In late March, the FBI re-released 27 photos showing the aftermath of the attack on the Pentagon, which took place on September 11, 2001.
These photos, which the bureau said disappeared from its website due to a “technical glitch”, have reignited discussions about what really happened at the Pentagon on that day.
The reason this remains a mystery is that the 86 surveillance videos that the FBI confiscated immediately after the attack, contain the footage showing what really hit the Pentagon.
Should all of this footage in its entirety be released, the theories, confusion, frustration and widespread scepticism regarding the many discrepancies about this dark chapter of 9/11 would disappear overnight.
Yet, the act of making this footage public is something the bureau is, 16 years later, inexplicably refusing to do.
While groups such as the “9/11 truthers” and the “9/11 conspiracy debunkers” remain at each other’s throats, more well-established and qualified experts debate over whether the physics of the official story adds up.
Perhaps the most compelling case is that of 29-year-old Hani Hanjour, who we were told piloted Flight 11, crashing it into the Pentagon.
The ‘amateur who could not fly’
Hanjour first came to the United States in 1991 to study English at the University of Arizona’s Centre for English as a Second Language. Despite wanting to become a flight attendant, he later pursued becoming a pilot – however he experienced a string of failures along the way to this journey.
Hanjour dropped out of his flight first school, the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics, located in Oakland, after attending only a few classes.
In late 1996, he enrolled at Cockpit Resource Management (CRM), a flight school in Scottsdale, Arizona. But his performance as a student at CRM was less than adequate. Duncan K.M. Hastie, owner of the school, described Hanjour as “slow learner who was “very emotional” and who often displayed “fear of flying”.
The instructor pointed out that [Hanjour] was “a pain in the rear”.
“We didn’t want him back at our school because he was not serious about becoming a good pilot,” Hastie said.
In late summer of 2001, Hanjour went to Maryland. Three times, he attempted to rent a plane. Each time, a different instructor took him on a test flight and deemed him incompetent to fly alone.
“We have a level of standards that we hold all our pilots to, and he couldn’t meet it,” the manager of the flight school was quoted as saying. He added that Hanjour could not handle even the most basic of air manoeuvres.
As for the type of aircraft that Hanjour was training in, it was a small single-engine Cessna.
From ‘slow learner’ to world’s fastest
In her essay, called ‘The impossibility of Flying Heavy Aircraft Without Training’, Nila Sagadevan examined what Hanjour would have needed to do in order to gain control of the aircraft and fly it to his intended target. Below is a paraphrased version:
After Hanjour, frail and barely five-feet tall, managed to fight off the former Marine combat fighter pilot, Charles Burlingame, we’re told to believe that Hanjour quickly familiarised himself with the Boeing 757’s complex array of gadgets and devices (all of which he was totally unfamiliar with). Then, without the help of any ground control of air-traffic controllers providing him information and/or settings, Hanjour was supposedly able to quickly interpret his heading, ground track, altitude and airspeed information on the displays before he was able to figure out where in the world he was (much less where the Pentagon was located in relation to his position).
However, just weeks after his (failed) Cessna training, he piloted the massive twin-engine Boeing 757 commercial airliner, calmly performing a sophisticated 350mph descending corkscrew turn of 330 degrees, skilfully bringing the huge aircraft to ground level, clipping just 5 light posts along the way and smashing into the façade of the Pentagon.
What do the experts say?
This utterly perplexing event was scrutinised by several career fighter pilots and flight instructors.
One of them, Robin Hordon, a flight instructor of 11 years at Boston Centre, said:
“That is a really difficult manoeuvre. What I will say to you is that highly skilled and experienced pilot with thousands of hours would have to take between 10 and 20 attempts, before they would be able to pull off that manoeuvre. However, the 757 is not designed to do that. This plane is designed to basically be a cruise ship in the sky. It’s not acrobatic, so you just can do that with one of those big airplanes.”
Hordon pointed out that when air traffic controllers at the Dulles approach control, thought, upon seeing the target come in and make that turn, that it was a fighter plane.
“They thought it was a military fighter, because these types of planes can do that. These planes, with autopilots and which can be flown remote, have the capabilities and are designed to be that acrobatic.”
Hordon was referring to air traffic controller Danielle O’Brien, who said:
“The speed, the manoeuvrability, the way that it turned, we all thought in the radar room, all of us experienced air traffic controllers, that it was a military plane.”
And O’Brien is not alone in her doubts about the aircraft being a commercial airliner.
Fred Fox, a retired US Navy pilot who has 33 years of experience flying for American Airlines, said:
“I know from my experience that it would have been highly improbable that even a seasoned military test pilot could have flown a T-category aircraft like the 757 into the first floor of the Pentagon because of a thing called ground effect.”
According to the 9/11 Commission Report, the official trajectory had the plane skimming the ground at 500mph as it impacted with the Pentagon. However, this turns out to be aerodynamically impossible.
As researchers have pointed out, even a small plane such a Cessna at full-throttle would accumulate a packet of compressed gas (air beneath the fuselage) which would make it impossible for the plane to get closer than 15 feet to the ground.
Aeronautical engineers have said a Boeing 757, travelling at 500mph, could not get closer than 60 feet to the ground. This is because if the plane had been taking the official trajectory, its engines would have caused significant markings to the lawn. Another reason for this is weight turbulence, which would have torn up the grass on the surface, leaving massive damage. Instead, the lawn is perfectly green and smooth.
Former US Air Force pilot, Russ Wittemburg, who flew two aircraft that we were told were involved in the 9/11 attacks, referred to Hanjour’s blatant lack of skill in the following statement:
“I don’t believe it’s possible for a terrorist to train on a 172 then jump in the cockpit of a 757-767-class cockpit and vertical navigate the aircraft, lateral navigate the aircraft, and fly the airplane at speeds exceeding its designed limit speed by well over 100 knots, make high-speed and high-bank turns, exceeding five, six or seven Gs. The aircraft would literally fall out of the sky. I couldn’t do it, and I’m absolutely positive they couldn’t do it.”
Colonel George Nelson, an aircraft accident investigator with the US Air Force, said:
“With all the evidence readily available at the Pentagon crash site, any unbiased rational investigator could only conclude that a Boeing 757 did not fly into the Pentagon”.
Alleged phone calls from plane debunked
According to the US Solicitor General at the time, his wife, Barbara Olson, had “called him twice on a cell phone phone from American Airlines Flight 77,” adding that “all passengers and flight personnel, including the pilots, were herded to the back of the plane by armed hijackers,” who had “knives and cardboard cutters.”
Strangely, neither the telephone company records, nor the Department of Justice phone call records, nor Barbara Olson’s cell phone call records have ever been made public, in spite of the fact that there has been much discussion of the authenticity of the reported phone calls from her.
The reason for this is because no cell phone call could have been made from an altitude of over 8,000 feet. At the time the call was made, the plane was purported to be cruising at 35,000 feet.
However, the editors of Popular Mechanics said that cell phones do work from cruising airplanes, even at maximum altitudes.
Putting this claim to the test, Japanese television conducted an on-camera experiment – Project Achilles – near Ontario Canada in 2003 to verify the actual reach of cell phones used at different altitudes. The cellular phone system used in the experiment was the same one used in the United States. It revealed:
Three cell phones, each from different telephone companies, were used, and were referred to company A, B and C. The experiment began at 1,000 feet, and showed fairly good reception. The same was the case with the other two. Next, they went up to 4,000 feet, when company B’s phone stopped working. When the altitude reached 6,000 feet, company A’s phone also became useless. At 8,000 feet, none of the cell phones worked.
In other words, at an altitude of 35,000 feet, cell phones would have been totally useless.
Another factor in this equation is speed.
The connection of cell phone towers need to be continuously transferred from one receiving station to the next, and then to the next, and so on. This transfer procedure between two receiving stations is called “hand off” and relies on continuous triangulations between receiving towers in order to establish the exact position of the caller. But the speed by which an aircraft approaches and crosses over the “hand off zone” is so high that the towers wouldn’t have the time to complete the hand off procedure. The call would be dropped and the person would need to dial the number from scratch. Even after 2001, both altitude and speed problems remain with making such calls. In 2005, the Washington Post wrote: most cell phones cannot reach a station from beyond 10,000 feet.
As it became clear that the passengers could not have placed their calls from the cell phones on the airplanes, the official narrative on this issue became more ambiguous and non-committal. Ted Olson, who had initially told the press he had received the two cell phone calls from his wife Barbara, changed his story to “calls made from an air phone”. By the time the 9/11 Commission published their final report, only one mention on the cell phone calls remained.
However, for the sake of debate, let’s assume Olson used one of the onboard phones on the plane, and not a cell phone.
According to a Boeing 757 Aircraft Maintenance Manual (757 AMM), dated January 28, 2001:
“The passenger telephone system was deactivated by ECO FO878.” (ECO F1463 and F1532 were later orders to remove the phones.) This page indicates, in other words, that by January 28, 2001, the passenger phone system for the AA 757 fleet had been deactivated.”
After being a fighter pilot, and having attended the US Navy Fighter Weapons School, Captain Ralph Kolstad served as an airline pilot for 27 years, during 13 of which he flew Boeing 757s and 767s for American Airlines. He wrote: “[T]he ‘air phones,’ as they were called, were … deactivated in early or mid-2001. They had been deactivated for quite some time prior to September 2001.”
Flight attendant Ginger Gainer, after reporting that the Boeing 757s prepared for international flights had stickers on the seatback phones “indicating that they were inoperative,” added: “I asked several current and former Flight Attendants for American … who flew domestic … and they all said that they recalled the phones as having been disabled at the time, or gone.”
So, having ruled out the possibility of cell phone calls and focusing now on the onboard telephone system, how could have Barbara Olson made a call from a phone that the plane did not have?
FBI still refuses to release surveillance tapes, but why?
Barbara Honegger, a senior journalist at the US Department of Defence, recalled a request by Major General Larry Arnold, who was commander of aviation at NORAD, to one of his fighter pilots.
“General [Larry] Arnold, that very morning, immediately after that alleged impact, ordered one of his fighter pilots to fly over and down to the Pentagon to look and see what he saw, and report back to General Arnold himself,” she said.
“His fighter pilot reported back to him that there was zero evidence of an impact of a plane at the Pentagon.”
There were 86 separate and complete video recordings of the incident
However, the FBI was immediately at the scene and confiscated all 86 video tapes, including tapes in the Pentagon, the building’s parking lot, the gas station, in a nearby hotel and other buildings that had their cameras trained in that general area.
Considering everything above – the amateur pilot who could barely fly a Cessna; the “impossible” aerodynamics of the plane’s approach; ongoing questions about the total lack of visible wreckage on the Pentagon’s lawn, and so much more, the only question one is compelled to ask is this.
What is it, exactly, that the FBI does not want us to see?