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9/11 Commission

What Hit the Pentagon?

Where the Pentagon was struck on 9/11/01 is indisputable and is strong circumstantial evidence that the attack was an inside job. However, what hit it has remained controversial in some circles, given the refusal of authorities to produce definitive evidence to support the official story that American Airlines Flight 77 was the attack plane. With security camera video from nearby businesses having been seized minutes after the attack, and only five selected video frames released by the military, we are left with seemingly contradictory physical and eyewitness evidence.

These apparent contradictions stem partly from misconceptions about the physics of plane crashes. The contradictions vanish when one considers possible manipulations of a 757 crash, such as the destruction of portions of the plane just before impact. However, theories that nothing like a 757 crashed into the Pentagon have been so effectively popularized that mainstream media attacks on 9/11 skeptics frequently identify them as disputing only one aspect of the official story: that Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.

The Missile and/or Global Hawk Theories

Based on interpretations of the physical evidence -- in many cases based on fallacies -- several researchers have proposed theories that the damage to the Pentagon was caused by a missile, and/or a small lightweight remote-controlled plane, such as a Global Hawk. Variants of this theory became popular among skeptics of the official Flight 77 crash story in early 2002, despite their disregard for the eyewitness evidence that the plane seen approaching the Pentagon was a large twin-engine jetliner.

Much of the support for the missile and/or Global Hawk theories is drawn from the five frames of Pentagon video, despite their suspect source and signs of forgery.

The Two-Plane Theory

A second theory, also advanced in 2002, was researcher Dick Eastman's small plane theory (or two-plane theory). It holds that a Boeing 757 did indeed swoop down toward the west block of the Pentagon, but disappeared into a blinding pyrotechnic display, making it appear that it had crashed into the building, while in fact it had cleared the facade, overflown the Pentagon, and then banked sharply to land at Reagan National Airport, whose runways are only about two miles away from the Pentagon. As the jetliner was disappearing into the fireball, a small attack jet, such as an F-16, approached from a different trajectory and crashed into the wall, producing, in combination with a missile, the damage to the facade and interior.

This theory has the advantage over other no-757-crash theories that it is consistent with the many credible eyewitness reports of a jetliner. However, it neither explains the eyewitness statements that the plane collided with the building, nor the lack of a single eyewitness statement supporting the idea that a 757 overflew the Pentagon and then landed at the nearby National airport. Also, the theory raises questions about the fate of the passengers of Flight 77.

The 757 overflight theory is perhaps the weakest part of the two-plane theory. The Pentagon is surrounded by highways, and by densely populated areas such as Pentagon City to the south. Wouldn't a 757 overflying the Pentagon in a direction perpendicular to normal air traffic have been witnessed and reported by numerous individuals?

The Engineered Crash Theory

According to the above theories, no 757 crashed at the Pentagon on 9/11/01, despite the abundance of eyewitness reports of a large jetliner crashing. Some of these theories suggest that events were engineered to fool people into believing that Flight 77 had crashed. Some include elaborate stage-magic tricks, such as a drone painted like an American Airlines plane, and the use of motors and cables to pull down lamp poles.

Many no-757-crash theorists want us to believe that the attack was engineered to trick eyewitnesses into thinking a much smaller attack plane was a jetliner. But we can equally imagine that the attack was engineered to make the site of a 757 crash look to many observers like that of something else.

Eric Bart

French researcher Eric Bart proposed that the airliner was shredded by shape charges both before and after it entered the building. His theory accounts for the eyewitness near-consensus in favor of a 757-type jetliner crashing, for details in eyewitness statements not consistent with a simple crash, and for the pattern of damage to the Pentagon not explained by other theories.

e x c e r p t
title: Shaped charges
authors: Eric Bart


The shaped charges were ignited before the nose touched the wall. That's why some witnesses reported signs of an early impact, before the plane touched the wall :

Other witnesses understood that the plane hit the ground before the wall :

  • "It didn't appear to crash into the building, most of the energy was dissipated in hitting the ground, I saw the nose break up, I saw the wings fly forward " Donald "Tim" Timmerman
  • "The fuselage hit the ground and blew up" Mary Ann Owens
  • "The nose of the plane curled upwards and crumpled before exploding into a massive fireball" Vin Narayan

But there was no mark of the plane on the ground. Other witnesses reported an impact on the building :

  • "The large aircraft struck the outermost corridor (E-ring) of the five-ring building at ground level (the second floor)" Aviationnow
  • "The aircraft went in between the second and third floors." Lincoln Leibner

Why did some witnesses thought [sic] that the plane hit the ground before the wall ? I see two reasons. First, the explosion of the charges created white flashes around the fuselage that seemed an early contact with the ground. Second, shaped charges in a plane have a recoil effect like powder in guns. Their explosions should have push [sic] back the fuselage and slow it down, giving the impression that it hit something. It could also make the wings detached [sic] and fly forward because, unlike the fuselage, they were not slowed down, "I saw the wings fly forward".

The Penny Elgas statement : "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."

The analysis of this report is complex. However I'll try here.

First I believe Penny Elgas. Under adrenaline things go definately slower. The report she gave is so unexpected that I don't think she made it up. It's just a pure factual report.

The interpretation she gave is false. : "the rubble of churning bits of the plane and concrete". The smoke moves are too perfect.

My speculation : The "churning smoke" is the white flash of inside charges. Penny Elgas saw the white flashes of these charges exploding in two overlapped and opposite helices.

There was not a single large shaped charge in the plane. I did not see any large shaped charge on the web. The best anti-bunker weapon (BLU-113) is only 1.2 foot large (diameter). Instead, there were many shaped charges (one feet diameter) inside the plane. Roughly, a one foot diameter will make a one foot hole. These charges were arranged in circle inside the fuselage and along the fuselage. Thus it was possible to make a large hit on the wall with small shaped charges. These charges were not fired all at the same time (probably to be more silent or for having a "hammering" effect on concrete). So what is the best sequence for igniting all theses charges ?

Maybe things are simpler then I first thought. All the plane (fuselage and wings) is laid on a rigid structure. This means that the bottom of the fuselage is strong and the top is fragile. So, when a charge explode near the bottom of the fuselage, it destroys the stiffness of it.

I think that the charges where put in two overlapped and opposite helices (clockwise and counter clockwise). The explosion started at the top front of the fuselage, continued downward and backward on each side, joined at the bottom and continued upward and backward, and so on ..., as Penny saw.

When explosions occur at the bottom, the plane fuselage stiffness is damaged. Thus, next charges to explode are less strongly tied to the fuselage. The further they are from the bottom, the more difficult it is to tie them strongly to the fuselage. Thus, next charges have to be attached close to the bottom. That's why I think it continued upward (and backward) on each side of the fuselage, because next charges can't be mechanically attached far form the bottom.

"Then it started over again -- only this next time, I also saw fire, glowing fire in the smoke ring." The glowing fire is the fireball itself that comes after the white flash.

Bart theorizes only about the use of shaped charges in the destruction of the plane. However, it is possible to imagine other types of weapons may have produced a similar result. If these weapons were ground-based rather than installed in the plane, it would be easier to imagine that the event involved Flight 77, since the perpetrators would not have required physical access to the plane to prepare the attack.

The Remote-Controlled 757 Theory

The simplest theory that answers questions about the piloting skill required by the approach maneuver and the location of the strike is the remote-controlled 757 theory, in which an American Airlines 757, perhaps Flight 77, is flown by remote control into the Pentagon. The engineered crash theory is a subset of the remote-controlled 757 theory. Its added element of explosives or other weapons destroying portions of the aircraft prior to impact helps to reconcile the crash of a 757 with the crash impact damage shown in photographs, but this element is consistently targeted by critics defending no-757-crash theories. Researcher Mark Robinowitz, webmaster of oilempire.us, has suggested that speculation about crash engineering, like that about exactly what hit the Pentagon, has served as a distraction from the provable fact of where the building was hit and its implications. On The Pentagon attack: How the 'no plane' theories are used to discredit 9/11 skepticism and distract from proven evidence of complicity he provides evidence that the the no-757-crash theories may be rooted in a false-flag psy-op to discredit skepticism of the official story.

page last modified: 2010-12-18
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Dick Eastman showed that the one piece of debris on the Pentagon lawn large enough to stand up fit the forward right side of an American Airlines' 757-200. The relative isolation of this piece, and it's position relative to the plane's path, suggests that it may have been moved. There are a number of possible reasons that it could have been moved.