Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
The Frustrating Fraud
August 7 2008
Last Updated 8/10/09
For those who see no reason to question the official time of the Pentagon attack, this post will be unnecessary. But for those confused by claims of different times, primarily 9:30-32 am, this may prove quite useful. If you're willing to learn... (sigh). Of all the times cited for the impact/explosion/whatever at the Pentagon on 9/11, one stands above as the most-cited, most-supported, and most-likely true – by this I mean, approximately, 9:38 am. Officially the explosive impact of Flight 77 is given as 9:37:45 or :46 based, it seems, on the Flight Data Recorder. In reality, the impact time is impossible to pin down exactly, but likely a bit after this, probably between 9:37:50 and :55 (see FDR section, first up). Following is a nearly-comprehensive list of the most direct evidence establishing the impact at right around that time.
1) Flight Data Recorder:
Much rhubarb has been made of the information on Flight 77’s Flight Data Recorder and how it doesn’t match the reality necessary to get it inside the Pentagon where it was said to be found. The last frame of data recorded is 9:37:44 or :45, depending on the exact file one’s looking at. While this is officially the moment of impact, the recorded values do not match those evident in the physical damage (most important – too high!) This is taken by some nitwits/liars as proof the plane didn’t hit. Another view takes this as a clue that this last data is actually NOT from the moment of impact, but a mile or more back, as the INS positioning says (it’s prone to error of about 1/2 mile I hear). Most analysts have come to this realization, though opinions differ on how far back, how much data is missing, and why (which is beyond the scope of this piece). Estimates range from 2 to 10 seconds remaining to impact at last frame, with the upper end of 8-10 seeming most likely to me, and placing impact at 9:37:50 or later. This slight variation of the “official” time alternates with it in the list below and illustrate that roughly all evidence points at a roughly 10 second time range best rounded to the minute as 9:38.
We’ve always heard the radar data supported and defined this impact time, but fact is it can’t tell us exactly when, or even if, the plane impacted. The raw data of the Air Force’s 84th radar evaluation squadron (84RADES) was released in 2006 to researcher John Farmer, showing all returns from the DC area on 9/11. As I understand it, ‘blips’ are sent and returned every 12 seconds; the last three attributed to Flight 77 are at 9:36:48, 9:37:00, and 9:37:12 (see graphic at right, from Marco Bolletino’s reconstruction of the data). Before the next return, the airliner dropped below the coverage level of app.2,000 feet above ground [this altitude is passed by FDR about 9:37:18]. There is an established NEADS clock issue, known to be app. 25 seconds slow relative to other clocks in the FDR and at ATC facilities. Therefore, the last return would actually be at about 9:37:37, with impact presumably some seconds after that. This support is vague but would hint at an impact somewhat later than the official time less than ten seconds hence. On the other hand, the FDR pressure alt for 9:37:37 is 786 ft AGL, which seems too low to be just disappearing from radar. Perhaps I’m confused on the timeline discrepancy. Anyway, it’s all there… it doesn’t prove a 9:38 impact, but it fits it just fine.
1a+2a) FDR/Radar Combo:
In its Final Report, the 9/11 Commission gives the impact time of 9:37:46 [p 96], citing as its source NTSB report, "Flight Path Study-American Airlines Flight 77," created Feb. 19, 2002 by the National Transportation Safety Board. The full document in question is available in PDF form [here. The report in turn lists its sources as FDR data “as well as” (implying no conflict with) “radar data from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Route Traffic Control Centers, approach control at Washington Dulles Airport, and the U.S. Air Force’s 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron.” [This is the data examined above]. From this, the report summarizes that “the airplane accelerated to approximately 460 knots (530 miles per hour) at impact with the Pentagon. The time of impact was 9:37:45 AM.” Ooh! A one-second discrepancy! And both were likely a bit early, with the Commission closer it seems.
3) Arlington County Emergency System:
From Arlington County After-Action Report, and its first-hand access to emergency communications , we can see that key information was called in just before and after the 9:38 mark, and reactions followed in the next minutes, as recorded and logged as at a time generalized as 9:38. [emph mine].
“In the moments immediately before impact at the Pentagon, the Arlington County ECC began receiving 9-1-1 calls reporting a low flying airliner that seemed off the normal flight path. When the crash actually occurred at 9:38 a.m., all area communications seemed simultaneously overwhelmed. Firefighters calling the ECC couldn’t get through. Relatives of Pentagon workers found cellular and land lines jammed. Emergency traffic flooded radio channels.” [page A-34]
“Captain Steve McCoy and the crew of Engine 101 were […] traveling north on Interstate 395 [when they saw] a commercial airliner in steep descent, banking sharply to its right before disappearing beyond the horizon. At 9:38 a.m., shortly after American Airlines Flight #77 disappeared from sight, a tremendous explosion preceded a massive plume of smoke and fire. Unable to pinpoint the precise location, Captain McCoy immediately radioed the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center (ECC), reporting an airplane crash in the vicinity of the 14th Street Bridge or in Crystal City.” [page A-34]
At 9:38 a.m., a large smoke plume appeared beyond the Rosslyn skyline. Arlington County Police Corporal Barry Foust radioed the ECC that he saw an American Airlines jet crash into the Pentagon. The ECC swung into action [page A-35] […] [B]etween 9:41 a.m. and 9:43 a.m. on September 11, the ECC Administrator, Steve Souder, acting on his own initiative, contacted the Fairfax, Alexandria, and District of Columbia fire departments. He gave them identical instructions: deploy four engines, two trucks, one rescue unit, four EMS units, and a command officer to a staging area short of the Pentagon and hold them there until called forward.” [page a25]
4) C130 pilot report via FAA:
The 9/11 Commission briefly discussed the “second plane” at the Pentagon, a C-130H cargo plane dubbed “Golfer 06.” The Commission noted on page 26 of their final report:
“At approximately 9:38 A.M., the C130H aircraft reported to Reagan Airport controllers that the aircraft it was attempting to follow crashed into the Pentagon.” The source is given as “FAA audio file, Washington Tower, Tyson/Fluky Position, 9:38:52 .-M.; FAA letterhead memorandum, 'Partial Transcript; Aircraft Accident; AAL 77; Washington, DC; September 11, 2001,’ 7.
Although the two planes had crossed path just a minute before, both radar and the pilot’s own words agree that Golfer 06 was too far away to see Flight 77 itself at impact, but was close enough to see the smoke and to know where it was coming from. Certainly the impression was there from the beginning, and was only confirmed as it approached at 9:38, passing nearest to impact point at 9:39:15, after which it veered off to the north and west and continued on to witness the crash site of Flight 93 as well before reaching base in Minnesota.
5) 9:39 News Report - NBC:
Among the most solid clues to at least the general time of the attack of the Pentagon attack is in NBC News coverage of the 9/11 events. [video link - when watching the video, note that it starts at 9:12 am, so the video time is to be added to this for the real time] At perhaps 10 seconds after the 9:39 mark [26:24 video time], the newsroom interrupted its coverage to let Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski bring them their first news of something awry there. He told the nation:
"I don’t want to alarm anybody right now, but apparently - it felt, just a few moments ago, like there was an explosion of some kind, here at the Pentagon.” He explains he was on the east side of the mammoth building, opposite from the impact, so it was a big explosion. He saw no smoke from his side, inside the E ring, and didn’t know what was going on. “I just stepped out in the hallway, security guards were herding people out," he explained, meaning some time at least had elapsed. So far impact is looking to be one minute, 15 seconds before this broadcast. Sounds like “moments” to me.
6) Security video time stamps – Pentagon, Doubletree, Citgo:
Though neither the Citgo or Doubletree videos, released in 2006, shows the official time in their on-screen clocks, both timers roughly bracket it: Doubletree – 9:34:10 impact (app 3:35 behind) Citgo 9:40:36 (app 2:51 ahead)
It’s a very small sample to be conclusive, but this is what’s called a normal distribution, that sets a center point of app. 9:37:00. That’s pretty close for a sampling of two clocks, one of which also bears the default date of Jan 1 1993 [for a clue to the professionalism and precision of their deployment].
Regarding the time stamp of the Pentagon’s own CCTV gate cameras that famously captured the plane and impact, Col. Alan Scott told the 9/11 Commission in May 2003:
“The timeline on the impact of the Pentagon was changed to 9:37 -- 9:43 is the time that was reported that day, it was the time we used. And it took about two weeks to discover in the parking lot of the Pentagon this entry camera for the parking lot, which happened to be oriented towards the Pentagon at the time of impact, and the recorded time is 9:37. And that's why the timeline went from 9:43 to 9:37, because it is the best documented evidence for the impact time that we have.” [source]
It should be noted that the time stamp is not reproduced on-screen. The initial five released framed show a time of the following evening Sept 12 – much to the delight of mystery-mongers, it’s more likely the time the frames were processed and labeled “plane,” “impact,” etc… but they seem to have been recorded in the 9:37 slot on the correct day, and were in fact instrumental in setting the time initially. We find later it’s actually near the end of that minute, but still technically not 9:38.
Considering the known unreliability of eyewitness recollection, and that most people do not directly time-stamp their memories, it should not be surprising that this sector of the evidence is the least clear on the actual impact moment. Just a few of the published accounts provide useful clues, while many specifically disagree or are hopelessly vague. The oft-cited “9:30” is too common a rounding point to be taken too seriously, and it appears several times. A small sampling that are said to specifically cite something more like 9:32 were outlined in a previous post. But the sampling of five below does establish a normal distribution around the minute all other evidence is pointing at.
“It was about 9:35 […] it came from the south. […] I watched it come in very low over the trees and it just dipped down came down right over 395 into the Pentagon.” – Don Wright
“At 9:40 a.m. I was driving down Washington Boulevard (Route 27) along the side of the Pentagon when the aircraft crossed about 200 yards… in front of me.” - Donald R. Bouchoux
“At 9:35 a.m., I pulled alongside the Pentagon. With traffic at a standstill, my eyes wandered around the road, looking for the cause of the traffic jam. Then I looked up to my left and saw an American Airlines jet flying right at me.” - Vin Narayanan
“At 9:35, as we were watching this on TV, we heard over the loudspeaker “All medical personnel report to the front desk of Medical.” We did not know at that time that the Pentagon had been hit.” - Captain William B. Durm
“About 9:30 or so — I don't know the exact time, maybe quarter to 10 — we were still in the conference room, and we heard and felt the loud explosion of the plane hitting the Pentagon, and it reminded me of an earthquake.” – Lt. Col. Frank Bryceland [note: the mid-point of the range from 9:30-45 is 9:37:30.]
Update:As the brilliant JREF member Mangoose pointed out to me a while back:
I would also draw your attention to the witness account of William Paisley who posts as Pinch at JREF and who has a blog http://www.instapinch.com/.
You might want to contact him directly but he has elsewhere related that he was at Crystal Park 3, 10th floor on 9/11, and was watching NBC coverage of the terrorist attacks; when he saw Jim Miklaszewki's report at 9:39:10 he took a few steps to his office window and immediately saw a billowing, building mushroom cloud of black smoke rising up above the roofs of the buildings between his building and the Pentagon. This is pretty good confirmation that the explosion was not too much sooner than 9:39.
8) Wall clocks at the Pentagon:
In the Book Pentagon 9/11 [Goldberg, 2007] is pictured a wall clock from an office above the impact area, stopped at 9:36:27 – one minute, 25 sec behind the time in discussion. This is reasonably close and solid evidence of the general time at least.
Ironically enough, the famous 9:30-ish stopped clocks, which stand as the best (basically only) evidence for a blast at that early time, may also support the 9:38 time-frame. Non-nutty 9/11 Truther Russell Pickering decided that the low time is a case broken mechanisms as the clocks hit bottom-first after falling from their mounts, with simple gravity responsible for pulling the hands down to near bottom. He issued a challenge for anyone to take, which no 9:32 event supporters did, For one, CIT ally Mirage of Deceit (nutty) later confirmed the results (link unavailable). The pictures indicate the minute hands were somewhere past the 6, not before, but little else can be said for sure. But since everything else says it all went down at 9:38, is it not reasonable to call these a double-confirmation of that time with gravity rounding it down towards 9:30? [note: although it seems to have fallen differently and onto carpet, a similar effect could be behind the above clock’s being behind – or perhaps someone at the Pentagon actually was synched over a minute behind.]
So now that the 9:38 case looks strong enough to actually absorb even the best early-attack evidence, I’d like to turn to some assorted other evidence that doesn’t fit, and for shits and giggles use it to craft smtig even stupider than the 9:32 Pentagon attack meme (which CIT doesn’t even buy). Who knows, some bold Truther might just run with the 9:30-or-before scenario (oops, they already have) or the 9:25 WTC attack (no takers yet).