Thursday, February 22, 2007

United 93?

United Airlines Flight 93, the source of so much controversy, speculation, and skepticism.

Why? Because so little about the alleged 'crash' of this flight makes sense. One anomaly, sure, dismiss it. Anomalous events occur all the time. But this is more than a mere series of anomalous events...

1. Time of Crash
On September 12, 2001, the FAA turned over a radar record of Flight 93's flight path to the FBI. At that time, a reporter from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was told that radar contact with the plane was lost at 10:06am.

The Maryland Geological Survey released a report entitled 'Seismic Observations during September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attack' [pdf], on March 10, 2002. Using data recorded by the Seismographic Station in Standing Stone, PA (SSPA), the report's authors (Won-Young Kim of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Gerald R. Baum of the MGS) concluded that United 93 crashed at around 10:06:05 (+/- 5sec).

This seismically deduced crash time for UA93 is contradicted by three sources: the 9/11 Commission, UA93's Flight Data Recorder (FDR), and UA93's Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR).

The 9/11 Commission's report, in particular, uses a series of unverifiable assertions to discount the accuracy of the MGS report, saying in a footnote (Chap. 1, note #168) that "the seismic data ... are far too weak ... and far too speculative...". The footnote refers to an unpublished email from Won-Young Kim to the Commission, and an unpublished (or unavailable) follow-up paper written by Mr. Kim, which allegedly contradicts his earlier report, still online @ the MGS website. While the seismic data for the recorded event at 10:06:05 may indeed be 'weak', it's interesting to note that there are even LESS seismic data to indicate that United 93, or for that matter anything else, crashed at 10:03am.

The same footnote goes on to say that the Commission established 10:03 as the time of impact by using "the very accurate combination of FDR, CVR, ATC, radar, and impact site data sets." Aside from the obvious question of how the impact site could give any indication whatsoever as to the exact time of the crash, there's also the fact that most of the ATC and radar data are unavailable to the public, and the only known media reports that reference these data all mention a crash time of 10:06am.

Which leaves the FDR and CVR, both of which apparently stopped recording at 10:03am, and one of which was allegedly found 25 feet underground.

2. FDR Data - NTSB DCA01MA065 [pdf]
United 93's Flight Data Recorder, an Allied Signal SSFDR, was allegedly recovered in the crater in Somerset County, and the data stored in its memory card was extracted by Honeywell. The contents of the Flight Data Recorder have been made available to the public, thanks to a FOIA request. Several interesting points are illuminated by this data.

a. The aircraft apparently crashed at a speed of over 500mph, inverted (upside-down), at an angle of ~40 degrees. This angle does not correspond with the actual crater in Shanksville, a crude outline of what one would expect to see from a jet that had crashed 'straight down' into the ground.

b. the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) aboard United 93 never activated, but neither did 'GPWC Failure', implying that the GPWS was operating, but failed to register any alerts in the moments leading up to the alleged crash.

SINK RATE - generally sounds when an aircraft's rate of descent is dangerously high (the threshold for a 'dangerously high' rate of descent is variable, and depends on the aircraft’s altitude, flap position, and landing gear position). According to the FDR, Flight 93 descended from 10000ft to impact in its final alleged minute. From 10:02am – 10:03am, UA93 supposedly descended at a rate of 10000ft/min, yet the ‘Sink Rate’ warning did not activate.

TERRAIN - Did not activate

TOO LOW TERRAIN - Did not activate

TERRAIN AHEAD PULL UP - Did not activate

GROUND PROX WARNING - Did not activate

GPWC FAILURE - Did not activate. Again, this seems to indicate that the GPWC onboard UA93 was functioning throughout the flight.

3. CVR Data
The Cockpit Voice Recorder was also allegedly recovered in the crater, at a depth of 25 feet. The recorder was described as being in 'fairly good condition', and a transcript of the CVR data was admitted into evidence during the trial of Zacharias Moussaoui. The CVR transcript, like the FDR data, shows that NONE of the typical GPWS warnings which should have activated (esp. 'Sink Rate') did, in fact, activate. It has been suggested that this could be a result of the alleged hijackers pulling the aural warning breakers, but this suggestion overlooks the fact that there is nothing in the FDR data to indicate that the warning(s) would have activated, as no trigger conditions were encountered by the GPWC or recorded by the FDR.

4. Crash Site
The spot where United 93 is said to have crashed is an open field near Shanksville, PA - the former site of a stripmine which had since been covered over with soil. One engine was allegedly recovered from the 'crater', as were both black boxes. Those black boxes are installed in the tail of an aircraft, which seems to indicate that the entire plane from nose to tail crumpled into the soft ground. Also allegedly discovered in that crater, however, was a pristine red bandana (another piece of 'evidence' featured at the Moussaoui trial). The government asserts that the alleged hijackers of UAL93 were all wearing red bandanas on their heads, and to think one of these bandanas survived in such mint condition, while the head around which it was supposedly wrapped was 'vaporized' by the crash, strains credulity.

5. Debris Field
The debris field is perhaps the most puzzling of all, with initial reports claiming that 'nothing larger than a phone book' had been seen, followed by reports of debris falling like confetti from the sky, nearly six miles from the alleged crash site. Debris was found at Indian Lake, and also at businesses outside Shanksville proper, which is itself miles away from the alleged crash site. It has been alleged that the wind on 9/11 (9mph) was sufficient to blow light pieces of paper and fabric over these great distances, but the on-the-scene reports from local media indicate that the items found included "clothing, books, ...and what appeared to be human remains." - common sense suggests that a 9mph wind is not powerful enough to blow anything much heavier than a feather across a distance of a few hundred feet, let alone a few miles. And yet enough substantial debris was recovered at these distant locations that local residents were turning in bags full of it. Additionally, one of the two engines (or rather a one-ton piece of one of the engines) was allegedly discovered hundreds of yards from the crater, though Popular Mechanics and its cadre of experts have asserted that the 2000 lb. engine-piece likely 'bounced' that distance...

This post is a rough draft, and may be amended as further information comes to light. Readers are encouraged to follow the links, research the evidence, and draw your own conclusions. Killtown and 911Research have done a great deal of detailed analysis of just about every possible aspect of the 'crash' of United 93, and i put this post together to sum up my own personal problems with the official version of events.

Any and all feedback is welcome.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Fire vs. Steel - the facts

WTC5, 9/13/01, hit by the North Tower and consumed by fire, yet still standing

"Prior to 9/11, no steel-framed buildings had ever collapsed due to fire. On 9/11, three steel-framed buildings collapsed, supposedly due to fire." - you've probably heard something along those lines in the past 5 years.

And you've probably also heard the rebuttal, "The planes hit the buildings, the buildings caught on fire, the buildings collapsed - simple as that."

In fact, some lucky viewers were fed the ‘fire caused the collapse’ line almost immediately after the towers fell...

More recently, the folks at Protec Documentation Services (and/or released a paper late last year, designed to rebut various claims regarding the collapses of the buildings at the WTC complex. And they must be doing something right, because even the US State Department refers skeptical visitors to the ImplosionWorld website...

- -

This post focuses on one single aspect of the Protec/IW paper, specifically Protec's comment in response to Assertion #8 (A steel-framed building has never collapsed due to fire...)

Protec's answer? "The fact is, many steel structures have collapsed due to fire..."


That answer (and the sentences surrounding it) seemed like a weak and/or disingenuous response. The assertion was about 'steel-framed buildings', the rebuttal was regarding 'steel structures', and the author makes no mention of the number or severity of these other fire-caused collapses. So i did some digging, in an effort to discover what these 'many steel structures' might be.

First stop, Fire Protection Engineering's online archive, which has their Historical Survey of Multistory Building Collapses Due to Fire. More of an 'overview' document, really.

And that led me to NIST GCR 02-843.

This report was prepared by Hughes Associates, Inc. under Contract Number NA1341-02-W-0686.

Their data (not included in the fpe article) shows the other two steel structures which, in addition to WTC 1, 2, 5, and 7, make up the total of SIX steel buildings (in all of modern recorded history) which have collapsed due to fire.

1. One New York Plaza (NY, NY, 08/05/70) - partial collapse
50-story office building. Fire caused several steel filler beams on the 33-34th floors to fall and rest on the bottom flanges of their supporting girders.

2. Alexis Nihon Plaza (Montreal, Canada, 10/26/96) - partial collapse
15-story steel-framed office building. Approximately five hours after the fire started, a section of the 11th floor collapsed onto the 10th floor.


The NIST report also goes on to list the many steel-framed buildings that have suffered extensive fire damage and NOT collapsed:

  • One Meridian Plaza -
    38 floors, no sprinklers, 18-hour fire, no collapse.

  • Mercantile Credit Insurance Building -
    12 floors, no sprinklers, fire burnout of floors 8-10, no collapse.

  • Broadgate Phase 8 -
    14 floors, mostly not fire protected, no sprinklers, 4.5-hour fire, temperatures up to 1000C, no collapse.

  • First Interstate Bank -
    62 floors, no sprinklers, 3.5-hour fire, no collapse.

When Brent Blanchard, the author of the Protec/IW paper, wrote that "the fact is, many steel structures have collapsed due to fire", he must've realized that 2/3 of the 'many' structures he was referring to were in fact the WTC buildings themselves.

And he also didn't differentiate between the FULL collapses of WTC 1, 2, and 7 and the PARTIAL collapses of WTC5 and the two examples above.


So again, just to re-state the undebunkable truth, prior to 9/11, no steel-framed building had ever fully collapsed due to fire.

Hope that's clear enough for everyone.