The Official Story of the Flight Takeovers
According to the official story, four teams of four or five hijackers each were able to take over four jetliners with 100% success, with the pilots of only one of the four aircraft, Flight 93, managing to press the distress button. We were told that the failures of the crews to put up a fight was not surprising, since September 11th was the first time hijacked planes had been used for suicide attacks in the US. However it seems highly unlikely that the hijacking teams would be able to take over all four aircraft for the following reasons.
- The takeovers of the four flights were staggered, and news of the hijacking of Flight 11 was relayed to the pilots of Flight 175, and probably to the pilots of the other flights. Awareness of hijackings in progress would have raised the guard of the flight crews.
- Since the hijackers were not armed with firearms, the flight crews would have been much more likely to resist.
- A pilot's grasp of the control stick is an effective defense against would-be hijackers. In an instant a pilot can commence a roll. A barrel roll would knock off their feet anyone standing and disorient them. (A barrel roll is a combination between a loop and a roll, which results in the aircraft tracing out a corkscrew path. This maneuver can produce high G-forces inside the plane.) 1
- At least one of the two pilots of all four of the flights
were formerly in the military, and some had combat experience in Vietnam.
According to Col. Donn de Grand Pre,
each flight's pilots were physically fit and strong.
John Ogonowski was captain of American Airlines flight 11. Ogonowski was an Air Force fighter pilot in Vietnam and joined American Airlines in 1979. His co-pilot, Tom McGuinness, flew F-14 fighters for the Navy. 3
Victor Saracini was captain of United Airlines Flight 175. Saracini was a former Navy fighter pilot of the Vietnam era.
Chic Burlingame was captain of American Airlines Flight 77. Burlingame was a graduate of the Naval Academy and honor graduate of the Navy "Top Gun" school, in Miramar, CA. He flew F-4 Phantoms for the Navy, where he landed the fighter jets on aircraft carriers in stormy conditions. He then left the Navy in 1979 to join American Airlines. 4
Given the experience of these pilots, it is very difficult to imagine a forced takeover of any of their cockpits.
Billie Vincent, a former FAA security director, found it implausible that the hijackers could have taken over the flights without firearms.
2. Many Questions Still Remain About Trade Center Attack, propagandamatrix.com,
3. Recent Losses, alliedpilots.org,
4. Remembering Chic Burlingame, saratogamuseum.org, 12/12/01 [cached]
5. Pilot: LeRoy Homer Jr., PG News, 10/28/01
6. Expert tells of inside help, Miami Herald, 9/12/01 [cached]