BBC World News revisited what happened to Flight 93. Not an easy task with Executive Orders preventing evidence of that day from leaving the White House; or with all flight information sitting locked under Attorney General John Ashcroft's desk. Compiled from BBC World News, and US government timelines -- the fate of Flight 93:
8:40 a.m. Northeast Air Defense Sector in Rome, NY, learns of first hijacked plane.
8:52 a.m. two F15 pilots enroute to New York City, and witnessed the second plane hit WTC Tower South.
9:16 A.M. The FAA tells NORAD Flight 93 maybe hijacked.
9:21 a.m. Major Dean Eckmann, F-16 pilot suits-up, awaits orders from Langley Air Force Base, VA.
9:22 A.M. Sonic boom rocks seismograph south of Shanksville, PA.
9:25 A.M. Flight 93 pilot says "Good morning," to Cleveland air traffic control
9:26-9:28 Flight 93 new voice claims a bomb on board, requires return to airport.
9:30 A.M. Flight 93 radar location lost; United Airlines headquarters tracks 93 air speed. Altitude unknown, and United won't release 93's time table to public.
9:33 Dick Cheney takes to a White House bunker
9:34 A.M. Flight 93-- voices, screams heard by Cleveland air traffic control
9:37 Pentagon hit by American Airlines Flight 77
9:41-9:43 A.M. Secret Service command fighters from Andrews Air Force Base. Unidentified White House voice declares Washington D.C. a no-fly zone.
9:45 a.m. Air Traffic Control Zero, means clear the sky -- something not happened before or since in the United States.
9:49 A.M. 3 F-16's reach the Pentagon armed with heat-seeking, Sidewinder missiles, it is not confirmed the origins of these aircraft. The official speed of an F-16 is 1500 mph.
9:53 A.M. The NSA intercepts Afghanistan cell phone conversation from Osama bin Laden operative, that another target is yet to come.
9:58 A.M. Flight 93 passenger Edward Felt reports to 911 operator he heard an explosion and sees white smoke. (The operator was since barred from speaking.)
10:00 a.m. CBS News interviews New Hampshire flight controller, confirms two F-16s had been tailing Flight 93.
10:00-10:06 A.M. Flight 93 -- cell phones and plane phones remain connected; silence follows screams, and then rushing air, like wind. Cockpit voice recording ends with wind.
10:00 a.m. Flight 93 -- last known human communication from passenger Elizabeth Wainio to her stepmother
10:02 A.M. Flight 93 cockpit voice recording ends
10:03 A.M. Flight 93 crashes, according to the US government.
10:06 a.m. Flight 93 crashes, according to those still connected via telephone, and to eyewitnesses in Somerset County.
10:06:05 a.m. Flight 93 crashes, according to US Army seismographs
The crash of space shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003, parallels evidence, during a catastrophic aviation explosion 40 miles above earth's surface, that objects and human remains do defy heat, friction, and impact as they make their way to earth --albeit in a swath the length of three states. Evidence of Flight 93 corroborates this path on a smaller scale, but only according to the law of gravity and to citizens of Pennsylvania -- not the FBI, White House, or Secret Service Police.
Ron Dittemore, space shuttle program manager, explains one theory for Columbia's semi-disintegration in our outer atmosphere. Small explosive rockets were fired to keep Columbia aligned and at a precise angle for descent. These explosives, intended for balance, acted like a missile, and ruptured Columbia, causing a catastrophic breakup.
After losing communications with the shuttle at 207,000 feet, traveling at six times the speed of sound, or 12,500 miles per hour, Dittmore's team began to understand that Columbia would not be landing.
Columbia happened as a single event. Flight 93 left Newark amidst multiple events, and after the first air deployment from NORAD on September 11. Sgt. Jeremy Powell says a call from Boston air traffic control alerted him to a hijack. Powell aborted his team's morning air exercises and sent two airborne F-15s to New York City, they arrived minutes after the first plane crashed into the WTC. Powell says, these planes were armed with nonexplosive, "gaming" weapons, for use in routine combat exercises.
Vice President Richard Cheney
Bunkered in with her husband, Vice President Richard (Dick) Cheney, Lynne Cheney told BBC World News mid-year 2002, that it was horrific to hear Dick give orders to shoot down commercial jetliners. But she said it was a relief when she learned Flight 93 was not shot down, and that Dick immediately called the passengers heroes, she said.
Major Dean Eckmann says, his orders were to shoot down all airplanes that came within 30 miles of Washington D.C. Orders were coming from CIA, Secret Service Police, and the White House sources.
More than a dozen eye witnesses in rural Pennsylvania, claim they saw flight 93 coming "out of the clouds." And yet, it was a cloudless Tuesday over Somerset County. What accounted for some witnesses seeing clouds? Had events unfolded so quickly their recollection blurred? Or had they seen a trail of smoke behind a low-flying, fast-moving Flight 93, and assumed the residue clouds?
Shanksville's (PA) mayor, Ernie Stuhl, told the Philadelphia Daily News, that he knew of F-16s nearby at the time. The US government claims there was not enough time for fighter-jets to track-down Flight 93. In other words, they deny their own military strength, and claim that during the most heighten measures this country has faced at home, these fighter pilots gently cruised the air at low speeds. But the way the bird flies from New York City to Washington D.C. to Shanksville, was not a great distance.
What the government says is, two F-15s were positioned above New York City before 9:00. And three F-16s where in place over Washington D.C. by 9:40. Already airborne one or both F-15 jets, could have flown to Shanksville in 6-8 minutes. This means, from air traffic control's first warning that Flight 93 had been hijacked at 9:16, an F-15 hit Flight 93's tail by 9:22 which is when the first sonic boom shook seismographs in Pennsylvania.
An F-16 plane circling Washington DC at 9:40 a.m. could have flown to Shanksville in 4-6 minutes, placing it behind Flight 93 not later than 9:46, twelve minutes prior to Edward Felt's plea to 911 operators that smoke was in the cabin of Flight 93. The public does not know if contact was made between military jets and Flight 93. More than 30 minutes of airtime hung waiting the eventual crash. That equates to 750 miles fly time for one jet.
The US government lied about their ability to place fighter jets behind Flight 93.
All reports show Flight 93 flew erratically during its final minutes. Was it to foil being tailed? Was someone in control of the plane? Or had a nonexplosive device ruptured Flight 93, causing panic, loss of consciousness, and disabled the plane from flight? No comments are heard from the plane after 10 a.m. This burden falls upon an F-15.
If a plane is hit by a missile, it does not necessary explode in midair as Hollywood films would lead you to believe. Jetliners could fly after attack. Heat-seeking detectors in Sidewinder missiles would have targeted the Boeing 757s engines, causing one to fall away. The loss of one engine, especially to an inexperienced pilot, would cause the plane to fly out of control. One engine was found away from the crash site, and bouncing there, after the crash as the FBI contends, was not possible. This burden falls upon missile equipped F-16.
Time allows for both -- a scout F-15 follows Flight 93, perhaps rupturing it with minimal fire, and awaits the F-16 which fires, causing one engine to fall away and the plane to crash moments later.
The FBI contends that Flight 93 was crashed by heroes after flying a few hundred feet above treetops, at 500 miles per hour, into farmland. Bill Crowley, FBI investigator also said 95 percent of this plane was recovered. Ninety-five percent of a Boeing 757 is difficult to hide in a photograph. No photographs of this site reveal enough wreckage to claim all minus five percent.
Big media players in the United States accept the FBI's argument today, and call the passengers heroes, rather than chasing down Secret Service Police, or the FBI for answers. After all, everyone in the US government is preparing for war and they are busy. It is easier to interview surviving family members, like Lisa Beamer, victim Todd Morgan Beamer's wife, than it was to corner, say, Richard Cheney, or John Ashcroft.
Residents of Somerset County live in a military flight corridor, something the media hadn't reported. Eyewitnesses to the crash claim they heard a sonic boom before the plane's impact shook the ground, at 10:06. Crowley said a C-130 military cargo plane was flying overhead at 24,000 feet. Military cargo planes do not typically carry weapons, and nothing suggests this one did, but they are equipped with magnetic scrambling devices which can interfere with a commercial jetliner's control system.
Two miles northeast from the crash site, residents of Indian Lake, tell a different story than ABC or NBC news about the debris field. They collected burnt papers, shredded cloth, and scrap metal scattered about their yards and floating in the lake. But the FBI claims debris from Flight 93 likely blew into their neighborhood after the crash. On September 10, 2001, a strong cold front pushed through the area, and behind it -- winds blew northerly. Since Flight 93 crashed west-southwest of Indian Lake, it was impossible for debris to fly perpendicular to wind direction. The plane had to have flown overhead. The FBI lied.
Residents of Texas are heroes for rallying to the cause of Columbia and reporting all fragments to authorities. Residents of Pennsylvania were hushed, and called unpatriotic if they made noise about what they saw or heard. They were told they misjudged the time, that the sonic boom was the impact and not a fighter jet, and that fragments blew in, not floated down. What they saw or heard was simply blurred by the chaos caused by terrorists that morning. Questioning soils the heroic memories of Flight 93 passengers and deepens the sorrow of victims' families.
White House Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, refused to answer questions around Flight 93 for this article, "We've discussed Flight 93, and insinuating that crash was anything but terrorism is simply your misinformation at this point," he said.
Lt. Col. Marc H. Sasseville recalled for BBC World, that the declaration of "no-fly zone" meant, force shall be used to protect the nation's capital. That included crashing an unarmed fighter jet into the hijacked plane if it was not armed.
Without the recordings from FAA, Secret Service Police, and Cheney's orders from his bunker about flights 77 and 93, only a handful of men, and Mrs. Cheney know exactly what happened over Pennsylvania. During the final moments of Flight 93, one additional man would have been informed of the plans -- then Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. Military protocol would have informed Ridge if they were planning to bring down Flight 93 over his state.
Director of Homeland Security
Given the events of that day, the fate of Flight 93 was doomed from takeoff. The public would have fully understood had Cheney said, "We did shoot down Flight 93." Cheney should have come clean, but that is expecting too much from former chief-of-staff to President Gerald Ford who once advised his boss, that he need not worry about being accountable. "You are the president, and owe no explanations for your actions," Cheney said about pardoning former President Richard Nixon.
George W Bush agrees he gave orders to shoot down planes that didn't respond to air traffic control. No one thought to ask Cheney how the order was carried out, oh, except maybe, Tom Ridge. He left Pennsylvania, and now holds a new post as the Director of Homeland Security, equal in power to Cheney in the President's eye. Think & Ask, you never know what you might find.
Space shuttle Columbia from the Houston Chronicle
Flight 93: Map to crash site