It is possible to produce the appearance of a
terrorist attack on the United States by means that do not employ
terrorists, as such, but by the simple substitution of one aircraft for
another, particularly when the transponders of the aircraft involved are
turned off. The only people who need to be deceived by such an operation
are the radar operators at air traffic control (ATC) centers.
The scenario explored here, called Operation Pearl
(after Pearl Harbor), has been described in sufficient operational detail
that sound judgments can be made about a) feasibility and b) consistency
with evidence on the ground. At the time of this writing it is probably the
best available description of what probably took place on September 11, 2001.
Under the Operation Pearl scenario, the passengers of
all four flights died in an aerial explosion over Shanksville, PA and the
remaining three airliners are at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Since March of 2002, persons probing the web for
further information about the 9/11 attacks could not fail to encounter,
sooner or later, a scenario advanced by Carol Valentine. Called the "Flight of the Bumble Planes"
(Valentine 2002), it allegedly came from an informant who would only
identify himself as "Snake Plisskin," the name of the hero of the
movie, Escape from New York (footnote 1 - see below)
The informant outlined the basic hijacking method in
an email message to Carol Valentine, comparing it to a flight of bumble
bees. Watching bees as they buzz around among flowers, it is very difficult
to follow individual bees, since they are always passing close to one
This metaphor translates into the flight of two
aircraft in a confined locale of airspace. If the separation between them
is small enough, radar operators will see not two aircraft, but one. On the
morning of September 11, 2001, according to this scenario, all four
"hijacked" aircraft landed at a single airport or air base,
transferring their passengers to a single aircraft, the one that crashed in
Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, remotely controlled aircraft of various types
carried out the actual attacks. The scenario, as presented by Valentine,
consists of little more than I have presented here.
Of course, there is a vast difference between an
outline and a detailed operational plan. It may turn out, for example, that
any attempt to imagine how a specific scheme is implemented runs into
snags, as in the attempt by Spencer (2003) to get all four
aircraft to one air base long enough for the combined list of over 200
passengers to board a single aircraft, take off and crash near Shanksville,
Pennsylvania. Spencer, however, assumed that the takedown of aircraft
coincided with the turning off of transponders. In the present paper the
scenario is modified to allow takedown prior to the turning off of
transponders, assuming that takedown occurred at the first deviation of
each aircraft from its flight plan. The refurbished scenario has now been
completed to a level of detail that makes it possible to evaluate its
feasibility, as well as its consistency with the evidence, as presently acquired
A scenario named Ghost Riders in the Sky was
previously constructed by the author (Dewdney 2002). The purpose of that
scenario was simply to demonstrate that alternate scenarios that fitted all
the facts (as then understood by the author) could be constructed. The
scenario involved killing all the passengers and flight crew with a
fast-acting nerve agent, then triggering a software patch in the aircraft
flight control systems to direct the aircraft to their various
destinations. However, when it became evident that no Boeing 757 had
actually struck the Pentagon (see The Pentagon Evidence, also on this
website), the scenario was rendered invalid. The Ghost Riders scenario,
like the Bush-Cheney scenario, required that the aircraft that struck their
respective targets were as advertised, two 767s and two 757s.
The fact that the Ghost Riders scenario must now be
rejected illustrates the nature of this inquiry. As in science, hypotheses
must be formulated, then tested against the available evidence. If found
wanting in the light of that evidence, they must be rejected. It is normal
in any scientific inquiry to formulate and analyze more than one hypothesis
before one is found that actually works. The same remark also applies to
The Evidence Filter
Any scenario constructed to account for the events of
September 11 2001 must pass a graduated test, as embodied in the following
items. These fall into three classes:
of the named hijackers were not in the United States.
WTC towers collapsed without adequate heat stress.
aircraft accompanied Flights 77 and 93.
of the alleged hijackers were rather poor pilots.
of the alleged hijackers developed too quickly.
excursion of Flights UA93 and AA77 are inexplicable as terrorists
hurrying to targets."
US Air Force failed to intercept any of the flights.
hijackers' names did not show up on passenger lists.
hijackers' faces did not appear on boarding gate videos.
boxes were missing from all but one flight.
Pentagon was not struck by a large passenger aircraft.
calls alleged to have been made by passengers were essentially
A successful scenario must at least explain the
contradictions and account for a majority of the anomalies. It is of course
desirable that it also account for the suspicious circumstances, but no
scenario need stand or fall in this regard.
It must be remarked that the only scenario ever
supplied to the public via the official media was the Bush-Cheney scenario,
that Arab hijackers seized control of the four aircraft and proceeded to
pilot them into national landmarks, killing both themselves and their
passengers. Clearly, the Bush-Cheney scenario, considered in detail,
explains none of the suspicious circumstances, none of the anomalies and is
directly contradicted by the facts adduced in the third category. As
scenarios go, it is a distinct failure.
The two major technical aspects of the Operation Pearl
scenario involve radar and remote control. Radar technology has been with
us since World War Two, some 60 years ago. Remote control technology has
been around in various forms for at least twenty years. With a basic
understanding of both radar and remote control in relation to 9/11, it
becomes possible for the average citizen to think for himself or herself.
A radar screen is essentially a circular CRT (cathode
ray tube - like a television screen) that displays aircraft within the
circular airspace represented on the screen. Radar operators are the only
people who can be aware of what planes are in the sky and where they are
going. The vast majority of people are completely unaware of what is going
on in any large volume of airspace and, when an aircraft passes overhead,
can usually not tell one type from another, let alone what airline or
aviation company may own it. This observation, while something of a
commonplace, has important implications. If an organization wishes to
substitute one aircraft for another without anyone knowing it, the only
people it has to deceive are the radar operators.
The resolution of a radar screen is the size of the
smallest point that can appear there, approximately two millimeters in
diameter - a "blip." A typical radar screen, less than a meter in
diameter, could therefore be described as less than 500 "blips"
wide. If the airspace represented on the screen were 500 kilometers in
diameter (approximately 300 miles, a not atypical size), each blip would
represent a piece of airspace that is more than 500/500 = 1 kilometer wide.
In other words, as soon as two aircraft get within a
kilometer of one another, there would be a tendency for their respective
blips to merge. With half a kilometer separation or less, the two aircraft
could easily appear as one.
Of course, two aircraft that are that close together
run a distinct risk of collision - unless they are at different altitudes.
Radar screens are two-dimensional in that they represent airspace in the
same way as a map, with the vertical dimension of altitude suppressed.
Thus, without additional information in the form of a displayed altitude
number, it is impossible for a radar operator to tell whether two merged blips
represent a potential collision or not. Altitude information is displayed
if an aircraft's transponder is turned on, otherwise, the radar operator
has no idea of the altitude at which an aircraft happens to be flying.
If one aircraft happens to be within a half kilometer
of another, whether above that aircraft or below it, the radar operator
will see only one aircraft, as long as the two maintain a horizontal
separation that is no greater than half a kilometer (about 500 yards).
Imagine now two aircraft, both headed for the same
approximate point on the radar screen, both with their transponders turned
off. One is well above the other but, as the blips merge, both planes
swerve, each taking the other's former direction. The operator would simply
see the aircraft cross and would have no way to realize that a swap had
There are many other swapping patterns available. For
example, one plane could apparently catch up and "pass" another
when, in fact, it slowed after the blips merged, even as the other speeded
Another method involves the replacement aircraft
climbing out of a valley where it would be invisible to distant radars,
even as the other aircraft descended into the valley. Again, a radar
operator would see a more or less seamless flight without realizing that he
or she had been momentarily seeing not one, but two aircraft on the radar
Of course, if the transponders are turned on, as
explained in the next section, such confusion is less likely to occur. Even
in this case, however, the deception can be complete if the aircraft switch
Every commercial passenger jet carries a transponder,
a device that emits a special radio message whenever it senses an incoming
radar wave. The signal carries the transponder code, a multi-digit number
that serves to identify the particular aircraft to radar operators at air
traffic control centers. The purpose of the code is to make it clear to ATC
operators which plane is which. Other information sent by the transponder
includes the altitude at which the aircraft is flying. Transponders were
implemented many years ago precisely for the reason that radar blips are
otherwise easily confused. Transponders make the radar operator's job much
The pilot of an airliner can turn the transponder on
or off in the cockpit. He or she can also change the code by keying in a
Transponder codes for all aircraft departing from a
given air traffic control region are assigned by the ATC authority more or
less arbitrarily. The only important criterion for the numbers so assigned
is that they all be different. It sometimes happens that an aircraft
entering the control area carries the same transponder code as another
aircraft that is already in the area. In such a case, one of the pilots is
requested to change his or her code to avoid confusion.
A remote control system of the type used in this
scenario uses a signal interface that does two things: It reads signals
from a ground station and sends signals back to it. Both sets of signals
must pass through the aircraft's antenna system. In the Boeing 757 and 767
the antenna system is located in the forward belly of the aircraft.
The outgoing signal from the aircraft would include a
video signal from a camera located in the nose or other forward portion of
the aircraft. Flight data such as control positions, airspeed and other
instrument readings are also included in the outgoing signal. The incoming
signal from the ground station would include the position of a virtual
control yoke (governing direction of aircraft), thrust, trim, and other
essential flight parameters.
The virtual pilot would sit in front of a reduced
instrument panel and a video monitor. A simplified control yoke or
"joystick" control would also be part of the operator's
equipment. The remote pilot would watch the instruments, as well as the
video image, making continuing adjustments in the aircraft's flight path,
just as if he or she sat in the cockpit of the actual aircraft.
Many claims of the attacking aircraft being under
"remote control" have appeared on the web since 9/11, but
typically with little or no supporting documentation. The claim of a
pre-installed anti-hijacking system (Vialls 2001) has proved impossible to
verify. Similarly, claims that Global Hawk technology (USAF 98) was used
are rampant, but do not quite fit the specific version of Operation Pearl
presented here. For one thing, the Global Hawk system does not use remote
visual guidance, but onboard navigation electronics that bypass the need
for direct, minute-by-minute human control.
The system invoked for the attacks in Operation Pearl
is based on the Predator unmanned surveillance vehicle (USAF undated), a
modularized aircraft that can be broken into components for ease of
shipping and rapid deployment. One of the components includes a remote
guidance module which could be refitted to another aircraft (with
appropriate modifications) without the need to strip a predator vehicle.
The predator operates under remote human guidance from a ground station
that, once deployed, would require as few as two human operators during a
A second possibility involves a system known as a
"flight termination system," manufactured by the System Planning Corporation.
(SPC 2000) This system permits hands-on control of a nearly endless variety
of aircraft, the control interface being to a large degree customizable.
For the purposes of the Operation Pearl scenario, either of these systems
might well be adaptable to the remote operations of nonmilitary jet
Without question, however, the basic technology for
the remote guidance of aircraft has been on hand for many years. For a
large intelligence organization it would be a straightforward technical operation
to install a remote control system in virtually any type of aircraft,
whether a large commercial airliner or anything smaller. The aircraft
carrying the installation would be available and prepared in advance, then
substituted for the passenger aircraft it was meant to replace.
An interesting but different form of remote control is
invoked by the Operation Pearl scenario in the "cleanup" phase,
namely the disposal of the three aircraft that did not crash in
Pennsylvania or anywhere else. I call this facility "electronic
towing," It consists of two "black boxes" that pick up
signals from an aircraft's data bus, a shared electronic pathway travelled
by all electronic signals that control the aircraft. (Spitzer 2000) Each
black box can read the bus through the data bus monitor, as well as insert
information into the bus. Because the connections are already available,
installation of the boxes could be completed in a matter of hours on any
aircraft. In this relatively simple form of remote control, one aircraft
would be called the "slave," the other the "master." In
addition, two 2-way radios allow the black boxes to communicate,
specifically for the master box to send its signals to the slave box. Under
identical conditions, the slave aircraft will do precisely what the master
aircraft does. Such control signals could also be taped and replayed later
to invoke in the slave aircraft exactly the same behavior as the master.
To initiate towing, the master aircraft takes off
first, while the slave aircraft remains on the runway, completely
unoccupied. As soon (or as late) as the pilot of the slave aircraft wishes
to, a recording of the master signals is played over the radio to the slave
aircraft, which then takes off precisely as the master aircraft did. The
slave will then follow the master wherever the pilot of the master wishes
to go. With a short time delay in the control loop, the slave aircraft
would appear literally to be towed by the master, always maintaining the
same distance and position behind it. If the pilot of the master aircraft
wished to "unhitch" the slave, he could simply cut the control
signal. Over the ocean, the unhitched aircraft might fly until it runs out
of fuel or it might be blown up by implanted explosives.
In the detailed scenario to follow, Harrisburg
International Airport was selected as the base of operations. However, any
airport, airbase or landing strip of suitable length within, say, 50 km of
Harrisburg might work just as well. The following table displays the
takeoff times of the respective aircraft from Boston's logan Airport,
Newark International, and Washington's Dulles Airport on the morning of
September 11, 2001. Assuming a takedown at the first deviation, the flying
times to Harrisburg International Airport are calculated and the arrival
times of the respective aircraft at Harrisburg are displayed. All flying
times are based on the assumption of an average airspeed of 805 km/h (500
mph). In each case, 5 minutes is added at either end of the flight to allow
for takeoffs and landings.
Distance to Harrisburg
AA11 8:16 am
32 + 5 min.
UA175 8:42 am
15 + 5 min.
UA93 8:42 am
20 + 5 min.
AA77 8:46 am
18 + 5 min.
As a convenience, the takedown of Flight UA93 has been
made simultaneous with the aircraft's takeoff. Since the flight path was
directed toward Harrisburg, the takedown time is not relevant to the
calculation as it could have taken place anywhere along the route, yielding
the same result for arrival in Harrisburg.
As a feasibility check, we may now calculate whether
there was adequate time on the ground in Harrisburg to deplane three of the
aircraft, loading their passengers onto Flight UA93. Working backwards, the
flight of UA93 from Harrisburg to Shanksville involved a distance of 144 km
for a flight time of 18 minutes. Thus, to "crash" at 10:06 am, it
had to leave Harrisburg no later than 9:45 am. This would give the agents
of Operation Pearl (see Appendix C) some 36 minutes to board the passengers
from the other flights onto Flight UA93.
A master timetable for the entire operation has been
provided at the end of this article. Readers may wish to consult this
table, along with the accompanying map, in order to obtain a birdseye view
of all four flights.
We will now examine key elements of the scenario in
the form of mini-dramatizations that place the reader in the scene, as it
were. The following sketches supply enough detail to provide a secondary
check on feasibility. I have used a compact notation to refer to the four
replacement flights, simply appending an "X" to the flight
number. Thus "UA175X" refers to the replacement aircraft for
The morning of September 11 dawned bright and clear
over Boston's Logan Airport as crews arrived for the first flights of the
day. The departure lounge for American Airlines Flight 11 was already
filling with passengers when John Ogonowski, the pilot, and Thomas McGuinness,
the second officer, arrived to board their Boeing 767 and begin the
As passengers slowly filed past the check-in counter
and onto the boarding ramp, the flight officers proceeded through the
cockpit checklist. The weather would be perfect for flying. Only one little
detail soured Ogonowski's day. He had been informed that an FBI
antiterrorism agent would be aboard the aircraft. Among the incoming
passengers, a nondescript gentleman in a business suit settled into a seat
in first class. Just as the giant turbofan engines began their warmup, a
stewardess reminded the gentleman, now scribbling on a piece of paper, to
fasten his lap belt.
"Certainly. Er, would you mind giving this note
to the captain?"
She took the note forward, handing it to Ogonowski,
who read it with more than passing interest.
"Hmmm. I guess it's real. Take a look at this,
McGuinness read the note.
My name is Bill Proctor, FBI anti-hijacking team. We
have information that hijackers may be aboard the aircraft today. I repeat,
may. My partner and I are on this flight to prevent such a happening. We
wish our presence on board to be kept confidential. I am in seat 7A. Thank
you for your cooperation.
"I'd better take a look at this guy," said
Ogonowski. Take her out while I go back for some coffee."
The engines roared to life and the aircraft began to
taxi out to the runway. Ogonowski spotted the gentleman and pulled the note
from his breast pocket. The gentleman nodded and smiled back.
"I'm sorry. I still have to ask to see your
"Certainly." The man handed Ogonowski a
small wallet, flipped open to reveal the famous logo.
On his way to the galley, Ogonowski scrutinized the
passengers from the corner of his eyes. Instinctively, he looked for
swarthy, middle eastern types, somewhat reassured to see none.
The takeoff was smooth and the 767 climbed into clear
blue skies, with several wisps of cirrus off to the west. About 15 minutes
into the flight, just as the flight officers were relaxing and thinking a
hijacking rather unlikely, another note arrived via the stewardess.
We have spotted two terrorists on board. I must come
forward to discuss the situation with you. Bill
"What the hell! Is this guy serious?"
"Jeez. I guess so."
Inside the cockpit, the gentleman wore a serious
"We'll have to land at Harrisburg, where we have
facilities to deal with this problem. Use the 80.7 kHz frequency and do not
engage in any other radio activity at this time, please. Identify yourself
as American Flight 380 and tell them you have a faulty fuel pump in Number
"Where are the terrorists?"
"Don't worry, they're here. By the way, you must
also turn off your transponder. Now."
Ogonowski turned on the PA system.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have experienced a slight
difficulty with one of our fuel pumps and must land to have it checked.
American is sorry for the delay. We'll have alternate transportation ready
for you as soon as possible."
The gentleman smiled, nodding approvingly. A murmur of
groans and complaints filtered into the cabin.
"One more thing. As soon as we touch down,
proceed immediately to the military hangars at the north end of the
airport. We have a team of agents there who will board the aircraft as soon
as you can get the doors open."
Although Ogonowski sent no messages to New York ATC,
he could hear the chatter and knew something was up. About seven minutes
before they would land at Harrisburg, he heard that one of the World Trade
Center towers was on fire, having been hit by a "commuter aircraft,"
as the rumor had it. Ahead of him the layout of Harrisburg Airport, faintly
discernible in the distance, grew slowly in size. The aircraft banked and
made its final approach. Unknown to Ogonowski, another Boeing 757 shadowed
flight AA11, below and slightly behind them. It climbed, even as flight
AA11 descended. More radio chatter revealed that aircraft had been ordered
down all over the United States. Ogonowski would be the first of many
emergency landings at Harrisburg International that day.
The 767 glided smoothly to touchdown, its air brakes
howling. The aircraft slowly rolled to a crawl, then turned onto a taxiway
that led to an Air National Guard hangar, where a man with orange batons
waved them in. As soon as the flight crew got the doors open, one of the
group of waiting officials rolled a large gangway to the open door and
three agents dashed up the stairs. One of them had a bullhorn.
"Ladies and gentlemen. We must ask that you leave
the aircraft immediately. Leave all personal belongings and carryon bags
aboard the aircraft. This includes cellphones. Do not attempt any cellphone
calls, as they could trigger any explosives on board. We'll begin
evacuation from the front of the aircraft."
Dutifully, the passengers streamed from the aircraft
in orderly fashion, making their way down the steep gangplank and joining a
crowd that had formed around another official.
"Ladies and gentlemen. It is now safe to tell you
that you have just escaped being hijacked by Arab terrorists. We will
apprehend the suspects and search the aircraft for bombs and other dangers
to public safety. Unfortunately, this procedure may take some time and we
have no facilities for you here. We'll have to put you on another flight,
as soon as it arrives. I realize that this is very inconvenient and we
apologize. However, you can think of yourselves as among the luckiest
people in America today."
As he spoke, two officials led a disheveled man in
handcuffs down the gangplank. He had olive-colored skin and a dark beard. A
murmur went up from the crowd.
"Where the hell did he come from?" muttered
McGuinness. He had a feeling of unreality in the pit of his stomach. He
By then, another aircraft, flight UA175, had landed
and was now taxiing toward the same hangar. The officials herded the
passengers into the hanger, where they were told to wait. Then they went to
greet the second aircraft, where they repeated the procedure.
Tower personnel were of course aware of the two
flights parked at the Air National Guard hangar. They were aware that the
aircraft were being inspected by some kind of security team but, beyond
that, they paid little heed to the operation. They were too busy
coordinating some very busy airspace.
At the New York air traffic control center rows of
radar operators "pushing tin," as they call it, monitored flights
into and out of New York airspace, talking to the pilots occasionally on
their throat mikes. Each operator had several flights to monitor, a job
that guaranteed one of the highest stress levels of any occupation in the
The time was 8:37 in the morning. Operators were about
to become aware that something was amiss in their airspace. We pick up the
conversation between one of them (bold face) and the aircraft under
his responsibility. (NYT 2001) My commentary within the transcript has been
placed in square brackets.
"USA583 checking in at FL350."
"42-39 see the 823 FL350 reference that guy on
"I gave the FDX turns. Do what you want, reference
" R49 310."
"FDX226 contact New York Center on 133.47. Good
"33.4 FDX3226 heavy."
"New York UAL 457."
"Sector 10 point out west of LRP 712 at
"Point out approved."
"UAL175 at FL310."
[The time was 8:40 am. United Airlines Flight 175 came
on the air with some information to report.]
"UAL 175 New York center. Roger."
"New York do a favor. Were you asked to look for
an aircraft, an American flight about about 8 or 9 o'clock 10 miles south
bound last altitude 290? No one is sure where he is."
"Yeah, we talked about him on the last frequency.
We spotted him when he was at our 3 o'clock position. He did appear to us
to be at 29,000 feet. We're not picking him up on TCAS. I'll look again and
see if we can spot him at 24."
"No, it looks like they shut off their
transponder. That's why the question about it."
"New York UAL175 heavy."
"UAL 175 go ahead."
"We figured we'd wait to go to your center. We
heard a suspicious transmission on our departure from BOS. Sounds like
someone keyed the mike and said, 'Everyone stay in your seats.'"
O.K. I'll pass that along.
"It cut out." (UAL 175)
"IGN 93 line."
"UAL 175 just came on my frequency and he said he
heard a suspicious transmission when they were leaving BOS: 'Everybody stay
in your seats.' That's what he heard as the suspicious transmission, just
to let you know." (See Note 4.)
[Then US Air Flight 583 called in.]
"Center, where do you place him in relation to
"He's off about 9 o'clock and about 20 miles.
Looks like he's heading southbound but there's no transponder, no nothing,
and no one's talking to him."
"Hello New York good morning DAL2315 passing 239
"DAL2315 New York Center. Roger."
"New York center DAL2433 310."
"DAL2433 New York Center. Roger."
[Four minutes later the time was 8:46 and the mystery
had not been solved. Flight 11 was flying an angular route south, then
east. Other flights continued to converse with New York ATC.]
"Direct PTW DAL 1489 heavy."
"DAL2315 contact the New York Center on 134.6.
Have a nice day."
"34.6 3-4-point 6."
"USA429 leveling off at 350."
I'm sorry, who was that?
"USA429 leveling at 350."
"USA429, New York Center roger."
[As we will shortly see, the radar operator lost track
of Flight AA11, as evidenced by his queries of pilots in the area, as well
as his failure to make any connection between the World Trade Center fire
(about to be reported) and Flight AA11. It appears that the flight had
simply been lost in the swarm of blips that crowded every screen at the New
"Anybody know what that smoke is in lower
"I'm sorry, say again."
"A lot of smoke in lower manhattan."
"A lot of smoke in lower Manhattan?"
"Coming out of the top of the World Trade Center
building, a major fire."
"And which was the one that just saw the major
"This is DAL1489 we see lower Manhattan. Looks
like the World Trade Center on fire, but its hard to tell from here."
"Let us know if you hear any news down
"DAL 1043 cleared direct PTW."
"Direct PTW DAL 1043."
At 8:51 am, the operator was still in touch with
Flight 175, asking the pilot to change his transponder code.
"UAL175 recycle transponder squawk code
"UAL175. New York."
[But at 8:52 am, things went wrong with Flight UAL175,
"UAL175 do you read New York?"
"DAL1489 do you read New York?"
"DAL1489. Go ahead."
"O.K. Just wanted to make sure you were reading
New York. United, United 175. Do you read New York?"
"IGN on the 93 line. Kennedy."
"IGN on the 93 line East Texas."
"Do me a favor. See if UAL175 went back to your
"He's not here. East Texas."
"10 - Do you see that UAL175 anywhere? And do me
a favor. You see that target there on 3321 code at 335 climbing? Don't know
who he is, but you got that USA 583. If you need to descent him down you
can. Nobody. We may have a hijack. We have some problems over here right
"Oh you do?" (another operator)
"Yes, that may be real traffic. Nobody knows. I
can't get a hold of UAL175 at all right now and I don't know where he went
[The transcript reveals a new aircraft with
transponder code 3321. The aircraft has already climbed to 33,500 feet.
This may have been the replacement aircraft.]
"UAL 175 New York."
"New York 583."
"USA583 go ahead."
"Yes. Getting reports over the radio of a
commuter hitting the World Trade Center. Is that nordo [no radio] 76
[Boeing 767] still in the air?"
It is interesting that the initial report of the first
WTC attack involved not a 757, but a smaller commuter aircraft. From that
point on however, things got increasingly hectic at the New York ATC
center. Operators glanced at the screen space centered on Manhattan and
eastern New Jersey, trying to guess which aircraft was Flight 175.
On all screens there were often several aircraft
without transponder codes. Some of these were local flights, mostly smaller
aircraft. The presence of such blips would probably have made the radar
operator;'s job much harder. Taking one's eye off a suspicious aircraft to check
other aircraft in the area, might make it impossible to be certain which
aircraft it was when the operator glanced back. This, in any case, was
apparently what happened.
The World Trade Center
It would have been an eerie experience to ride the 757
that we have called Flight 175-X. Walking the aisles, we would have seen
the seats all stripped from the aircraft, the walls lined with fuel drums,
like so many token passengers. Cables ran up the aisle to the cockpit,
where a large black box sat on the floor, just in front of the control
console. The pilots' seats were missing. Some of the cables fed into
several openings in the console, others passed through openings in the
floor into the aircraft's belly, where the antenna system communicated with
a ground station.
At the ground station, an operator watched a color
television monitor. On it, he could see the Manhattan skyline looming
steadily larger. He adjusted the joystick slightly to the right, aiming for
the south tower, then pushed the stick forward slightly. The aircraft
slowly descended until it was level with the upper third of the still
distant building. An ironic smile crossed the operator's face. This was not
exactly the intended use of the Predator technology.
About a minute from impact, a steady crosswind that
the operator had not taken into account had pushed the aircraft off course
to the east, even as the tower loomed faster than he thought it would. He
was going to miss! Damn. He pulled the joystick sharply to the left.
Just when the corner of the south tower was about to
disappear from the screen , it swung back into view again, the building now
appearing sharply tilted to the right. He saw several rows of windows.
Close, then very close. In the last frame, he caught a glimpse of some office
people staring from one of the windows in horror. Then the screen went
blank. To think of how close he came to missing!
Back at the base
Under the operation Pearl scenario, the takedown of
all four flights would be conducted in the same manner, flights UA93 and
AA77, being no exceptions. By the time Flight UA93 arrived over Harrisburg,
the alarm had been out for a good 20 minutes. Flights were coming down
everywhere. Airport tower personnel, as well as those at all air traffic
control centers, were simply overwhelmed. In this context, bringing flights
UA93 and AA77 into Harrisburg were relatively simple and secure operations
involving little more than switching to a new transponder number, landing
and proceeding to the same processing area. The same cover story still
worked, since it was not known at the time whether aircraft might be
targeted, as well as buildings.
The swap of flight UA93-X for flight UA93 would have
been far less exposed to radar than the swaps in the NY phase of the
operation. As Flight UA93 descended into the radar shadow of the
Susquehanna valley close to Harrisburg International, an executive jet rose
out of the valley, below and immediately behind the aircraft. The swap
would have been seamless, with Flight UA93 turning off its transponder
about the same time that the pilot of Flight UA93-X turned his on. Flight
UA93-X then turned north to follow an erratic path to the west as far as
Cleveland before looping back to head for southern Pennsylvania.
The search for bombs on Flights AA11 and UA 175 may
have already been completed by the time that Flight 93 touched down at 9:07
am. The officials in charge of the operation nevertheless had a good 20
minutes to search flight UA93 before hurriedly boarding all the passengers
into the one aircraft, an operation that could have been carried out in 20
As the passengers boarded Flight UA93, the officials
held a special conference with pilot Jason Dahl and First Officer LeRoy
"Fellows, we've made a thorough check for bombs
on board, and we're sure it's clean. Unfortunately, we have some problems
with the other aircraft, so we're going to have to keep them grounded for
the time being. We don't have proper facilities for all these people here,
so we're going to have to ask you to take them all to Dulles where they can
be looked after properly. We'll send all personal goods and luggage along
on one of the the other aircraft, as soon as we have completed our work.
We'll have to board the other passengers now, without delay. You will be
picked up by a military escort aircraft as you leave. Please be sure to
follow that aircraft and stay in communication with it. Frequency will be
118.7 MHz. all the way. Fly at the same level of 4000 feet. If it should
happen to deviate from it's flight path, it may be checking something out.
Just stay on course for Dulles. Your escort will rejoin you soon
Pilot and first officer nodded, then climbed the
stairs, entered the cockpit and began the preflight check for the second
time that morning. Meanwhile, passengers filed into the aircraft, urged on
by the officials, until the aircraft was full. As it happened, flight 93
had just enough seats to accommodate the passengers of all four flights.
At 9:45 the 757 roared off the runway at Harrisburg
and set course for Washington, even as a military-looking all-white
aircraft rose from low altitude to fly off their port wing.
"This is your Escort Bravo One. We're not very
fast, here." said the military pilot. "Reduce your airspeed to
400 knots and stay directly behind with minimal separation."
"I've seen that kind of aircraft before,"
"Yup. That's an A-10 Warthog," said Dahl.
"And she's armed to the teeth. See the missiles under the wing?"
"Warthog? Funny name."
"Actually, it's called the Thunderbolt, but I
guess everyone thinks the thing is too ugly to be called anything but a
The Crash at Shanksville
The two aircraft climbed out along the valley of the
Susquehanna, then headed southwest along a succession of valleys, emerging
at last into a large, relatively flat basin, partly forested and dotted
with farms and villages. Ahead of them, the white aircraft, flight UA93-X,
suddenly turned off and began circling around to the east, descending as it
Shanksville resident Susan Mcelwain watched the white
aircraft pass directly over her minivan:
"It came right over me, I reckon just 40 or 50
feet above my van," she recalled. "It was so low I ducked
instinctively. It was traveling real fast, but hardly made any sound. (UF93
"Then it disappeared behind some trees. A few
seconds later I heard this great explosion and saw this fireball rise up
over the trees, so I figured the jet had crashed. The ground really shook.
So I dialed 911 and told them what happened . . . "
"There's no way I imagined this plane - it was so
low it was virtually on top of me. It was white with no markings but it was
definitely military, it just had that look. It had two rear engines, a big
fin on the back like a spoiler on the back of a car and with two upright
fins at the side. I haven't found one like it on the internet. It
definitely wasn't one of those executive jets. The FBI came and talked to
me and said there was no plane around."
The description of the mystery aircraft given by Ms
Mcelwain happens to match only one military aircraft currently in use by
the US armed forces, namely a (repainted) A-10 Thunderbolt, a heavily armed
aircraft used in ground support roles. (McChord 2003) Several other
witnesses saw the same aircraft, both before the crash and after it,
circling the area. (Flight 93, 2001)
Two area residents, both quite close to the crash
scene, heard missiles being fired. One, a Viet Nam veteran, was quite sure
about what he had heard.
Mcelwain and many others heard one or two tremendous
explosions rock the sky over Shanksville. Debris rained down for miles
around. One engine landed nearly a mile from the alleged crash site. Body
parts, luggage, scraps of metal, bits of in-flight magazine plummeted or
fluttered to the ground a mile or more away.
The white aircraft turned, took one more pass, then
headed back to its base of operations. Mcelwain called 911.
The Shanksville "crash" of Flight 93
presents us with a number of mysterious reports of a midair explosion (or
explosions) as well as the presence of a white "mystery jet" seen
in the area by many local residents.
The midair explosion was heard by virtually everyone
in the area, of course. The debris field resulting from the explosion was
apparently much more extensive than what would result from an ordinary
crash, with all the debris within a narrow compass laterally to the
incoming flight path. New Baltimore resident Melanie Hankinson, who lives
some eight miles from the crash site, found paper debris from the aircraft,
including remnants of United Airlines in-flight magazine, Hemispheres.
Other debris, including body parts, were scattered over a space of miles.
One of the engines were found a "considerable distance from the crash
site," according to State Police Major Lyle Szupinka.
Shanksville Mayor, Earnest Stuhl, has stated that at
least two area residents, both living within a few hundred yards of the
debris field, heard missiles being fired. One of the witnesses, a Viet Nam
veteran, had heard missiles fired from aircraft many times during his tour
of duty and claimed that it could not be anything else.
The Attack on the Pentagon
About the time that Flight AA11-X struck the north
tower of the World Trade Center in New York, Flight AA77-X took over from
Flight AA77. Like Flight UA93, Flight AA77 dropped into one of the numerous
valleys that run the length of the Alleghenies, possibly the valley of the
Shenandoah River. Meanwhile, Flight AA77-X, an executive jet, fled westward
across West Virginia before looping back, close to the border of southern
Ohio. At this point, the pilot turned off his transponder and headed
straight for Washington, DC.
By 9:30 am Flight AA77-X was already over Virginia,
closing rapidly on the capital. As it approached the Pentagon from the
west, another smaller aircraft, possibly a cruise missile, came into the
Pentagon from the southwest. It came very fast. Flight AA77-X banked
sharply to pass over the Pentagon from the same direction, then flew off to
its base. Although visible on local radar as an overflight, it was confused
with the incoming missile, which would have been visible as a second blip.
Operators would have been led to assume that the second blip represented
The small military aircraft (or missile) slammed into
the lower half of the 80-foot high wall of the Pentagon, its fuselage
punching a hole in the two-foot thick limestone block wall. (see The
Pentagon Evidence, also on this website)
Getting rid of the original aircraft was trickier than
one might suppose. One could not simply wash off the paint with an acid
scrub and sell the aircraft to a third world country. Nor could one break
the aircraft up and sell the parts. Indeed the parts, thousands of them,
were all stamped with serial numbers that were registered to their
respective aircraft. They could be traced. For this reason, it would have
been much cleaner to dump the aircraft in the Atlantic Ocean.
Perhaps it was not until nightfall of September 11
that the disposal operation started. By then each aircraft had been fitted
with slave technology. The master aircraft had already flown out over the
Atlantic, the signal from the data bus monitor having been transmitted back
to shore and recorded. It would then have been a simple matter to replay
the tape to each of the three "non-existent" aircraft at
half-hour intervals. Each aircraft would have gone through exactly the same
motions as the master aircraft, continuing its flight out over the Atlantic
Ocean - until the implanted bomb destroyed it. Under the Operation Pearl
scenario, the three aircraft ended up in pretty much the same state as the
Bush-Cheney scenario alleges. The locations are quite different, however.
Inspiration for the electronic tow technology came
from the eyewitness account of two aircraft sighted by a New Jersey
resident and his wife. (names witheld by request)
"Several days before 911, my wife and I were
walking on Long Beach Island. It was late in the afternoon when I looked
out over the ocean and saw these two passenger jets flying toward us, due
west. They were flying amazingly low and amazingly slow. I was amazed to
see these two jets were flying closely behind the other [sic], nose to
tail, and what was most amazing was that they were perfectly spaced, about
fifty feet apart, with absolutely no fluctuations in their spacing. It
looked just like one plane was towing the other. They flew right over our
heads, and I watched them as they flew westward."
Under the operation Pearl scenario, the strollers
witnessed a final test of the master/slave control system.
The Evidence Filter
We are now in a position to review the evidence and
its relationship to the Operation Pearl scenario described above. Below
each item in the original checklist, I have placed a brief explanation of
of the named hijackers were not in the United States. The alleged
hijackers were not on the aircraft, in any case. Their names may have
been selected from a list of lapsed or stolen passports.
WTC towers collapsed without adequate heat stress. The lack of
passenger corpses, luggage, etc, had to be concealed by burial.
aircraft accompanied Flights AA77 and UA93. Surrogate aircraft were
used as substitutes for the originals.
of the alleged hijackers were rather poor pilots. The alleged
hijackers were not aboard the aircraft, in any case.
of alleged hijackers developed too quickly. Evidence was planted in
order to have the story develop quickly.
excursion of Flights UA93 and AA77 are inexplicable as terrorists
hurrying to targets. The excursions gave time to load all the
pasengers onto Flight 93.
US Air Force failed to intercept any of the flights. No interceptors
were deployed since their pilots would have reported the substitute
hijackers' names did not show up on passenger lists. The hijackers
were not aboard the aircraft.
hijackers' faces did not appear on boarding gate videos. The hijackers
were not aboard the aircraft.
boxes were missing from all but one flight. Black boxes were not
present on attacking aircraft
striking the Pentagon was not a large passenger aircraft. Flight AA77
did not strike the Pentagon.
calls made by passengers were highly unlikely to impossible. Flight
UA93 was not in the air when most of the alleged calls were made.
timeline for Operation Pearl
UA11 takes off from Boston's
UA175 takes off from Boston's
First deviation of AA11 north of
AA77 takes off from Washington's
AA11 transponder turned off
First swap: Flight AA11-X
takes over, transponder off
Beginning of NY
UA175 transponder is turned off
UA93 takes off from Newark, NJ
First deviation of UA175 over
Second swap: Flight AA77X takes
over, same t-code
AA11-X strikes north tower of WTC
Third swap: Flight UA175X takes
over, transponder off
AA11 lands at Harrisburg
End of NY ATC
AA77X transponder is turned off
UA175X strikes south tower of WTC
UA175 lands at Harrisburg
Fourth swap: Flight UA93X
UA93 lands at Harrisburg
AA77 lands at Harrisburg
AA77X overflies the Pentagon,
aircraft or explosion at Wedge 1
UA93 takes off from Harrisburg
UA93 crashes near Shanksville, PA
[map goes here]
Footnote 1: The plot of the movie, set in a decaying
future New York ruled by warlords, involves the rescue of the President of
the United States who is being held for ransom. Snake Plisskin (played by
Kurt Russel) is released from jail by authorities eager to use his talents
to rescue the President.
(USA Today 2001) USA Today. 2000. Weapons of
destruction. Accessed from <http://www.usatoday.com/graphics/news/gra/gflightpath2/frame.htm>
on Jyly 5, 2003.
(Dewdney 2002) Ghost riders in the Sky. Feral News.
Retrieved from http://feralnews.com/issues/911/dewdney/ghost_riders_1-4_1.html>
May 15, 2003.
(Flight 93, 2001) How did Flight 93 crash? Retrieved
May 20, 2003. Note: this site uses mostly local and national media sources.
(McChord, 2003) A-10 Thunderbolt. McChord Air Museum.
Retrieved from <http://www.mcchordairmuseum.org/ REV%20B%20MAM%20
(NYT 2001) The New York Times. October 16, 2001,
Transcript of United Airlines Flight 175. Retrieved from <http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/16/national/16FLIGHT175-TEXT.html>
July 4, 2003.
(Ostrovsky & Hoy, 1990) Hoy C, Ostrovsky V. 1990.
By Way of Deception. Toronto, Canada: Stoddart.
(Serendipity 2002) (ref. incomplete) http://www.serendipity.li/wtc.html
(SPC 2000) FTS Flight termination system. 2000. System
Planning Corporation, Langley, VA. Retrieved from <http://www.sysplan.com/>
May 17 2003. See <http://www.sysplan.com/Radar/FTS/>
(flight termination system) and also <http://www.sysplan.com/Radar/CTS/>
(command transmitter system)
(Spitzer 2000) Spitzer, C. R. 2000. Digital Avionics
Systems: principles and practices. The Blackburn Press (McGraw-Hill),
(UF93 2001) United Flight 93 Crash Theory Home Page.
2001. How did Flight 93 Crash? Retrieved from <http://www.flight93crash.com>
June 10, 2003.
(USAF no date) RQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle.
United States Air Force Fact Sheet. Aeronautical Systems Center, USAF,
Langley, VA. No date on document. Retrieved from <http://www.af.mil/news/factsheets/RQ_1_Predator_Unmanned_Aerial.html>,
May 18 2003.
(USAF 98) Global Hawk: U. S. Airforce Fact Sheet.
Global Hawk. Aeronautical Systems Center. USAF Langley, VA. Retrieved July
4 2003 from <http://www.af.mil/news/factsheets/global.html>
The Basic Timeline
(All times are ante meridian or am, EDT)
Table of aircraft
81 passengers, 11 crew
56 passengers, 9 crew
58 passengers, 6 crew
30 passengers, 7 crew
Estimates of equipment and personnel used in Operation Pearl
The following lists represent the core requirements in
equipment and personnel required to execute Operation Pearl. Additional
equipment as well as operatives playing minor roles are not included. Also
not included are the operatives running "Operation Footprint,"
the flight training program for approximately 10 Arabs from a variety of
middle eastern countries.
1 Boeing 767 fitted with remote guidance systems
3 Executive-sized jet aircraft, one fitted with a remote
1 A-10 Thunderbolt
2 agents on each of four aircraft
10 agents at the base of
4 agents to set up WTC demolition
2 agents as flight crew on
substitute or escort aircraft
4 agents as technicians to
install RC controls<br> (also to act as remote pilots)
This number is certainly an underestimate, but easily
mustered by any large intelligence organization. Under the Operation Pearl
scenario, the most likely perpetrator would be Mossad, Israel's spy agency.
An arm's-length relationship with the Bush administration, with neocon
elements acting as go-betweens, would enable Rumsfeld, Bush, and other
members of the US administration to disclaim any "specific"
knowledge of a forthcoming attack. (See Ostrovsky and Hoy, 1990.)