Did Heroes Force Flight 93 Down?
The flight took off at 8:42 after a 40 minute delay on a crisp Tuesday morning in Newark. That delay probably saved target number 4. The heroes had time to be informed, and air defense had more time to become aware we were under attack. The passengers on this flight are heroes and deserve all the credit and medals they get.
Investigators learned from the cockpit voice recorder from UA Flight 93, which crashed in rural Pennsylvania, that a hijacker had joined the flight crew.
The FBI source said the hijacker, disguised as a pilot, was invited into the cockpit for the flight from New Jersey's Newark Airport to San Francisco.
Comment: This explains why the passengers reported 3 hijackers. One of the 4 hijackers was in a Pilot's uniform and was already in the cockpit. Later another hijacker joined him and they locked the cockpit.
At 9:39 a.m., a third plane smashed into the Pentagon -- and Flight 93 suddenly made a U-turn. Air traffic control picked up a transmission from the San Francisco-bound flight as it neared Cleveland. A stuck microphone revealed something wrong in the cockpit. "Get out of here," controllers heard. The microphone cut off but then came back on, with the sounds of an apparent scuffle. "Get out of here!" someone yelled.
Eventually, a man speaking in broken English announced: "There is a bomb on board. This is the captain speaking. Remain in your seat. There is a bomb on board. Stay quiet. We are meeting with their demands. We are returning to the airport."
Cleveland controller hears screams and scuffling over the radio channel between the cockpit and the ground. Asks if somebody called and gets no answer.
Controller hears one of the pilots yelling: Get out of here, get out of here.
Some investigators speculate that the hijackers may have slashed the throats of the pilots as the two men were still strapped into their seats. The cockpit voice recorder picked up the sound of someone choking. When a hijacker took over the controls, he knocked the plane off autopilot.
It was about 9:35 a.m. on Sept. 11... "We still don't know who said Get out of here,' whether it was a pilot or the hijacker," one of the sources said. "We heard a lot of scuffling and racket from the cockpit just as the words were yelled, so it's likely it was the pilot." ...
The controller watched the blip make a sharp turn over Cleveland and head back toward Pennsylvania.
Whoever was at the controls filed a new flight plan, listing the destination as Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.
"By that time the FAA had been alerted about what was going on," the source said. "But for the controllers, there was really nothing they could do but clear the skies and get everyone out of the way."
The radio transmissions each about 10-20 seconds long contain the sounds of a "loud and violent encounter," said one person who had heard a tape of the transmissions. Another said it appeared the pilots were being murdered. Several people described the recording as deeply disturbing.
Comment: The cockpit scuffle often played on TV was the first thing that happened in the Flight 93 hijacking. And the ATC was clearing planes out of the way immediately.
31, 6-foot-5 Bingham was a former rugby star at the University of California at Berkeley. Ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, just this summer, and he had once wrestled a gun away from a mugger.
Comment: It's widely been reported in newsgroups that Mark was gay - not that it matters... but if it helps alter the opinion of one homophobe into cutting gays some slack then I suppose it's worth noting.
Beamer, a basketball and baseball player in college and a take-charge guy, said he thought he and the others could "jump the terrorist with the bomb."
Comment: It's widely reported in newspapers that Todd was a devout Christian - not that it matters... but if it helps alter the opinion of one anti-Christian zealot into cutting devout Christians some slack then I suppose it's worth noting.
He was an all-state wrestler for Saddle River Day
School in Northern, N.J., a judo champion. [A friend] insisted "Those attackers are pretty f----, sorry, because they ran into the toughest son of a bitch I've ever known ...
Burnett told his wife, Deena, that he and two other passengers were "determined to do something" to take Flight 93 back..."He came up through the football camps. He started in the camps in the third grade and never missed a summer," Waldner said. "We had some great quarterbacks (at Jefferson) who were highly talented. None were as self-made as Tom Burnett.
42, a 5-foot-9, 200-pound executive who wore a "Superman" tattoo on his left shoulder, that Nacke is believed to have been involved in the plan, according to Robert Weisberg, Nacke's father-in-law.
Donald F. Greene (trained pilot):
There was also a trained pilot among the passengers,
, 52, executive vice president of Connecticut-based Safe Flight Instrument Corp.
Comment: Basically, there were some pretty tough guys on board - and a Pilot to keep it in the air. 757's have been reported as very easy to fly. It seems reasonable that other heroes may have joined in. Also, I've added below that the Flight Attendants were boiling hot water to throw on the hijackers. Other stories have noted they may have used fire extinguishers and other handy items to fight with.
They boarded the flights in teams of five. The exception was the four aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which authorities believe crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers took on the hijackers.
The four men who are suspected of having hijacked the plane had trained for years, authorities believe, learning to fly, practicing martial arts and procuring some of the information they needed over the Internet. Passengers saw men with red headbands, holding a red box that they said contained a bomb. They were armed with ceramic knives and box cutters.
"You must make your knife sharp and you must not discomfort your animal during the slaughter," it read.
"Completely forget something called 'this life.' The time for play is over and the serious time is upon us."
Comment: Ceramic knives are the latest craze as seen in some of the popular cooking TV shows. These knives are composed from zirconium oxide ceramic, a high-tech material. The knives stay razor sharp for years and don't set off metal detectors.
Three thousand miles from Boston an attractive woman is waking up in London. Over the past two weeks she has twice met the same group of five Arabs. The first time is at the China White club in Air Street.
Although the place is famous for its celebrity clientele, the backbone of its business is big-spending oil-rich Arabs and wealthy Palestinians, though these five fit into neither group. The management don't know them.
"These men looked more like athletes than lounge lizards," the woman will later tell police. "They were all quite young, below 40, and they were very fit.
"We started chatting but they wouldn't tell me what they did for a livingjust that they'd soon be leaving for New York where they had a big job to do."
At 5 feet, 11 inches and about 180 pounds, Jarrah surprised Rodriguez with his stamina. The training included flat-out fighting. At one point, the trainer went at the student with a baseball bat to teach him disarming techniques.
The young man, who told Rodriguez he was training to become a pilot, could go 10, 15 or 20 minutes in unrelenting combat. The battle techniques Jarrah came to learn involved thinking -- figuring out ways to make an opponent's moves work against him; throwing attackers off-balance; keeping composure under stress.
Jarrah, Rodriguez said, was very calm and a quick learner.
"He was in very, very good shape. He was a great person to work with," Rodriguez said. "I told him, 'If you have someone to practice with, practice these techniques.' He told me, 'Oh, yeah, I have some roommates I can train with.' "
Basically, these guys have trained to fight with their hands and defend multiple attackers - and knew they were on a one way trip. These 4 men may have been training for more than a year. Some hijackers are reported to have taken the same flights a number of times as part of their training - checking security and becoming familiar with the combat zone.
Deena Burnett was waking up at her home in San Ramon, Calif. She'd gone down to the kitchen to fix breakfast for her three daughters. The phone rang. She recalls it was around 6:20 a.m. -- 9:20 Eastern time.
It was Tom.
"Are you all right?" she asked.
"No. I'm on United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. The plane has been hijacked. We are in the air. They've already knifed a guy. There is a bomb on board. Call the FBI."
Deena Burnett dialed 911.
In an equally calm and businesslike way, Beamer rattled off the details (3 hijackers, 2 with knives; 10 passengers in first class, 27 in coach, 5 flight attendants; no children that he could see). A flight attendant had relayed to him that there were two peopleshe believed they were the captain and first officerlying dead or gravely wounded on the floor in first class.
... Beamer's group (in back of plane) was being guarded by a man who claimed to have explosives strapped to his midsection.
The remaining passengers and crew were broken up into two groups; some were herded together in the first-class compartment, but most were told to sit on the floor in a galley at the rear of the 757-200's 110-foot cabin, Beamer told Jefferson.
Comment: Passengers on floor are not strapped in - this was planned, like everything else, as we'll see later.
Todd Beamer placed a call on one of the Boeing 757's on-board telephones and spoke for 13 minutes with GTE operator Lisa D. Jefferson, Beamer's wife said. He provided detailed information about the hijacking and -- after the operator told him about the morning's World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks -- said he and others on the plane were planning to act against the terrorists aboard, Lisa Beamer said.
"They may have realized that (the hijackers) were planning to do the same thing with their plane," Beamer said Sunday in a telephone interview from her Hightstown, N.J., home. "So they chose to do what they could to prevent other people from being hurt."...
...Beamer said that her husband placed the call at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday and told Jefferson that there were three knife-wielding hijackers on board and one had what appeared to be a bomb tied to his chest with a red belt. Two of the hijackers were in the cockpit with the door locked -- the pilot and co-pilot were forced out -- and the man with the apparent bomb stayed in the rear of the aircraft. (where Beamer was)
Comment: If the two times above are correct and are talking about the same phone call, then we have a call originating at 9:45am and lasting 13 minutes. Ending 12 minutes before crash time.
Lisa Beamer said her husband called Jefferson on a GTE Airfone at 9:45 a.m., after the passengers aboard his flight had learned that Flight 11 hit the World Trade Center. By that time, the hijackers aboard Flight 93 had stabbed one passenger to death. The United pilots, Jason Dahl and Leroy Homer, had also been injured, Beamer told Jefferson, though he did not say how seriously.
Comment: So we've got one passenger dead, two pilots out of action, 2 terrorists in locked cockpit, 1 terrorist guarding rear of plane, 1 terrorist guarding front of plane.
"Deena," Todd Beamer told her, "If they're going to crash the plane into the ground, we have to do something. We can't wait for the authorities. We have to do something now."
Beamer, a , and the GTE supervisor recited the Lord's Prayer...
Beamer dropped the phone and was heard saying: "God help me. Jesus help me."...
"Are you guys ready?" the operator heard the 32-year-old Beamer ask fellow passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Then he said: "Let's roll."
Comment: Well there isn't much we can do here other than speculate. Cell phone witnesses heard a couple sets of screams with silence in between and that's it.
The predominate theory seems to be that these guys made it into the cockpit in and forced the plane down. I want to point out that the transcripts I've seen have the heroes saying "We want to take the plane back" and "Hold on, I'll be right back". They do not plan to crash the plane. That doesn't make sense. Would you plan to do that? Americans would beat the hell out of the terrorists and try to fly that baby home.
The alternative ending is the terrorists realised they were under assault and crashed the plane themselves.
Even if they managed to overpower the hijacker standing guard over them, the men in the back of the aircraft would have had to run -- single file, down a narrow aisle about 37 yards to the cockpit.
Comment: The next time you get on a plane think about this. I flew 3 weeks after 9-11-01 and those aisles are very tight.
Bradshaw said he took his wife's call about 9:30 a.m....
"Have you seen what's happening? Have you heard?" Sandy asked her husband in a calm voice. "We've been hijacked."...She said the hijackers put most of the people in the rear of the plane and a few in first class... While Sandy talked, she and other flight attendants were boiling water to toss on the hijackers. Nearby, many passengers were making cell phone calls, a few were plotting an uprising.
Bradshaw thinks they talked for five or 10 minutes...
Around Sandy, three men were whispering the 23rd Psalm. "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want..." Then one of the men apparently made the call to charge the hijackers.
"We're all running to first class," were her last words.
Now we've got more Heroes. Sandy Bradshaw - a part time flight attendant that worked only 4 days per month and her coworkers. She says they are running to first class... so maybe the rear guard was fairly fair away from the group. This makes some sense... he would have wanted to see them coming. The timing of this call doesn't seem to match the others - the call was taken at 9:30 and lasted 10 minutes before the rush IF Bradshaws husband recalled correctly that would put the attack at 9:40.
A fight ensued, likely one attacker at a time. If the rear guard was overwhelmed and dogpiled (as was the plan) the front hijacker may have rushed the dogpile with a weapon and taken care of the attackers while they were on the ground in a weak position. OR the first class hostages may have risen against the front terrorist simultaneously.
If both terrorists were overwhelmed I surmise that that heroes would have regrouped before attempting to break into the locked cockpit. If so, they surely would have returned to the cell phone to report victory. There were active cell phones all over that flight.
But that didn't happen.
I assert this is what probably happened. On attack, the hijackers probably screamed to alert the flight crew of the attack. With all their training, the flight crew should have planned for this contingency. They may have thrown the plane into a climb, a dive or a hard turn in order to throw the attackers off their feet. A couple times a year passengers are severely injured when planes hit rough air and passengers aren't wearing seat belts. A Fed-Ex pilot had thwarted a hijacking by doing something similar -
The FedEx crew eventually subdued the attacker and landed safely. Calloway was convicted of attempted aircraft piracy and sentenced to life in prison.
James Tucker, the FedEx pilot who rolled the cargo jet upside down to throw the attacker off balance, said he was horrified by the calculated brutality of Tuesday's "act of war" -- and its simplicity.
The plane was witnessed to have been wagging it's wings, this would sync with the idea that the pilots were keeping those passengers bouncing around the cabin until they were incapacitated. It could indicate a cockpit struggle or a terrible pilot too. (written 9-22-01)
On 11-25-01 this new information was reported in an exclusive by Newsweek - and then seemingly reinterpreted by a number of other news outlets with interesting variations. Chris Matthews asked Newsweeks Evan Thomas if he heard the recording. Thomas answered NO that he was writing the article from a transcript provided to him by the FBI. Given the FBI's record of highly accurate information dissemination surrounding this incident, that doesn't really give me a super-warm-comfy-feeling inside. Surprisingly, the Newsweek reporters seem to feel after reading this partial transcript that the heroes got close to, but not into the cockpit.
Beginning at 9:57, the cockpit voice recorder began to pick up the sounds of a death struggle. There is the crash of galley dishes and trays being hurled, a mans voice screaming loudly. The hijackers can be heard calling on each other to hold the door. One of the passengers cries out, Lets get them! More crashing and screaming. In a desperate measure to control the rebellion, a hijacker suggests cutting off the oxygen.
The one at the controls decides to try to knock the passengers off their feet as a last line of defence by putting the aircraft into a steep dive. He is heard mumbling to himself about cutting off oxygen to the passenger compartment but cannot find the right control. As half a dozen men charge up the aisle towards the cockpit, the hijackers, hearing this bedlam, suddenly realise that two of their team are left outside and are heard dragging them inside to safety as they push away the first of their assailants.
Comment: I imagined two months ago that the pilot would try to to bank, dive or climb to knock the passengers off their feet. The only thing the reporter leaves out is the fairly obvious fact (in my mind) that it would have worked.
It's very difficult to walk, let alone run or fight in a dive. The heroes would be weightless in a dive of more than a 2 seconds.
Another thing this story adds is now the heroes would have had to have gotten by MORE than 2 terrorists, possibly 4, locked in the cockpit. Tough mission. No divide and conquer option, and the passengers would still have to attack one at a time through the narrow cockpit entrance. Also, 9:58 to 10:06 isn't well accounted for. They basically say "There must have been a continued struggle all that time". Which would be sorta right. There was struggle to fly the plane during that time, but probably because the plane started falling apart somewhere in there and then an engine fell off.
Later on in my article on this page you'll see that over 2 months ago, I also offered the possibility that the terrorists may have either tried to crash themselves, or lost control. (from the email's I get, I'm pretty sure a lot of people never read that :-)
Listen to this audio file. (about 5 minutes I think)
"Some of that is still under investigation...
Investigators are looking into the possibility that the heroes came very close to the cockpit, it is unclear that they actually reached the cockpit door...
...The passenger were yelling, they were throwing things, they were attacking the door... hijackers were working very hard to hold the door and keep the passengers out. It's possible in doing that they may have lost control of the aircraft. audio file.
Comment: Call me crazy one more time, but I have a hard time imagining how these terrorists, who just killed 2 pilots and a passenger, were considering turning the oxygen off, had grabbed an axe and knew they were on a death mission would be totally spooked by stuff being thrown against the cockpit door, just fall to pieces mentally and forget how to fly the plane OR decide it was suicide time. It seems more reasonable that they would have begun searching for the closest target in order to maximize damage. Only when heroes got into the cockpit would they consider forcing a crash.
Now, it is possible they lost control of the aircraft when they were knocking the passengers around. It is also possible they overstressed the aircraft while knocking the passengers around. The plane began falling apart, then an engine came off followed by the crash.
Deena Burnett is convinced her husband, Tom, was in the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93 battling hijackers for control of the plane when it crashed in a Pennsylvania field Sept. 11....
"I want to know everything I can," she said. "I've called the FBI a couple of different times, but they've never returned my calls. It's frustrating."
Comment: My take on this is and has been, if the FBI had evidence supporting the heroes WE ALL would have heard or read about it very quickly after the information was discovered. Ms. Burnett went on to say in another interview that she thinks she's been misrepresented by the press (imagine that!) about the vigor of her request. She's content to wait until it's safe to release the tape. God bless her. These hero relatives have been incredibly stoic heroes themselves throughout this nightmare.
In fact, the FBI has never said the heroes were successful at breaking in the cockpit and causing the crash. They have never even said heroes were in the cockpit.
At this point, if a new story comes out - even if it comes with a recording - that shows heroes in the cockpit, I think we all have a right to be skeptical of it's accuracy. I have a digital audio studio at home. I, and anyone else familiar with audio these days, can tell you anything can be created. No matter what information is released in the future, skeptics of the hero story have been given all the ammo they need by the FBI to remain skeptical forever. That ammo is silence, time and the failure to discuss witnessed events like the mystery white jet at tree top level before the crash, the wide debris field, the detached engine, the explosions heard by so many and the data recorders. The media has added fuel to the fire by ignoring much of the same as it reports.
There is nothing on the Flight Data Recorder that will keep the FBI from catching any bad guys. You know it. I know it. Every reporter in America knows it. Let's see the raw information in it's entirety and let independent investigators examine it from the start to finish. Our government owes both the relatives and the public that. That information is the PUBLIC'S. Hand it over. This is a much simpler crash than 587, right? What is there to hide?
Now, back to our story as originally written...
Let's say the heroes somehow made it through the locked cockpit door. I need to point out that there is no report any hijacker attempted to break into any cockpit. Instead, they were inside to begin the flight, or they held the Flight crew hostage and demanded the cockpit be opened. Then they started attacking hostages until the pilots complied. So we really don't know how tough it is to break through one, and how much warning that would have given the terrorists inside the cockpit to prepare. If they did break in, it's on the cockpit voice recorder, agreed?
Once in the cockpit - just what would have occured next?
The heroes would now be armed with knives. But they would have to fight their way in single file. The 2 hijackers would have heard them coming and engaged autopilot if it wasn't already engaged and fought. I still think the pilot would stayed strapped in and banked the plane, then leveled to give the co-pilot (or cockpit guard) a chance to fight.
Let's say the heroes got past the cockpit guard and got their hands on the controls. First, autopilot would have had to have been disengaged. So let's assume that. I was emailed that a 20 lb force on the yoke would disengage the autopilot. Now a hero grabs the yoke and pushes down or sideways. The plane banks or dives or both.
What's the next thing that happens?
Everything goes weightless. Anything not strapped down goes flying. The Terrorist is strapped in - the Heroes go weightless. The Heroes fall away from the controls and the the pilot pulls out. This is altitude dependent... but it's hard to imagine how a Hero could have kept any pressure on the yoke for longer than a few seconds. There is almost no control input you can make on a 757 to make it fall violently from sky the way it is reported to have. It was flying along, then basically fell out of the sky and went in at 80 to 90 degrees. A stall may have produced that effect. It is one of the larger passenger aircrafts. Very slow to turn etc.
To be frank, the much more logical thing to do would have been to beat the hell out of the pilot.
So let's say they did that!
Alternative Ending: The pilot crashes the plane himself because he's under attack. Maybe he pulls back on the throttle and throws the controls down and over taking the plane down. That's pretty reasonable. Maybe that's what happened.
But there is one thing unsolved by this theory. How do we explain the huge debris field, the engine and body parts considerable distances from the main crash site? What can a pilot do on board to cause those things? We don't really know how difficult to overstress one of these planes and get it to start falling apart in the air. All airliners must withstand 2.5 g's and the 757 is reported to be robust, possibly capable of withstanding fairly high g-forces.
End of Assault:
At her parents' house, Lyzbeth Glick couldn't stand it anymore and handed the phone to her father.
"I'm waiting, hoping Jeremy or somebody will come back and say it worked," Richard Makely recalled. The silence lasted two minutes, then there was screaming. More silence, followed by more screams. Finally, there was a mechanical sound, followed by nothing. The family held the phone line open for two hours.
Here's an interview with a hero relative.
[just as the attack began]
Glick's father-in-law, Richard Makely, said he took the phone, hoping to hear Glick come back and say the passengers and crew had regained control of the plane.
Instead, he said, "I heard the end of the story."
He would not say exactly what he heard, other than to say "it would not have indicated" what ultimately caused the plane's nose dive into a field in Somerset County, southeast of Pittsburgh, 90 minutes after the first airliner hit one of the twin towers in New York.
Comment: So now we've got an earwitness saying he heard the end of the hero story and "it would not have indicated" what caused the crash. But how do we interpret it?
Did he mean he heard the end of his son-in-law, and what caused his son-in-law's life to end did not cause the crash. Or does it mean he heard the scuffle and screams - and the line went dead (bomb or broken phone?) - and couldn't tell what caused the crash? Either way, I think he's being easy on his family. Did the FBI brief this guy about what he could say? Probably.
We didn't hear any of this on TV did we? It was reported the 13th. Why the hell didn't a reporter follow up to clarify?
"We got the call about 9:58 this morning from a male passenger stating that he was locked in the bathroom of United Flight 93 traveling from Newark to San Francisco, and they were being hijacked," said Glenn Cramer, a 911 supervisor.
"We confirmed that with him several times and we asked him to repeat what he said. He was very distraught. He said he believe the plane was going down. He did hear some sort of an explosion and saw white smoke coming from the plane, but he didn't know where.
"And then we lost contact with him."
Comment: Either he got out of the bathroom to see the smoke while he was on the phone, or it was coming in through somewhere in the bathroom or through the door. This suggests some kind of on-board catastrophe. Thinking about it, if you're locked in a bathroom and safe from the terrorists - why in the heck would you leave? So how did the smoke get in the bathroom?
"We and the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) are in the process of transcribing and, in certain cases, translating the dialogue, what little dialogue there is on that voice recorder," Mueller said.
Without going into details, Mueller seemed to confirm that the passengers attempted some type of takeover.
"I think ... both the attorney general and I and the attorney general of Pennsylvania have indicated we believe those passengers on this jet were absolute heroes and their actions during the flight were heroic," Mueller said.
A senior United States intelligence official told news site MSNBC.com that mobile phone communications from flight 93 indicate that three passengers overpowered the hijackers but were unable to maintain control of the plane. (9/14/01)
Comment: As of 9-22-01 the FBI has heard and transcribed the Cockpit Voice Recorder and knows exactly what happened and won't say the Heroes were successful. If they had evidence of a successful takeover we all would have heard it on TV or read about by now with anything sensitive to the case removed. They don't - so we get nothing. It took all of 36 hours to hear audio of Flight 587's voice recorder.
Don't forget to read the ground eyewitness page. The flight data recorder should resemble what the eyewitnesses saw, and jive with the location the engine was found - which currently we don't know, but has been reported to me by locals as somewhere West of the crash site. I cannot verify that.