[Fwd: '9/11' Kooky Conspiracy Theorists are debunked with FACTS from PM Mag!]
> Subject: '9/11' Kooky Conspiracy Theorists are debunked with FACTS from PM Mag!
> 3 of 3
> KOOKY KONSPIRACY KNUTS ARE BODY SLAMMED AND GO DOWN FOR THE '10-COUNT'
> FOR THEIR PARANOID, UNPROVEN '9/11' CONSPIRACY THEORIES! / DEBUNKING
> 9/11 LIES: CONSPIRACY THEORIES CAN'T STAND UP TO THE HARD, FAST FACTS!
> FAST FACTS: 9/11: Debunking The Myths: As 9/11 conspiracy theories
> proliferate and receive increasing media attention Popular
> Mechanics talks to the experts to confirm the FACTS and to beat back the
> tide of poisonous MISinformation from the lunatic fringe on the
> From: POPULAR MECHANICS Magazine, March 2005 issue, pp. 70-81
> 9/11: Debunking The Myths
> PM examines the evidence and consults the experts to refute the most
> persistent conspiracy theories of September 11.
> FROM THE MOMENT the first airplane crashed into the World Trade Center
> on the morning of September 11, 2001, the world has asked one simple and
> compelling question: How could it happen?
> Three and a half years later, not everyone is convinced we know the
> truth. Go to Google.com, type in the search phrase "World Trade Center
> conspiracy" and you'll get links to an estimated 628,000 Web sites. More
> than 3000 books on 9/11 have been published; many of them reject the
> official consensus that hijackers associated with Osama bin Laden and Al
> Qaeda flew passenger planes into U.S. landmarks.
> Healthy skepticism, it seems, has curdled into paranoia. Wild conspiracy
> tales are peddled daily on the Internet, talk radio and in other media.
> Blurry photos, quotes taken out of context and sketchy eyewitness
> accounts have inspired a slew of elaborate theories: The Pentagon was
> struck by a missile; the World Trade Center was razed by
> demolition-style bombs; Flight 93 was shot down by a mysterious white
> jet. As outlandish as these claims may sound, they are increasingly
> accepted abroad and among extremists here in the United States.
> To investigate 16 of the most prevalent claims made by conspiracy
> theorists, POPULAR MECHANICS assembled a team of nine researchers and
> reporters who, together with PM editors, consulted more than 70
> professionals in fields that form the core content of this magazine,
> including aviation, engineering and the military.
> In the end, we were able to debunk each of these assertions with hard
> evidence and a healthy dose of common sense. We learned that a few
> theories are based on something as innocent as a reporting error on that
> chaotic day. Others are the byproducts of cynical imaginations that aim
> to inject suspicion and animosity into public debate. Only by
> confronting such poisonous claims with irrefutable facts can we
> understand what really happened on a day that is forever seared into
> world history. -- THE EDITORS
> THE PLANES
> The widely accepted account that hijackers commandeered and crashed the
> four 9/11 planes is supported by reams of evidence, from cockpit
> recordings to forensics to the fact that crews and passengers never
> returned home.
> Nonetheless, conspiracy theorists seize on a handful of "facts" to argue
> a very different scenario: The jets that struck New York and Washington,
> D.C., weren't commercial planes, they say, but something else, perhaps
> refueling tankers or guided missiles. And the lack of military
> intervention? Theorists claim it proves the U.S. government instigated
> the assault or allowed it to occur in order to advance oil interests or
> a war agenda.
> Where's The Pod?
> CLAIM: Photographs and video footage shot just before United Airlines
> Flight 175 hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) show an
> object underneath the fuselage at the base of the right wing. The film
> "911 In Plane Site" and the Web site:
> claim that no such object is found on a stock Boeing 767. They speculate
> that this "military pod" is a missile, a bomb or a piece of equipment on
> an air-refueling tanker. LetsRoll911.org points to this as evidence that
> the attacks were an "inside job" sanctioned by "President George Bush,
> who planned and engineered 9/11."
> FACT: One of the clearest, most widely seen pictures of the doomed jet's
> undercarriage was taken by photographer Rob Howard and published in New
> York magazine and elsewhere (opening page).
> PM sent a digital scan of the original photo to Ronald Greeley, director
> of the Space Photography Laboratory at Arizona State University. Greeley
> is an expert at analyzing images to determine the shape and features of
> geological formations based on shadow and light effects. After studying
> the high-resolution image and comparing it to photos of a Boeing
> 767-200ER's undercarriage, Greeley dismissed the notion that the Howard
> photo reveals a "pod."
> In fact, the photo reveals only the Boeing's right fairing, a pronounced
> bulge that contains the landing gear. He concludes that sunlight
> glinting off the fairing gave it an exaggerated look. "Such a glint
> causes a blossoming (enlargement) on film," he writes in an e-mail to
> PM, "which tends to be amplified in digital versions of images -- the
> pixels are saturated and tend to 'spill over' to adjacent pixels."
> When asked about pods attached to civilian aircraft, Fred E. Culick,
> professor of aeronautics at the California Institute of Technology, gave
> a blunter response: "That's bull. They're really stretching."
> No Stand-Down Order
> CLAIM: No fighter jets were scrambled from any of the 28 Air Force bases
> within close range of the four hijacked flights. "On 11 September
> Andrews had two squadrons of fighter jets with the job of protecting the
> skies over Washington D.C.," says the Web site:
> "They failed to do their job." "There is only one explanation for this,"
> writes MARK R. ELSIS of:
> "Our Air Force was ordered to Stand Down on 9/11."
> FACT: On 9/11 there were only 14 fighter jets on alert in the contiguous
> 48 states. No computer network or alarm automatically alerted the North
> American Air Defense Command (NORAD) of missing planes.
> "They [civilian Air Traffic Control, or ATC] had to pick up the phone
> and literally dial us," says Maj. Douglas Martin, public affairs officer
> for NORAD. Boston Center, one of 22 Federal Aviation Administration
> (FAA) regional ATC facilities, called NORAD's Northeast Air Defense
> Sector (NEADS) three times: at 8:37 am EST to inform NEADS that Flight
> 11 was hijacked; at 9:21 am to inform the agency, mistakenly, that
> Flight 11 was headed for Washington (the plane had hit the North Tower
> 35 minutes earlier); and at 9:41 am to (erroneously) identify Delta Air
> Lines Flight 1989 from Boston as a possible hijacking.
> The New York ATC called NEADS at 9:03 am to report that United Flight
> 175 had been hijacked -- the same time the plane slammed into the South
> Tower. Within minutes of that first call from Boston Center, NEADS
> scrambled two F-15s from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Mass., and
> three F-16s from Langley Air National Guard Base in Hampton, Va. None of
> the fighters got anywhere near the pirated planes.
> Why couldn't ATC find the hijacked flights? When the hijackers turned
> off the planes' transponders, which broadcast identifying signals, ATC
> had to search 4500 identical radar blips crisscrossing some of the
> country's busiest air corridors. And NORAD's sophisticated radar? It
> ringed the continent, looking outward for threats, not inward. "It was
> like a doughnut," Martin says. "There was no coverage in the middle."
> Pre-9/11, flights originating in the States were not seen as threats and
> NORAD wasn't prepared to track them.
> Flight 175's Windows
> CLAIM: On Sept. 11, FOX News broadcast a live phone interview with FOX
> employee Marc Birnbach.
> states that "Bernback" saw the plane "crash into the South Tower." "It
> definitely did not look like a commercial plane," Birnbach said on air.
> "I didn't see any windows on the sides."
> Coupled with photographs and videos of Flight 175 that lack the
> resolution to show windows, Birnbach's statement has fueled one of the
> most widely referenced 9/11 conspiracy theories -- specifically, that
> the South Tower was struck by a military cargo plane or a fuel tanker.
> FACT: Birnbach, who was a freelance videographer with FOX News at the
> time, tells PM that he was more than 2 miles southeast of the WTC, in
> Brooklyn, when he briefly saw a plane fly over. He says that, in fact,
> he did not see the plane strike the South Tower; he says he only heard
> the explosion.
> While heading a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) probe into
> the collapse of the towers, W. Gene Corley studied the airplane
> wreckage. A licensed structural engineer with Construction Technology
> Laboratories, a consulting firm based in Skokie, Ill., Corley and his
> team photographed aircraft debris on the roof of WTC 5, including a
> chunk of fuselage that clearly had passenger windows.
> "It's ... from the United Airlines plane that hit Tower 2," Corley
> states flatly. In reviewing crash footage taken by an ABC news crew,
> Corley was able to track the trajectory of the fragments he studied --
> including a section of the landing gear and part of an engine -- as they
> tore through the South Tower, exited from the building's north side and
> fell from the sky.
> Intercepts Not Routine
> CLAIM:"It has been standard operating procedures for decades to
> immediately intercept off-course planes that do not respond to
> communications from air traffic controllers," says the Web site:
> "When the Air Force 'scrambles' a fighter plane to intercept, they
> usually reach the plane in question in minutes."
> FACT: In the decade before 9/11, NORAD intercepted only one civilian
> plane over North America: golfer Payne Stewart's Learjet, in October
> 1999. With passengers and crew unconscious from cabin decompression, the
> plane lost radio contact but remained in transponder contact until it
> crashed. Even so, it took an F-16 1 hour and 22 minutes to reach the
> stricken jet. Rules in effect back then, and on 9/11, prohibited
> supersonic flight on intercepts.
> Prior to 9/11, all other NORAD interceptions were limited to offshore
> Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ). "Until 9/11 there was no
> domestic ADIZ," FAA spokesman Bill Schumann tells PM. After 9/11, NORAD
> and the FAA increased cooperation, setting up hotlines between ATCs and
> NORAD command centers, according to officials from both agencies. NORAD
> has also increased its fighter coverage and has installed radar to
> monitor airspace over the continent.
> THE WORLD TRADE CENTER
> The collapse of both World Trade Center towers -- and the smaller WTC 7
> a few hours later -- initially surprised even some experts. But
> subsequent studies have shown that the WTC's structural integrity was
> destroyed by intense fire as well as the severe damage inflicted by the
> planes. That explanation hasn't swayed conspiracy theorists, who contend
> that all three buildings were wired with explosives in advance and razed
> in a series of controlled demolitions.
> Widespread Damage
> CLAIM: The first hijacked plane crashed through the 94th to the 98th
> floors of the World Trade Center's 110-story North Tower; the second jet
> slammed into the 78th to the 84th floors of the 110-story South Tower.
> The impact and ensuing fires disrupted elevator service in both
> buildings. Plus, the lobbies of both buildings were visibly damaged
> before the towers collapsed.
> "There is NO WAY the impact of the jet caused such widespread damage 80
> stories below," claims a posting on the San Diego Independent Media
> Center Web site (sandiego.indymedia.org). "It is OBVIOUS and irrefutable
> that OTHER EXPLOSIVES (... such as concussion bombs) HAD ALREADY BEEN
> DETONATED in the lower levels of tower one at the same time as the plane
> FACT: Following up on a May 2002 preliminary report by the Federal
> Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a major study will be released in
> spring 2005 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology
> (NIST), a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST shared its
> initial findings with PM and made its lead researcher available to our
> team of reporters.
> The NIST investigation revealed that plane debris sliced through the
> utility shafts at the North Tower's core, creating a conduit for burning
> jet fuel -- and fiery destruction throughout the building. "It's very
> hard to document where the fuel went," says Forman Williams, a NIST
> adviser and a combustion expert, "but if it's atomized and combustible
> and gets to an ignition source, it'll go off."
> Burning fuel traveling down the elevator shafts would have disrupted the
> elevator systems and caused extensive damage to the lobbies. NIST heard
> first-person testimony that "some elevators slammed right down" to the
> ground floor. "The doors cracked open on the lobby floor and flames came
> out and people died," says James Quintiere, an engineering professor at
> the University of Maryland and a NIST adviser.
> A similar observation was made in the French documentary "9/11," by
> Jules and Gedeon Naudet. As Jules Naudet entered the North Tower lobby,
> minutes after the first aircraft struck, he saw victims on fire, a scene
> he found too horrific to film.
> "Melted" Steel
> CLAIM: "We have been lied to," announces the Web site:
> "The first lie was that the load of fuel from the aircraft was the cause
> of structural failure. No kerosene fire can burn hot enough to melt
> steel." The posting is entitled "Proof Of Controlled Demolition At The
> FACT: Jet fuel burns at 800Â° to 1500Â°F, not hot enough to melt
> steel (2750Â°F). However, experts agree that for the towers to
> collapse, their steel frames didn't need to melt, they just had to lose
> some of their structural strength -- and that required exposure to much
> less heat.
> "I have never seen melted steel in a building fire," says retired New
> York deputy fire chief Vincent Dunn, author of The Collapse Of Burning
> Buildings: A Guide To Fireground Safety. "But I've seen a lot of
> twisted, warped, bent and sagging steel. What happens is that the steel
> tries to expand at both ends, but when it can no longer expand, it sags
> and the surrounding concrete cracks."
> "Steel loses about 50 percent of its strength at 1100Â°F," notes
> senior engineer Farid Alfawak-hiri of the American Institute of Steel
> Construction. "And at 1800Â° it is probably at less than 10
> percent." NIST also believes that a great deal of the spray-on
> fireproofing insulation was likely knocked off the steel beams that were
> in the path of the crashing jets, leaving the metal more vulnerable to
> the heat.
> But jet fuel wasn't the only thing burning, notes Forman Williams, a
> professor of engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and
> one of seven structural engineers and fire experts that PM consulted. He
> says that while the jet fuel was the catalyst for the WTC fires, the
> resulting inferno was intensified by the combustible material inside the
> buildings, including rugs, curtains, furniture and paper. NIST reports
> that pockets of fire hit 1832Â°F.
> "The jet fuel was the ignition source," Williams tells PM. "It burned
> for maybe 10 minutes, and [the towers] were still standing in 10
> minutes. It was the rest of the stuff burning afterward that was
> responsible for the heat transfer that eventually brought them down."
> Puffs Of Dust
> CLAIM: As each tower collapsed, clearly visible puffs of dust and debris
> were ejected from the sides of the buildings. An advertisement in The
> New York Times for the book Painful Questions: An Analysis Of The
> September 11th Attack made this claim: "The concrete clouds shooting out
> of the buildings are not possible from a mere collapse. They do occur
> from explosions."
> Numerous conspiracy theorists cite Van Romero, an explosives expert and
> vice president of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, who
> was quoted on 9/11 by the Albuquerque Journal as saying "there were some
> explosive devices inside the buildings that caused the towers to
> collapse." The article continues, "Romero said the collapse of the
> structures resembled those of controlled implosions used to demolish old
> FACT: Once each tower began to collapse, the weight of all the floors
> above the collapsed zone bore down with pulverizing force on the highest
> intact floor. Unable to absorb the massive energy, that floor would
> fail, transmitting the forces to the floor below, allowing the collapse
> to progress downward through the building in a chain reaction.
> Engineers call the process "pancaking," and it does not require an
> explosion to begin, according to David Biggs, a structural engineer at
> Ryan-Biggs Associates and a member of the American Society of Civil
> Engineers (ASCE) team that worked on the FEMA report.
> Like all office buildings, the WTC towers contained a huge volume of
> air. As they pancaked, all that air -- along with the concrete and other
> debris pulverized by the force of the collapse -- was ejected with
> enormous energy. "When you have a significant portion of a floor
> collapsing, it's going to shoot air and concrete dust out the window,"
> NIST lead investigator Shyam Sunder tells PM. Those clouds of dust may
> create the impression of a controlled demolition, Sunder adds, "but it
> is the floor pancaking that leads to that perception."
> Demolition expert Romero regrets that his comments to the Albuquerque
> Journal became fodder for conspiracy theorists. "I was misquoted in
> saying that I thought it was explosives that brought down the building,"
> he tells PM. "I only said that that's what it looked like."
> Romero, who agrees with the scientific conclusion that fire triggered
> the collapses, demanded a retraction from the Journal. It was printed
> Sept. 22, 2001. "I felt like my scientific reputation was on the line."
> saw something else: "The paymaster of Romero's research institute is the
> Pentagon. Directly or indirectly, pressure was brought to bear, forcing
> Romero to retract his original statement." Romero responds: "Conspiracy
> theorists came out saying that the government got to me. That is the
> farthest thing from the truth. This has been an albatross around my neck
> for three years."
> Seismic Spikes
> CLAIM: Seismographs at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth
> Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., 21 miles north of the WTC, recorded the
> events of 9/11. "The strongest jolts were all registered at the
> beginning of the collapses, well before falling debris struck the
> earth," reports the Web site:
> A columnist on
> a Web site run by radio talk show host Alex Jones, claims the seismic
> spikes (boxed area on Graph 1) are "indisputable proof that massive
> explosions brought down" the towers. The Web site says its findings are
> supported by two seismologists at the observatory, Won-Young Kim and
> Arthur Lerner-Lam. Each "sharp spike of short duration," says
> Prisonplanet.com, was consistent with a "demolition-style implosion."
> FACT: "There is no scientific basis for the conclusion that explosions
> brought down the towers," Lerner-Lam tells PM. "That representation of
> our work is categorically incorrect and not in context."
> The report issued by Lamont-Doherty includes various graphs showing the
> seismic readings produced by the planes crashing into the two towers as
> well as the later collapse of both buildings.
> chooses to display only one graph (Graph 1), which shows the readings
> over a 30-minute time span.
> On that graph, the 8- and 10-second collapses appear -- misleadingly --
> as a pair of sudden spikes. Lamont-Doherty's 40-second plot of the same
> data (Graph 2) gives a much more detailed picture: The seismic waves --
> blue for the South Tower, red for the North Tower -- start small and
> then escalate as the buildings rumble to the ground. Translation: NO
> WTC 7 Collapse
> CLAIM: Seven hours after the two towers fell, the 47-story WTC 7
> collapsed. According to
> "The video clearly shows that it was not a collapse subsequent to a
> fire, but rather a controlled demolition: amongst the Internet
> investigators, the jury is in on this one."
> FACT: Many conspiracy theorists point to FEMA's preliminary report,
> which said there was relatively light damage to WTC 7 prior to its
> collapse. With the benefit of more time and resources, NIST researchers
> now support the working hypothesis that WTC 7 was far more compromised
> by falling debris than the FEMA report indicated.
> "The most important thing we found was that there was, in fact, physical
> damage to the south face of building 7," NIST's Sunder tells PM. "On
> about a third of the face to the center and to the bottom --
> approximately 10 stories -- about 25 percent of the depth of the
> building was scooped out." NIST also discovered previously undocumented
> damage to WTC 7's upper stories and its southwest corner.
> NIST investigators believe a combination of intense fire and severe
> structural damage contributed to the collapse, though assigning the
> exact proportion requires more research. But NIST's analysis suggests
> the fall of WTC 7 was an example of "progressive collapse," a process in
> which the failure of parts of a structure ultimately creates strains
> that cause the entire building to come down.
> Videos of the fall of WTC 7 show cracks, or "kinks," in the building's
> facade just before the two penthouses disappeared into the structure,
> one after the other. The entire building fell in on itself, with the
> slumping east side of the structure pulling down the west side in a
> diagonal collapse.
> According to NIST, there was one primary reason for the building's
> failure: In an unusual design, the columns near the visible kinks were
> carrying exceptionally large loads, roughly 2000 sq. ft. of floor area
> for each floor. "What our preliminary analysis has shown is that if you
> take out just one column on one of the lower floors," Sunder notes, "it
> could cause a vertical progression of collapse so that the entire
> section comes down."
> There are two other possible contributing factors still under
> investigation: First, trusses on the fifth and seventh floors were
> designed to transfer loads from one set of columns to another. With
> columns on the south face apparently damaged, high stresses would likely
> have been communicated to columns on the building's other faces, thereby
> exceeding their load-bearing capacities.
> Second, a fifth-floor fire burned for up to 7 hours. "There was no
> firefighting in WTC 7," Sunder says. Investigators believe the fire was
> fed by tanks of diesel fuel that many tenants used to run emergency
> generators. Most tanks throughout the building were fairly small, but a
> generator on the fifth floor was connected to a large tank in the
> basement via a pressurized line. Says Sunder: "Our current working
> hypothesis is that this pressurized line was supplying fuel [to the
> fire] for a long period of time."
> WTC 7 might have withstood the physical damage it received, or the fire
> that burned for hours, but those combined factors -- along with the
> building's unusual construction -- were enough to set off the
> chain-reaction collapse.
> THE PENTAGON
> At 9:37 am on 9/11, 51 minutes after the first plane hit the World Trade
> Center, the Pentagon was similarly attacked. Though dozens of witnesses
> saw a Boeing 757 hit the building, conspiracy advocates insist there is
> evidence that a missile or a different type of plane smashed into the
> Big Plane, Small Holes
> CLAIM: Two holes were visible in the Pentagon immediately after the
> attack: a 75-ft.-wide entry hole in the building's exterior wall, and a
> 16-ft.-wide hole in Ring C, the Pentagon's middle ring. Conspiracy
> theorists claim both holes are far too small to have been made by a
> Boeing 757. "How does a plane 125 ft. wide and 155 ft. long fit into a
> hole which is only 16 ft. across?" asks
> a Web site "dedicated to discovering the bottom line truth to what
> really occurred on September 11, 2001."
> The truth is of even less importance to French author Thierry Meyssan,
> whose baseless assertions are fodder for even mainstream European and
> Middle Eastern media. In his book "The Big Lie," Meyssan concludes that
> the Pentagon was struck by a satellite-guided missile -- part of an
> elaborate U.S. military coup. "This attack," he writes, "could only be
> committed by United States military personnel against other U.S.
> military personnel."
> FACT: When American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon's exterior wall,
> Ring E, it created a hole approximately 75 ft. wide, according to the
> ASCE Pentagon Building Performance Report. The exterior facade collapsed
> about 20 minutes after impact, but ASCE based its measurements of the
> original hole on the number of first-floor support columns that were
> destroyed or damaged. Computer simulations confirmed the findings.
> Why wasn't the hole as wide as a 757's 124-ft.-10-in. wingspan? A
> crashing jet doesn't punch a cartoon-like outline of itself into a
> reinforced concrete building, says ASCE team member Mete Sozen, a
> professor of structural engineering at Purdue University.
> In this case, one wing hit the ground; the other was sheared off by the
> force of the impact with the Pentagon's load-bearing columns, explains
> Sozen, who specializes in the behavior of concrete buildings. What was
> left of the plane flowed into the structure in a state closer to a
> liquid than a solid mass. "If you expected the entire wing to cut into
> the building," Sozen tells PM, "it didn't happen."
> The tidy hole in Ring C was 12 ft. wide -- not 16 ft. ASCE concludes it
> was made by the jet's landing gear, not by the fuselage.
> Intact Windows
> CLAIM: Many Pentagon windows remained in one piece -- even those just
> above the point of impact from the Boeing 757 passenger plane.
> an online animation widely circulated in the United States and Europe,
> claims that photographs showing "intact windows" directly above the
> crash site prove "a missile" or "a craft much smaller than a 757" struck
> the Pentagon.
> FACT: Some windows near the impact area did indeed survive the crash.
> But that's what the windows were supposed to do -- they're
> "A blast-resistant window must be designed to resist a force
> significantly higher than a hurricane that's hitting instantaneously,"
> says Ken Hays, executive vice president of Masonry Arts, the Bessemer,
> Ala., company that designed, manufactured and installed the Pentagon
> windows. Some were knocked out of the walls by the crash and the outer
> ring's later collapse.
> "They were not designed to receive wracking seismic force," Hays notes.
> "They were designed to take in inward pressure from a blast event, which
> apparently they did: [Before the collapse] the blinds were still stacked
> neatly behind the window glass."
> Flight 77 Debris
> CLAIM: Conspiracy theorists insist there was no plane wreckage at the
> Pentagon. "In reality, a Boeing 757 was never found," claims
> which asks the question, "What hit the Pentagon on 9/11?"
> FACT: Blast expert Allyn E. Kilsheimer was the first structural engineer
> to arrive at the Pentagon after the crash and helped coordinate the
> emergency response. "It was absolutely a plane, and I'll tell you why,"
> says Kilsheimer, CEO of KCE Structural Engineers PC, Washington, D.C.
> "I saw the marks of the plane wing on the face of the building. I picked
> up parts of the plane with the airline markings on them. I held in my
> hand the tail section of the plane, and I found the black box."
> Kilsheimer's eyewitness account is backed up by photos of plane wreckage
> inside and outside the building. Kilsheimer adds: "I held parts of
> uniforms from crew members in my hands, including body parts. OK?"
> FLIGHT 93
> Cockpit recordings indicate the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93
> teamed up to attack their hijackers, forcing down the plane near
> Shanksville, in southwestern Pennsylvania. But conspiracy theorists
> assert Flight 93 was destroyed by a heat-seeking missile from an F-16 or
> a mysterious white plane.
> Some theorists add far-fetched elaborations: No terrorists were aboard,
> or the passengers were drugged. The wildest is the "bumble planes"
> theory, which holds that passengers from Flights 11, 175 and 77 were
> loaded onto Flight 93 so the U.S. government could kill them.
> The White Jet
> CLAIM: At least six eyewitnesses say they saw a small white jet flying
> low over the crash area almost immediately after Flight 93 went down.
> BlogD.com theorizes that the aircraft was downed by "either a missile
> fired from an Air Force jet, or via an electronic assault made by a U.S.
> Customs airplane reported to have been seen near the site minutes after
> Flight 93 crashed."
> www.WorldNetDaily.com weighs in: "Witnesses to this low-flying jet ...
> told their story to journalists. Shortly thereafter, the FBI began to
> attack the witnesses with perhaps the most inane disinformation ever --
> alleging the witnesses actually observed a private jet at 34,000 ft. The
> FBI says the jet was asked to come down to 5000 ft. and try to find the
> crash site. This would require about 20 minutes to descend."
> FACT: There was such a jet in the vicinity -- a Dassault Falcon 20
> business jet owned by the VF Corp. of Greensboro, N.C., an apparel
> company that markets Wrangler jeans and other brands. The VF plane was
> flying into Johnstown-Cambria airport, 20 miles north of Shanksville.
> According to David Newell, VF's director of aviation and travel, the
> FAA's Cleveland Center contacted copilot Yates Gladwell when the Falcon
> was at an altitude "in the neighborhood of 3000 to 4000 ft." -- not
> 34,000 ft.
> "They were in a descent already going into Johnstown," Newell adds. "The
> FAA asked them to investigate and they did. They got down within 1500
> ft. of the ground when they circled. They saw a hole in the ground with
> smoke coming out of it. They pinpointed the location and then continued
> on." Reached by PM, Gladwell confirmed this account but, concerned about
> ongoing harassment by conspiracy theorists, asked not to be quoted
> Roving Engine
> CLAIM: One of Flight 93's engines was found "at a considerable distance
> from the crash site," according to Lyle Szupinka, a state police officer
> on the scene who was quoted in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Offering
> no evidence, a posting on Rense.com claimed: "The main body of the
> engine ... was found miles away from the main wreckage site with damage
> comparable to that which a heat-seeking missile would do to an
> FACT: Experts on the scene tell PM that a fan from one of the engines
> was recovered in a catchment basin, downhill from the crash site. Jeff
> Reinbold, the National Park Service representative responsible for the
> Flight 93 National Memorial, confirms the direction and distance from
> the crash site to the basin: just over 300 yards south, which means the
> fan landed in the direction the jet was traveling.
> "It's not unusual for an engine to move or tumble across the ground,"
> says Michael K. Hynes, an airline accident expert who investigated the
> crash of TWA Flight 800 out of New York City in 1996. "When you have
> very high velocities, 500 mph or more," Hynes says, "you are talking
> about 700 to 800 ft. per second. For something to hit the ground with
> that kind of energy, it would only take a few seconds to bounce up and
> travel 300 yards."
> Numerous crash analysts contacted by PM concur.
> Indian Lake
> CLAIM: "Residents and workers at businesses outside Shanksville,
> Somerset County, reported discovering clothing, books, papers and what
> appeared to be human remains," states a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article
> dated Sept. 13, 2001.
> "Others reported what appeared to be crash debris floating in Indian
> Lake, nearly 6 miles from the immediate crash scene."
> Commenting on reports that Indian Lake residents collected debris, Think
> speculates: "On Sept. 10, 2001, a strong cold front pushed through the
> area, and behind it -- winds blew northerly. Since Flight 93 crashed
> west-southwest of Indian Lake, it was impossible for debris to fly
> perpendicular to wind direction. ... The FBI lied." And the significance
> of widespread debris? Theorists claim the plane was breaking up before
> it crashed.
> states bluntly: "Without a doubt, Flight 93 was shot down."
> FACT: Wallace Miller, Somerset County coroner, tells PM no body parts
> were found in Indian Lake. Human remains were confined to a 70-acre area
> directly surrounding the crash site. Paper and tiny scraps of
> sheetmetal, however, did land in the lake.
> "Very light debris will fly into the air, because of the concussion,"
> says former National Transportation Safety Board investigator Matthew
> McCormick. Indian Lake is less than 1.5 miles southeast of the impact
> crater -- not 6 miles -- easily within range of debris blasted skyward
> by the heat of the explosion from the crash. And the wind that day was
> northwesterly, at 9 to 12 mph, which means it was blowing from the
> northwest -- toward Indian Lake.
> F-16 Pilot
> CLAIM: In February 2004, retired Army Col. Donn de Grand-Pre said on
> "The Alex Jones Show," a radio talk show broadcast on 42 stations: "It
> [Flight 93] was taken out by the North Dakota Air Guard. I know the
> pilot who fired those two missiles to take down 93."
> citing de Grand-Pre, identifies the pilot: "Major Rick Gibney fired two
> Sidewinder missiles at the aircraft and destroyed it in midflight at
> precisely 0958."
> FACT: Saying he was reluctant to fuel debate by responding to
> unsubstantiated charges, Gibney (a lieutenant colonel, not a major)
> declined to comment. According to Air National Guard spokesman Master
> Sgt. David Somdahl, Gibney flew an F-16 that morning -- but nowhere near
> Shanksville. He took off from Fargo, N.D., and flew to Bozeman, Mont.,
> to pick up Ed Jacoby Jr., the director of the New York State Emergency
> Management Office.
> Gibney then flew Jacoby from Montana to Albany, N.Y., so Jacoby could
> coordinate 17,000 rescue workers engaged in the state's response to
> 9/11. Jacoby confirms the day's events. "I was in Big Sky for an
> emergency managers meeting. Someone called to say an F-16 was landing in
> Bozeman. From there we flew to Albany."
> Jacoby is outraged by the claim that Gibney shot down Flight 93.
> "I summarily dismiss that because Lt. Col. Gibney was with me at that
> time. It disgusts me to see this because the public is being misled.
> More than anything else it disgusts me because it brings up fears. It
> brings up hopes -- it brings up all sorts of feelings, not only to the
> victims' families but to all the individuals throughout the country, and
> the world for that matter. I get angry at the misinformation out there."
> REPORTING: Benjamin Chertoff, Davin Coburn, Michael Connery, David
> Enders, Kevin Haynes, Kristin Roth, Tracy Saelinger, Erik Sofge and the
> editors of POPULAR MECHANICS.
> PHOTOGRAPHY RESEARCH: Sarah Shatz.
> PM consulted more than 300 experts and organizations in its
> investigation into 9/11 conspiracy theories. The following were
> particularly helpful.
> [OMITTED FOR REASONS OF SPACE]
> Links referenced within this article
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