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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Pentagon Plane Puzzle

Witnesses to a Large Plane Impact – Selected Oral Histories

Written by  Wayne H. Coste, PE

For over 14 years there has been dispute within the 9/11 truth movement over what, if anything, hit the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. The Pentagon attack has become more divisive than perhaps any other issue in the 9/11 truth community. Now a collection of oral histories, first presented at the Oakland 9/11 Film Festival in 2015, is available which should shed light on what took place at the Pentagon that day. In a new video, The Pentagon Plane Puzzle, Ken Jenkins has compiled 30 interviews from the approximately 180 Pentagon witnesses who gave recorded statements. This represents important documentary evidence. One of the traditional starting places in an investigation is to ask what the witnesses saw – and it is clear the testimony of these witnesses supports a large plane flying into the Pentagon on 9/11.

Eyewitness Reliability

When an event is seen by multiple witnesses, researchers know that the most accurate comprehension of that event is found by examining the totality of collective descriptions, and identifying the common threads and the recurring words and observations occurring within the varying testimonies.

The 9/11 Truth movement has respected and honored eyewitness testimony from first responders, reporters, and citizens at the World Trade Center, but what about the eyewitness testimony of the first responders, reporters and citizens at the Pentagon? Most of us have not heard from, or read descriptions provided by, the many witnesses to the initial events at the Pentagon. The Pentagon witnesses deserve the same respect we give the World Trade Center witnesses.

As David Chandler observes, “The cumulative weight of independent eyewitness testimony of large numbers of people tends to have high validity, and importantly, it has a long history of being recognized as valid by the courts.”

Within 15 minutes of the strike on the Pentagon, witnesses were being interviewed on camera by TV media, by phone on live media broadcasts and by reporters working for print media. While there may some witnesses among those that were interviewed that may have intentionally tried to mislead, they are most likely a very small fraction of the total interviews.

Debris in the Aftermath of the Impact

There were many witnesses that describe a plane flying across Washington Boulevard (also known as Route 27 and Route 110) and impacting the Pentagon. A number of witnesses reported that there was a noticeable lack of large aircraft wreckage, as is typically seen at most plane crash sites. As a result of the differences between the reports of the large plane impact and the apparent lack of large plane parts on the lawn, the initial media reports were inconsistent and confusing.

Most plane crashes occur in an outdoor environment where the plane parts come to rest in a field, in a wood lot, or other open area where the parts can be readily seen and inspected. The event at the Pentagon was not typical in this regard, because according to many of these witnesses the plane was observed to have impacted the west side of the Pentagon’s outer wall near the ground and penetrated into the building, leaving most of the aircraft structure and debris inside the building. The observed debris outside of the Pentagon consisted of many small fragments that were scattered across the heliport and the lawn near the Pentagon north of the observed impact point. Those visible parts outside the building represented only a small fraction of the 110 tons of a plane the size of a Boeing 757.

Early Photographs

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, only a few photographs of the pre-collapse exterior of the Pentagon façade were available to the public. Because of the smoke, fire, and firefighting spray, details of the damage were difficult to discern in those early photos. This led to mistaken observations.

One such erroneous conclusion is that the point of penetration was an 18 foot opening. If we take a closer look, we see this small opening was confined to the second floor wall and represented only a portion of the damaged area. Meanwhile, the vast majority of impact damage was revealed in later images as a 100 foot contiguous opening in the first floor façade from column 8 to column 18. So the misperception of a “too small hole” arose from the lack of detail in early published photos. In addition, the long-delayed release of the Pentagon surveillance video contributed to this mistaken conclusion. This video was not officially released until March 2002.

The ambiguity of the initial photographs fueled much speculation regarding what, if anything, hit the Pentagon. One of the first alternative explanations that emerged argued that a truck bomb, not a plane, caused the damage at the Pentagon. Months later, new speculation asserted that it was a missile that struck the building. Later, other explanations emerged, including impact by a Global Hawk, an F-16, an A-3 Skywarrior, a small commuter jet, a flyover to mask pre-planted explosives inside and/or outside the Pentagon wall. These explanations, in many respects, are mutually exclusive, as well as in conflict with the vast majority of the 180 known Pentagon witnesses, and in conflict with physical evidence.

Pentagon Witnesses

The following are Pentagon witness statements. It is well known that the best documentation of what happened is from testimony that is taken as soon as possible after the event, because this avoids interpretation of the events by others – or other influences. External influences could make the explanations by a witness less of a recounting of what they observed and more a reflection of what they heard after the fact.

Most of the interviews presented in the Pentagon Plane Puzzle, were recorded shortly after the incident took place. Many of the interviews were taped minutes after the plane impact. Other interviews were conducted within hours of the event. Below is an edited summary of witness transcripts including the time when each occurs in the video.

summary of witness

Janet, [at 4:12]: "We were driving down Columbia Pike and it just flew right over us - as I said full speed - I told my husband 'He's going in the Pentagon, he's going in the Pentagon. Then we heard the huge crash saw this fireball and flame and smoke.” [Interviewer: so you actually saw the plane impact the side of the building] : “Yes I did.” [Interviewer: Just one plane?]: “Yes just one plane. ... I didn’t see any identifying markings, we just saw the underneath portion of it [the plane] ..."

Barbara, [at 5:30]: "As we were driving into town on 395 we were trying to get off - the exit for Memorial Bridge. Off to the left hand side there was a commercial plane that came in - and it was coming too fast and too low - and the next thing we saw was – we saw it go down below the side of the road and we saw the fire that came up after that." ... [Interviewer: How low was the plane?], "It was coming down at less than a 45 degree angle and coming down toward the side of 395 ... and when it came down, it just missed 395 and went down below it ... then you saw the fire come up from it."

Ed Hudson, [at 6:40]: "I was passing Fort Meyer I say a large airliner sized plane - roughly 767 size airliner -- very a steep descent approaching the Pentagon, I didn't actually see the impact but I did hear the blast and saw the smoke rising from the crash later.”

Alan Wallace, [at 7:54]:Reporter Doing the introduction: “He looked up and saw the plane about 50 feet away screamed for his partner to run. They took off running and Alan Wallace now takes up the narrative.” [at 8:01] “There was a flash, a horrific crunch, there was a fireball"

Don Wright, [at 8:30]:“It was about 9:35. I was looking out our 12th floor windows at 1600 Wilson Blvd in Roslyn VA. And I watched this – what looked like a commuter plane – two engine – come down from the south – real low – proceed right on and crashed into the Pentagon ... I was watching ABC News –watching the Twin Towers – and about the time I saw the plane – I watched it come in very low over the trees – it dipped down – came down right over 395 and right into the Pentagon.”

Mark Petitt, [at 10:07]: “Sitting in traffic on Route 110 on my way to work, I work across the street. It was an American Airlines plane then came in and hit the Pentagon. I believe it was a 737, I could have been mistaken it might have been a 707. It was definitely a commercial plane. “[Interviewer: about what time did this happen, Mr. Petitt],” Probably about 9:35; 9:40. I saw the plane coming down – it actually came up 395 went over the horizon and then it came in front of a bridge where I sitting and I knew it was going to hit - I had already heard about the World Trade Center. And the next thing you knew it was just a huge explosion."

Michael Kelly, [at 11:15]: "I hear this plane come over my head. It was very very low and the next thing I know there was this tremendous explosion as it hit the Pentagon I looked over and the smoke started coming up. Pieces of the plane and pieces of the Pentagon were falling onto the 14th street - Shirley Highway ... and this thing came right over my head."

Mike Walters #1, [at 12:00]: "like everyone else I was listening to the radio about accounts of what was happening in New York. I was listening to President Bush and stuck in traffic. Coming off the exit here and I looked up and saw this American Airlines jet coming in very low. And I watched it and it clipped – I don't know of you can see it - clipped this pole and slammed right into the building. Huge explosion ... we were stuck in traffic could not move and I saw the big AA - silver jet itself - I thought it was a 737 - but I may be mistaken there - but there was no doubt about it an American Airlines slammed right into the building. And there was no doubt that whoever was piloting that plane was aiming for the Pentagon. I saw the ball of fire I saw it clip these poles and the billowing smoke.”

Mike Walters #2, [at 12:50]:“Then I looked to the side and saw this jet coming in and it was really low and it was an American Airlines jet, you could read the AA on the side - silver fuselage and kinda disappeared over this embankment here for a moment and then huge explosion, flames flying into the air and just chaos on the road.”

Jamie McIntyre [at 14:20] "... very small parts of the plane on the heliport"

Don Chauncey, [at 14:40]: “From my office I was able to see a jet. It came at a high rate of speed. I could see National Airport's tower from our offices. And it just increased its speed as it got closer to the Pentagon. Then I saw the big yellow ball of fire ... our offices are right off of St Bartimus Road and the Beltway. So I overlook the beltway from my office.”

Tim Timmerman, [at 15:20]: "... 16th floor overlooking the Pentagon, corner apartment so I have quite a panorama ... I looked out to the southwest and it came right down 395, right over Columbia Pike and as it went by the Sheraton Hotel the pilot added power to the engines I heard it spool up a little more. Then I lost it behind a building and then it came out – and I saw it hit. I saw the nose break up, I saw the wings fly forward and the conflagration engulfed everything in flames... It was a Boeing 757 American Airlines, no question."

Joel Sucherman, [at 19:30]:“There was a sonic boom and looking straight ahead there was what looked like an American Airlines jet – probably a 757 and it came screaming across the highway-- route 110 on the west side of the Pentagon. The plane went west to east. Hit the west side of the Pentagon. Immediately flames were strewn up into the air. There was white smoke and then within seconds there was thick black smoke ... I did not see the engines. I saw the body and the tail. A silver jet with the markings, along the windows, that spoke to me as an American Airlines jet.”

Aziz ElHallan, [at 22:20]: “... just hitting (route) 110 heading north, it was just amazing – something you only see in the movies – that a huge airplane that looks to me like a 757 - American Airlines – probably flying around 60 to 70 yards on top of my car everything was shaking. The next thing we saw was the plane crashed into the Pentagon. The Pentagon sucked in the airplane. So we didn’t see any more parts or pieces of the airplane ... (a piece of the plane) landed just by the car and this is one of them [holds up a piece of plane debris} ... just as I turned my head to the left it seems like the pilot or the person in charge of the airplane – put full torque or throttle to the airplane ... ”

Lloyd England, [26:00]: “My name is Lloyd England. On 9/11 I was driving my car home. This airplane flew over the top of my car. It was real close. Some loud noise happened and a the pole came through the dashboard – went right through the car. I stopped the car in the middle of the street. It didn’t stop straight – it stopped at an angle.”

Other Witnesses

There are many other witnesses who observed a large plane impact into the Pentagon that did not find their way into the accumulated body of witness testimony. One such example emerged after a program was aired on a New Hampshire cable access show that described a “no plane at the Pentagon” scenario.

First off I have NEVER heard such uneducated people on a subject than you people. I would like to tell you and look up facts. I did. The lady on the show said a C-130 was circling the passenger jet, how in the hell can a C-130 with a top speed of 330 M.P.H fly circles around a jet, that is stupid to even consider. My second cousin Mark H------ was helping a lady change her rear tire on the secondary road that follows the Washington beltway just a few hundred feet from the crash site and saw (he & she) the passenger jet swoop down and crash into the pentagon, saw the fireball then ran over to help people and to this day cannot talk about the horror. So who do you think I will believe your on-going bull crap or a family member who saw it firsthand? But I will keep watching because the way you choose to speak without facts makes you three look and sound totally stupid.

The Pentagon Plane Puzzle includes additional interviews taken long after 9/11, but these are not summarized here.

An Introductory Trailer

A short film which serves as an introduction to both the Pentagon Puzzle and a presentation by David Chandler will be reviewed in a later article. It was kept intentionally brief, with a running time of 7:57.

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