ACT IV: PART IV
There are, by my count, four different
theories that seek to explain what happened to United Airlines Flight
93 on the
The first theory on the list, sometimes referred to as “the official story,” is the best known and most widely accepted of the Flight 93 conspiracy theories, even though it is, by any objective standard, a textbook example of the type of undocumented, crackpot theories that give all conspiracy theories a bad name.
The crash theory is so asinine that it barely merits discussion here, but let’s quickly run through some rather elementary observations about airplane crashes: airplanes that crash into the ground do not leave debris spread over an eight-mile-long strip of mountainous terrain; airplanes that crash into the ground do not produce a crash site with no visible signs of aircraft wreckage; airplanes that crash into the ground do not shower a lake two miles away with a concentrated cloud of pulverized debris; airplanes that crash into the ground do not shed parts as they are passing over people’s farms; airplanes that crash into the ground do not usually make explosive noises before they hit the ground; airplanes that crash into the ground are not usually being shadowed by unmarked white jets; airplanes that crash into the ground do not vaporize all human occupants; airplanes that crash into the ground do not leave the soil and groundwater miraculously free of jet fuel residue; and airplanes that crash into the ground cannot simultaneously burrow into the ground and explode into shrapnel-sized pieces.
The authors of this particular theory have not even bothered to do what many other conspiracy theorists are frequently accused of doing – bend some of the evidence to fit the theory. Instead, they have opted to use the time-honored technique of simply ignoring any evidence that doesn’t fit, which in this case means that they have pretty much ignored all the available evidence. One might think that such a theory would be difficult to sell to the masses, but the crafty theorists have employed a brilliant but rather controversial strategy that calls for focusing on media control rather than presentation of evidence, and the strategy has paid off handsomely, with the theory flourishing despite the obvious absence of corroborating evidence.
Since this theory has obvious shortcomings for all but the most undiscerning of readers, we must look elsewhere for an answer to the question of what really happened to Flight 93. The second theory on the list was first proposed by someone working under the pseudonym “Woody Box” (although it should be noted that Mr. Box’s unusual use of the English language seems to bear a striking resemblance to the literary stylings of Nico Haupt). Mr. Box’s rant, entitled “The Cleveland Airport Mystery,” has been in circulation for several years and can be found posted at various sites on the ‘net. As best I can determine, Woody’s theory remained a relatively obscure contribution to the skeptics’ movement until it was popularized in the widely viewed 9-11 film, “Loose Change.”
The Cleveland Airport theory revolves
fact that on the morning of September 11, 2001, a passenger jet made an
unscheduled landing at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport amid
semi-panicked reports that it may have had a bomb and/or hijackers on
The plane was identified as Delta Flight 1989, a Boeing 767 flying out
Woody would have us believe that there
actually two passenger planes in possible distress that landed at
To be sure, there were two (or more) different versions of the landing time, the passenger count, and the manner in which the plane and its passengers were handled after it was on the ground. But it is certainly not the case that each version is “supported by two independent sources,” as Mr. Box boldly contends. That much should be quite obvious to anyone who has taken the time to actually read through Woody’s source material.
The initial information about the bomb
It was White, for example, who provided the initial passenger count of 200, a detail that made it into a handful of local media reports. So while it is true that all five of the media reports that Woody cites did indeed include that erroneous detail, all five explicitly attributed that information to Mayor White’s press conference – which means, quite obviously, that there weren’t five independent sources for this information; there was exactly one source, and that source later corrected himself. As we continue down Woody’s list, it becomes painfully obvious that the same is true for each of the “parameters” for which there are supposedly “two different data.” Three sources are cited for the apparently erroneous landing time of , for example, but all three of those sources attribute that tidbit of information to White’s press conference. In the same vein, Woody cites no fewer than four sources for a reported evacuation time of , but all four of those sources were, once again, merely repeating the words of Michael White. And so it goes.
In reality, what we have here is not two different versions of the story, each of which has various elements that are supported by multiple independent witnesses, as Woody explicitly claims. Instead, what we have is one early version of the story, disseminated through various media outlets but traceable in every case to a single individual who later acknowledged that some of the early information was in error, and a later version that contained more accurate information. As far as I can see, there doesn’t appear to be any great mystery here at all.
What Woody and the makers of the “Loose Change” film don’t bother to mention is that several aspects of the story remained the same throughout all the reports. Specifically, all of the articles cited by Mr. Box, without exception, described the very same plane. In building his ephemeral case, Woody cites seven local news reports and one Associated Press dispatch, as follows:
A quick review of these reports reveals
seven of the eight identified the type of aircraft; all reported that
it was a
Boeing 767, consistent with Delta Flight 1989. United Flight 93, of
a Boeing 757. Similarly, six of the eight identified the city of
listed it as
None of Woody’s sources mentioned a
and, apart from the single incongruous identification of the aircraft
Flight 93, there was unanimous agreement that the one and only plane
in the incident was Delta Airlines Flight 1989. I realize that this may
a shock to some readers, but not every correction signals a cover-up.
Sometimes, particularly at a time of unprecedented confusion in the air
Both Woody Box and the makers of the
Change” point accusing fingers at the fact that the
What Woody Box and the “Loose Change” crew have done is to take the situation at Cleveland Airport on the morning of September 11 and portray it as something uniquely sinister, when the reality is that it was essentially no different than the situation that existed at all of the country’s major airports on that most unusual of mornings. All the nation’s larger airports were shut down and all were scrambling to accommodate unscheduled landings in an atmosphere of intense fear spawned by the prospect that more planes could be carrying explosives or hijackers.
In the final analysis, the so-called
Airport Mystery” is much ado about nothing. There does not appear to be
evidence at all that supports the theory that more than one plane in
distress landed in
With that out of the way, we can move on now to the third theory on the list, which posits that there was no United Flight 93 on September 11. What really happened in Pennsylvania, according to this theory, is that a fake plane full of fake passengers faked crashing into the ground, although for some reason that has never been satisfactorily explained, evidence was left behind indicating that the fake plane may have actually faked an explosion in the air, as if it was faking having been hit by a fake missile, before it faked a crash into the ground.
This theory, I must confess, has never made much sense to me. If Flight 93 did not exist, then why would it have been included in the official 9-11 script at all? What would the point have been of faking the crash of a fake plane into an empty field far removed from the primary crime scene? If Flight 93 did exist and was part of a 9-11 plot gone awry, as has been hypothesized on this website, then it naturally follows that it would have had to be disposed of in some manner. But if it never existed at all, then there would have been no point in faking a crash to explain its disappearance. The only reason for including Flight 93 in the storyline, I suppose, would be to create the subplot of ‘the flight that fought back.’
Like the theories concerning the phone
this theory assumes that Flight 93 was never meant to strike a
and that the sole purpose of including it in the 9-11 script was to
‘ordinary citizens as American heroes’ storyline. It is difficult to
however – for this skeptic at least – that faking the crash of an
To be fair, there is some support for the ‘Flight 93 never existed’ theory in the fact that there clearly was no aircraft wreckage or human remains at the alleged crash site. But that fact alone does not allow us to conclude that Flight 93 did not exist; it tells us only that Flight 93 did not crash into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. But certainly there was something that blew up in the Shanksville area, leaving behind an eight-mile trail of debris. Scores of local residents reported gathering that debris from around their homes and farms and dutifully turning it over to the FBI, as instructed. Some of it, such as burning seat cushions, was reportedly identifiable as aircraft debris.
The total amount of debris collected was nowhere near enough to account for the disappearance of a 100+ ton commercial aircraft, and only a fraction of the human remains were reportedly recovered, but there appears to be little doubt that some type of passenger aircraft blew up in the skies over Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Some reports made mention of the recovery of “a piece of fuselage the size of a dining-room table,” (John Carlin “The Mystery of Flight 93,” Independent, August 13, 2002) which would appear to be what is on display in the government exhibit to the left. Aside from a portion of an engine and the two ‘black boxes,’ that fuselage section and the one to the right are the only recognizable pieces of aircraft debris in the government photographs introduced at the Moussaoui trial.
Could these few bits and pieces have been planted? That certainly is a possibility, though the real question here may be: how far from the alleged impact point were these pieces recovered? Did they come to rest near the lake, two or more miles from the ‘crash’ crater? Or were they even further away than that? Were they found four miles away? Eight miles? From the photographs, alas, it is impossible to make that determination.
If we choose to believe that there was no airplane involved in the incident in Shanksville, then we must disregard numerous early reports from both witnesses on the ground and air traffic controllers of a passenger aircraft approaching the area at a fairly low altitude. We must also embrace either the notion that some unnamed party covertly scattered explosive debris over a fifteen-square-mile patch of Pennsylvania, or that all the area residents who reported recovering such debris are liars and/or government plants. And, of course, we must warmly embrace the notion that all of the participants involved in the phone calls either do not actually exist or are also liars and/or plants.
Having now looked at various versions of what didn’t happen to United Airlines Flight 93 on the morning of September 11, 2001, we will turn our attention in the fifth and (possibly) final installment of this series to what most likely did happen to Flight 93.