US F-15's almost shoot down Korean Airliner on 9-11
August 14, 2002 12:44 PM   Subscribe

US F-15's almost shoot down Korean Airliner on 9-11 Pilots on Korean Air Flight 85 mistakenly issued a hijack alert at 1:24 p.m. ET on September 11th, as they neared Alaska on the way to Anchorage. Military officials, who had ordered two F-15 fighters to tail the jet, told Anchorage air traffic controllers that they would shoot it down if it did not turn away from populated areas.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood (8 comments total)
Pilots were talking about the hijacked, and ARINC was reading all messages. ARINC panicked, thinking it was a call for help, and called NORAD. Ground controllers call the pilots to ask if they are really hijacked, and the Korean pilots freak out and say: "Yes" and set their transponder to 7500, the code for hijackings.

Alaska's Governor, then evacuates all large building in Anchorage...

God, what a shit storm...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:51 PM on August 14, 2002

More proof of how irresponsible it was to to hijack a bunch of planes and crash them into landmarks and kill 3,000 people.
posted by coelecanth at 12:58 PM on August 14, 2002

the Korean pilots freak out and say: "Yes" and set their transponder to 7500, the code for hijackings.

Huh? Sheesh. I think I'll stick with the drunk ones.
posted by rushmc at 1:08 PM on August 14, 2002

Linked here.
posted by ewagoner at 1:11 PM on August 14, 2002

FWIW, I live in Anchorage, and my office is on a hill overlooking downtown. No buildings were actually evacuated, but there were definitely a few really tense moments up here. 1:24 ET is 9:24 AT, so a lot of people had just gotten to work, or hadn't left the house yet because they couldn't pull themselves away from the television.

And "large buildings" is a relative term. We only have four or five that are taller than 10 stories. So anyone trying to crash into a "sky scraper" would have been SOL. It would have been more of a belly flop in downtown Anchorage, in which case any evacuation would have been beyond chaotic and probably useless.
posted by mccreath at 1:27 PM on August 14, 2002

All you need to know about US/Canadian relations:

"Sir, I think we have a hijacked aircraft that may be used as a passenger-filled missile."
"God-dammit man, don't just stand there... send it to Canada."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:08 PM on August 14, 2002

Meanwhile they still maintain that the hijacked flight that crashed in PA and dropped an engine 10 miles before the crash site wasn't shot down...
posted by Fupped Duck at 4:46 PM on August 14, 2002

More from my ATC friend: pilots accidentally set 7500 every once in a while, sometimes by intending to set another, nearby code for radio problems. Previously it often meant being routed to a remote section of the airport on landing and being met by federal agents. When there's a language barrier, it's doubly difficult to determine over the air the whether the problem is genuine.

FD: Engine 2000 yards (half-mile) away; paper debris up to 8 miles away. Not that surprising: Diving from 5 miles up at 500 mph into the ground, attitude unknown, torque unknown, structural failures prior to impact are quite unsurprising. In fact, the only thing that raises my hackles here is that the available evidence is consistent with the public story; the secrecy seems unnecessary.
posted by dhartung at 8:03 PM on August 14, 2002

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