WASHINGTON – Shortly before Flight 11 slammed into the World Trade Center (search), the American Airlines operations center received a calm phone call from one of its flight attendants.
"The cockpit is not answering their phone," said Betty Ong. "There's somebody stabbed in business class and, we can't breathe in business. Um, I think there is some mace or something. We can't breathe. I don't know, but I think we're getting hijacked."
Ong, 45, known as "Bee," was on the American Airlines Boeing 767 flying from Boston to Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 2001, before suspected Sept. 11 ringleader Mohammed Atta (search) and four others took over the plane and crashed it into the North Tower of the Trade Center.
The Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (search)heard portions of her 23-minute conversation with the American Airlines operations center on the second of its two-day hearing Tuesday.
Nydia Gonzalez, who was on duty at the operations center that morning, told the panel how she received Ong's call at about 8:20 a.m.
"Several media accounts of what occurred on Flight 11 (search) claimed that Betty was 'hysterical with fear,' 'shrieking' and 'gasping for air,' she said. "Those accounts were wrong."
"In a very calm, professional and poised demeanor, Betty Ong relayed to us detailed information of the events unfolding on Flight 11," Gonzalez added. "I honestly believe after my conversation with Betty that the 81 passengers and new crew members on Flight 11 had no idea of the fate they were to encounter that day."
In the tape played before the commission, Ong tells the operations center her flight and seat number and describes the scene on board.
"We can't even get into the cockpit. We don't know who's there," Ong says, before the call ends in a dial tone.