It was only after the second tower was hit that Master Sgt. Maureen Dooley realized these crashes were no accidents.
"When I actually felt that this was not an accident and that it was going to be an attack on the United States, was when the second aircraft hit the World Trade Center," she said. "Then I went, 'Oh, my God,' and it was like a pit in your stomach."
Faulty information continued to flow into NEADS, which was now operating under the impression that American Airlines 11, the first plane to hit the tower, was still in the air and on its way to Washington, D.C.
Over the next several hours, NEADS undertook a frantic chase for this so-called phantom plane, AA 11.
At 9:34 a.m., a call came in to NEADS about yet another suspected hijacking -- this one was American Flight 77, just miles from the White House.
Col. Kevin Nasypany, the NEADS mission control commander, scrambled to get fighters in position, ordering jets to intercept the planes as soon as possible. Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon just two minutes after he gave that command.
But the tapes' biggest revelation may revolve around United Flight 93, which passengers forced down near Shanksville, Pa.
Tech Sgt. Shelley Watson first received a call about United 93 at 10:07 from the Cleveland Air Traffic Control Center, which claimed that the plane was hijacked and carrying a bomb. By that time, the flight had already been burning on the ground for three minutes. The timing of the call, which is beyond dispute, as the tapes are stamped with time codes, means it was impossible for the military to have had any chance of shooting down United 93.
This new timeline contradicts certain statements given by administration and military officials in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, made both publicly and before the 9/11 Commission.
"I was extremely troubled, and so were the other members of the commission," Thomas Kean., chairman of the 9/11 Commission. "This was one of the most troubling facts in the whole 9/11 investigation -- how our military failed to get the information and then, in testifying before us, didn't really give the truth.
"What's strange to me about these statements to the press on the ABC News special [which aired on September 11, 2002] and many other places is, you know, a year later and beyond, you have Cheney, Rove, Andrew Card, and you have military people continuing to talk about the fact that they were watching United 93 -- they were deliberating," Bronner said.
"The reality is, even though the military tried its best to get going and tried its best to intercept these plans, they had information late every time and there was no real play on any of the hijacked planes."
"The air defense that morning came from the passengers themselves," Kean said. "That day, they were more effective then the whole of the United States military."