
8:30, 8:35 by opts desk got call from sgt.
Assumed it was my wife

Otis tower, something about a hijakcer

Not something we throw around lightly, not that word
Had radio w/me , the brick,
Got on brick and told nasty and 1 to suit up right away
1 asked nasty if he'd done a hijacking
I'd done one before in 1992 — lufthansa jet hijacked into kennedy

I had lead
Called for suit up and said patch it thru to command post
Sof- squasdron commander
Told him I was 1 , nasty was 2
Lt. Col. John tracy - getting in touch w/northeast
I'm all suited up - he has a phone in one hand, he looked busy
He says this looks like the real thing
He said it's an amer 767 from boston to California -
I said let's go straight to the planes, driving out to the alert jets, ahlf way there when we get battle stations

Run out there -

Stoplights like red, green and yellow, depending on what is lit up, tell us what status is
Right now it's a suspected hijacking, not sure what the prob is
One of the prettiest days I've ever flown, just crystal clear,
When I was driving in that morn, I knew I wasn't on the flying sked, and I was like I want to go flying,
Fly for United -

In the jets, straped in but we're not started, that's what battle stations is

W/battle stations, we are prepped to get scrambled, we are there long enough - about 4 min. or so
I'm all strapped in, filled in crew chiefs about suspected hijacking, out of boston, a 767

Horn went off, it went to a scramble and lights changed

Got the scramble order at 47, which is right when america hit


I can't explain why I did it the way I did it, I left it in full ab the whole time, we climbed up and we were
supersonic going to long island, nasty even called and said, hey duff, you're super, I said, don't worry
about it
We were high enuf where we wouldn't burn windows,
1 figured if anybody cared later,
We're taking off going to help somebody

Not standard procedure - not normal - I don't know

Callfor bogey dope - tryiing to find out where the contact is - tryiing to find out where he is, they say
contact is over kennedy
Coming from huntress
We've already checked in and authenticated - make sure I'm talking to right person and authenticate
change of status

Tell me contact is over kenn, I think I'm still chasing american and I call for bd, we are going righ down to
long island, about 3 or 4 min later, I call for boey dope again and they seay second aircraft hit wtc
Confusing in my cockipit,

I didn't know first one hit, right then, I looked up and siad ok, obviously everything just changed from my
personal midnset, now I look up and see them burning and I say now people are dying, obviouslykind of
hard to explain, basicaly you switch into a combat mode at that pont, now this just got real serious real fast,
even more so than what it was when you were going to help somebody
What do we have to do?
Put emotion aside

You don't have to

Was in desert storm, first night on, at least for me personally fall back into mindset, but it didn't matter
Very surreal kind of experience as far as flying over cent park at 1000 feet, SOOknows, that isjust wrong,
you should never ben doing this over downtown man and watching the towers bum

Statue of iberty wtowers burning behind them, you're going this is nuts, as soon as I saw towers burning, I
called up huntress

Called huntress, said say mission, what do you want me to do next?

I said ok. I'm looking up, this is obvioyusly bad, what do you need from me right this second, he didn't
know what do do?
I knew we had airspace, I said, let's jump in shiwkey 105, hold in northwest comer, outside of kenedy
basically, we'll just h old here until you figure out what you need to do

Tanker was scheudled for training hop that morniing, just a coincidence

Had three bags of gas,

Figured we were where we needed to be, clear in a million, right now we're just waiting for guidance. We
are here and we're close as we can be
1 was surprised - it only took a couple minutes of us in the area whenhuntress said norad took control of
country and head to manhattan and set up cap - 1 called boston center and told them I was proceeding
direct to manhattan, set up combat air patrol, he cleared me down to 11,000 feet, I said I needed lower, he
cleared me over to new york tracon - I calledu p tracon -said I needed lower, they said I was cleared
allaltitudes, gave us the airspace.

It was exactly what I needed right then - I need to figure out a plan here, need to check out bldg. See what
is going on, and how we'd orchestrate ourselves, make sure there's no more

Giving all tracon - terminal approach controls for three airports

The anniv. Was a lot harder than I thought we were out doing our jobs, ther ewere a lot of people doing
heroic things and we weren't part of that, we were doing what we do

Some people make it out to be bigger than it was as far as our end of it was, once we set up caps, busy
intercepting everybody, a lot of unidentified planes at that pt. A lot of confusion between air division and
tracon - they had us vectoring on different contacts to either turn them away from the area

I just had to set up a point - always one of us over the city

Tanker in airspace,
Calle dhuntress and said, put tanker over kennedy at 20,000 feet

Took turns - one of us always over the city while other one got gas or ran intercepts - cycling ourselves on
and off that - used gasfromtanker over the hours -
Had a kc 10 coming back from eurpoe and our guys in boston went and basically grabbed and sent him
down to new york so we had more gas

Worked out real well

Other otis guys came up around 12:30

We were pretty busy intercepting anywhere from a couple hundred feet

Had to go down and identify helicopters, etc.

^s*. Whens tower collapsed we were over by kenn. I looked over my shoulder and couldn't see lower
manhattan, I called huntress and told them 1 couldn't see lower manhattan, called huntress
We went over by keen and truned plane away
I was going to go back, but somebody was down hudson and unidentified
Went to check out nn tower and see how it's doing, flew by its side at first, but what I thought, it got hit
pretty high, looked like top oportion would burn out, I didn't think anyway of saving anyone abovehit line,
so much smoke, you can just see the heat coming out of the bldg.
1 couldn't imagine getting a heli to the roof.
Flew over top to look straight down at it, to see if it was leaning, thought s had fallen not imploded

5-6,000 feet over n tower, wasn't leaning, looked perfect, I'm thinking ok, maybe they'll be able to save it,
as I was looking at it, all of a sudden I twas getting smaller then I could see plume coming out of the

sickest feeling I've ever had in a plane from combat or anything else, we had no idea how many people we
were sitting and watching people dying

said I didn't have a problem shooting it down - I thought neads, nasty thought it was tracon -

1 would have done it

At some pt, tracon came up later and said we had same problem down in d.c. that was kind of hard to
It was hard enuf toimagine people had done a coordinated attack on nyc