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9/11: Plane Down in Pennsylvania

Updated on September 11, 2018
JohnBridges profile image

John Bridges is a published author specializing in History, Geo-politics, and Politics. His Doctorate is in Criminal Justice.

America Under Attack

On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked planes and used them as weapons against the World Trade Centers in New York City.
On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked planes and used them as weapons against the World Trade Centers in New York City. | Source


I am a conspiracy theory buff. I enjoy those I can debunk as well as those that I cannot. The origins of how false conspiracy theories begin can often be as interesting as if the theory itself were true. The attacks of 9-11 led to many conspiracy theories including this one. According to conspiracy theorists, United flight 93 was shot down over farm land in Pennsylvania. The theory is not true, but the story of what happened is equally intriguing.

United Flight 93

On September 11, 2001, two commercial airliners had hit the World Trade Center buildings in New York and one hit the Pentagon in Washington D.C. A fourth plane was over the farms of western Pennsylvania and preparing to attack an unknown target in Washington D.C. It is most accepted that the target was the U.S. Capital building.

The official story is that the passengers on the flight 93 knew of the previous attacks and realized the situation the faced. They heroically took control of the airplane from the terrorists and crashed the plane into the ground, sacrificing their lives to save the lives of others. The official story did not have full disclosure on several maters which led conspiracy theorists to claim the plane was shot down. It wasn’t but the order was indeed given to shoot the plane down.

In his personal memoirs following the 9-11 attacks, President Bush acknowledged that he gave the most difficult order of his presidency. He ordered that the airliner be shot down.

Despite the order, the resources needed to shoot down the plane were not available. The only planes that could reach the airliner in time belonged to the D.C. Air National Guard. Those planes were unarmed. True patriots, the National Guard team took off on a mission they were sure would be their last.

The Pentagon is Hit

The Pentagon is hit and engulfed in flames.
The Pentagon is hit and engulfed in flames. | Source

It was no secret to Lt. Heather Penney and Col Marc Sasseville that the situation was urgent. They had been watching the news and knew of the previous attacks on New York and Washington. If they waited to arm the jets, they would miss their opportunity to intercept the airliner. The F-16 jets had to rush to get airborne and were largely unarmed. The two pilots had to develop a plan as they flew towards their rendezvous. The only possible option for Penney and Sasseville would be flying their jets into the airliner in a kamikaze mission. The chances that either pilot would survive the mission were extremely thin.

Unlike today, prior to 9-11 there were no armed aircraft standing guard in Washington, D.C. or New York, ready to scramble at a moments notice. The United States had not anticipated this kind of coordinated terrorist attack from the air.

The pilots had little time to communicate a plan of attack. They hastily decided that Penney would take out the tail section and Sasseville would hit the cockpit. Given the precision needed it was unknown if they could eject at the last possible second. Both were resigned to the fact that they were the only hope to stop the airliner and were willing to sacrifice their lives to do so.

The End of Flight 93

When the team arrived, they saw the wreckage of United flight 93
When the team arrived, they saw the wreckage of United flight 93 | Source

When the pilots arrived at their destination they could see their target had already crashed on the ground. The pilots themselves could only speculate what had happened. Intelligence agencies would later piece the story together based upon intercepted cell phone calls and text messages. The passengers onboard the flight had overtaken the cockpit and sacrificed their lives to prevent the planned attack.

Penney has since been promoted to the rank of Major. She is currently employed at Lockheed Martin. Sasseville was promoted to the rank of Major General and is the Deputy Director of the Air National Guard. His office is in the Pentagon.

There are a couple questions still raised by this narrative. The first involves the ability of U.S. Intelligence to intercept texts and phone calls of private citizens. After 9-11 the Patriot Act authorized limited surveillance of U.S. citizens but prior to 9-11 they were not allowed to do so. It appears however that not only was the technology to conduct the surveillance was already active and in place, but that it could pinpoint communications for those specific people aboard United flight 93. The already active, yet illegal, surveillance capabilities of U.S. Intelligence agencies, does not appear to be a matter that has been asked nor answered.

The second question left unanswered was why was the plane downed without any effort to try to land it safely. If the terrorists had indeed been over-powered wouldn’t the logical thing for the passenger/pilot to do is at least attempt a safe landing with proper instruction from a control tower. Even a controlled crash might have provided the opportunity for some of the passengers to survive.

In Their Own Words

Your Opinion

Do you feel more safe or less safe after 9-11

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    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      Brad Masters 

      8 months ago from Orange County California BSIT BSL JD

      Dr John Bridges

      Your last comments are the reality of how well the governments use of conspiracy theory works. It also reflects on how people use this same kind of logic when they vote.

      The country is filled with sheep, a few sheep herders, and then the owners. The sheep are not privy to the true nature of what is going on. They only can see the sheep around them, and watch out for the sheep dogs, and Shepherds.

      My point is that the real information is not disseminated to their level, and so many of them are content with no caring about it.


      My comment was generic and not about your quest on these theories, but I do understand not wanting to be labeled. Although, I do like TDS which is an offshoot of PTSD where the "T" Trauma is Trump:)


    • JohnBridges profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr John Bridges 

      8 months ago from Portland, OR


      I am a conspiracy buff. like politics though, I have shied away from writing about it here. I do not want to be pigeon-holed into one form of writing that may cause others to judge the credibility of my other writings. If I were to continue, there certainly theories that cannot be easily explained away. If there is anyone who doubts our government itself might consider perpetrating such an attack themselves....for some cause....all they have to do is read Operation Northwoods...a declassified document from the 60's and they will realize we did create such a plan to garner public support for invading Cuba. As for the Manhattan project, its success was determined by few people having all the pieces to the puzzle...everyone could see the piece they were working on but not how it all fit together...or even the purpose.

    • JohnBridges profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr John Bridges 

      8 months ago from Portland, OR

      Brad, there are so many interesting and sometime contradictory theories around 9-11. I really think you would like reading about operation Northwoods (if you haven't). For those who believe there is no way our government could be involved in 9-11, this genuine, declassified, government document shows that a similar plan had been developed in the 60s (not instituted) in order to garner public support for an invasion of Cuba. You bring up the Manhattan project which was an amazing accomplishment, which was only successful because the majority of people were compartmentalized and only knew a small piece of the puzzle. very very few people knew how the puzzle fit together. as for debunking...well if I choose to continue writing about conspiracy theories, I certainly will include those that can not be explained I stated, I am a true conspiracy buff....but I also do not want to be pigeon-holed in that genre...and with certain topics (politics included) once you go down that road in earnest, it threatens the credibility and non-bias of your other writings

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      Brad Masters 

      8 months ago from Orange County California BSIT BSL JD

      Dr John Bridges

      Whether the plane was shot down or came down by other means is not really important question here imho.

      Whenever a plane goes down anywhere in the world a forensic investigation takes place. I don't believe that Flt 93 had that kind of investigation.

      The effective use by the government of making conspiracy theories the equivalent of crazy people has been effectively used by the government since 1947.

      The use of conspiracy theories are more abundant than the answers they pose. Instead of focusing on the theories which also try to answer who, and why. We need to focus on the underlying facts and evidence. That really hasn't been done and it has been replaced by shoddy investigations that are expensive red herrings that don't satisfactorily answer the factual questions.

      I don't know what happened on 911, but I do know it didn't make sense then, and it makes less sense now.

      And I also don't like the knee jerk response from people to shut down conspiracy theories. That being, do you know how many people would be involved and how would their involvement be kept secret and the like. My response and answer to those questions is two words, "Manhattan Project".

      This project was so secret that Vice President Harry S Truman only found out about it when he had to take over when FDR died.

      A report on any of these kinds of events shouldn't be focused on answering conspiracies they should be conducting the investigation that will result in answers that preclude any other theories.

      And the parts that they can't explain, or simply don't know should become part of the report. That is the best way to respond to conspiracy theories.

      Debunking a myth (CT) is not the same as telling the factual truth, is it?

    • JohnBridges profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr John Bridges 

      9 months ago from Portland, OR

      Hi Brad, Nope I did not say anything about it being an easy conspiracy to debunk (at least I don't think I did) but may have said it is easy to understand how it started. I do know the origins of the term conspiracy theory and also know false evidence has bee put in place before to throw investigators off track as well. deception comes in many forms. Also it is important, as you mentioned, that one part of a theory can be debunked while there still are unanswered questioned, or as the last 2 paragraphs on the article point out...whole new questions arise. What was or was not found at the crash site is a whole different matter. What I forgot to mention in this article, was the first news report of flight 93, was that it was shot down and then that narrative was shut down.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      Brad Masters 

      9 months ago from Orange County California BSIT BSL JD

      Dr John Bridges

      Did you say this was an easy debunk of the conspiracy theory?

      The conspiracy theory was not about the plane being shot down?

      It was about what was and wasn't found at the crash site.

      You know that the government created the "conspiracy theory" to put down all the questions about UFOs. So they used conspiracy theory to make anyone that had too many questions about UFOs look like idiots.

      The reason that conspiracy theories start is when there are more questions than answers.

      I look at it in two parts.

      The conspiracy is really the question part?

      The theory tries to pin the rap on someone or something without have the evidence.

      There were so many unanswered questions about 911.

      So what was found and what was not found at the crash site?


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