Pilots Analysis


I saw the report you put together about the Pentagon American Airlines crash. A relative of mine is an American Airlines Captain with a background as a Navy F-18 pilot. His wife is a retired Navy Commander. They both have close friends still working in the Pentagon.  I forwarded the internet feature to them for comment. Here is their last reply along with my questions to them. Will you do as large a feature on this reply as you did on the questions you raised?

Doug Cornwell

Here are a few of the differences of this crash verses what you typically observe in a commercial accident.  80 percent of crashes occur in the take off or landing phase of flight. 

1) Gear down, flaps down, speed in the 140 mph range.

2) If the aircraft is in an extreme situation and heading downward,  the pilot will be pulling throttle to idle  and making an attempt to pull the nose of the aircraft up to minimize impact.

Basic construction of the aircraft is to minimize weight.  The airplane is a pressurized coke can and designed to flex. The cabin, cargo, wings and tail are essentially air surrounded by metal that is thinner than the hood of your car.  High speed impacts with birds result in holes in the aircraft, an example was an AA flight from Paris to Miami resulting in 4 holes including a bird that went through the radome and  pressure bulkhead into the cockpit.

In this particular crash the pilot was accelerating in a dive to impact a well constructed building with speeds in the 400 mph range.  Using the equation (Force= 1/2 mass times Velocity squared).  It is velocity that is the big factor.  The impact energy of this crash is in the region of 8 times that of the typical crash. That is why there is so little left. I suggest you look at the United Airlines crash in Pennsylvania.  That crash was a accelerated aircraft straight down. Once again, there is nothing left.   The pilot was not flying flat into the building but was in a dive, so the impact vector was down into the ground. The crash area is not just the entry point but also the length beyond the outside wall.

  After the crash the NTSB, the company and my union sent accident investigation teams to the site and yes there are pieces just very small ones.



I am not questioning whether American lost a plane. As the writer said, where is it? If the plane went into the building and the wings and rudder snapped off, where are they? The early pictures (before the wall collapse) do not show holes large enough in the side of the building for an entire 757 to have passed through. Since there are no apparent holes in the side or top of the building large enough for the plane to have gone through, where are the pieces that would have broken off when the plane struck the building? There are no skid marks on the ground along side the building. In fact, the construction material is still visible laying on the ground apparently undisturbed. The plane couldn't have hit the ground and bounced into the building. It had to have hit entirely above the ground level of the building. At the height of the Pentagon and the height of the tail of a 757, the tail assembly would have cleared the roof of the building. It should have continued across the top of the building. There are no signs of it anywhere.  

This is only one set of photos circulating about this crash. Another series shows an explosion and fire with no airplane in any pictures. You mentioned personal friends that are witnesses to the crash. Can they provide any information about what happened to the plane? I'm not trying to either make light of the situation or cast aspersions upon anyone but there are some large questions coming out about all four of the plane crashes from that day. I'm only interested from an academic standpoint. When I see reports like this one and consider the questions that are surrounding the WTC collapse, together with the reports from the plane in Pennsylvania, I am curious. I have been accused of not having good sources for information that I have used in the past. I am simply looking for answers.






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