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Background Attack Aftermath Evidence Misinformation Analysis Memorial

The Pentagon

The September 11th Attack

A handful of distant photographs, such as this one, show the facade prior to the collapse of the section above the impact zone. Many people were surprised at the lack of apparent aircraft debris, but other photographs show a great deal of small aircraft debris.

At about 9:37 AM a jetliner, presumably American Airlines Flight 77, flew toward the western face of the Pentagon and exploded as it smashed through the the facade, primarily on the first floor. Early news reports placed the event anywhere between 9:37 and 9:45 AM. 1   2   3   4   5   The 9/11 Commission Report pegged the crash at 9:37:46 on the basis of the NTSB report "Flight Path Study-American Airlines Flight 77," which remained secret until August 11, 2006.

The section hit contained mainly newly renovated and unoccupied offices. Smoke billowed out from the damaged portion of the building, and flames were visible for a time. The lawn in front of the building became the scene of frantic activity, by both firefighters and numerous apparent Pentagon officials.

At 10:10 AM, a section of the Pentagon's west block above the impact zone collapsed. 6  

At 10:12, CNN reported that there was an explosion on Capitol Hill, 2 1/2 miles away, only to retract it 12 minutes later.

Barbara Olson, a conservative commentator for CNN and wife of U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, was a passenger on Flight 77.

Because of the absence of public evidence proving that Flight 77 hit the Pentagon and assertions that damage to the building and crash debris were inconsistent with the crash of such a large aircraft, speculation has flourished about what really hit the Pentagon on September 11th. Most such speculation ignores, discounts, or misrepresents the abundant eyewitness evidence that a jetliner flew into the building and exploded.

One hundred and twenty-five Pentagon workers were killed in the attack. The attack aircraft penetrated the western facade of the newly renovated Wedge 1, and fragments of it traversed into portions of Wedge 2 awaiting renovation. Debris passed through the relatively open first-floor space in the three outermost of the building's five concentric rings, puncturing holes in the exterior wall of the C-ring facing the courtyard between the B- and C-rings. Smoke, water, and flames damaged about two million of the building's 3.8 million square feet of space. Subsequently 400,000 square feet was demolished as part of the reconstruction effort. 7  


1. Timeline in Terrorist Attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Washington Post, 9/12/01 [cached]
2. Part I: Terror attacks brought drastic decision: Clear the skies, USA Today, 8/13/02 [cached]
3. 9/11: Interviews by Peter Jennings, ABC News, 9/11/02 [cached]
4. Related major developments in the year since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, AP, 8/19/02 [cached]
5. The Tragic Timeline, New York Times, 9/12/01 [cached]
6. The Tragic Timeline ..., 9/12/01
7. The Phoenix Project, Rising from the Pentagon's Ashes, masonrymagazine.com, [cached]

page last modified: 2008-10-02