Last Updated 3/19/07
For whatever reason, mostly the fallibility of memory, I'd always avoided the eyewitness accounts of the Pentagon attack in putting together my case. But recently I finally started taking a close look at the eye-and-ear-witness stories. This started thanks to a challenge casually offered to and then accepted by "Jack Tripper" over at Above Top Secret, re-offered and accepted by me: an attempt to top them: he and his partners had four witnesses testify, in their video ThePentaCon, to an explicitly north-of-the-Citgo station flight path, with all that implies, and I suggested I could find more than four witnesses of the official path with all that implies - like the damage at the pentagon actually being caused by a 757. I finally ceded the challenge in annoyance with Jack's stipulations, but continue here with the sorting of and learning from these shifty stories.
One pattern I'm noticing is the "right over me" effect, which I'll be referring to often enought to give it an acronym: ROME. the attack plane is reported as coming in right over or from right behind witness; no matter where they are, no matter facing which way they say this. People north testify to a plane from the north, and people from the south a plane from the south. It's uncanny. Just look at the map. Witnesses farther from the flight are less likely to do this, but their locational testimony is bound to be less precise. Those truly under the plane, if we can firmly locate them at the time, are most useful.
one thing I'm disregarding off-the-bat is any account of a missile or plane other than a 757-type plane, the real deal. This is what everyone saw, not metaphor, not mix-up. THE plane. it's not what it was but where it was I'm looking at here. Here is a working map of the witneses I'm analyzing, their locations, direction headed when possible, and when possible, a guesstimated flight path in the witness' designated color. This is all somewhat inexact, so please don'tread it all too literally: accounts below give you the clues I'm working from. (right-click-new window for full-size)
- Mickey Bell / Jack Singleton / Singleton's equipment: an odd and multi-dimensional account covered in-depth here. Totally consistent with the official story. Bell was directly beneath the plane at its final impact point, and amongt the construction equipment had no view of the attackpath, and he has no memory of the incident, at least on record, though the equipment itself demonstrates the official fliht path.
- Chadwick Brooks: A pentagon cop who saw a United airlines flight (wrong colors, wrong plane) on an unuusual northern flight path, but saw it hit the building he thinks. Account covered in-depth in The PentaCon review
(source: the PentaCon, testimony Nov 2006)
- Bobby Eberle:
Creds: Not the best for credibility: Eberle was a big shot at GOPUSA, a Texas-based Republican activist company. Their media subsidiary, Talon News, later provided the White House press room with their favorite fake GOP plant (and male prostitute to boot) James Guckert (aka Mark Gannon).
Location: "Riding in a convertable with the top down," but stuck in slow traffic, apparently headed north; “at about 9:30 am, we rounded a bend and had the Pentagon in our sites - right in front of us.”
Account:”I then heard a tremendously loud noise from behind me and to my left. I looked back and saw a jet airliner flying very low and very fast. […] The aircraft was so very low. […] the aircraft passed from behind my left shoulder to in front of me [and] crashed into the Pentagon and exploded.”
Notes: The plane coming from his left indicates he’s not headed south on Route 27, in which case it’d be from the right. Rounding the bend to have the Pentagon in front of him, could be read as turning east on 395 or north on 27 beneath it – So I’m placing him between the two points.
(source: http://www.gopusa.com/commentary/bobby/2001/bobby_0912.shtml, published 9/12/01, since pulled. Found via some guy I don't know.)
- Penny Elgas:
Location: Headed north on I-395 towards DC, "stuck in late morning rush hour traffic - almost in front of the Pentagon"
Account: "Traffic was at a standstill. I heard a rumble, looked out my driver's side window and realized that I was looking at the nose of an airplane coming straight at us from over the road (Columbia Pike) that runs perpendicular to the road I was on. The plane just appeared there- very low in the air, to the side of (and not much above) the CITGO gas station that I never knew was there. […] I saw the plane coming in slow motion toward my car and then it banked in the slightest turn in front of me, toward the heliport. In the nano-second that the plane was directly over the cars in front of my car, the plane seemed to be not more than 80 feet off the ground and about 4-5 car lengths in front of me. It was far enough in front of me that I saw the end of the wing closest to me and the underside of the other wing as that other wing rocked slightly toward the ground.
Notes: Finally a mention of the Citgo! “to the side” is a bit vague, but from her vantage and reported nearness, I’d guess the south side. It’s hard to place her on the map – north on 395 means quite a ways south, nowhere near the Citgo. Her location description is on 395 before the east turn, but account of plane position sounds more like Route 27, but that's not the way into Washington. "straight at us" is another manifestation of ROME, giving us a line that makes no sense if read literally. The line here is my best guess, icluding her slight turn towards the Heliport. (Source: Penny's full account, via American History.si.edu)
- Bruce Elliot:
Creds: Former commander of the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant who, reassigned to the Pentagon in July.
Location: about to board a shuttle van in a south parking lot
Account: "I looked to my left and saw the plane coming in," said Elliott, who watched it for several seconds. "It was banking and garnering speed." He also said the craft clipped a utility pole guide wire, which may have slowed it down a bit before it crashed into the building and burst into flames.
Notes: South means looking west or northwest to see the plane. Seeing it for several seconds means a longer vantage point and relatively unobstructed view. This means nothing for north-south differentiation, with nothing tall enough to obstruct either path for the last probably 2-4 seconds. With no specifics, I cannot venture a useful guess at Elliot's implied flight path.
(source: "The Hawkeye," 9/13/01. Found via: Eric Bart.)
- Albert Hemphill
Location: the new BMDO office at the Navy Annex, “with two nice windows and a great view of the monuments, the Capitol and the Pentagon.”
Account: he “stood peering out of the window looking at the Pentagon" by chance. Cued by the noise from above, "immediately, the large silver cylinder of an aircraft appeared in my window, coming over my right shoulder as I faced the Westside of the Pentagon directly towards the heliport. The aircraft [...] seemed to come directly over the annex, as if it had been following Columbia Pike […] All in all, I probably only had the aircraft in my field of view for approximately 3 seconds." Covered in-depth here
(source: e-mail by Albert Hemphill, TML September 2001 archive, lists.travellerrpg.com, 9/12/01. Found via Penny Schoner)
- Kirk Milburn
Creds:construction supervisor for Atlantis Co.
Location: on the Arlington National Cemetery exit (to route 27) of Interstate 395
Account: “I was right underneath the plane” …he said he saw the plane heading for the Pentagon. "I heard a plane. I saw it. I saw debris flying. I guess it was hitting light poles. It was like a WHOOOSH whoosh, then there was fire and smoke, then I heard a second explosion."
Notes: ROME uncorrected here, account read as literal - path is probaly near this one but not exact. Clearly not north of the Citgo, therefore south, if not explicitly.
(source: Washington Post, 9/11/01. Found via: Eric Bart.)
- Terry Morin: The astute witness
Location: mid-south side of Navy Annex/Federal office Building 2.
Account: Noise cues first, then "the airliner came into my field of view. [...] essentially right over the top of me and the outer portion of the FOB (flight path parallel the outer edge of the FOB). [...] Within seconds the plane cleared [the building] and was heading directly towards the Pentagon. [...] The tail was barely visible when I saw the flash and subsequent fireball rise." Covered in detail here.
Notes: A straight path along the south edge of the annex would be just about right to hit the building properly and clip all five poles, passing just south of the Citgo station on the way. The map shows the closest straight line to his account, and it's damn close.
(source: Eric Bart.)
- Lon Raines: An oddball account
Creds: Upstanding editor of Space News.
Location: on Route 27, “with the Pentagon to the left of my van at about 10 o'clock on the dial of a clock"
Account: “I glanced at my watch to see if I was going to be late for my appointment. At that moment I heard a very loud, quick whooshing sound that began behind me and stopped suddenly in front of me and to my left. In fractions of a second I heard the impact and an explosion. The next thing I saw was the fireball.”
Notes: Pentagon on left at 10:00 means just north of or at the north end of the building and facing south. “From behind” means from further north. He didn’t see anything it sounds like, but our ears are good at direction-finding. If he’s right, there’s another northern flight account. He also noted it sounded like a missile and not a plane, but this is usually taken as metaphor. This path is far from consistent with any others, from too far north even for the PentaCon's story. His earwitness story is also based noton the sound pattern of their overflight theory (jet noise-explosion-jet noise fading off) but rather jet noise-explosion-silence.
- Don Scott
Creds: Prince William County school bus driver living in Woodbridge
Locaion: driving eastward past the Pentagon on his way to Washington, had just passed the Pentagon and was near the Macy's store in Crystal City (Pentagon City)
Account: “I noticed a plane making a sharp turn from north of the Pentagon. I had to look back at the road and then back to the plane as it sort of leveled off. I looked back at the road, and when I turned to look again, I felt and heard a terrible explosion. I looked back and saw flames shooting up and smoke starting to climb into the sky”
Notes: I'm not sure how to map this - from North and then a sharp turn?
- Levi Stephens:
Location: "driving away from the Pentagon in the South Pentagon lot."
Account: "I hear this huge rumble, the ground started shaking … I saw this [plane] come flying over the Navy Annex. It flew over the van and I looked back and I saw this huge explosion, black smoke everywhere."
Notes: drawing this line literally – from the Navy annex to directly over him in the S. parking lot – clearly makes no sense, so I adjusted it to make more sense; the end point of the line should be the impact point, and for lack of more specifics put the other end down the middle of the building.
- Philip Thompson:
Location:sitting in heavy traffic in the I-395 HOV (car pool) lanes, directly across from the Navy Annex.
Account: “I could see the roof of the Pentagon and, in the distance, the Washington Monument. I heard the scream of a jet engine and, turning to look, saw my driver's side window filled with the fuselage of the doomed airliner. It was flying only a couple of hundred feet off the ground”
- Robert Turcios:
Location: The Citgo station, on-duty.
Account: Covered in-depth in The PentaCon review post.
Notes: He saw the plane fly right over the station and straight into the building after pulling up to miss a road sign that would have been in its way. A path this far north is unusual, but comports roughly with Lagasse and Brooks. His report of a pull-up is no noted anywhere else at all, so far as I can see, but is taken by the CIT folks as proof it flew over the bldg, even though Turcios himself disagrees.
- Alan Wallace:
Creds: 55-year-old firefighter, usually worked out of the Fort Myer fire station, but on Sept. 11 he was one of three firefighters assigned to the Pentagon's heliport. Along with crew members Mark Skipper and Dennis Young, Wallace arrived around 7:30 in the morning.
Location: Between the heliport and impact site on the Pentagon's west lawn, moving out the fire truck housed beneath the helo tower in advance of President Bush's anticipated touchdown later that day.
Account: Firetruck parked perpendicular to the west wall. "Wallace and Skipper were walking along the right side of the truck (Young was in the station) when the two looked up and saw an airplane. It was about 25 feet off the ground and just 200 yards away-the length of two football fields. They had heard about the WTC disaster and had little doubt what was coming next. "Let's go," Wallace yelled. Both men ran."
Notes: pretty vague for direction.