July 17, 2005
Discovery takes flight with Sept. 11 docudrama
By Paul J. Gough
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Four years after losing
one of its own employees aboard United Airlines Flight 93,
Discovery will telecast a docudrama about the successful
efforts of the passengers to derail the Sept. 11 terrorists'
plan for the hijacked airliner.
"The Flight That Fought Back" is a two-hour special about
the 41 men and women aboard a San Francisco-bound airliner, the
fourth hijacked plane on 9/11, who learned through phone calls
with relatives of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World
Trade Center and decided to take action.
It was through their efforts that the hijackers, knowing
they were about to be overtaken, crashed the Boeing 757 in a
Shanksville, Pa., field. Its target was believed to be either
the White House or the U.S. Capitol.
"Forty strangers from across the world banded together and
took an action which helped to save this whole country from a
further disaster," said Jane Root, general manager of Discovery
Channel, during the network's presentation to the Television
Critics Assn.'s Summer Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton. The
show airs the evening of Sept. 11 on Discovery.
One of those passengers was Elizabeth Wainio, a Discovery
Stores retail manager who was traveling to a business meeting.
Anyone telling the story of Flight 93 has been hampered by
the fact that it's a criminal investigation, one that the
government has not been completely forthcoming about even four
years later. Only family members have been allowed to hear the
cockpit voice recorder, which the 9/11 Commission said
concluded showed that the hijackers deliberately crashed the
plane just as the extraordinary men and women aboard the flight
were just about to reach the cockpit.
Executive producer Phil Craig said they pieced the story
together through interviews with family members who talked to
the passengers in the hour before the crash, eyewitnesses who
saw the plane go down and other documentary evidence and other
About 50% of the two hours are recreated drama using actors
and 90% is based on either tapes or what family members and
airline employees who spoke to the passengers after the
hijacking recalled. There's a bit of invented dialogue from one
of the passengers, federal law enforcement officer Richard
"I think it's the most accurate account that's yet been
produced I would not use the word definitive because the copies
of the voice recording have only been released in part," Craig
Discovery is not the only network to focus on the 9/11
attacks in announced programming this fall. National Geographic
Channel will also have a four-hour documentary into the causes
of the attack; and an ABC miniseries is planned for sometime in