9/11: Plane Down in Pennsylvania
America Under Attack
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
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 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.