The Naudet brothers were in the process of making a documentary on New York firefighters, following Antonio “Tony” Benetatos, a rookie firefighter or “probie”, through his experiences in Fire Department of New York (FDNY) academy training and into a firehouse.
On the morning September 11, Jules was taping as firefighters examined a reported gas leak when American Airlines Flight 11 flew right over him and slammed head-on into the North Tower. Although in the footage, the plane is not seen until the impact is about to happen, the sound of the jet’s engines can be heard clearly beforehand as well as the firefighter’s reaction to it. The Naudet video footage thus became some of the most comprehensive on-site coverage of the 9/11 attacks in New York.
There are two points of view from two cameras shot by both brothers of events occurring at the same time.
Jules went with the FDNY into the North Tower upon them seeing the impact of Flight 11 and responding. He was inside the lobby of the North Tower with the FDNY during most of the event while Gédéon was either in the firehouse with Benetatos (the sole firefighter there for some time) or just below the WTC area among the crowds.
Gédéon’s footage captures the impact of United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower while Jules’s footage shows the effects of the collapse of the South Tower from inside the lobby of the North Tower.
Along with the video tape of Pavel Hlava, the Naudets’ film is the only known footage of Flight 11 striking the World Trade Center. (A series of web camera images from Wolfgang Staehle show the approach of Flight 11 and the after-impact.)