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V 1.41
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911Research.WTC7.net site last updated:3/21/13
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Background Attack Aftermath Evidence Misinformation Analysis Memorial

Explosion and Crash

Eyewitness Accounts Describe The Moment of the Crash

Of the over 100 eyewitness accounts in Eric Bart's compilation, many describe a perception that the large jet crashed into the Pentagon's wall, although many add that the event seemed surreal or movie-like.


Steve Anderson -- from 19th floor office in USA TODAY building in Arlington
Then it dawned on me what was about to happen. I watched in horror as the plane flew at treetop level, banked slightly to the left, drug it's wing along the ground and slammed into the west wall of the Pentagon exploding into a giant orange fireball. Then black smoke. Then white smoke.

Jeff and Deb Anlauf -- from 14th floor of Sheraton Hotel, 1.6 miles from explosion
Suddenly I saw this plane right outside my window. You felt like you could touch it; it was that close. It was just incredible. Then it shot straight across from where we are and flew right into the Pentagon. It was just this huge fireball that crashed into the wall (of the Pentagon).

Gary Bauer -- in car just past exit on 395
We looked out the front of our windows to try to see the plane, and it wasn't until a few seconds later that we realized the jet was coming up behind us on that major highway. And it veered to the right into the Pentagon.

Mickey Bell -- near trailer in construction zone outside Pentagon
The jet came in from the south and banked left as it entered the building, narrowly missing the Singleton Electric trailer and the on-site foreman, Mickey Bell. Bell had just left the trailer when he heard a loud noise.

Sean Boger -- from heliport control tower
I just looked up and I saw the big nose and the wings of the aircraft coming right at us and I just watched it hit the building. It exploded. I fell to the ground and covered my head. I could actually hear the metal going through the building.

Donald R. Bouchoux -- in car on Washinton Blvd along side of Pentagon
The aircraft crossed about 200 yards [should be more than 150 yards from the impact] in front of me and impacted the side of the building. There was an enormous fireball, followed about two seconds later by debris raining down. The car moved about a foot to the right when the shock wave hit.

James R. Cissell -- sitting in traffic on interstate by Pentagon
In the next blink of an eye, he realized he had a front-row seat to history, as the plane plowed into the Pentagon, sending a fireball exploding into the air and scattering debris - including a tire rim suspected of belonging to the airplane - past his car.

Mike Dobbs -- looking out window from Pentagon's outer ring
It seemed to be almost coming in slow motion. I didn't actually feel it hit, but I saw it and then we all started running.

Penny Elgas --
The plane seemed to be floating as if it were a paper glider and I watched in horror as it gently rocked and slowly glided straight into the Pentagon. At the point where the fuselage hit the wall, it seemed to simply melt into the building. I saw a smoke ring surround the fuselage as it made contact with the wall. It appeared as a smoke ring that encircled the fuselage at the point of contact and it seemed to be several feet thick. I later realized that it was probably the rubble of churning bits of the plane and concrete. The churning smoke ring started at the top of the fuselage and simultaneously wrapped down both the right and left sides of the fuselage to the underside, where the coiling rings crossed over each other and then coiled back up to the top. Then it started over again -- only this next time, I also saw fire, glowing fire in the smoke ring. At that point, the wings disappeared into the Pentagon. And then I saw an explosion and watched the tail of the plane slip into the building.

Bruce Elliot -- about to board shuttle in south parking lot
I felt it was going to ram the Pentagon ... the craft clipped a utility pole guide wire, which may have slowed it down a bit before it crashed into the building and burst into flames.

Kim Flyler -- in car in Pentagon parking lot
At that moment I heard a plane and then a loud cracking noise.... Right before the plane hit the building, you could see the silhouettes of people in the back two rows. You couldn't see if they were male or female, but you could tell there was a human being in there.

Joe Harrington -- in parking lot outside Pentagon
About two minutes later one of my guys pointed to an American Airlines airplane 20 feet high over Washington Blvd., It seemed like it made impact just before the wedge. It was like a Hollywood movie or something.

Albert Hemphill -- from window of Naval Annex
He was slightly left wing down as he appeared in my line of sight, as if he'd just "jinked" to avoid something. As he crossed Route 110 he appeared to level his wings, making a slight right wing slow adjustment as he impacted low on the Westside of the building to the right of the helo, tower and fire vehicle around corridor 5. What instantly followed was a large yellow fireball accompanied by an extremely bass sounding, deep thunderous boom.

Jerry Henson -- from office in Pentagon (?)
The impact was quite clear. But it wasn't what you would think. It was just a loud kathump. Just a loud noise.

Terrance Kean -- from nearby 14-story apartment building
I saw this very, very large passenger jet. It just plowed right into the side of the Pentagon. The nose penetrated into the portico. And then it sort of disappeared, and there was fire and smoke everywhere. . . . It was very sort of surreal.

William Lagasse -- from Citgo gas station near Pentagon
... he noticed a jet fly in low. He watched as the plane plowed into the Pentagon. Initially, he thought the plane was about to drop on top of him -- it was that close.

Lincoln Liebner -- running toward a Pentagon entrance
I was close enough that I could see through the windows of the airplane, and watch as it as it hit. There was no doubt in my mind what I was watching. Not for a second. It was accelerating. It was wheels up, flaps up, engines full throttle.

Lincoln Liebner -- running toward a Pentagon entrance
I was about 100 yards away. You could see through the windows of the aircraft. I saw it hit. The plane came in hard and level and was flown full throttle into the building, dead center mass. The plane completely entered the building. I got a little repercussion, from the sound, the blast.

David Marra -- on an 1-395 exit just west of Pentagon
The plane rolled left and then rolled right. Then he caught an edge of his wing on the ground. There is a helicopter pad right in front of the side of the Pentagon. The wing touched there, then the plane cartwheeled into the building.

Oscar Martinez --
I saw a big jet flying close to the building coming at full speed. There was a big noise when it hit the building.

Father Stephen McGraw -- on Pentagon exit onto Washington Boulevard
The plane clipped the top of a light pole just before it got to us, injuring a taxi driver, whose taxi was just a few feet away from my car. I saw it crash into the building. My only memories really were that it looked like a plane coming in for a landing.

William Middleton -- from is street sweeper in Arlington Cemetary
... the plane was no higher than the tops of telephone poles as it lurched toward the Pentagon. The jet accelerated in the final few hundred yards before it tore into the building.

Christopher Munsey --
The plane, with red and blue markings, hurtled by and within moments exploded in a ground-shaking "whoomp" as it appeared to hit the side of the Pentagon. A huge flash of orange flame and black smoke poured into the sky.

Vin Narayanan -- sitting in traffic adjacent to Pentagon
The tail of the plane clipped the overhanging exit sign above me as it headed straight at the Pentagon. The windows were dark on American Airlines Flight 77 as it streaked toward its target, only 50 yards away. The hijacked jet slammed into the Pentagon at a ferocious speed. But the Pentagon's wall held up like a champ. It barely budged as the nose of the plane curled upwards and crumpled before exploding into a massive fireball.

John O'Keefe --
The eeriest thing about it, was that it was like you were watching a movie. There was no huge explosion, no huge rumbling on ground, it just went 'pfff'. It wasn't what I would have expected for a plane that was not much more than a football field away from me

Mary Ann Owens -- driving on road next to Pentagon
Once it passed, I raised slightly and grimaced as the left wing dipped and scraped the helicopter area just before the nose crashed into the southwest wall of the Pentagon. Still gripping the wheel, I could feel both the car and my heart jolt at the moment of impact. An instant inferno blazed about 125 yards from me.

Mary Anne Ownes -- on road next to Pentagon
The plane slammed into the west wall of the Pentagon. The impact was deafening. The fuselage hit the ground and blew up.

Christine Peterson -- on road adjacent to helipad
It was so close that I could read the numbers under the wing. And then the plane crashed. My mind could not comprehend what had happened. Where did the plane go? For some reason I expected it to bounce off the Pentagon wall in pieces. But there was no plane visible, only huge billows of smoke and torrents of fire.

Frank Probst -- in the construction yard outside Pentagon
I saw this plane coming right at me at what seemed like 300 miles an hour. I dove towards the ground and watched this great big engine from this beautiful airplane just vaporize. It looked like a huge fireball, pieces were flying out everywhere.

Lt. Commander John Sayer -- riding on a bus
It sounded like a very loud clap. At first I thought an airplane had hit in front of the Pentagon, but when I got closer I saw that it had struck the Pentagon.

Noel Sepulveda -- in the Pentagon parking lot
You could hear the engines being revved up even higher. The plane dipped its nose and crashed into the southwest side of the Pentagon. The right engine hit high, the left engine hit low. For a brief moment, you could see the body of the plane sticking out from the side of the building. Then a ball of fire came from behind it. An explosion followed.

Skarlet -- on road adjacent to Pentagon
As I came up along the Pentagon I saw helicopters. (...) it was headed straight for the building. It made no sense. (...) A huge jet. Then it was gone. A massive hole in the side of the Pentagon gushed smoke. The noise was beyond description.

Joel Sucherman --
The large plane was 20 feet off the ground and a mere 50 to 75 yards from his windshield. Two seconds later and before he could see if the landing gear was down or any of the horror- struck faces inside, the plane slammed into the west wall of the Pentagon 100 yards away.

Tony Terronez -- from car on road adjacent to Pentagon
This huge WHOOSH! And something made me look in my rearview mirror and by the time I looked up I saw the side of the Pentagon explode. I was stunned. It was just so surreal, like something out of a movie, like Die Hard. The side of a building just exploded! As the fireball got higher and higher, you saw this debris go up in the air.

Carla Thompson -- from about 1000 yards away from crash
glanced up just at the point where the plane was going into the building. I saw an indentation in the building and then it was just blown-up up--red, everything red.

Phillip Thompson -- Sitting in traffic in I-395 HOV lane
... saw an American Airlines jet come overhead and slam into the Pentagon, it all came back. I heard the scream of a jet engine and, turning to look, saw my driver's side window filled with the fuselage of the doomed airliner.

Tim Timmerman -- from 16th floor apartment
... it had been an American Airways 757. It added power on its way in. The nose hit, and the wings came forward and it went up in a fireball. Smoke and flames poured out of a large hole punched into the side of the Pentagon.

Tim Timmerman -- from 16th floor apartment
and as is went ... by the Sheraton Hotel, the pilot added power to the engines. I heard it pull up a little bit more, and then I lost it behind a building. And then it came out, and I saw it hit right in front of -- it didn't appear to crash into the building; most of the energy was dissipated in hitting the ground, but I saw the nose break up, I saw the wings fly forward, and then the conflagration engulfed everything in flames.

Mike Walter -- sitting in traffic on northbound 27
And I aw it. I mean it was like a cruise missile with wings. It went right there and slammed right into the Pentagon. Huge explosion, great ball of fire, smoke started billowing out.

Dave Winslow --
I saw the tail of a large airliner ... It ploughed right into the Pentagon.

page last modified: 2005-03-08