Skip to comments.Seismic Event: The Final Moments of Flight 93
Posted on 08/08/2002 11:02:16 PM PDT by sourcery
Seismic Event: The Final Moments of Flight 93
Author's note (8/1): In addition to everyone else, I'd like to welcome all our visitors today from .us, .gov, and .mil domains. Your feedback is welcome.
FLIGHT 93'S SMOKING GUN
an investigative article by Robb Magley
Truth, mused Tolstoy, is like gold, in that it is obtained by washing away from it all that is not gold.
Sadly, there seems to be less gold in the official story of United Airlines Flight 93 than we would like to think.
The relatively obscure field which considers the seismology of supersonic aircraft has produced something of a smoking gun in the mystery surrounding Flight 93's final moments. Evidence from the seismic record indicates there was at least one supersonic warplane within striking distance of Flight 93 on the fateful morning of September 11, 2001. A signal exhibiting the seismic signature characteristic of a passing sonic boom was recorded at 9:22 A.M. local time by an earthquake monitoring station in southern Pennsylvania. This station is just 60 miles from the abandoned stripmine in Somerset County where the Boeing 757-200 hit the earth at 10:06.
|A sonic boom is the audible pressure wave that travels along the path of an aircraft moving faster than the speed of sound. The effect of this increase in pressure is to displace, albeit slightly, the surface of the earth in a very predictable way: the earth is pushed downwards, then released and pulled upwards. The resulting chart of displacement versus time is quite distinct from other seismic events:|
Seismographs of the sonic boom, recorded at approximately 9:22 AM local time on 9/11
The presence of this particular sonic boom at 9:22 A.M. refutes the story we have been told of the military's response to 9/11.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, issued a press release one week after the attacks. The timeline told of Air National Guard fighter jets taking off from bases in Massachusetts and Virginia at 8:46 A.M. and 9:30 A.M., respectively. The first jets, two F-15's from Otis Air National Guard Base, responded to an 8:40 A.M. scramble order and screamed towards New York City six minutes later. The second group, F-16's from Langley AFB, responded to a 9:24 A.M. order and again were en route to their target in six minutes, this time pointing towards Washington D.C. and the threatened Pentagon.
The problem with this story is that neither group of fighters could have made the sonic boom recorded in Pennsylvania by 9:22.
The F-16's from Langley hadn't even been told to get into the air yet, so they're out. The F-15's from Otis reached New York at 9:06, 3 minutes too late to stop the second World Trade Center impact, having averaged a speed of around 800 miles per hour to get there. They could have covered the 207 miles from NYC to the seismic station in Pennsylvania in a mere 15 minutes at that speed. But this would have required them to leave New York City undefended at 9:07, merely one minute after arriving.
It would also have required a sixth sense, since the FAA didn't even warn NORAD that Flight 93 was considered a possible threat until 9:16.
While we don't know where the jet that created the sonic boom came from, we can safely assume that any aircraft moving supersonically over the continental U.S. by 9:22 on September 11th was part of our own military. And not knowing the fighter's home base does little to change the fact that it would have been in excellent position to intercept Flight 93 well before it crashed at 10:06.
Major General Paul A. Weaver Jr., Director of the Air National Guard, has told reporters that National Guard aircraft "weren't even close" to the fourth hijacked airliner. Thanks to the seismic record, we can now suggest there was little gold in his remarks.
Tracking aircraft in flight with seismic networks is not a new idea. NASA has looked at ground-recorded sonic boom signatures of aircraft like the F-18 and the SR-71; scientists at the California Institute of Technology have examined data from existing networks for events like the landing of the space shuttle Discovery.
Seismic networks have also been used to determine the time of aircraft crashes; indeed, when the United States Army wanted to know with greater accuracy exactly when Flight 77 struck the Pentagon on 9/11, they turned to seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, and the Maryland Geological Survey. Won-Young Kim and Gerald R. Baum were unable to definitively set the impact time of the Pentagon crash, but they were able to determine the time of Flight 93's impact to within 5 seconds (10:06:05 ±5, EDT).
In the days and weeks following the crash, rumors circulated of a shoot-down, the scenario being that the military brought the airliner down before it could reach a more populated area. It should be said that just because we now know a fighter was close enough to do the grim job, it doesn't necessarily follow that the job was done: there is still no direct proof that the unknown fighter chose to fire upon Flight 93.
The question, however, remains:
Why would NORAD misrepresent where their fighters were if they didn't shoot it down?
Back in December, we learned from Lt. Colonel Robert Marr, Commander of the North East Aerospace Defense Sector (NEADS) that there was a third group of fighters in the air on the morning of 9/11. This group launched from the Toledo Express Airport in Ohio, and was comprised of F-16's from the 112th Fighter Squadron, part of the 180th Fighter Wing. These pilots, known as the "Stingers", were not on any active alert status; in fact, when they were told to scramble aircraft to defend New York, their fighters needed to be reconfigured from training missions and armed for the new duty.
The Stingers were still able to launch in sixteen minutes, a time Lt. Col. Marr considered "phenomenal", considering how much they had to do to get combat-ready F-16's airborne.
Could these F-16's have caused the sonic boom at the seismic station?
According to Lt. Col. Marr, the 112th's F-16's were not ordered to scramble until 10:01, lifting off at 10:17, well after the sonic boom at 9:22.
However, the math gets rather interesting. Think of what follows as an airborne version of the old story problem that begins, "...a train leaves Boston, and another leaves San Francisco...."
Imagine that the fighters based in Toledo got the order to defend New York at the same time that the same order was received by the fighters in Massachusetts, i.e. 8:40. With the 16-minute response time ("phenomenal") the 112th could manage, they would be in the air at 8:56.
Our hypothetical fighter group is now headed for New York City where, at the time, all the trouble is. Let's give them 2 minutes to assemble and head out in formation; the time is 8:58.
Interestingly, their hypothetical flight path goes almost directly over an obscure seismic station in southern Pennsylvania. That station is some 314 miles away from their starting point, and, traveling at 800 miles per hour, they reach it in just about 24 minutes.
They reach the station at just about 9:22.
In two minutes, NORAD will learn from the FAA that Flights 77 and 93 have apparently been hijacked. At 9:24, NORAD will order the Langley F-16's to try to intercept Flight 77. They will nearly make it.
The Otis F-15's have been flying over New York for 18 minutes. With all the threats in the air, NORAD has no intention of telling them to leave.
In about ten minutes, Flight 93 will make a dramatic U-turn near Cleveland. Its new, unscheduled flight path puts it into a dead-on course for Washington, D.C. It will likely overfly at least one nuclear reactor and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis before reaching the beltway.
The closest force that can intercept them are the hypothetical fighters, which have already made a not-so-hypothetical sonic boom. Assuming the fighters had been continuing toward New York, they now had merely to make a U-turn of their own to handily intercept Flight 93, well before the 10:06 crash.
Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed that the order to shoot down any airliner headed for D.C. that refused to alter course had been given after the Pentagon had been hit, and a fourth plane appeared to be headed for the capital.
The fighters were in place. The airliner refused to change course. The order had been given. And there was plenty of time.
History was about to take place, and to be covered up. But for an obscure seismic station, it might never have come to light.
The facilities of the IRIS Data Management System, and specifically the IRIS Data Management Center, were used for access to waveform and metadata required in this article. This article may be reproduced with the express permission of the author.
If fighters were zipping around the stratosphere chasing bogeys, there should have been more than just one. In fact, they should have left a trail of broken windows.
Why would NORAD misrepresent where their fighters were if they didn't shoot it down?
In light of the discrepancy between the empirical evidence and the official statements, and also considering the initial reports that the plane had been shot down, and the Vice President's statement that orders were given to shoot down any plane that headed toward Washington and refused to change course, suspicion that we are being lied to is quite justified.
The presense of a bomb is quite plausible. Whatever the case, the official story no longer is beyond criticism. Which is puzzling, since there is no reason to believe that the government didn't honestly think that Flight 93 was about to be crashed into the White House (for example) when they shot the plane down (if they did).
But I don't buy the idea that the government would have any need or reason to "cover up" the presence of a bomb. Other planes have been destroyed by bombs, and the public knows this. All luggage is subject to search, partly due to the danger of bombs--and the public knows this. The fact that there was a bomb on Flight 93 would not by itself have much affect on the public's willingness to fly. This is because it is not obvious to the average airline customer that preventing planes from being blown up by bombs planted in the luggage (or other freight) is at all problematic--and a bomb on Flight 93 would not change the perception. The supposed bomb on Flight 93 would be easily explained away as a one-time fluke, using the same propaganda techniques that are being used so successfully to prevent the public from panicking over other matters.
Actually, that's what I'd like to know. Bush could easily have emoted to the Nation his sorrow that there just wasn't time, after the mutiny onboard commenced, to rescind the order to shoot down the plane. The entire Nation would have deeply sympathized with Bush's anguish over the matter. People would have commended the administration for its willingness to make hard but necessary choices in defending the country against the apparently-pending atrocity. Pundits would have soberly commented on the fact that the shoot-down put the terrorists of the world on notice that the United States was willing and able to take whatever actions were necessary to foil their evil schemes. And it would, in fact, have made it quite clear to the terror lords that the US had no intention of playing the game by European rules.
Objection: "Hey. Annapolis isn't on the way to D.C...."
This is just poor writing on my part, and I apologize. It's been pointed out to me that yes, the Naval Academy isn't on the way to the beltway. I'm mixing two issues here. The idea, or threat assessment, was that UAL 93 was on course for D.C., which it was at first; there was, according to the FlightExplorer data, a minor course correction shortly before the flight was lost from radar. I spent some time following the line the new course could have made, and one of the places it would overfly was Annapolis. I decided to put a note here, rather than rewrite the sentence. My apologies.
However, I'm skeptical for another reason: The pilot(s) and the chain of command involved in any such shoot down order would be a source of leaks by now. IMO.
Not unless the official time of the crash is off by more than half an hour.
At the political level there is just too much to lose by not being forthcoming. And, besides, it's not W's style.
As for the coverup, please get real. I am an FAA air traffic controller at a major east coast airport. If an F16 had shot 93 down, the controllers responsible for that area would have known about it and I would have heard or read about it through some of our communication channels. You can't keep something like that quiet!
Why would at least one civilian air traffic controller necessarily have known that a plane was shot down?
The Pentagon was hit around 9:40, which is about when Flight 93 stopped responding. Nobody has ever suggested that Cheney ordered Flight 93 shot down before that moment. But at that point, by the author's timeline, the Toledo F-16s had already reached NYC. Why on earth would NORAD dispatch F-16s from New York to shoot down a plane near Cleveland, when there were three F-16s already in the air over DC?
If you want to believe in a conspiracy theory, it's much, much simpler to posit that NORAD sent one of the three DC CAP planes north to shoot it down. That theory only requires the DC CAP pilots and their commanding officers to be in on the conspiracy, and is at least plausible. The author's theory drags in everyone from the entire staff of that airfield in Toledo to the air traffic controllers in New York City, way too many people. I'd sooner believe the 9:22 sonic boom was caused by a deorbiting UFO than that the government could keep hundreds of people quiet about shooting down a civilian airliner.