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Background Attack Aftermath Evidence Misinformation Analysis Memorial

Clueless Super-Pilot

Jetliner Aerobatics by Flight School Dropout Who Never Flew a Jet

Hani Hanjour
Hani Hanjour

None of the hijackers were good pilots. None had ever flown jets, let alone large commercial jetliners. Hani Hanjour, the person accused of flying Flight 77 into the Pentagon, was failing his courses at the Arizona flight school. According to an employee, "He didn't care about the fact that he couldn't get through the course." 1   Rick Garza, a flight instructor at Sorbi's Flying Club, had this to say about the two alleged hijackers originally thought to have piloted Flight 77, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaq al-Hamzi: "It was like Dumb and Dumber, I mean, they were clueless. It was clear they were never going to make it as pilots."

In the second week of August 2001, Hanjour had attempted to rent a small plane from an airport in Bowie, MD. Flight instructors Sheri Baxter and Ben Conner declined his request, after taking Hanjour on three test runs, noting he had trouble controlling and landing the Cessna 172. Though Hanjour had attended a flight school in Scottsdale, AZ, for four months in 1996 and 1997, he never completed the coursework for a single-engine aircraft license. 2  

It is doubtful that the best trained fighter pilots could have executed the maneuver that supposedly crashed a 757 into the Pentagon. It required making a tight 320-degree turn while descending seven thousand feet, then leveling out so as to fly low enough over the highway just west of the Pentagon to knock down lamp posts. After crossing the highway the pilot had to take the plane to within inches of the ground so as to crash into the Pentagon at the first-floor level and at such a shallow angle that an engine penetrated three rings of the building, while managing to avoid touching the lawn. And he had to do all of this while flying over 400 mph. Quite a feat for a flight school flunky who had never sat in the cockpit of a jet!


1. A Trainee Noted for Incompetence, New York Times, 5/4/02, page 10 [cached]
2. Tracing Trail Of Hijackers, NewsDay.com, 9/23/01 [cached]

page last modified: 2010-05-17