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Background Attack Aftermath Evidence Misinformation Analysis Memorial

Bumble Planes

A Theory Accounting for the Fates of Flights 11, 175, and 77

The "Bumble Planes" theory is attributed to Snake Plissken and appears on the Public-Action.com website. 1   The theory basically goes as follows:

  • The number of passengers on each of the four flights was kept artificially low.
  • All four planes were commanded to turn off their transponders, maintain radio silence, and land at a military base. The caller explained the order as a response to a terrorist attack.
  • Before each of the planes landed, a decoy was sent up to match its flight path, either above or below it, so as to fool air controllers into thinking that the decoy's radar blip was from the original flight.
  • Once all of the planes had landed, all the passengers were herded onto Flight 93, which then took off and was destroyed over Pennsylvania.
  • The Twin Towers and Pentagon were hit by the remote-controlled decoys.

Most of the plane-swap theories embrace the idea that the North Tower was hit by something smaller than a Boeing 767, ignoring the match between the impact hole and a 767's profile.

Although certain details of the theory may be correct, on the whole it is highly dubious. Most of the "clues" the article cites amplify small anomalies that are easily explained without resorting to plane substitution theories. Some of the "clues" are not even plausible. One clue holds that the North Tower crash involved a small commuter jet rather than a 767, ignoring the obvious match between the shape of the hole and the profile of a 767. Another clue holds that the off-center South Tower impact suggests that the remote-control operators had difficulty flying the large jet, when it seems more likely that the core-sparing impact was part of a calculated strategy to minimize fatalities and to produce a spectacular fireball. Beyond that there are several serious problems with the theory.

  • It is inconsistent with the timeline and known portions of the flight paths of the four jets. Flights 77 and 93 would both have to fly far from their alleged flight paths to rendezvous with Flights 11 and 175. Numerous air traffic controllers would have to be part of the conspiracy.
  • Covering up the identities of the passengers from the other three flights at the Flight 93 crash site would have presented a major challenge.
  • The medical examiner of New York City would need to have conspired or been fooled into identifying remains of Flight 11 and 175 victims at the World Trade Center site.

The Bumble Planes theory was the first of a series of variants based on the idea of plane substitution -- theories for which there is no direct evidence. Two such theories are:

The Bumble Planes theory and its variants all seem designed to strike ordinary people as ridiculous and offensive to the victims. All deny burial to the victims on the planes, and most have them being herded like cattle between planes in operations that would have involved large numbers of conspirators. Operation Pearl describes a scenario of a group of jetliners being "electronically towed" over the ocean and dumped. Valentine's article insults Pentagon eyewitnesses as being "a dime a dozen."


1. Flight Of The Bumble Planes, www.public-action.com, [cached]

page last modified: 2007-02-22