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Background Attack Aftermath Evidence Misinformation Analysis Memorial

The Pentagon Strike

Mysteries Persist in Pentagon Attack

Where the Pentagon was hit in the assault of 9/11/01 is without question: a portion of the building's west block, which was undergoing an extensive renovation. Despite the interesting implications of this fact, it has been eclipsed by the ongoing controversy among skeptics of the official story by questions of what caused the damage -- controversy spawned by the lack of public evidence about the Pentagon attack, and mysteries surrounding the fate of Flight 77, the Boeing 757 that's supposed to have hit the Pentagon. Absent from the public record are photographs or videos of anything like a 757 approaching the Pentagon. Photographs taken immediately after the crash show that neither large pieces nor significant quantities of wreckage remained outside the building. The idea that nearly all the remains of the 80-ton aircraft disappeared into the building strikes many people as problematic because the punctured walls of the initial damage to the building do not include regions where the ends of the wings and the vertical tail section would have impacted, nor do they show signs of scoring by these parts.

On the other hand, a large number of eyewitness accounts describe a large jetliner approaching the Pentagon and crashing into it. A number of these eyewitnesses expressed shock and disbelief at how the jetliner had seemingly vanished in the wake of the crash.

To some observers, the lack of obvious crash debris outside the building following the attack, the lack of an impact impression closely matching the profile of a 757, and the suppression of videos and photographs that may have shown the approach of the attack plane and its remains inside the building were red flags indicating that the attack involved some entirely different type of aircraft, or no aircraft at all. Others found the eyewitness evidence for the crash of a jetliner far too substantial to be dismissed. Thus a dialectic was created, largely along the lines of people embracing no-jetliner theories on the basis of photographs and the absence of evidence, and people rejecting these theories as distractions on the basis of the eyewitness evidence.

The position of 9-11 Research on this issue has evolved over time, as described in the essay The Pentagon No-757-Crash Theory: Booby Trap for 9/11 Skeptics . Three key aspects of this evolution were:


Pentagon Video Frames

A set of video frames from a Pentagon security camera fueled the controversy among the skeptics by supporting theories that a drone rather than a 757 approached and collided with the Pentagon. Many skeptics have uncritically accepted the veracity of the footage because it contradicts the official story, despite its originating from the same government that has blocked any serious investigation of the attack. A critical analysis of the footage suggests it was tampered with in order to confuse the skeptics.


Competing Attack Theories

The controversy over what hit the Pentagon first became prominent in December of 2001, when French authors claimed that the hole in the Pentagon was too small for a 757 to fit through. Thierry Meyssan was apparently the source of the claim that the hole in the facade was only 18 feet across -- a claim that ignores photographs that show pre-collapse first-floor puctures extending for a width of at least 96 feet.

As time progressed, a number of theories of the attack were advanced. By two years after the attack no theory had become dominant, much less achieved consensus. Instead, the skeptics became divided into two camps, with one camp accepting that a jetliner was involved in the crash, largely on the basis of eyewitness evidence of a jetliner approaching the Pentagon and exploding; and the other camp rejecting this notion, largely on the basis of photographs and reports suggesting impact damage and debris inconsistent with an airliner crash. Curiously, the theory that reconciles these seemingly contradictory bodies of evidence has received relatively little discussion, overshadowed by the conflict between these two camps.


Evaluating the No-757-Crash Theory

Viewing the September 11th attack as a carefully planned psychological operation, it is not surprising that unraveling the true nature of the attack is difficult. Indeed the attack and cover-up may have been carefully designed to keep the skeptics in disarray. One tool of the cover-up is the insertion of phony evidence, such as the leaking of the Pentagon video frames to bait skeptics into advocating the missile-strike theory. Another tool is the promotion of gross misinterpretations of evidence, such as the claim that the hole in the Pentagon's facade was only 18 feet in diameter.

What about variants of the no-757-crash theory based on more substantial claims? Many theorists argue that the Pentagon was hit by an aircraft, but not a Boeing 757, citing the following observations:

These observations are overstated: there was obvious damage to the facade well beyond the extensive region of impact punctures; the cable spool in question may have been heavy enough to resist disturbance by any jetwash; and some photographs do show an extensive debris field extending about 80 feet from the facade. Moreover, to account for all the evidence, no-757-crash theories still need to answer the following questions:

  1. Why did many eyewitnesses report seeing a large twin-engine jetliner approaching the Pentagon and, in many cases, crashing into the building?
  2. What clipped the lamp posts on the highway overpass in a swath the width of a 757's wingspan?
  3. What gouged the construction yard generator in the path of a 757's flap canoe?
  4. What punctured a hole in the Pentagon's facade about 18 feet wide on the second floor and about 90 feet wide on the first floor?
  5. What was the source of the aircraft debris, some of which appears to match parts from a 757?
  6. What happened to Flight 77 and its passengers?

Theories which reject the Pentagon crash of Flight 77 fail to answer the last question without resorting to incredible scenarios, such as the disposing of Flight 77 in the ocean and the faking of the DNA identification. Despite its implausibility, some skeptics of the no-757-impact school have embraced the fly-over theory in order to answer the first question. Theories that the attack plane was single-engine drone (such as a Tomahawk cruise missile as suggested by David McGowan, or a Global Hawk as proposed by Eric Hufschmid) fail to answer the first question without wholesale dismissal of most of the eyewitness accounts, and require additional elements to answer the second through fifth questions.

All of these questions are answered by the theory that Flight 77, or look-alike plane, did crash into the Pentagon, piloted with precision by its computerized flight control system. But what of the above three observations that some think rule out the crash of a 757? The seemingly incorrect impact impression is a complex issue: the extremities of the wings and tail section are very lightweight and it's not clear what their high-speed impact with the reinforced facade should produce. Furthermore, if the plane was ripped apart by explosives just as it impacted, as Eric Bart suggested, it would alter the expected impact signature. 911Review.com addresses the observations regarding the cable spools and the crash debris.

page last modified: 2013-03-20