Pennsylvania Crash 3

Comparison with other crashes

Date: 11 July 1991
Airline: Nigeria Airways
Flight No.: 2120
Aircraft: DC-8-61
Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Fatalities: 261:261
Description: A fire in a wheel well prompted the crew to attempt an emergency landing. The fire damaged electrical cables and hydraulic lines, causing loss of control and the crash.

Date: 23 March 1994
Airline: Aeroflot
Flight No.: 593
Aircraft: Airbus A310-304
Location: Mezhdurechensk, Russia
Fatalities: 75:75
Description: During the flight the Captain allowed his daughter and son to sit in the pilots’ seats while he demonstrated some autopilot features. A series of events led to +4.8g accelerations and a stall, followed by a spin, and ending in the crash.

Date: 08 September 1994
Airline: USAir
Flight No.: 427
Aircraft: B737-300
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Fatalities: 132:132
Description: During the approach to the Pittsburgh airport the rudder deflected, leading to the crash.

Date: 31 October 1994
Airline: American Eagle
Flight No.: 4184
Aircraft: ATR-72
Location: Roselawn, IN
Fatalities: 68:68
Description: While in a holding pattern to land at O’Hare Airport, ice accumulated on the wings, causing the aircraft to enter a spin from which the crew could not recover. (An ATR-72 is a commuter plane with an 88-foot wingspan)

Date: 03 April 1996
Airline: U.S. Air Force
Flight No.: 21
Aircraft: B737-T43
Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Fatalities: 35:35
Description: While performing an approach in poor weather conditions, the plane crashed into a mountain. (This crash killed U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown)

Date: 11 May 1996
Airline: ValuJet
Flight No.: 592
Aircraft: DC-9-32
Location: Miami, FL
Fatalities: 112:112
Description: Shortly after takeoff, a fire developed in the cargo hold from improperly stored oxygen canisters and spread, eventually severing control cables, causing the crash into swampy terrain.

Date: 06 March 1999
Airline: Air France Cargo
Flight No.: Unknown
Aircraft: B747-200F
Location: Madras, India
Fatalities: 0:5
Description: A fire broke out during landing and burned out of control.

Date: 07 April 1999
Airline: Turkish Airlines
Flight No.: Unknown
Aircraft: B737-4Q8
Location: Ceyhan, Turkey
Fatalities: 6:6
Description: The plane crashed after takeoff for unknown reasons.

Date: 25 December 1999
Airline: Cubana de Aviacion
Flight No.: Unknown
Aircraft: Yaklovlev YAK-42 (like 727)
Location: Bejuma, Venezuela
Fatalities: 22:22
Description: After being diverted from its original destination of Caracas, the plane crashed about 9 miles from the airport.

Date: 12 April 1980
Airline: Transbrasil
Flight No.: Unknown
Aircraft: B727-27C
Location: Florianopolis, Br.
Fatalities: 55:58
Description: This plane crashed into a hill during an instrument approach to the Florianopolis airport.

Date: 19 February 1985
Airline: Iberia
Flight No.: 610
Aircraft: B727-256
Location: Vizcaya, Spain
Fatalities: 148:148
Description: This plane crashed during an approach in rain.

Date: 12 August 1985
Airline: Japan Airlines
Flight No.: 123
Aircraft: B747SR
Location: Mt. Osutaka, Japan
Fatalities: 520:524
Description: The plane crashed into a mountain following the loss of the tail due to an explosive decompression caused by the failure of the rear pressure bulkhead.

Date: 31 August 1986
Airline: Aeromexico
Flight No.: 498
Aircraft: DC-9-32
Location: Cerritos, CA
Fatalities: 64:64+18
Description: The plane crashed after colliding with an small plane whose pilot had suffered a heart attack.

Date: 05 July 1970
Airline: Air Canada
Flight No.: 621
Aircraft: DC-8-63
Location: Toronto, Canada
Fatalities: 109:109
Description: The plane exploded during a go around following a botched landing attempt which slammed the outermost engine on the runway.

Date: 6 June 1971
Airline: Hughes Airwest
Flight No.: 705
Aircraft: DC-9-31
Location: Duarte, CA
Fatalities: 49:49
Description: This plane crashed after colliding with an F-4B fighter jet.

Date: 25 June 1975
Airline: Eastern Air Lines
Flight No.: 66
Aircraft: B727-100
Location: New York, NY
Fatalities: 115:124
Description: This plane broke up and caught fire after striking approach lights during an instrument landing.

Date: 25 September 1978
Airline: Pacific Southwest AL
Flight No.: 182
Aircraft: B727-200
Location: San Diego, CA
Fatalities: 135:135+9
Description: This plane crashed after colliding with a small plane.

Date: 25 May 1979
Airline: American Airlines
Flight No.: 191
Aircraft: DC-10-10
Location: Chicago, IL
Fatalities: 270:270+2
Description: This plane crashed shortly after takeoff after one of the engines separated from the wing, severing hydraulic lines and leading to a stall and roll-over. (This was the deadliest crash in US history.)

Date: 09 September 1969
Airline: Allegheny Airlines
Flight No.: 853
Aircraft: DC-9-31
Location: Fairland, IN
Fatalities: 84:84
Description: This plane crashed after colliding with a small plane.

Comment: 9/11 Research shows these plane crashes and says the Shanksville plane crash is not so unusual. However the pictures he shows of plane crashes shows much debris. Shanksville practically has none to see at the crash site, the crater. Conspiracy debunkers raise the crash of the Valujet that crashed into the Everglades, but there is a strong possibility that plane exploded, whether it was due to oxygen canisters it was carrying in the cargo hold, sabotage including bombs deliberately detonated on the plane. The plane also crashed into a swamp making the recovery of debris very difficult, and also caused the plane parts to be swallowed up. In short, the Valujet is not a good accident to compare with the Flight 93 crash with.

In the crashes that are similar to the Flight 93 crash where the plane plunged to earth and where explosions from ordnance are not a consideration, the crash sites show much more evidence of a plane, and nearly all show the tail of the plane (see above). In suspicious plane crashes such as the one in Turkey where an ordnance cause cannot be ruled out, the debris is in small pieces like the crash in Pennsylvania.

The other thing that supports the involvement of ordnance in the crash of Flight 93 is the fact that the three other crashes on that day all showed similar characteristics to the plane crash of FL93.

These characteristics are unusual: disappearance of the plane as it gets swallowed up, lack of substantially sized plane parts to the point where many question whether these planes existed at all, and the wide scattering of parts in the case of the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania crashes, and the eyewitness reports of explosions. Also fireballs were observable in all four crashes.

Throughout the day, as a plume of smoke hung in the sky, a steady stream of firefighters, police cars, emergency management crews, national guard members and local volunteers swarmed over the crash site. Dotted with strip mines, woods and cornfields, the site is atop a gradual, 500-yard-long slope about one or two miles south of Route 30 near Stoystown.

Jeff Killeen, an FBI spokesman from Pittsburgh, said the main thrust of the agency’s investigation will begin today when authorities divide the crash scene into grids and comb the area for evidence. [..]

There were 20 FBI agents on hand yesterday, and another 30 were expected last night. The contingent of 100 state troopers was expected to swell to 150. They planned to spend last night spaced out along the crash perimeter within each other’s eyesight to ward off curiosity seekers and prevent anyone from tampering with evidence.

Comment: Unlike the other crashes featured here, the plane debris is not readily visible at the crash site (crater) and is scattered over a wide area. Hence they need hundreds of people to COMB the area for the scattered debris.

For the first two or three days, Marshall walked the surrounding countryside looking for airplane parts.

“I found a lot of parts,” said Marshall, who was awarded a 2000 Law Enforcement Agency Directors award for identifying a man nearly four years after he was found murdered.

“The biggest part I found was one of the plane’s engines. It was about 600 yards from the crash site itself. I think they took it out with a winch on a bulldozer.”

Marshall, who served four years in the Air Force, said he found many parts that he couldn’t specifically identify.

“There was a hole in the ground — that was it,” said Yates Caldwell, the pilot who was at the controls of the 10-passenger corporate jet for Greensboro, N.C.-based apparel maker VF Corp. “There was no way to know what it was …. I didn’t know there had been a crash until I landed, until I was on the ground in Johnstown.”

“The best I can describe it is if you’ve ever been to a commercial landfill. When it’s covered and you have papers flying around. You have papers blowing around and bits and pieces of shredded metal. That’s probably about the best way to describe that scene itself.”

The apparent point of impact was a dark gash, not more than 30 feet wide, at the base of a gentle slope just before a line of trees.

There were few recognizable remnants of the plane or the passengers and crew. The trees beyond were still faintly smoldering but largely intact.

“If you would go down there, it would look like a trash heap,” said state police Capt. Frank Monaco. “There’s nothing but tiny pieces of debris. It’s just littered with small pieces.”

“You couldn’t see nothing,” said Nick Tweardy, 20, of Stonycreek Township. “We couldn’t tell what we were looking at. There’s just a huge crater in the woods.”

[H]e said the investigation will be slow because the impact of the plane left “scant” evidence that will require “painstaking collection.”

Comparison with Valujet crash

Comment: The crash of the plane in Pennsylvania is often compared to the crash of a Valujet plane in the Florida Everglades.

These plane crashes can’t be compared because:-

1) The Valuejet plane crashed into a swampy marsh where the plane parts quickly were immersed.

2) An explosive event (due to sabotage with bombs deliberately placed onboard or due to exploding oxygen canisters) cannot be ruled out.

There is still ongoing controversy about the cause of the Valujet plane crash.

“There’s no airplane left”

For the first time, divers Tuesday entered the crater in the Florida Everglades created when ValuJet Flight 592 plunged to earth. Afterwards, they said they found little.

“There is no aircraft in the pit, only fragment pieces,” said Paul Toy, one of the Metro-Dade Police divers.(123K AIFF sound or 123K WAV sound) He said the largest piece he found was about the size of 3- by 6-foot table. No body parts were discovered in the crater. [..]

Dispute about the cause


Through interviews, investigators have determined that about 136 canisters were being transported in cardboard boxes in the plane’s cargo hold.

“They did not have a plastic safety cap on their firing mechanism,” Feith said. Fifteen of the canisters had been emptied “either through removal or other means,” but he said it was not yet clear if any canisters contributed to a fire.

The “end caps” of the two oxygen generators were found embedded in a tire believed to have been loaded in the cargo hold. The end cap on a cylindrical oxygen generator is on the opposite side from the firing mechanism.

The tire also showed evidence of fire damage, Feith said. It’s believed that boxes containing the oxygen canisters were stored on top of three tires in the cargo hold. Other pieces of wreckage showed evidence of soot or other fire damage.

Comment: If there was an explosion caused by ordnance, parts of the aircraft will show signs of fire, burn marks. The force of an explosion will cause items to become embedded in other parts. An explosion will also cause items to break apart, blow off caps and so on.

A dispute has broken out between ValuJet and SabreTech, the aircraft maintenance company that handled more than 100 oxygen canisters loaded aboard Flight 592. There’s speculation the canisters may have contributed to a fire believed to have broken out on the plane before the crash.

Instead of being labeled hazardous, a shipping ticket indicated the canisters were empty of volatile chemicals. After the crash, ValuJet said it would have refused the shipment from SabreTech if the boxes had been accurately labeled as hazardous. The canisters were from some of ValuJet’s MD-80 planes being remodeled by SabreTech in Miami.

Hydraulic line?

The soot and reports of smoke in cockpit before the crash suggest there may have been an onboard fire. [..]

An expert on airline maintenance who did not wish to be identified told CNN that hours before the ValuJet plane crashed in the Florida Everglades, mechanics found an electrical problem in the cockpit area.

The problem with a hydraulic pump which repeatedly tripped a circuit breaker in a compartment behind the pilot’s seat was discovered before the plane left Atlanta for Miami last Saturday. The plane crashed later that day, soon after taking off from Miami on its return leg to Atlanta.

A source familiar with the incident said the airline put the problem on its deferred maintenance list for future repair. Under FAA regulations, it was an acceptable procedure, he said.

The problem “could have caused the wiring to smolder momentarily before popping the circuit breaker,” the source said but added that it was very unlikely it could have resulted in a fire.

The circuit breaker was located in the area of the aircraft where crash investigators have found soot deposits on debris recovered from the crash site, he said.

Bogus part?

My comment: Was the crash caused by a bogus part – an old and defective part – introduced into the plane as a result of the corruption of the spare parts airliner industry? Did this part involve the fire-vulnerable primary longitudinal trim relays?

Airworthiness Directive AD 91-21-07 [..] states, “To eliminate overheating of the primary longitudinal trim relays and the possibility of fire in the forward cargo compartment, accomplish the following.”

The requirement was to replace the relays prior to the accumulation of 8,000 flight hours, and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 8,000 flight hours. Flight 592 had 68,400.7 total flight hours at the time of the accident according to the accident report. Were the relays replaced within the period mandated? [..]

The Alert Service Bulletin was even more damning. Its Reason paragraph states, “Four operators reported six instances of overheat failure of the primary longitudinal trim contactors (relays). Contactor failures have resulted in smoke and burning behind the right side cargo liner at the forward side of the forward cargo door. In some instances smoke was reported in the main passenger cabin.” [..]

Unapproved, bogus, or illegal parts comprise several billion dollars, or more, of that annual trade. [..]

One of her reports quotes a convicted illegal drug dealer as saying, “I quit dealing in illegal drugs and got into the illegal aircraft parts business because there’s more money to be made and you meet a better class of people,” or words to that effect. She cited problems at ValuJet months before the accident, and refused to fly them for safety reasons. [..]

There were no right-roll indications in the Flight Data Recorder heading data. The airplane was in a sideslip condition, most likely with the left wing down. This would cause the cargo to shift to the left, supporting the possibility the fire started, not where heat damage was most pronounced, but to the right – the location of the longitudinal trim relays. [..]

The FAA knew there was an unapproved part on Flight 592, believed it might have caused the fire, and hoped to cover up that information.

Is the FAA guilty of aiding and abetting the unapproved aircraft replacement parts industry?

Or a bomb?

Investigators still hope to recover the plane’s cockpit voice recorder. The DC-9’s flight data recorder was retrieved this week, but critical information on the last minute of the flight is missing. Investigators said a power failure may have caused the data recorder to stop functioning 50 seconds before the plane hit the ground.

The information suggests that something, “locally catastrophic might have happened” seconds before the plane veered out of control, former FAA Administrator Don Engen told CNN in an interview Saturday morning.

Small sized debris

Late this afternoon, Detective Brickman said the searchers had found a piece of the plane 60 to 70 feet long that was believed to be the fuselage. The piece, however, cannot be seen. The searchers located it by feel, “groping” with wooden poles, he said, and it was not known how far it was below the surface.

Most of what was found was much smaller. Since daybreak, 6 to 10 divers from local law-enforcement agencies retrieved mostly items of clothing, possibly from luggage, and small debris no larger than a baseball cap.


Toy said there was a definite impression in the limestone, “like somebody shot a gun into limestone or rock.” [..]

The crater is 175 feet long, 60 feet wide, and about 6 feet deep.

Investigators suspect that a major portion of the DC-9 wreckage is submerged in the crater, a 5,200-square-foot area as deep as 8 feet in parts.×80455

Twisting vertical dive

Accounts from pilots who saw the crash said the jet hit the ground after a twisting, almost-vertical dive.

My comment: Valujet was a new airliner company. Did a competitor feel threatened by this new-concept airliner and similar companies that were springing up at the same time and sabotage the plane?’

Crash follows a string of minor problems

ValuJet, based in Atlanta, began operations in October 1993. The airline has experienced various problems in the past, but no fatalities.

In January 1996, a ValuJet DC-9 got stuck in mud at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, and the passengers had to be bused back to a terminal. In the same month, another ValuJet DC-9 slid into a snowbank after landing at Dulles International Airport outside Washington. Its skid closed the airport for nearly three hours.

And in June 1995, a fire destroyed a ValuJet DC-9 on a runway at Atlanta. One flight attendant was burned and minor injuries were reported among the 57 passengers and five crew members who were evacuated.

The ValuJet fire prompted an investigation of aircraft engines that ValuJet purchased from a Turkish airline. However, flight 592 was equipped with Pratt & Whitney engines that did not come from Turkey.

White jet that circled after the crash

THE unmarked military-style jet swooped down at high speed through the valley, twice circled the smouldering black scar where Flight 93 had careered into the ground just seconds earlier and then hurtled off over the horizon.

At least six eyewitnesses saw the mysterious aircraft on the morning of September 11 last year. But the US authorities deny it ever existed.

* Susan Mcelwain, 51, living just two miles from the crash site, says she saw a white plane directly overhead. “It came right over me, I reckon just 40 or 50 ft. above my mini-van. It was so low I ducked instinctively. It was traveling real fast, but hardly made any sound,” she said. “Then it disappeared behind some trees. A few seconds later I heard this great explosion and saw this fireball rise up over the trees, so I figured the jet had crashed. The ground really shook. So I dialed 911 and told them what happened.”

Mcelwain, who said that at the time she was unaware of the other three plane crashes, added, “It was only when I got home and saw the TV that I realized it wasn’t the white jet, but Flight 93.”

It was when she heard authorities deny the existence of the other plane that she became concerned, said Mcelwain, noting: “The plane I saw was heading right to the point where Flight 93 crashed and must have been there at the very moment it came down. There’s no way I imagined this plane – it was so low it was virtually on top of me. It was white with no markings but it was definitely military, it just had that look.

“It had two rear engines, a big fin on the back like a spoiler on the back of a car and with two upright fins at the side. I haven’t found one like it on the Internet. It definitely wasn’t one of those executive jets. The FBI came and talked to me and said there was no plane around.

“Then they changed their story and tried to say it was a plane taking pictures of the crash 3,000 ft. up.

“But I saw it and it was there before the crash and it was 40 ft. above my head. They did not want my story – nobody here did.”

* Lee Purbaugh, 32, who according to the Mirror was “the only person to see the last seconds of Flight 93” as it came down on former strip-mining land, also says he saw the white jet.

“I heard this real loud noise coming over my head,” he told the Mirror. “I looked up and it was Flight 93, barely 50 ft. above me. It was coming down in a 45 degree and rocking from side to side. Then the nose suddenly dipped and it just crashed into the ground. There was this big fireball and then a huge cloud of smoke.”

At the time, Purbaugh was working at the Rollock Inc. scrap yard on a ridge overlooking the crash site less than half a mile away.

Did he see another plane? asked the Mirror. “Yes, there was another plane. I didn’t get a good look,” said Lee, “but it was white and it circled the area about twice and then it flew off over the horizon.”

* Tom Spinelli, 28, working at Indian Lake Marina a mile and a half away, echoes the other witnesses: “I saw the white plane. It was flying around all over the place like it was looking for something. I saw it before and after the crash.”

At least four witnesses who were at the crash scene within five minutes of the crash told WTAE’s Paul Van Osdol that they saw another plane in the area.

Somerset County resident Jim Brandt said that he saw another plane in the area. He said it stayed there for one or two minutes before leaving.Another Somerset County resident, Tom Spinello, said that he saw the plane. He said that it had high back wings.Both men said that the plane had no markings on it, either civilian or military. The FBI said that it does not think that it was a military plane, but it would not rule out the possibility of it being a civilian plane.

Just three days after the worst terrorist attack in American history, on Sept. 14, 2001, The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record newspaper reported that five eyewitnesses reported seeing a second plane at the Flight 93 crash site.

“In separate interviews,” reported the Record, “five residents who live and work less than four miles from the crash site said they saw a second plane flying erratically within minutes of the crash of the Boeing 757 that took off from Newark two hours earlier Tuesday morning.”

One of the witnesses early on was Susan Mcelwain. Two others were Dennis Decker and Rick Chaney, who were at work making wooden pallets when they heard an explosion and came running outside to watch a large mushroom cloud spreading over the ridge.

“As soon as we looked up, we saw a mid-sized jet flying low and fast,” Decker told the Record. “It appeared to make a loop or part of a circle, and then it turned fast and headed out. ” Describing the plane as a Lear-jet type, with engines mounted near the tail and painted white with no identifying markings, Decker said, “If you were here to see it, you’d have no doubt. It was a jet plane, and it had to be flying real close when that 757 went down.”

“If I was the FBI,” he added, “I’d find out who was driving that plane.”

That same day, reported the Record, FBI Special Agent William Crowley said investigators could not rule out that a second plane was nearby during the crash. He later said he had misspoken, dismissing rumors that a U.S. military jet had intercepted the plane before it could strike a target in Washington, D.C.

At least two witnesses in Shanksville said they saw a large plane circling the crash site following the explosion. About two or three minutes after the explosion, the airplane climbed into the sky almost vertically, the witnesses said.

“It sure wasn’t no puddle jumper,” said Bob Page, general sales manager at Shanksville Dodge.

Page said he could not see if there were any markings on the plane or what kind it was. State and federal officials could not confirm reports of a possible second plane in the area.

The FBI’s later explanation for the white jet was that a passing civilian Fairchild Falcon 20 jet was asked to descend from 34,000ft to 5,000ft some minutes after the crash to give co-ordinates for the site. The plane and pilot have never been produced or identified. Susan Mcelwain says a Falcon 20 was not the plane she saw.

Crowley confirmed that there were two other aircraft within 25 miles of the United flight that were heading east when it crashed, scattering debris over 8 miles.

He did not know the types of planes, nor could he discuss the altitudes at which they were flying.

Military planes sometimes “shadow” airliners that are in trouble or have lost radio communications, as part of efforts to re-establish contact.

An Air Force spokeswoman at North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado, Capt. Adriane Craig, said the military could neither confirm nor deny whether an airplane was following the United 757.

Neither NORAD nor the Air Force releases information about where its jets are flying at any given time, or what their patrol routes are over metropolitan areas, Craig said.

Two other airplanes were flying near the hijacked United Airlines jet when it crashed in Somerset County, but neither had anything to do with the airliner’s fate, the FBI said yesterday.

In fact, one of the planes, a Fairchild Falcon 20 business jet, was directed to the crash site to help rescuers. The request for the jet to fly low and obtain the coordinates for the crash explains reports by people in the vicinity who said a white or silver jet flew by moments after the crash.

A C-130 military cargo plane was also within 25 miles of the passenger jet when it crashed, FBI spokesman Bill Crowley said yesterday, but was not diverted.

The FBI’s later explanation for the white jet was that a passing civilian Fairchild Falcon 20 jet was asked to descend from 34,000ft to 5,000ft some minutes after the crash to give co-ordinates for the site. […] Susan Mcelwain says a Falcon 20 was not the plane she saw.

Crowley also said that NTSB data showed that two other aircraft were within 25 miles of the crash. He said that he did not know if either was a military aircraft but he repeated that neither played a role in the crash.

Hoping to dispel rumors that United Airlines Flight 93 might have been shot down by military aircraft, the FBI Saturday said that two other planes were in the area but had nothing to do with the hijacked flight crashing in western Pennsylvania.

The FBI said that a civilian business jet flying to Johnstown was within 20 miles of the low-flying airliner, but at an altitude of 37,000 feet.

That plane was asked to descend to 5,000 feet — an unusual maneuver — to help locate the crash site for responding emergency crews.

The FBI said that is probably why some witnesses say they saw another plane in the sky shortly after Flight 93 crashed at 10:10 a.m. Tuesday in a grassy field near Shanksville, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

The FBI said there was also a C-130 military cargo aircraft about 17 miles away that saw smoke or dust near the crash site, but that plane wasn’t armed and had no role in the crash. That plane was flying at 24,000 feet. […]

On Friday, WTAE-TV reported that the mystery pilot in the white plane may have been an area farmer.On Friday, WTAE-TV reported that the mystery pilot in the white plane may have been an area farmer.

James K. Will, a Berlin, Pa., farmer who pilots a white Cessna with red stripes (pictured at right) and who has an airstrip near his farm, told Team 4 reporter Paul Van Osdol that he circled the scene about 45 minutes after the crash.

Will said he had just returned from Altoona and, when he’d heard about the crash, flew to the site to take photos of the wreckage. Pennsylvania State Police said that his plane may have been the one that many saw.

Will’s flight was intercepted by a state police helicopter and was escorted to the Johnstown-area airport. His plane was searched and he was released.

Many people in the Shanksville area, including some interviewed by the Daily News, saw a fast-moving, unmarked small jet fly overhead a very short time after Flight 93 crashed. Several days later, authorities said they believe the plane was a Falcon 20 private jet that was headed to nearby Johnstown but was asked to descend and survey the crash site. Yet officials have never identified the pilot nor explained why he was still airborne roughly 30 minutes after the government ordered all aircraft to land at the closest airport.

At least two witnesses in Shanksville said they saw a large plane circling the crash site following the explosion. About two or three minutes after the explosion, the airplane climbed into the sky almost vertically, the witnesses said.

“It sure wasn’t no puddle jumper,” said Bob Page, general sales manager at Shanksville Dodge.

Page said he could not see if there were any markings on the plane or what kind it was. State and federal officials could not confirm reports of a possible second plane in the area.

From Day 1, the government has given conflicting accounts about the exact whereabouts of three North Dakota Air National Guard F-16s, assigned to national air defense, based at Langley Air Force base in Virginia and scrambled at the height of the attacks.

Just a few days after the crash, a federal flight controller told a Nashua, N.H., newspaper that an F-16 was “in hot pursuit” of the hijacked United jet, following so closely that it made 360-degree turns to stay in range. “He must have seen the whole thing,” an unnamed aviation official said.

Authorities also sought to explain why a number of residents saw a small, unmarked jet circling over the crash site shortly after. Workers at a marina saw it, and so did Kathy Blades, who was in her small summer cottage about a quarter-mile from the impact site.

Blades and her son ran outside after the crash and saw the jet, with sleek back wings and an angled cockpit, race overhead. “My son said, ‘I think we’re under attack!’ ” She said she was so shocked by the crash she can’t say exactly how long after the impact it was.

A few days later, the FBI offered a possible explanation for what the witnesses saw. Authorities said that a private Falcon 20 jet bound for nearby Johnstown was in the vicinity and was asked by authorities to descend and help survey the crash site. But the authorities didn’t identify the owner of the jet, nor explain why it was airborne some 40 minutes after the Federal Aviation Administration ordered all planes to land at the nearest airport.

Comment: Why would the authorities seek to reassure the residents that the plane they saw was the one that they apparently asked to check on the crash site? And why would they need this person to fly over the crash site 45minutes after the crash? Wouldn’t they have been able to pinpoint where the plane crashed with their own Air Force jets well before 45 minutes? Why aren’t the authorities actively searching for this aircraft when there is a good possibility that the aircraft the six people witnessed isn’t the jet that was flown by James Will, as he flew his plane over the crash site 45 minutes after the crash and the majority of the witnesses saw the mystery jet shortly before and after the crash?

Do the authorities suspect they know who flew the mystery jet and are they protecting these people? The authorities don’t seem interested in pursuing an investigation of the mystery jet and seem more interested in papering over this incident.

And we know that at least one witness is pretty adamant she saw the mystery jet at the time of the crash.

There was one other plane, a single-engine Piper, in the air as Flight 93 headed to its doom. The pilot, Bill Wright, said that he was three miles away and so close he could see the United markings on the plane. Suddenly he received orders to get away from the hijacked plane and to land immediately. “That’s one of the first things that went through my mind when they told us to get as far away from it as fast as we could,” Wright later told a Pittsburgh TV station, “that either they were expecting it to blow up or they were going to shoot it down – but that’s pure speculation.”

The explanation furnished by the FBI for the mystery plane, whose existence it initially denied, serves less to reassure than to reinforce suspicions that a cover-up of sorts is under way, that the government is manipulating the truth in a manner it considers to be palatable to the broader US public. The FBI has said, on the record, that the plane was a civilian business jet, a Falcon, that had been flying within 20 miles of Flight 93 and was asked by the authorities to descend from 37,000ft to 5,000ft to survey and transmit the co-ordinates of the crash site “for responding emergency crews”. The reason, as numerous people have observed, why this seems so implausible is that, first, by 10.06am on 11 September, all non-military aircraft in US airspace had received loud and clear orders more than half an hour earlier to land at the nearest airport; second, such was the density of 911 phone calls from people on the ground, in the Shanksville area, as to the location of the crash site that aerial co-ordinates would have been completely unnecessary; and, third, with F-16s supposedly in the vicinity, it seems extraordinarily unlikely that, at a time of tremendous national uncertainty when no one knew for sure whether there might be any more hijacked aircraft still in the sky, the military would ask a civilian aircraft that just happened to be in the area for help.

Most suspicious of all, perhaps, has been the failure of the FBI or anybody else to identify the pilot or the passengers of the purported Falcon, and their own failure to come forward and identify themselves.

Lack of recovery of body parts

First the FBI evidence recovery team members came in. They had sieves built to filter the evidence, but especially the human remains, from the soil.

The bureau members stayed at the crash site for 16 days and recovered 230 kilograms of remains.

Searches of the area were conducted on hands and knees. Wallace Miller remembers seeing an agent, from Mississippi, in tears as he crawled forward. When the FBI left, it handed legal responsibility for the location to the coroner, who was left with hell’s own clean-up.

Miller and workers from the company contracted by United Airlines to clear the site found some dental work among the piles of dirt excavated from the crater. They used fine sieves to work through the piles again and extracted a further 45 kilograms. When that was done, the soil went back into the crater.

In fact, he already knew this, through a calculation of a morbid mathematical problem.

[Miller] estimated the average weight of each of the 44 people aboard flight 93 was 79.5 kilograms, for a total body mass of 3500 kilograms. “We recovered 270 kilograms. Of that, we identified about 110. The main thing I’ve been saying ever since that is the area down there is a cemetery because 92 per cent of these people’s loved ones repose there.”

“We went through here on our hands and knees hundreds of times,” he said. “You could drive yourself crazy, picking this stuff up. But, by God, I tried. I did my best.” Last November he was in the car park of his funeral home, talking to a client. “I found myself looking down in the parking lot, scanning for stuff.”

We went through here on our hands and knees hundreds of times,” he said. “You could drive yourself crazy, picking this stuff up. But, by God, I tried. I did my best.” Last November he was in the car park of his funeral home, talking to a client. “I found myself looking down in the parking lot, scanning for stuff.”

As coroner for the previous four years, and a funeral director all his working life, Miller was familiar with scenes of sudden and violent death, although none quite like this.

Walking in his gumboots, the only recognisable body part he saw was a piece of spinal cord, with five vertebrae attached.

“I’ve seen a lot of highway fatalities where there’s fragmentation,” Miller said. “The interesting thing about this particular case is that I haven’t, to this day, 11 months later, seen any single drop of blood. Not a drop. The only thing I can deduce is that the crash was over in half a second. There was a fireball 15-20 metres high, so all of that material just got vaporised.”

“Right now, we’re standing on vaporised remains,” Miller said. “This is a grave. This is a cemetery.”

Officials have positively identified all 40 passengers and crew members who died when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Somerset County on Sept. 11.

Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller said Wednesday that the last identification had been made.

More than 600 samples were sent to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory in Rockville, Md.

Investigators used minuscule samples of human tissue left on commonplace objects owned by the victims to link DNA strains from before death with remains recovered from the site.

The remains were so damaged that investigators can’t say for certain whether anyone was killed before the plane crashed.

The flight from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco was heading west when it made an abrupt turn near Cleveland and veered back across Pennsylvania before crashing into a field in rural Shanksville, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

Miller said investigators who recovered remains informed FBI pathologists about possible stab wounds, but the FBI has responded that “the catastrophic nature of the crash and fragmentation” left them unable to draw conclusions.

Miller was among the very first to arrive after 10:06 on the magnificently sunny morning of September 11. He was stunned at how small the smoking crater looked, he says, “like someone took a scrap truck, dug a 10-foot ditch and dumped all this trash into it.” Once he was able to absorb the scene, Miller says, “I stopped being coroner after about 20 minutes, because there were no bodies there. It became like a giant funeral service.”

Immediately after the crash, the seeming absence of human remains led the mind of coroner Wally Miller to a surreal fantasy: that Flight 93 had somehow stopped in mid-flight and discharged all of its passengers before crashing. “There was just nothing visible,” he says. “It was the strangest feeling.” It would be nearly an hour before Miller came upon his first trace of a body part.

First, agents at the crash site collect debris and screen it in sieves. Some are working in the crash pit, some are around it on their hands and knees, according to Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat, a forensic anthropologist from Mercyhurst College in Erie, who is assisting at the scene.[..]

Although the items collected are “extremely fragmentary,” Dirkmaat said, he is 100 percent certain that individuals will be identified. So far, none have been identified.

Officially, Miller was charged with identifying the victims, returning what remains were recovered and caring for the site of the crash. He personally identified 12 bodies through fingerprints and teeth. The remaining 32 bodies had to be identified with DNA testing.

He said groups were assigned to comb square sections of the field. He’d spent the entire morning and afternoon on his hands and knees, and found enough human remains to fill two ziplock freezer bags. Most were bone fragments and pieces of skin and flesh. A couple of his colleagues found fingers and toes. One finger still wore a ring. He also found jewelry, purse items, paper and camera film, which will be sent to families when possible.

The largest piece of debris found that day was 6 feet by 2 feet, some unidentified part of the plane. Most was the size of a quarter or smaller. Basically, the plane and the 44 people on board were “vaporized.” Only 12 victims so far had been identified.

Investigators also began to move human remains discovered from the crash site to a temporary morgue that opened yesterday in a nearby Pennsylvania National Guard Armory. There, Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller, other coroners from around the state and forensic experts will use equipment shipped in yesterday on a specially outfitted truck to analyze fragments of skin, bone, hair and teeth and compare them to victims’ medical records. .

That effort will be aided by Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat, a professor of forensic anthropology from Mercyhurst College in Erie, who yesterday arrived to assist with the recovery and identification of remains from the site. That task will be very difficult, Dirkmaat said, because of the relatively large size of the crime scene and the “extreme fragmentation” nature of the remains, but he said he and other forensic investigators were committed to identify as many victims as possible.

By Wednesday morning, crash debris began washing ashore at the marina. Fleegle said there was something that looked like a rib bone amid pieces of seats, small chunks of melted plastic and checks.

Charred remains/vanished bodies

As coroner, responsible for returning human remains, Miller has been forced to share with the families information that is unimaginable. As he clinically recounts to them, holding back very few details, the 33 passengers, seven crew and four hijackers together weighed roughly 7,000 pounds. They were essentially cremated together upon impact. Hundreds of searchers who climbed the hemlocks and combed the woods for weeks were able to find about 1,500 mostly scorched samples of human tissue totaling less than 600 pounds, or about 8 percent of the total.

Before Miller can even unfold his lanky 6-foot-4 body from the vehicle, a deputy sheriff thrusts at him a plastic baggie containing a handful of jagged metallic nuggets, mangled and melted into irregular shapes, little bigger than children’s marbles. They are the latest of the shreds to be recovered — nearly six months later — of what remains of United Airlines Flight 93. Miller holds up the bag and says that virtually the entire airplane, including its 44 human occupants, disintegrated in similar fashion.

Apart from, here and there, a finger, a toe or a tooth, all that remained of the 44 souls aboard, churned into the soil or hanging from the branches of nearby trees, were small pieces of tissue and bone.

Timing of the crash

Terry Butler was working in the yard of Stoystown Auto Wreckers, pulling a radiator from a junked car. Butler could see the last remnants of fog burning off in the adjoining fields. It was 10.02am.

He recalled what followed in a book called Courage After the Crash, a collection of interviews published by Glenn Kashurba, a Somerset child psychiatrist and Red Cross volunteer.

Butler saw the plane. “It was just above the treetops, flying straight. Maybe a little bit wobbly, but it was flying straight. Then it went up.” As it passed overhead, Butler estimated the plane’s height at no more than 100 metres, before it suddenly climbed to twice that.

At that moment, at Ida’s store in Shanksville, three kilometres away, store owner Rick King heard “a whining, screaming noise of the engines” as the plane briefly ascended.

Terry Butler saw the plane bank right at the top of its climb, then lost sight of it behind some trees. Within three or four seconds, there was the impact, marked, he remembered, by four explosions.

Workers at Indian Lake Marina said that they saw a cloud of confetti-like debris descend on the lake and nearby farms minutes after hearing the explosion that signaled the crash at 10:06 a.m. Tuesday.

Nevin Lambert will never forget Sept. 11.

He won’t forget the fireball or the smell of burning jet fuel. Or the heat or the smoking chunk of metal that landed near his house as undelivered letters caught the wind and scattered in the nearby woods. […]

Lambert, who lives on a 100-acre farm in Lambertsville, Somerset County, was shoveling coal outside his house on a hillside overlooking Skyline Drive as United Airlines Flight 93 plunged to the ground.

The aircraft wobbled as it fell from the sky, he said. The wings turned about 45 degrees just before the fuselage gouged a deep crater into the earth of an abandoned strip mine, obliterating the Boeing 757 and snuffing the lives of everyone on board.

It was 10:06 a.m.

Plane climbed shortly before it crashed

Butler saw the plane. “It was just above the treetops, flying straight. Maybe a little bit wobbly, but it was flying straight. Then it went up.” As it passed overhead, Butler estimated the plane’s height at no more than 100 metres, before it suddenly climbed to twice that.

Comment: evidence that the plane was remotely controlled flown.

At that moment, at Ida’s store in Shanksville, three kilometres away, store owner Rick King heard “a whining, screaming noise of the engines” as the plane briefly ascended.

Proof the plane was flying at low altitude in the last minutes of its flight

Dennis Fritz, the air traffic manager, got a call from controllers in Cleveland warning the Johnstown airport — which has no radar of its own — that a large aircraft was 20 miles south and had suddenly turned on a heading for Johnstown.

“It was an aircraft doing some unusual maneuvers at a low level, which is unusual for an aircraft that size,” Fritz said last night. “It happened so quickly.”

He said workers in his own tower scanned south, toward the horizon, with binoculars, but couldn’t see any aircraft, leading Fritz to believe that the plane was flying somewhere in the 2,800 foot high ridges in that part of the Allegheny front.

Then, somewhere within the air zone, about 15 miles south of Johnstown, the plane turned again toward the south.

Shortly before it went down, another call was made to the Westmoreland County 911 center from a Mount Pleasant Township resident who said he could see a large plane flying low and banking from side to side.

Last minute decision to get on FL93

(Proof that the cell phone calls or other phone calls from the planes were not fake)

Before setting off across the country on United Airlines Flight 93 to move in with her daughter in Danville, 79-year-old Hilda Marcin gave folders to her family with an accounting of her assets and a prepared obituary.

Unfailingly organized and considerate, the widow and grandmother wanted to ease her family’s ordeal should something happen to her. ”Sometimes you wonder if people have premonitions, you know?” Marcin’s daughter Carole O’Hare would say later.

As Marcin boarded the Boeing 757 in Newark, N.J., bound for San Francisco, those folders were already in the hands of her daughters in New Jersey and California.

Marcin took her seat on a jetliner that was practically empty. Just 37 passengers had tickets on a plane that could hold about 200.

Four of those 37 would soon seek to dictate the destinies of their fellow passengers and seven crew members. The other fliers, brought together by happenstance, would try to wrest control of their fate.

The flight took off at 8:01 on a crisp Tuesday morning in Newark.

Some of those on board had spent the weekend in celebration or mourning. Humboldt Bay Wildlife Refuge manager Richard Guadagno had been in New Jersey for his grandmother’s 100th birthday party. A San Rafael woman, Lauren Grandcolas, was re- turning from her grandmother’s funeral.

Alan Beaven of Oakland was on Flight 93 reluctantly. He was staying with his wife and young daughter at an ashram in New York, preparing to begin a year volunteering as head lawyer for the Syda Foundation in Bombay.

Yet, the environmental attorney had unfinished business — one last Clean Water Act lawsuit for his firm before his trip overseas. When settlement talks broke down last Monday, Beaven was duty-bound to fly back to San Francisco to handle the case, filed by sport fishermen over pollution in the South Fork of the American River.

Los Gatos native Todd Beamer, 32, had just come back last Monday night from a week in Italy with his wife, Lisa, to their home in Cranbury, N.J. But there was no time to rest — Beamer had to catch Flight 93 to make a meeting of sales representatives at Oracle Corp. headquarters in Redwood Shores.

Deora Bodley, 20, was eager to start her junior year at Santa Clara University after visiting friends in Newark. She was supposed to take United Flight 91, but decided the night before to take one an hour earlier so she could get home sooner to her family and boyfriend, Ryan Lindow.

Deora Bodley

Bodley had considered not going East at all. She missed her flight from San Francisco the previous week because of what Lindow’s mother called a “silly mistake” and had thought about calling off the trip.

“They had changed the gate, and she didn’t hear it because she had her headphones on, listening to music,” Vera Lindow said. In the end, she decided to go to Newark because she didn’t want to stand up her old friends.

Like Bodley, Thomas Burnett was leaving New Jersey early to be with his family. The 38-year-old San Ramon resident was supposed to have flown out that afternoon on Delta, but switched to Flight 93 to get home to his wife, Deena, and their three daughters.

Jeremy Glick, a 31-year-old New Jersey resident who worked for a San Francisco Internet company, had been booked on a flight the night before, but it was canceled.

Nicole Miller’s flight last Monday had also been canceled. The 21-year-old college student and waitress at a Chili’s in San Jose had gone back East at the urging of her boyfriend, who wanted her with him when he visited his family. Because she had agreed to go at the last minute, Miller and her boyfriend had to make return reservations on different flights.

Nicole Miller

Mark Bingham, 31, was also supposed to have flown to San Francisco last Monday. But he hadn’t recovered sufficiently from the 30th birthday celebration of his roommate in Manhattan, so he decided to wait until Tuesday morning.

He overslept a 6 a.m. alarm and just made his flight when his friend Matt Hall of Denville, N.J., rushed through traffic to get him there.

Hall remembered the 6-foot-5 Bingham running to the terminal. The former rugby star at the University of California at Berkeley was lugging his old team canvas bag, emblazoned with his name and number. Flying on a companion pass from his aunt, a flight attendant, Bingham was the last to board.

Driving to work, Hall got a call from Bingham to say he had made the flight and was sitting in seat 4D in first class.

“Hey, it’s me, I’m just calling to say hi, thanks for driving to get me there,” Bingham told his friend, adding that he was enjoying a glass of orange juice. “OK, take care, I’ll talk to you soon,” he said.

Hall had a vision of being on the plane, seeing his friend smiling at him, with the sun streaming through a window.

The first 97 minutes of the flight were uneventful. As Flight 93 headed west, climbing to 35,000 feet and cruising toward Cleveland, breakfast was served.

No one had an inkling about the attack on New York’s World Trade Center. The first plane hit the North Tower at 8:45 a.m. EDT. Twenty minutes later, the South Tower was struck. 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.”

The captain, Jason Dahl, found himself under siege.

Dahl, 43, who lived in Littleton, Colo., with wife Sandy and 15-year-old son Matthew, had tried the day before to find another pilot for Flight 93 so he could spend time with his family.

With no takers, Dahl called his mother in San Jose on Monday night to let her know he would be flying in and would have time to visit her Tuesday.

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.

Among them was Saeed Alghamdi, a 25-year-old who had lived at a flight school in Vero Beach, Fla., and once listed his address as Saudi Arabia’s mission to the United Nations. He has reportedly been linked to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.

He was joined by Ahmad Alhaznawi, who had a Saudi passport; Ahmed Alnami; and Ziad Jarrahi, who had a pilot’s license.

Minutes after the plane turned, passengers and a flight attendant called the outside world to tell authorities and family members of the unfolding terror.

When Tom Burnett phoned his wife, Deena, she was getting their twin daughters ready for school.

Deena Burnett wasn’t expecting to hear from him until later. Tom had spent the weekend with family in Bloomington, Minn., and had gone on to Newark for business that was expected to take him through Tuesday.

But Monday night, Tom e-mailed his boss, Keith Grossman, relaying his plans to take the earlier flight. He may have wanted to surprise his wife; in any event, he hadn’t called ahead.

When Tom phoned Tuesday morning, he spoke quickly but quietly.

“I’m on the airplane. They’ve already knifed a guy. Call the authorities,” Tom told his wife over his cell phone.

Deena called 911 and was patched through to the FBI. A few minutes later, Tom’s second call came through.

“They are talking about flying the airplane into the ground,” Tom said to his wife, who in turn told him what she knew about the two jets that had slammed into the World Trade Center towers.

Tom asked several questions. Suddenly, he had to go.

What followed for Deena was a balancing act. She dressed and fed the twins and the couple’s 3-year-old daughter, while watching events in New York unfold on television. Tom called back to tell her the man who had been stabbed, possibly the pilot, was dead.

Deena, a former flight attendant, remembered her own training and urged Tom to keep a low profile. “Please sit down and don’t call attention to yourself,” she begged.

He refused. In his final call, he told her that he and two other passengers had decided to act rather than face certain death. “We’re going to try to do something,” he said.

Jeremy Glick called his wife, Lyzbeth, who was staying with her parents in upstate New York. At first, she and her family were relieved to hear from him. They had already heard about the attacks at the World Trade Center and had begun to worry.

Glick asked whether there had been such an attack. His wife hesitated, then told him. In the ensuing 20-minute conversation, he calmed his wife as best he could, joking that he and his fellow passengers might assault the hijackers with butter knives from the in-flight breakfast.

Lyzbeth’s mother, JoAnne Makely, got on the cell phone with 911, and with state troopers taking down information, Glick described the hijackers and mulled over the situation. The troopers asked whether the plane was over water,

was it banking, could he see anything below.

Lyzbeth’s father, Richard Makely, said the call ended when the 6-foot-4 Jeremy told his wife about the plan to “jump the hijackers.”

About the same time, Todd Beamer was on an Airphone to a GTE supervisor. He,

nine other passengers and five flight attendants had been herded to the back of the plane, said Beamer’s friend Doug MacMillan, who heard a transcript of the call. The rest of the passengers were in first class. The pilot and co- pilot had been taken from the cockpit and were nowhere to be seen.

“It doesn’t seem like they know how to fly the plane,” Beamer said of the hijackers.

His group was being guarded by a man who claimed to have explosives strapped to his midsection. 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.”

In the background, the supervisor could hear screaming. But Beamer’s voice never wavered.

Beamer, a devout Christian, and the GTE supervisor recited the Lord’s Prayer. He made the supervisor promise she would call his wife, who is five months’ pregnant, and his sons Andrew, 3, and David, 1. He wanted them to know he loved them dearly and that he didn’t think he’d make it.

Beamer dropped the phone and was heard saying: “God help me. Jesus help me. Are you ready? Let’s roll.”

“They knew what was going on — they could die or they could try to stop it, ” said Tom Crowley, Lyzbeth Glick’s uncle. ”They certainly had nothing to lose.

At the Beamer home, the phone rang twice, stopped, then moments later, rang once more.

“When I picked it up, it was dead air,” Lisa Beamer said. “I feel fairly confident that it was Todd. It would be on his mind to call me, to protect me.”

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.

On the ground, around the western Pennsylvania town of Shanksville, the terror of the World Trade Center attacks seemed appalling but distant.

Then, at 9:58 a.m., a Westmoreland County emergency dispatcher fielded a call from a passenger barricaded inside a bathroom aboard Flight 93: “We’re being hijacked.”

Soon, Cleveland air traffic controllers relayed a radar report to Johnstown- Cambria County Airport that the plane had made an about-face and was headed its way.

Authorities have assumed Flight 93 was heading for a Washington landmark such as the White House or the Capitol. President Bush had given the military the order to shoot down any plane headed into the city.

Shortly after 10 a.m., workers on farms and scrap yards in Somerset County looked up to see an airliner flying low and erratic at an estimated 450 mph.

Bob Blair of Stoystown was driving a coal truck on state Route 30 when he saw the jet plummet “straight down.” Barn windowpanes for half a mile around shattered as the jet dived into a reclaimed strip mine and exploded at 10:10 a. m.

“I just watched with my mouth open as this yellow mushroom cloud rose up just like an atomic bomb over the hill where I like to go hunting,” said 72- year-old John Walsh.

Barefoot and in his bathrobe, he drove up the dirt road to rescue anyone he could find. There would be nothing he could do.

Debris, including photographs and other papers that survived the fireball, was strewn over a wide area. Residents have spent days collecting it.

Among the remnants may be the treasured family photos and records that Hilda Marcin packed for her trip. She had carefully swathed them with clothes in her luggage.

O’Hare had asked her mother to bring pictures of Marcin’s father, a German immigrant who moved his family to the United States when Hilda was 5 years old.

The morning of the crash, Deena Burnett left her condominium believing her husband couldn’t fail, that he would soon come home. After his last call, she did what she would do any other weekday — she took the girls to school.

Smell of burnt earth overwhelms the smell of jet fuel

“We (were) literally surrounded by debris, and there’s a very strong odor of scorched earth,” Parsons reported. “It doesn’t smell like jet fuel, it smells like … How do you describe it? Burned earth. It smells like burned earth.”

A 757-200 can carry up to 11,276 gallons of fuel.

Intended course of FL93

The Newark-to-San Francisco flight reportedly diverted its route near Pittsburgh and ignored calls from Pittsburgh International Airport controllers. Allegheny County Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Full said that Pittsburgh International Airport officials had knowledge of the plane headed for Pittsburgh and that it was taking precautionary action when the plane diverted its course. The plane actually reached the Cleveland area before turning around.

ABC News reported that a request to change the flight plan to Washington, D.C. was asked for by someone on the plane.U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity told the Associated Press that the Secret Service told the White House that the plane may have been headed for Camp David in nearby Maryland. Fearing the White House also might be a target, the Secret Service diverted President Bush, who was in Florida at the time of the attacks, to Louisiana and Nebraska while they assessed the threat.Rep. James Moran, D-Va., told the Associated Press after a Marine Corps briefing in Washington that United Flight 93 was apparently intended for Camp David, the presidential retreat in the mountains of Maryland, but later said that he did not make the statement.

Government doesn’t confirm a cockpit struggle

But nobody – official or otherwise – has categorically said the group got into the cockpit or that their actions led to the crash. Those final, agonising moments are mere presumption.

Government can’t rule out bomb on plane (before black boxes recovered)

Investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the terrorists had a bomb on board the plane, the FBI’s Crowley said.

“We have no information to lead us either way. We need them (the flight recorders) to determine if that happened,” he said.

Crowley said the FBI and NTSB have not determined whether a bomb exploded inside the aircraft before it crashed. Residents of nearby Indian Lake reported seeing debris falling from the jetliner as it overflew the area shortly before crashing.

“Fighting” knife found among debris

FBI investigators found a stout “fighting” knife among the wreckage at the United Airlines Flight 93 crash site in western Pennsylvania, says a federal official who reviewed photographs of evidence at FBI headquarters here. […]

Any knife with a blade less than four inches, including box cutters, was allowed on planes under Federal Aviation Administration rules before the attacks.

“One of the knives found at the crash site in Pennsylvania was one of those belt-clip, serrated, locking-blade knives,” the official said. “Its design is purely and simply a fighting knife.”

He added: “Knives such as these should not have been allowed through (airport) checkpoints,” assuming the knife was not stowed in checked baggage.

Flight 93 took off from Newark, N.J.

The official, a specialist in aviation security, says he saw a large photograph of the so-called fighting knife, broken in “two or three pieces,” hanging on the wall, along with other photos of evidence collected from crash sites that day, at the FBI’s Strategic Information and Operations Center. SIOC [SY-OCK], as it’s called, is where the FBI stages major crime investigations.

The FBI declined to comment on the Flight 93 knife.

“That would be considered evidence in an active investigation, so we can’t comment,” said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson.” -WorldNetDaily (03/22/02)

My comment: Knife could have been in checked baggage.

The ‘hijackers’ were committed for special search of their luggage during check-in.

Hijackers’ letters found at three locations

U.S. authorities found this letter handwritten in Arabic in the suitcase of Mohamed Atta. It includes Islamic prayers, instructions for a last night of life, and a practical checklist of reminders for the final operation. [..] Additional copies of this letter were found at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania and at a Dulles International Airport parking lot in a car registered to one of the hijackers on American Flight 77.

Discovery of the flight recorder and voice recorder

Thursday night, as the backhoe was moving mounds of dirt in a crater that was about 30 feet deep, the flight data recorder fell to the ground. The cockpit voice recorder was found later.

The voice recorder would have picked up the last 30 minutes of conversation in the cockpit, unless the hijackers turned it off or it was too severely damaged in the crash. It was found around 8:25 p.m. Thursday, 25 feet below the ground in the crater gouged out by the doomed jet. It appeared to be in good condition.

Comparison with Lockerbie

The Lockerbie disaster

IT WAS 7pm on 21 December 1988, a wet and miserable winter evening. In the small Dumfriesshire market town of Lockerbie local people were looking forward to Christmas, some wrapping presents and others preparing their dinner. [..] About 60 miles away, in Prestwick Airport’s control tower, air traffic controller Alan Topp was watching his radar screen as Pan American Flight 103 from London to New York – the Clipper Maid of the Seas – crossed the Solway Firth. [..] What happened next will forever be remembered as one of the worst tragedies the world has ever known. An explosion blew apart the Boeing 747 as it cruised at 31,000 feet above the Scottish countryside with 243 passengers and 16 crew aboard.

Wide scatter of debris

The blast sent winds with the force of a tornado through the fuselage, killing many of those on board immediately and effectively blowing the aircraft into pieces. Plane debris and dead passengers were scattered over an area of 845 square miles, from southern Scotland to northern England.

The cockpit section came down about five miles out of town, near a country church and graveyard. The fuselage hit the Rosebank neighbourhood on the northern edge of town.

The wing section — laden with burning fuel — fell on a district called Sherwood.

Searchers and investigators descended on the town to mount a massive search covering hundreds of square miles.

In the fields and farm land around the town, the scene was no less horrendous. The plane’s nose-cone, containing the cockpit and the bodies of several crew members, was embedded in a field beside the small church in the village of Tundergarth about three miles away. Scattered everywhere were dead bodies, body parts, aircraft wreckage, pieces of personal luggage.

Engine parts fell a distance from the crater – echo of Shanksville

The forward fuselage and flight deck area separated when the aircraft was in a nose down and left roll attitude, peeling away to the right at Station 800. The nose section then knocked the No.3 engine off its pylon. The remaining aircraft disintegrated while it was descending nearly vertically from 19000ft to 9000ft. A section of cabin floor and baggage hold (from approx. Station 1241-1920) fell onto housing at Rosebank Terrace, Lockerbie. The main wing structure struck the ground with a high yaw angle at Sherwood Crescent, Lockerbie causing a massive fire. [..]

All four engines had struck the ground in Lockerbie with considerable velocity and therefore sustained major damage, in particular to most of the fan blades. The No 3 engine had fallen 1,100 meters north of the other three engines, striking the ground on its rear face, penetrating a road surface and coming to rest without any further change of orientation i.e. with the front face remaining uppermost. The intake area contained a number of loose items originating from within the cabin or baggage hold.

Engines numbers 1,2 and 4 had separated from the wing due to side loads (probably from a spiraling of the aircraft wing). These engines separated nearly at the same time since they were found in reasonably close proximity to each other in farmyards. They had struck the ground nearly in the horizontal position and with the ground in a softened state including one engine having penetrated into a farmers’ dung pit. [..]

Engine position 3 was unique in that it fell a considerable distance from the other engines, having separated earlier in the breakup sequence. It was described by eyewitnesses as falling down from the sky while burning with a bright white glow. It struck the ground tailpipe first and both compressed itself by foreshortening in length by several feet as well as penetrating directly into the ground by several feet. While still mostly buried in the ground it still continued to burn. When the engine was dug out of its hole it was noted that it had penetrated a sewer pipe in below ground level.

Fire fell from the skies

“The fire was falling down from the sky,” said resident Jasmine Bell. “Everything was burning – the driveway, the lawn, the hedges, the rooftops.”

Bodies scattered everywhere

Fire from the sky was followed by the rain of bodies, some still strapped into their seats. They landed in gardens, streets, play areas, some were even left hanging in trees. A lot of their clothing was torn away, testament to the ferocity of the blast as it ripped through the plane’s fuselage.

Crater formed

A large section of the plane’s fuselage containing the wings and 200,000lbs of aviation fuel, ploughed into a Lockerbie street. Travelling at more than 500mph it directly hit the house at 13 Sherwood Crescent with a deafening roar, the impact registered 1.6 on the Richter scale and a massive crater 155 feet long was gouged into the ground where the houses once stood.

“Atomic mushroom” and fireball

The aviation fuel exploded when the plane hit the ground sending what residents described as “an atomic mushroom” through the houses in the crescent.

Comment: seems very similar to the Shanksville crash. Was the Pan Am plane triggered to explode when it hit the ground? Was there nuclear ordnance on the plane?

Nuclear bomb on board?

The explosion on the ground was, in the words of one resident, “like pictures of the Hiroshima bomb going off”.

Giant fireball

The giant fireball rose above the houses and moved towards the A74 Glasgow to Carlisle motorway, burning cars on the southbound carriageway.

People vaporized

The aviation fuel exploded when the plane hit the ground sending what residents described as “an atomic mushroom” through the houses in the crescent. Many homes – along with the people inside – were vaporised.

Eleven residents of Lockerbie lost their lives when the plane hit. Steven Flannigan, who had taken his sister’s new bicycle to a neighbour, looked out to see his house gone. Nothing of his parents, Katherine and Thomas, were ever found and his 10-year-old sister Joanne also died. The visit to his neighbour had saved Steven’s life but suddenly left him an orphan.

Who did the Lockerbie bombing?Evidence points to Mossad as the orchestrators of the Lockerbie bombing:

The bombing of Pan American Flight 103 at Lockerbie in December 1988, was arguably one of the most successful false-flag ‘black’ operations ever orchestrated by the Jewish State.

A Syrian intelligence chief ordered one of his intelligence officer to placed the bomb in a unknowing Syrian female passenger’s luggage. The intelligence chief was actually an Israeli agent-in-place.

At the time Israel was involved in a brutal campaign against the Palestinians and it had been on Ted Koppel’s NightLine for a week ~ the first major exposure of Hanan al-Ashrawi before the American public. Pan Am 103 displaced it from the front pages and it went down the memory hole.

Israel realizes this type of attack require little manpower – is impossible to trace – and results in massive publicity. Israelis, after all, inaugurated just about every form of “terrorist” action in the region, from car bombs to hijackings. Expertly, too ~ the King David Hotel was quite well-planned, all the way down to Palestinian clothing.

This was typical of an Israeli black op where all clues lead nowhere.

At the trial the evidence pointing to Libya fell apart so the Israeli Mossad shifted it to Syria, Lebanon, Iran. As the light began to shine on Israel they said it was a CIA drug deal gone bad.

The Zionist Lockerbie Scam

Comment: The prosecution’s case was destroyed when the evidence showed that the bomb was placed close to the fuselage skin and not in a radio cassette player within a suitcase in the cargo hold. But the media still reports that the cause of the explosion was a bomb placed inside a radio cassette player.

The manufacturer of an electronic timing device also asserts that the timer is not the same as the one they manufacture. The witness asserts that the device had been tampered with.


The bombing of Pan American Flight 103 at Lockerbie in December 1988, was arguably one of the most successful false-flag ‘black’ operations ever orchestrated by the Jewish State. Libya is a small north African Arab country, very rich in oil, which has been governed since 1969 by a man who has sworn never to recognise the illegal Jewish invasion of Palestine.

The Zionists reasoned that if they could make Libya ‘responsible’ for murdering a Jumbo full of Americans over Scotland, western outrage would permit them to impose ‘Economic Sanctions’ on Libya, which really means asymmetric warfare of the most barbaric kind. Basically, you quietly starve the citizens of the target nation to death without firing any bullets. It is warfare waged only by sadistic cowards, and New York is not short of such people.

For Libya the only defence was legal attack, and this small country stunned the world when it finally agreed to hand over two of its nervous citizens, each of whom had been carefully demonized and ‘earmarked’ by the Zionists as the ‘terrorists’ responsible for bombing Flight 103. This was acutely embarrassing for the Zionists, who had no real evidence, and had never really expected the Libyans to hand the ‘suspects’ over anyway. In order to get around this startling turn of events, the Zionists were obliged to ‘rig’ the Scottish Court by compromising one of the judges.

First bombshell

On Thursday 25 May, Senior Air Accident Board (AAIB) Inspector Christopher Protheroe, delivered a bombshell to the Court. Mr Protheroe was obliged to admit that on the previous Monday he had advised prosecution lawyers that a complex formula used to calculate blast wave effects after an initial explosion [Mach Stem Effect], had been incorrectly applied in the official 1990 AAIB report on the crash of Pan Am 103. This was a potentially catastrophic admission for the team of prosecutors, who claim the bomb was concealed in a suitcase in a baggage container, at least 25 inches inboard of the fuselage skin.

Put briefly, “Mach Stem Effect” is created when the incident shock wave from a blast collides with the reflected shock wave, in combination creating an increase in overpressure greater than the incident shock wave by itself. Protheroe admitted the correct calculation showed a maximum distance from the fuselage skin for this shock wave collision not at 25 inches, but 12 inches, i.e. the bomb could not have been in the baggage container, but was close against the fuselage skin itself.

Second bombshell – evidence tampered with

Mr Bollier claimed that the fragments of MST-13 timer shown to him in the Camp Zeist Court, had been altered since he was first allowed to examine them in Scotland during September 1999. During that visit Mr Bollier was considerably concerned that his lawyer was barred by authorities from viewing the evidence at the same time, thus preventing corroboration at the time of examination. “They [the fragments] have been modified, I swear they have been modified,” Mr Bollier told the Court at Camp Zeist, adding his firm did not necessarily supply the timer, and the fragments could have come from counterfeit copies.

More about the Lockerbie bombing

Setting Up Libya for the Lockerbie Bombing Part 1

The Bomb Trigger on Pan Am 103

Some bomb craters


Shanksville crash – “just an empty hole”

VIDEO: Shanksville crash site – Flight 93 Dailymotion

VIDEO: Shanksville crash site 3a Dailymotion

Location of the 1000-lb engine

Indian Lake

New Baltimore

Summary of points (fom Democratic Underground)

So we supposedly have a plane crash that was energetic enough to:

1) toss light debris 8-10 miles away from the crash site,

2) toss light debris 3-6 miles to the northeast even though the wind was blowing southeast,

3) toss charred bolt-sized pieces of sheet metal 2-3 miles to the northeast even though the wind was blowing southeast,

4) pulverize/vaporize the entire plane such that an extensive search yielded only 8% of the body parts of the victim,

5) pulverize/vaporize the entire plane such no piece of wing was found that was bigger than 6 x 7 feet,

6) pulverize/vaporize the entire plane such that the biggest piece of fuselage found was a 6 x 7 foot piece that was tossed into a drainage ditch 2,500 yards (or 2,500 feet or “it depends on what your definition of distance is”) away,

7) toss a piece of engine weighing over 1,000 lbs more than 600 yards from the crash site,

8) toss other debris–like bones–around for miles,

9) cause “an awful lot of dirt to be moved and then a film of dust” to settle over a large area,

10) burrow itself 45 to 50 feet into the ground.×39361

Dimensions of the Boeing

a Boeing 757, 55 metres long and weighing 110 tonnes, had somehow been obliterated, and with it, the 44 people on board.

Small size of crater

WTAE-TV’s Michelle Wright toured the crash scene and said that a crater of about 30 to 40 feet long, 15 to 20 feet wide and 18 feet deep was created by the crash.

The point of impact, about 10-12 metres across, is black and smoking. According to Miller it was about three metres deep. In Stahl’s photograph it looks more like an excavation.

Nena Lensbouer, who had prepared lunch for the workers at the scrap yard overlooking the crash site, was the first person to go up to the smoking crater.

Lensbouer told AFP that the hole was five to six feet deep and smaller than the 24-foot trailer in her front yard. She described hearing “an explosion, like an atomic bomb”—not a crash.

The Boeing 757 passenger plane hit the ground in a large open field, creating a crater nearly 20 feet wide and 15 feet deep before slamming into the forest line.

UA 93: Is this crater too small?

“The apparent point of impact was a dark gash, not more than 30 feet wide , at the base of a gentle slope just before a line of trees.”

“The plane left a crater 20 feet wide and 15 feet deep ”

(Plain Dealer, 9/12/01 b)

The crash impact left a crater estimated to be 10-feet deep and 20-feet wide.

(Cox News Service, 9/12/01 c)

“The crash left a V-shaped gouge in a grassy field surrounded by thick woods, just below a hilltop strip mine. The gouge was 8 to 10 feet deep and 15 to 20 feet long , said Capt. Frank Monaco of the Pennsylvania State Police. “

(AP, 9/12/01 e)…

“King saw the pushed-up earth and the crater that measured thirty feet or more in diameter. ”

(Among the Heroes, 302)

“Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV reporter Michelle Wright toured the crash scene and said that a crater of about 30 to 40 feet long, 15 to 20 feet wide and 18 feet deep was created by the crash. ”

Location of the black boxes

“The cockpit data recorder, one of the so-called black boxes would be excavated fifteen feet into the crater and the cockpit voice recorder at twenty-five feet.”

(Among the Heroes, 303)×39361

FBI caught in a lie – adapted from bartcop

On September 11, 2001, United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a reclaimed strip mine in

Somerset County, Pennsylvania. [..]

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released this photo a few days later.

The pattern of impact is consistent with an aircraft with significant lateral movement, a “fan” pattern where debris is blown in the direction the aircraft was headed. [see this PBS link] Debris found two and eight miles from the crash was explained by this “splatter” effect, bolstered by winds reported in the area at the time. The effect of the wind can be seen in the burned trees as well.

NOAA records indicate an average windspeed that day of between 7 and 8 knots, with a maximum sustained windspeed of 13 knots. This jibes with the FBI’s contention that the debris was carried by the wind … except [for this:]

Look at this photo of an SR-71 crash in 1967. Faithful Bartcop readers know I’m intimately familiar with this crash.

The grass in this farmer’s field is similar to that replanted in stripmine reclamation projects. Windspeed at the time of this accident was recorded as 15 knots. As you can see, fire from the wreckage was spread through the grass by the wind. You can clearly determine the direction of the wind by the way the fire spread. Just like the FBI and PDEP photos.

In order to put the photos in perspective, I obtained DOQ (Digital Orthophoto Quadrangle) imagery from the USGS of the Pennsylvania site, as a “before” comparison.

This showed two important things. First, that the impact indeed occured on the border between flammable grassland and equally flammable forest.

Second, and much more importantly, it showed me which way was north. Something the other photos oddly enough didn’t bother to indicate.

Clearly, the photos from the FBI and PDEP show a fan pattern which indicates an aircraft movement south, as well as a wind blowing towards the south. Had it been blowing another direction, the grass would have caught fire. The debris the FBI contends was blown by the wind was found several miles to the north and east, near Indian Lake. In other words, to get there from the impact, it would have to have flown 2 to 8 miles against the strong wind.

Comments: Part of Indian Lake is south-east of the crash site. However it’s unlikely that wind alone carried the debris a far as this point. New Baltimore is also southeast of the crash site. However it’s also extremely unlikely wind was the operative factor in the debris landing here from the crash site. Apparently, the wind would have had to carry the (ground) debris over a mountain or hill on its way to New Baltimore. The most likely explanation is that the debris landed this far from the blast effect or the plane started to either break up while it was in the air or the plane was breached in some way before it landed (cargo door or an exit door left open), creating airborne debris (and wind would be a big factor here in determining where it ended up – not so much if the debris was carried along on the ground or close to it). We don’t have complete information that the FBI do about the spread of the debris. Debris pattern may have been found in significant quantities in a northern and western location. We don’t know the pattern of the spread either, whether the debris had been scattered uniformly or concentrated in one area. Neither do we know the thrust of direction of the spread.

Plane was flying SE before it crashed

”It exploded and you could see flames and debris everywhere, right over that tree over there,” Wilt said, pointing. He heard from a relative who worked at a small business less than one mile to the west that the plane had passed low overhead, heading southeast before crashing.

“When it decided to drop, it dropped all of a sudden — like a stone,” said Tom Fritz, 63. Fritz was sitting on his porch along Lambertsville Road, about a quarter-mile from the crash site, when he heard a sound that “wasn’t quite right” and looked up in the sky.

“It was sort of whistling,” he said. “It was going so fast that you couldn’t even make out what color it was.”

The ensuing firestorm lasted five or 10 minutes and reached several hundred yards into the sky, said Joe Wilt, 63, who also lives a quarter-mile from the crash site.

“The first thing I thought it was, was a missile,” Wilt said. The impact shattered a window in his basement and knocked down household objects from a shelf.

Charles Sturtz, who lives about a half-mile from the crash site, said he saw the plane in the air for a few seconds, and saw no smoke, heard no explosions before the crash and saw no other planes in the sky.

The plane was heading southeast he said, and had its engines running.

“It was really roaring, you know. Like it was trying to go someplace, I guess, ” the 53-year-old carpenter said.

Missing 8 minutes

But the cell phone calls from the passengers all stopped about 9:58 a.m. – roughly the same time that the caller to 911 in Westmoreland County stated there had been an explosion.

The plane didn’t come down until 10:06 – leaving an 8-minute gap of unaccounted for air time, and thus a great mystery.

The first eyewitnesses of the crash

Purbaugh’s second day on the job at Rollock Inc., a scrap metal company which owns the Diamond T mine, a former PBS Coals dig directly above the crash site, came with a shocking surprise. The crash happened within 200 yards of Prubaugh’s view.

“I happened to hear this noise and looked up,” said Purbaugh, who indicated the plane was about 40 to 50 feet above him. “I didn’t know if I should duck or what because this plane was so low but then in a split second it hit.”

Purbaugh describes the crash as ‘just like a big mushroom cloud.” He says when it hit, it “shook the ground, rolled over in some way and then collapsed.” The crash site itself didn’t look like an airplane had crashed. From a distance, it seemed like a crater in the ground with smoke coming from it.

Purbaugh thought at first it was just a cargo plane carrying some mail because when he ran up to the actual scene, he didn’t notice any carnage, just some mail around. He also noticed a bookbag. He said the pine trees right next to the site were on fire from the explosion and the fire was also spreading through the woods.

“I knew about the World Trade Center at that time but I never expected something like this,” said Purbaugh. “There was scattered debris everywhere, some in large chunks, but nothing you could identify. I’m just shocked it happened here.”

Mark Stahl of Somerset, who went to the scene immediately afterwards, says, “There’s a crater gorged in the eearth, the plane is pretty much disintegrated. There’s nothing left but scorched trees.”

Seismic record of crash

Analysis of Seismic Records for United Airlines Flight 93 Crash near Shanksville, Pa

Figure 5 shows seismic record section of vertical-component records from four stations around the United Airlines Flight 93 crash site near Shanksville, Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

The seismic signals marked as Sg in Figure 5 propagated from the Shanksville crash site to the stations with approximately 3.5 km/s. Hence, we infer that the Flight 93 crashed around 14:06:05 5 (UTC) (10:06:05 EDT). The uncertainty is only due to seismic velocity at the uppermost crust near the surface in which the Lg waves propagated.

Seismic Observations during September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attack (pdf) by Won-Young Kim and Gerald Baum

Was EgyptAir Flight 990 a practise run for 9/11?

October 31, 1999

About 1:50 a.m. EgyptAir flight 990 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean just south of Nantucket Island, off Massachusetts. The airplane involved was a Boeing 767, and all 217 aboard were lost. Investigators have speculated that the flight’s relief co-captain, First Officer Gamil El Batouty, was suicidal and deliberately took the plane down, but this theory remains unsubstantiated. Examination of the wreckage turned up few clues as to why the plane suddenly plummeted into the ocean.

The U.S. Coast Guard collects debris from EgyptAir Flight 990 near Nantucket Island, MA.

Reading the wreckage

David F. King, a Principal Inspector at England’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch in Farnborough, Hampshire, and an air-crash expert for the past 30 years, gives us an idea of what investigators are up against.

NOVA: What can the spread of the wreckage on the ground tell you about the kind of catastrophe that might have befallen the plane?

KING: The spread of wreckage over the ground considered in the context of the local terrain can tell us quite a lot about the arrival of the aircraft in terms of the amount of energy and the nature of the flight immediately prior to hitting the ground. If the aircraft has come down vertically with relatively low energy, the wreckage will be contained in a relatively small area, dependent on the size of the aircraft, of course. If the aircraft is flying straight and level at high speed when it first touches the ground, then the wreckage will distribute itself typically in a fan shape over quite a large area. If the aircraft starts to break up in the air, particularly at significant height, then it will start to distribute pieces that will travel with the wind and be spread over sometimes many hundreds of square miles. If you consider the Lockerbie event, which happened at 31,000 feet, then the wreckage distributes itself over a large area of countryside.[…]

NOVA: How do you go about mapping a debris field?

KING: When we map out the wreckage distribution at any scene it is, of course, to give us the precise location of the aircraft components, again to evaluate impact parameters. It varies how we would go about that in different terrain. On a flat, open plain it’s not too difficult to map where pieces are and come to some conclusions about the impact fairly quickly. If you’re in mountainous or wooded terrain, it’s very difficult from any one point on the ground to get a good view of the wreckage distribution. In such cases you need to plot the location of individual pieces and then construct a diagram or some form of presentation to gain that critical vantage point.

NOVA: When you have worked out angle of impact, what does that lead you to think?

KING: Establishing the angle of impact helps us to focus in particular areas for the remainder of the investigation or at least the next phase. If the aircraft hit the ground flying in nominally straight and level flight, then one might be looking, for example, at navigation difficulties; one is less likely to suspect a power problem if the aircraft was flying straight and level. If the aircraft descended vertically and out of control, one might focus on the control systems. Equally, if the aircraft has high energy at the time of impact, it’s less likely that there was a power problem. If the aircraft has low energy and low speed, then we might well start to focus more on the engines, the aircraft’s source of power.

NOVA: What kind of things might lead an airplane to arrive nose-first into the ground?

KING: Arriving nose-first the aircraft was basically out of control. It could happen if the aircraft were to stall — that is, lose lift on the wings — and pitch nose-down and be too close to the ground for the pilot to achieve a recovery. An aircraft out of control for other reasons could crash into the ground in a similar nose-down attitude but in an unstalled state. There one would expect to see much higher energy, much more fragmentation, much more ground penetration perhaps.

[Comment: Is he talking about a bomb?]

Propeller tip Even heavy metal parts such as Stardust’s propellors sustained severe damage in the crash.

NOVA: What causes a plane to stall?

KING: An aircraft can stall for a number of reasons. Too high a nose attitude for a particular speed will cause the wing flow to separate and the aircraft to stall. Other features can affect an aircraft’s aerodynamics and precipitate a stall. For instance, icing, an accumulation of ice on the airframe, can disturb the airflow and create conditions for a stall.[…]

NOVA: Under what circumstances would a plane apparently under the control of the pilot fly into the ground?

KING: When aircraft that are operating under control and are nominally serviceable are flown into the ground, they are referred to as controlled-flight-into-terrain accidents. CFIT accidents normally have a major weather factor involved. Pilots obviously don’t fly into ground that’s visible, easily seen. Clouds can obscure the surface; peculiar cloud formations across mountainous terrain can deceive pilots as to what is ground and what is sky; sometimes a snow-covered surface can actually appear as other than normal terrain; nighttime offers a pilot fewer visual cues — things like that.[…]

The wreckage trail … distribute[s] itself in a forward fashion from the aircraft’s momentum., April 6, 2006

Navy jet ‘exploded in mid-air’

CHOW CHUNG-YAN in Wenchang, Hainan

A villager who saw a military aircraft crash in northeast Hainan said yesterday the plane exploded in mid-air before wreckage rained down on a field of pepper trees …

“There were two explosions – one in mid-air and one on the ground …”

Location of the crash and Indian Lake×39361

Plane parts and other debris

VIDEO: Witnesses of United Flight 93 crash on 9/11 Dailymotion | Archiveorg×39361#43052

Colorado crash

737: The crash in Colorado Springs

The first real clues that Boeing’s 737 might have a dangerous defect in its rudder-control system came from a 1991 crash in Colorado Springs.

The 737-200, built in Renton in 1982, started out as part of Frontier Airline’s fleet. Four years later, Frontier sold the plane to United and it was assigned tail number N999UA.

On a Feb. 25, 1991, flight, N999UA’s rudder deflected inexplicably to the right. The problem went away when the pilots switched off the yaw damper, a device that automatically commands small rudder adjustments during flight. Mechanics replaced a part called the yaw-damper coupler and returned the plane to service.

Two days later, a different flight crew reported N999UA’s rudder again moving to the right. The new coupler evidently had made no difference. This time mechanics replaced a valve in the yaw damper and returned the plane to service.

Four days later, on the blustery morning of March 3, 1991, Captain Harold Green and First Officer Patricia Eidson were bringing N999UA down for a routine landing in Colorado Springs. At 1,000 feet, the jet suddenly flipped to the right and dived straight down, smashing into a city park and killing all 25 on board.

The pilot of a Cessna flying near the airport called the tower with a bird’s-eye account: “We just saw the plane . . . uh just suddenly a complete downward dive.”

From the control tower, air-traffic controller Kevin Ford reported from another perspective: “It looked like a dropped pencil going straight down.”

It didn’t take long for errant rudder movement to surface as a possible cause of the crash. Witness reports and readings from the plane’s flight-data recorder confirmed that the 737 had traced a classic aerobatic maneuver, known as a “split-S,” into the ground. See graphic at left.

A split-S results from radically altering the symmetry of flight. Such a quick or severe change would be consistent with the right engine or right wing falling off, but that had not happened. The pilots could have moved the rudder to the extreme right, but to do so within 1,000 feet of the ground would be suicidal. The other possibility was that the rudder had moved on its own.

An investigator photographs wreckage of United Flight 585 on March 3, 1991, the day the 737 crashed. The disaster near Columbia Springs, Colo., took 25 lives and is still unsolved.

Workers search for the victims as a firefighter sprays wreckage shortly after the Colorado crash. All 25 on board the 737 were killed.

Debris from the Colorado crash was confined to a park in Widefield, not far from the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport.

Pictures from Killtown

Size of crater is small in this mid-air explosion

Navy jet ‘exploded in mid-air’ (April 6, 2006)

A villager who saw a military aircraft crash in northeast Hainan said yesterday the plane exploded in mid-air before wreckage rained down on a field of pepper trees …

The PLA naval aircraft, apparently a two-seater fighter trainer, crashed at about 2pm on Tuesday near the village, outside the town of Nanyang, 20km south of Wenchang.

The plane crash tore open a crater measuring about 3 square metres.