Madeline Amy Sweeney

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Madeline Amy Sweeney
Born (1965-12-14)December 14, 1965
Died September 11, 2001(2001-09-11) (aged 35)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names Amy Sweeney
Occupation Flight attendant
Spouse(s) Michael Sweeney (?-2001; her death)

Madeline Amy Sweeney (December 14, 1965[1] – September 11, 2001), known as Amy Sweeney, was an American flight attendant on board both American Airlines Flight 11 and 12. American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked and flown deliberately into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, as part of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Flight 11[edit]

On September 11, 2001, Sweeney was asked by American Airlines to take an extra shift because the other crew member, who was assigned to the position, was ill.[2] Normally, she would only work part-time on weekends.

Early on the morning of September 11, at approximately 7:15 am, before the plane had taken off; Sweeney made a cellular telephone call to her husband Michael, from the plane (which he deemed to be 'highly unusual').[3] She was feeling low about being at work and missing out on a chance to see their daughter, a kindergartner, off to school.[4]

"I see water. I see buildings. I see buildings! We are flying low. We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low. Oh my God we are flying way too low. Oh my God!" (Flight 11 crashes).

Sweeney's last words on the inflight call with American Airlines manager Michael Woodward.[5][6]

During the hijacking, she apparently attempted five Airfone calls from the rear of the plane, with the aid of fellow flight attendant's Calling Card; to (an undisclosed one of two officially redacted phone line numbers, at) American Airlines' Boston flight operations center, at the airport where she worked. After two attempts, she eventually reached and made a brief report to: an operator (who didn't recognize her) and then an ultimate and extensive one to Michael Woodward; being one of three managers on duty, who was also a friend for the previous decade. She got her information about the trouble on Flight 11 from Sara Low, another of the flight attendants, who was assigned to Business Class. She reported: her flight number as both 11 and 12 (as her fellow flight attendant Betty Ong is said to have done); information about the hijackers' seats, described them as Middle Easterners and claimed that (contrary to official claims,) there were three of them (Ong made the same claim). She also reported that: two flight attendants, the pilots, and a first class passenger had been stabbed. She reported that: the hijackers had jammed their way into the cockpit and that there was mace[citation needed] in the first class cabin, and how they struggled to breathe. She also stated that the cockpit was not answering their phone. During the last minutes of the call (which ended 48 seconds before the North Tower's impact (Ong's: 53)), she said that the aircraft was flying erratically and that they were descending very rapidly.[citation needed]

Sweeney was aged 35 when she was killed. She had been a flight attendant for twelve years. She was survived by a husband and two children, ages 4 (Jack) and 6 (Anna) at the time. They lived in Acton, Massachusetts.[1]


Sweeney’s name is located on Panel N-74 of the National September 11 Memorial’s North Pool, along with those of other passengers of Flight 11.

On February 11, 2002, Sweeney was commemorated in a series of new annual bravery awards initiated by the Government of Massachusetts. The annual Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery is awarded every September 11 to at least one Massachusetts resident who displayed extraordinary courage in defending or saving the lives of others.[7]

The first recipients were Sweeney and her colleague Betty Ong, who had also relayed information about the hijacking to personnel on the ground. Pilot John Ogonowski also received a posthumous award for being thought to have turned the cockpit radio switch on, which allowed ground control to listen to remarks being made by the hijackers. They were all residents of Massachusetts. Relatives of all three accepted the awards on their behalf.

At the National 9/11 Memorial, Sweeney is memorialized at the North Pool, on Panel N-74.[8]


In her nation's darkest hour, she responded with a selfless bravery that illustrates the very best of human nature. She was empowered by her ability to shed light where none existed.

Jane Swift, Acting governor of Massachusetts, presenting the award to Sweeney's children.

She calmly and in a detailed fashion told us that Flight 11 had been hijacked, which was nothing short of a miracle.

—American Airlines flight services manager Michael Woodward, who took the call from Sweeney.

She would have said she was just doing her job.

—Michael Sweeney, her husband, a police officer.


  1. ^ a b "Madeline Amy Sweeney Obituary". Boston Globe. September 14, 2001. Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  2. ^ Rosen, Dan (September 9, 2011). "Ten years later, 9/11 still resonates in hockey". Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  3. ^ of Investigation, Federal Bureau. "T7 B17 FBI 302s of Interest Flight 11 Fdr- Entire Contents". Scribd Inc. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  4. ^ Lopez, Steve. "A decade later, returning to the scene of something unfathomable". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  5. ^ "Extract: 'We have some planes'". BBC News. 23 July 2004. Retrieved 2009-09-11. 
  6. ^ "Calm as Death Drew Near for Flight 11". ABC News. 21 February 2004. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  7. ^ Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery - EOPS
  8. ^ "North Pool: Panel N-74 - Madeline Amy Sweeney". National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Retrieved October 29, 2011. 

External links[edit]