Why 'hijackers flying into the Pentagon' story just can't fly

The cockpit of a Boeing 757

October 15, 2010

By Craig McKee

You thought “Sully” Sullenberger was a great pilot? He’s nothing compared to Hani Hanjour.
Sure, Sullenberger may have landed a plane on the Hudson River, but even he couldn’t have pulled off what Hanjour is alleged to have done after he took control of American Airlines Flight 77 on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
Airport security cameras show that Hanjour and his four alleged accomplices triggered concern from security personnel, and were subjected to additional searches. Nevertheless, they were allowed to board the flight, which was to take them from Washington’s Dulles International Airport in Washington to Los Angeles International.
Somehow, the names of the five hijackers never appeared on the passenger manifest. And somehow the collection of knives and box cutters they later used to take over the plane were not detected either by electronic screening or by the individual searches.
The plane took off 10 minutes after its scheduled 8:10 a.m. departure time and headed west. The last routine radio communication from the flight was at 8:51, and at 8:54 the plane deviated from its intended course. This is eight minutes after the first World Trade Center tower has been hit.
At 8:56, the plane’s transponder was switched off. Seven minutes later, the second WTC tower is hit. At this point, two airliners have crashed into the World Trade Center and a third has gone off course and turned its transponder off. It is also presumed to be hijacked.
Hanjour and the other four alleged hijackers are said to have taken control of the plane using knives and box cutters. Somehow, they herded all the passengers and crew into the back of the plane (this according to the supposed call from the plane by conservative commentator Barbara Olson, wife of the U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson).
This is contradicted by the Flight Data Recorder that was supposedly found in the

Pentagon after the crash. The FDR data, which has been made public, indicates that the cockpit door never opened during the flight. Also, people who knew the pilot, Capt. Charles Burlingame, a retired Navy officer and fighter pilot who served in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, say he would never have given up control of the plane that easily.
Hanjour, by the way, was known to the Federal Aviation Administration several months before 9/11. As reported in the New York Times (“A Trainee Noted for Incompetence,” May 4, 2002), Hanjour’s flight instructors in Phoenix, Arizona told the FAA that his skills as a pilot and his ability to speak English were so poor that they questioned whether his pilot’s license was genuine.
A former employee of the flight school said: “I’m still to this day amazed that he could have flown into the Pentagon. He could not fly at all.”
Hanjour tried to rent a Cessna from Freeway Airport in Bowie, Maryland (about 20 miles from Washington) just a month before 9/11, but was refused because his piloting skills were so weak. Instructor Sheri Baxter says that she and another instructor took Hanjour for three test runs and found he had a hard time just controlling and landing the Cessna. They refused to rent him the plane.
So now Hanjour and his buddies are running the show with their box cutters while the passengers and crew are captive in the back of the plane. Despite not having the skills to fly a Cessna, Hanjour flies the 757 west to the Ohio/Kentucky border before turning 180 degrees and heading back to Washington. The plane was invisible to radar from shortly after the alleged hijacking until it returned to Washington airspace headed for the Pentagon. That’s Washington D.C., by the way, the most secure and heavily defended airspace in the world. Hmm, it wasn’t that day.
Hanjour manned the controls for about 45 minutes from the time of the hijacking until the alleged crash. Did he fly straight at the Pentagon, sending the plane into a dive and hitting the most sensitive part of the Pentagon, including the offices of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld?
No, he had a better idea.
Hanjour initiated a 330-degree descending spiral that pilots with decades of experience flying 757s say would have been next to impossible. First of all, they say, the plane would not have stayed in one piece with the stress that manoeuvre would have placed on its frame. Secondly, Hanjour did not have the skill to manage such a feat.
Air traffic controllers at Dulles International have said that they didn’t know the plane that appeared on their radar was Flight 77 because of the way it was moving.
“The speed, the maneuverability, the way that he turned, we all thought in the radar room, all of us experienced air traffic controllers, that that was a military plane. You don’t fly a 757 in that manner,” said controller Danielle O’Brien.
Hanjour is supposed to have reduced his altitude very rapidly (dropping 7,000 feet in just two and a half minutes) until he was flying parallel to the ground and low enough to knock over five light posts before hitting the side of the building between the first and second floors – without doing any damage to the Pentagon lawn.
However, the Flight Data Recorder indicates that it would have still been hundreds of feet too high to hit the Pentagon. And its trajectory would have had it miss the light posts all together.
The part of the building he seemed to go to such trouble to hit? It was a newly renovated section of the building that had been reinforced against possible terrorist attacks. This section was the emptiest part of the entire complex. Instead of thousands killed, there were just 125.
And to finish off Hani Hanjour’s magical flight, the plane hit the side of the Pentagon, making a hole less than 20 feet across and not leaving any large pieces of wreckage to be found, including the wings.
Do you buy it?


  1. Dear Mr. McKee,
    You wrote: “The plane was invisible to radar from shortly after the alleged hijacking until it returned to Washington airspace headed for the Pentagon.”
    I do not think this statement is true. Unless (a) they were flying below radar the whole time or (b) they landed, somehow a course was determined, and along that course at an appropriate time another aircraft took off without transponder to fill the shoes of its radar blip. Or (c).
    Even with a transponder turned off, a (non-stealth) commercial aircraft would still be visible by radar. What would be missing on its radar blip would be information from the aircraft about its heading, altitude, speed, etc.
    Of course, the exception to this is if the radar feed were, say, intercepted by NORAD (or an equivalent agencies) who was conducting multiple military exercises that practiced exactly this event (hijacked aircraft attacking ground-based facilities). As part of these games, radar blips could be inserted and/or deleted, I understand. This could, in turn, explain why interceptors weren’t launched; couldn’t have those military interceptor planes discovering that the blip in question (a) wasn’t a commercial aircraft but another military plane or (b) wasn’t anything real except a faked radar blip on air traffic controller screens.
    Something you should look into is:who was the only occupant of the attacked Pentagon Wing? Answer: the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). What were they doing? Oh, the former-President G. H. W. Bush was involved with some shady financial transactions from his tenure that were about to come due. They involved using ill-got Nazi/Japanese/Marco gold as a financial weapon to bankrupt the USSR. The 1991 bonds that injected this money into the economy came due on 9/11/2001. The ONI was investigating this. On 9/11, not only was the ONI investigative team killed, but their files and records in this case were destroyed. Let’s not forget that the SEC in the WTC-7 also had many of its files and investigations wiped off the planet, which was helpful to more than just a several ardent Bush backers under investigation.
    For more info on this rabbit hole into additional motivation of the PTB into going beyond mere hijackings into the realm of complete WTC complex destruction, google “E. P. Heidner”. In particular, “Collateral Damage of 9/11”.
    Basically, part of 9/11 was to cement over (not just cover up) their exposed asses for Bush I misdeeds, and then to leverage that into new realities in achieving PNAC goals.

    1. Yes, that line in my piece was meant more sarcastically than factually. I was trying to say that all the elements of the official conspiracy theory were completely implausible, if not impossible. And I guess I’ve used the word “allegedly” so many times when describing events we’ve been told happened a certain way that I thought I could get away without it there. I totally agree that it was not the same plane that came back into Washington airspace. The idea that the original plane landed at an air force base is quite believable to me.
      Your info about the radar is interesting. I’d like to look more at that. And the fact that the ONI took the hit is something I was aware of. Certainly raises interesting questions, eh? The whole issue of what the “crashes” were destroying is very important.

  2. No I don’t believe you at all. He MUST have been a good enough pilot if he possessed a commercial pilot license. Instructors at the school were concerned about his poor English skills however. It’s not that hard to fly a plane into a building. The most important and difficult times are takeoff and landing. A few hours spent actually flying or using a simulator could get you there. Also his flight school teachers didn’t think he was that bad either.
    As for your “no” wreckage claim that is rubbish. Google Flight 77 and you will see there are PLENTY of pictures from eyewitnesses.

    1. Easy to Fly a jet at that height into a building hey. Not one fully qualified pilot has yet to do it in a simulator. Impossible they say it cannot be done. So he wasn’t only good he was the best pilot ever to have flown a jet of that size.

    2. You sound uninformed and borderline dumb. Fact: the alleged pilot who crashed into the pentagon was denied rental of a small 4 person Cessna because of how poor of a pilot he was. There has not been one pilot who has stated he could do ludicrous maneuver successfully. That video released shows a drone not a large commercial plane.

  3. The way to test whether someone is capable of doing something is to have them attempt to do it. If Hani Hanjour was flying the plane then he was capable of it. If he wasn’t flying the plane then his ability to do it would never have been tested. Saying he couldn’t have flown the plane is based on an assumption that he wasn’t flying the plane. This is beside the fact that, as has been typically the case ever since, the way the plane flew has been totally distorted and misrepresented to make it seem somehow extremely difficult or impossible.
    According to Barbara Olson the passengers were moved to the back of the plane, she did not say the crew had been.

      1. @Craig McKee That was an unconnected call from her cell phone. There were two calls that were taken by Ted Olson’s secretary and she spoke to Barbara Olsen and put the calls through to Ted Olson. Two AT&T operators called the FBI and were interviewed and said they got a call from a woman who said her plane had been hijacked and she asked to be connected to her husband in Washington giving Ted Olson’s number. She wondered what to tell the crew as she didn’t think they were aware of what was happening in the cabin.

        1. “Two AT&T operators called the FBI and were interviewed and said they got a call from a woman who said her plane had been hijacked..”~Agent Wright
          Sources Wright. Who was Ted Olson’s secretary? What are the names of the FBI agents that spoke to the ” Two AT&T operators”? What were the operators names? Did any of these people swear under oath in a court of law?

    1. Agent Wright has outdone himself with this twisted tangle of loopy rhetoric. His pretense at being rational is really fraying frying sizzling dying. This is worse than simple circular reasoning here, this is actual pretzel-logic on display from Wright!
      Good gawd y’all!!! Hahahahaha!

      1. @HR1
        Try to follow the logic. Hani Hanjour was either flying the plane or he was not flying the plane. If he was flying the plane he was capable of flying it the way it was flown. If he wasn’t flying the plane then his ability to fly it the way it was flown was never tested. To be able to say Hani Hanjour couldn’t have flown the plane you would have to know he wasn’t flying the plane. You don’t know he wasn’t flying the plane. The fact that people argue that he wasn’t flying the plane because he couldn’t have, proves that you don’t know he wasn’t flying the plane.

        1. As I said Agent Wright your reasoning is circular. The reason that it is claimed that Hanjour couldn’t have flown the plane is a multifaceted argument. 1] The instructors at the Florida flight school said he couldn’t even fly a small one prop craft. 2] there is zero evidence of ANY of these so-called “hijackers” boarding the planes in question. 3] even the flights that hit the towers had to have been flown by remote control.
          You ask us to follow “logic” that does not exist in your goofy rhetorical crankshaft.

        2. DARTH VADER
          “I think that the report, to those who have studied it closely, has collapsed like a house of cards, and I think the people who read it in the long-run future will see that. I frankly believe that we have shown that the [investigation of the] John F. Kennedy assassination was snuffed out before it even began, and that the fatal mistake the Warren Commission made was not to use its own investigators, but instead to rely on the CIA and FBI personnel, which played directly into the hands of senior intelligence officials who directed the cover-up.”~Senator Richard Schweiker (R-Pennsylvania) on Face the Nation in 1976.
          . . . . .
          White House Efforts to Blunt 1975 Church Committee Investigation into CIA Abuses Foreshadowed Executive-Congressional Battles after 9/11
          Advisers to President Ford Sought to Protect CIA’s Image Abroad by Having Its Capabilities “Cloaked in Mystery and Held in Awe”
          Ford Administration Stratagem of Withholding Sensitive Intelligence, Spearheaded by Dick Cheney, Set Tone for Future Clashes between Claims of Secrecy and Public’s Right to Know
          National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 522
          Posted – July 20, 2015 – Edited by John Prados and Arturo Jimenez-Bacardi
          Washington, D.C., July 20, 2015 – Forty years ago this year, Congress’s first serious inquiry into CIA abuses faced many of the same political and bureaucratic obstructions as Senate investigators have confronted in assessing Intelligence Community performance since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Records posted today for the first time by the National Security Archive document the often rough-and-tumble, behind-the-scenes dynamics between Congress and the Executive Branch during the “Year of Intelligence” – highlighted by the investigations of the congressional Church and Pike committees.
          Among White House and Intelligence Community stated concerns during the period of the Church and Pike inquiries were preserving the effectiveness of the CIA and reassuring future operatives who might fear their “heads may be on the block” for their actions, no matter how well-intentioned. But intelligence officials also worried that disclosures of agency operations would be “disastrous” for CIA’s standing in the world: “We are a great power and it is important that we be perceived as such,” a memo to the president warned, urging that “our intelligence capability to a certain extent be cloaked in mystery and held in awe.”
          In 1975, it was then-Deputy Chief of Staff Dick Cheney who spearheaded the Ford White House’s hostile approach to Congress, which required the CIA to submit all proposed responses to Capitol Hill for prior presidential approval and featured the explicit intent to keep investigators away from the most sensitive records. Those events presaged the battles between the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and the U.S. Intelligence Community since 2012 over plans to publish the former’s 6,000-page report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program.
          Related to today’s posting, a much larger compilation of 1,000 documents, many of them previously classified, was published in June 2015 in the online collection CIA Covert Operations II: The Year of Intelligence, 1975, the second in a series on the CIA through the Digital National Security Archive, a joint project with the scholarly publisher ProQuest.

  4. Fourteen Incredible Facts About 9/11
    Posted: 07 Aug 2015 09:00 PM PDT
    “As the 14th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, it’s important to remind people that we still don’t know what happened that day. What is known about 9/11 is that there are many incredible facts that continue to be ignored by the government and the mainstream media. Here are fourteen.”~Kevin Ryan
    . . . . .horseshit. . . . .
    As the 14th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, it’s important to remind people that we know EXACTLY what happened that day!
    9/11 was a PSYOP run by the international military industrial complex and carried out in the main by US military headed by Dickhead Cheney.

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