There are few more perplexing questions regarding the attack of September 11th than those surrounding the crash of Flight 77 into the Pentagon. I mean surely we should be certain by now that the Pentagon was at least hit by a plane. Or at least we would be, but for the unhelpful fact that videos from cameras in the near vicinity which ought to have conclusively shown a Boeing 757, were immediately confiscated and most of the footage has never been publicly released. So we’ve been left with a few frames of footage from just two cameras within the Pentagon itself that somehow got leaked onto the internet.
This wouldn’t be so bad if the hole in the Pentagon had actually been wide enough for such a large aircraft to have smashed through it. But the hole was barely big enough to contain even the fuselage, so we have been told to believe that the wings and the tail fin must have folded back on impact. Now, as a physicist, I feel very uncomfortable with this unlikely explanation. The rapid change of direction of the massive engines that would be required seems to be in contradiction of everything I understand from the laws of inertia and the conservation of momentum. Perhaps it is possible, but the forces required would need to be extraordinary. Huge resistance in parts of the wall where the wings collided and relatively little where the nose-cone impacted. By reconstructing a similar impact involving an identical plane flown by remote control into an identical wall, we could find out for certain, but of course, such a reconstruction is unlikely to ever happen.
Many (pilots included) have also asked if such an extraordinary flight-path was actually possible at all, given the obstacle course of street-lamps and the fact that airliners are not designed to fly at high speed so close to the ground? Which is another thing that could easily be tested one way or the other given a brave enough pilot. And finally, could Hani Hanjour, an amateur pilot of questionable abilities1, ever have accomplished such a feat? Executing such an incredibly tight and controlled final manoeuvre that air traffic controllers assumed this was the track of a fighter jet. Such “sophisticated” piloting even impressed one-time flying ace George W. Bush, at least if we accept the account of the final 9/11 commission report.2
But then, in May 2006, and thus also half a decade after the attack, there was a breakthrough of sorts. One of the questions still hanging so perplexingly suddenly got a headline mention on the ITN ten o’clock news (followed-up by a fifteen minute slot on BBC2’s Newsnight that same evening).
Bong! Here is the news. Bong! Pentagon releases new security camera footage. Bong! New pictures show a Boeing did strike the Pentagon. Bong!
These were glad tidings of a sort. After all, if Flight 77 hadn’t hit the Pentagon then what had, and more perturbingly, what had happened to the plane that took off with its passengers and crew? And here again, the official story is astonishing. To account for why so little of the plane was actually recovered, the explanation is that most of the wreckage was either destroyed by the explosive impact or vaporised by the intense fires. Yet this theory, extraordinary as it is, becomes still more astounding again when one considers that in spite of the disappearance of most of the plane wreckage, investigators still managed to recover and the positively identify the remains of nearly all 189 victims from DNA samples.3 So how could a fire that incinerated almost all of the aluminium and titanium wreckage of the plane itself, not also have incinerated most of the human remains? Comparison with the magic passport found at the World Trade Center is obvious enough.
Symptomatic of the kinds of anomaly that riddle the official version of events, the unsettling implications in this instance altogether defy cool-headed reason. I mean, what are we to make of the eyewitnesses who reported seeing the plane, immediately prior to, or actually impacting the building. Surely if people saw a plane… well, then there must have been a plane. And yet it is well understood and accepted that eyewitness testimony is extremely unreliable.
So just imagine for a second, that you’d seen what appeared to be a low flying missile cross the lawns that front the Pentagon. What would you think? Keep in mind how quickly this would all unfold. Chances are you’ll only see the last moments of its flight. Keep in mind that you’ve probably never seen a missile before in your whole life. Was it a missile or something more familiar? And what if others, including news channels across the world, quickly confirmed that it was indeed a plane – could you still be sure? This is the problem with eyewitness accounts, and especially ones involving extraordinary and traumatic events. So unlike the eyewitness reports, clear video footage of the attack would finally put the whole matter to rest once and for all. If videos had captured a plane rather than a missile then the matter was closed… I watched the news expectantly and hopefully.
But what was this? Pictures, yes, but showing what precisely? A Boeing 757? Where was the Boeing 757? In fact there was nothing new at all in this supposed news. Just the same old footage that had mysteriously been leaked onto the internet some years beforehand, and one or two additional frames slipped in, but that was all. On one of the newly released frames, there appeared to be some kind of flying object, but, as bad luck would have it, the flying object itself was almost entirely obscured behind a post. Almost nothing of it was visible except for its thin vapour trail4.
And then, on the following frame, nothing but an intensely white explosive impact, transformed into bright orange on the next and the next. But no trace whatsoever in any of the available frames that even halfway resembled a commercial airliner. So why did the newscaster insist that this was the new film which finally showed a plane crashing? Why was I hearing one thing as I watched something else?
The fact that the video evidence is still withheld leaves us with two alternatives. Either The Pentagon have something to hide, or, more curiously, they are wanting us to suspect that they have something to hide. But we have the right to know, and there can be no justification for failing to publicly present such vital evidence.
The following videos are eyewitness accounts from people who say there was no plane. The first comes from a Pentagon employee who was inside the building when the attack happened:
The second is an interview with freelance video cameraman Bob Pugh, who was filming outside the Pentagon on the morning of September 11, 2001:
1‘Ultimately, administrators at the school told Mr. Hanjour that he would not qualify for the advanced certificate. But the ex-employee said Mr. Hanjour continued to pay to train on a simulator for Boeing 737 jets. ”He didn’t care about the fact that he couldn’t get through the course,” the ex-employee said. Staff members characterized Mr. Hanjour as polite, meek and very quiet. But most of all, the former employee said, they considered him a very bad pilot. ”I’m still to this day amazed that he could have flown into the Pentagon,” the former employee said. ”He could not fly at all.”‘ Extract from “A Trainee Noted for Incompetence” by Jim Yardley, published in New York Times on May 4th, 2002. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/04/national/04ARIZ.html
2“As a former pilot, the President was struck by the apparent sophistication of the operation and some of the piloting, especially Hanjour’s high-speed dive into the Pentagon.” Extract taken from Kean-Hamilton 9/11 commission report, p.334, Section 10.3 entitled “Phase two” and the question of Iraq.
3“All 64 people on board the airliner were killed, as were 125 people inside the Pentagon (70 civilians and 55 military service members).” from the 9/11 Commission Report, p. 314. “At the Pentagon, military medical examiners linked remains to 179 victims, including passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 77 and people working in the facility. Five people who perished at the Pentagon could not be matched to remains.”from USA Today, 11th September, 2006
4A vapour trail is actually something you would not expect behind a commercial jet flying at such low altitude (approx ground level). If anything, it therefore provides yet more support for the contention that this was some kind of missile