Did Flight 93 Crash in Shanksville?

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Last updated:  08/30/2011

Official Claim

"If this had to happen what better place could there have been to put that plane down?"


What are the official crash details?  Are they even believable?!

NOTE: The U.S. government has never released a detailed description of the alleged crash of Flight 93. Normally the NTSB would in their crash investigation report, but the FBI claimed jurisdiction over this alleged incident, so the NTSB said they are not planning to issue a report and no other government agency has released a detailed report so far. Therefore, we are left to gather the official details of this alleged crash ourselves from mainstream sources, such as news reports and the Flight 93 Memorial center, who recite the official story to visitors.

Flight 93 officially crashed into an empty field in Shanksville, PA at 10:03am.  It reportedly started rolling onto its back before striking the ground at about a 45deg angle, traveling roughly 580mph with 5,500 gallons of fuel still onboard.  Lee Purbaugh was the only person to see an aircraft actually strike the ground, but never reported it being upside down, or on its side.  A large rising mushroom cloud was photographed within seconds after impact by Val McClatchey, who was nearly shaken off her couch by the crash, causing her to run out with her new digital camera and without aiming, snapped the only known photograph of the explosion before dropping her camera.

Hardly anything of a plane looked to be left and no bodies were seen. The only evidence left on the surface was a shallow 10ft-deep crater, a burned out section of forest nearby, and relatively few, mostly small pieces of debris scattered about. The local coroner was stunned at how small the smoking crater looked and commented that it looked "like someone took a scrap truck, dug a 10-foot ditch and dumped all this trash into it."  Other debris allegedly from the crash was reported up to 8 miles away. First responders to the scene had thought that the plane either mostly disintegrated on impact, or that it bounced off the ground and continued into the forest. Days later during the excavation, investigators realized that most of the 155ft-long plane had burrowed deep into the ground.

When the plane crashed, the explanation was that right wing struck the ground first, sending the Boeing 757 into a cartwheel motion. This caused the underside of the front of the plane come in contact with the ground next, causing the cockpit and first-class cabin to break off and shatter, sending its pieces throughout the field and into the woods. An axle from nose wheels tumbled into the forest, snapping a tree. The rest of the plane on back continued its downward passage through the soft reclaimed soil until it accordioned against a layer of bedrock deep below the surface. 

A landowner, who helped out the FBI with the recovery, said the plane "went in the ground so fast it didn’t have a chance to burn."  As the plane tunneled deep into the ground, the soil began to immediately fall back in on itself, leaving only what looked like a shallow crater instead of deep hole.  The field used to be a strip-mine and had been refilled.  The ground was reportedly still loose and un-compacted at the time of the crash.  Lisa Beamer, in her book, described it as if "the plane had pierced the earth like a spoon in a cup of coffee: the spoon forced the coffee back, and then the coffee immediately closed around the spoon as though nothing had troubled the surface. Anything that remained of Flight 93 was buried deep in the ground."  

When investigators began excavating the crater, they had to dig down 15ft to start finding pieces of the plane. On Sept 13, they unearthed one of the plane's engines and at around 4:45pm, they found the Flight Data Recorder at a depth of 15ft. On Sept 14, they found the Cockpit Voice Recorder at a depth of 25ft at around 8:25pm. They excavated down to about 45ft.  The further they dug down, the unearthed debris became increasingly larger and more recognizable than the extremely fragmented debris found nearer the surface.  Most of the buried debris was found between 15ft and 35ft down.  About 80% of the 757 was in the ground, equivalent to more than 30 cars-worth of debris having to be pulled out of the ground.

On Sept 24, the FBI announced they had finished their investigation at the scene and had recovered about 95% of the United Airlines Boeing 757. The biggest reported piece of the plane that was recovered was a 6-by-7-foot piece of the fuselage skin with about four windows. The heaviest reported piece was part of an engine fan, weighing about 1,000 pounds, that was found in a catchment pond about 300 yards south of the crater.  No groundwater contamination by jet fuel or hydraulic fluid was detected.

The FBI also found items belonging to the victims that including a wedding ring and other jewelry, photos, credit cards, purses and their contents, shoes, a wallet and currency, bank-machine receipts, the corner of a business card, a shoelace, some shirt buttons, a necktie still knotted, two Bibles found aboveground, pages inside still unburned, and a flight attendant's personal logbook and in-flight procedures manual.  A badge and credentials inside of a passenger working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were also found, which a family member commented that the credentials inside their wallet were "practically intact" and that it "just looked like it wasn't damaged or hadn't gone through much of anything at all, which is so bizarre and ironic." Items found belonging to the hijackers included a passport, knives they used, a jacket that contained their schedule for 9/11, a copy of a letter written by Mohamed Atta, and a red bandanna worn by one of them, still in pristine shape.

All of the 44 passengers were eventually identified, some through fingerprint and dental records, but most through DNA with the four hijackers being identified by a process of elimination. Remains were found underground and amongst the cockpit wreckage above ground. A single tooth with a silver filling was found embedded in a nearby tree.  Investigators had only recovered about 8% of the total mass of all the passengers. The coroner had expressed that he never saw a drop of blood at the scene.




"The airplane headed down; the control wheel was turned hard to the right. The airplane rolled onto its back, and one of the hijackers began shouting "Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest." With the sounds of the passenger counterattack continuing, the aircraft plowed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 580 miles per hour, about 20 minutes' flying time from Washington, D.C.

United 93 crashed in Pennsylvania at 10:03:11, 125 miles from Washington, D.C." - 9/11 Commission [local]


Hallowed Ground

"The Boeing 757 still heavily laden with jet fuel slammed at about 575 mph almost straight down into a rolling patch of grassy land that had long ago been strip-mined for coal. The impact spewed a fireball of horrific force across hundreds of acres of towering hemlocks and other trees, setting many ablaze. The fuselage burrowed straight into the earth so forcefully that one of the "black boxes" was recovered at a depth of 25 feet under the ground.

As coroner, responsible for returning human remains, Miller has been forced to share with the families information that is unimaginable. As he clinically recounts to them, holding back very few details, the 33 passengers, seven crew and four hijackers together weighed roughly 7,000 pounds. They were essentially cremated together upon impact. Hundreds of searchers who climbed the hemlocks and combed the woods for weeks were able to find about 1,500 mostly scorched samples of human tissue totaling less than 600 pounds, or about 8 percent of the total.

Miller was among the very first to arrive after 10:06 on the magnificently sunny morning of September 11. He was stunned at how small the smoking crater looked, he says, "like someone took a scrap truck, dug a 10-foot ditch and dumped all this trash into it." Once he was able to absorb the scene, Miller says, "I stopped being coroner after about 20 minutes, because there were no bodies there. It became like a giant funeral service."

Then he tells the church audience that, remarkably, two heavily damaged Bibles were found in the wreckage of the flight; a white one at the crash site that belonged to a passenger who was a practicing Buddhist; and a second one, black, of uncertain ownership. Miller says he ran across the second one on the floor of the warehouse where victims' belongings were being kept. The second Bible was scrunched up and was lying open, he says, to the 121st Psalm, which is customarily read at funerals. He says he has no idea who left the Bible in that position." - Washington Post (05/12/02)


On Hallowed Ground

"In its final moments, it spun 180 degrees, hitting the ground upside down and at a 45-degree angle.
Somerset County is dotted with mines; some still working but most abandoned. The 20-hectare plot that Wallace Miller walked had been mined for coal on its surface and underground for 30 years.
In 1990, the reclamation process began: 190,000 cubic metres of soil and dynamited rock were spread over the site, then sewn with grass.
To the casual eye, it looked like solid, consolidated ground but in reality the reclaimed expanse was loose and uncompacted. When flight 93 hit the ground, the cockpit and first-class cabin broke off, scattered into millions of fragments that spread and flew like shrapnel into and through the trees 20 metres away.
A section of the engine, weighing almost a tonne, was found on the bed of a catchment pond, 200 metres downhill.
Some of the plane's cargo was found intact ­ 200 kilograms of mail in the hold, a Bible, its cover scorched but its pages undamaged and later, as the excavation began, the passport of one of the four hijackers.
The rest of the 757 continued its downward passage, the sandy loam closing behind it like the door of a tomb. Eventually these pieces and its human cargo ­ the heroes and the cowards, as a message left at the nearby temporary memorial put it ­ came to rest against solid rock, 23 metres below the surface.
"I've seen a lot of highway fatalities where there's fragmentation," Miller said. "The interesting thing about this particular case is that I haven't, to this day, 11 months later, seen any single drop of blood. Not a drop." - The Age (09/09/02)


► Among the Heroes

"Traveling at five hundred seventy-five miles an hour, the 757 had inverted and hit the spongy earth at a forty-five-degree angle, tunneling toward a limestone reef at the edge of a reclaimed strip mine. Because the plane crashed upside down, the engines and the stowed landing gear thrust upward and forward. The ground became littered with the fractured underbelly of the plane, electronics, shredded wiring. The cockpit and first class shattered like the point of a pencil, and remnants sprayed into a line of hemlock pine trees. The fuselage accordioned on itself more than thirty feet into the porous, backfilled ground. It was as if a marble had been dropped into water.
The axle for the 757's nose wheels had broken away and tumbled, snapping a tree that was half a foot in diameter, the local fire chief said... The nose of the jet, known as the radome, which housed a pivoting radar system, flew thirty yards in the woods and folded on itself like a clamshell, Shaffer said.
In the hours after the crash, Pennsylvania state troopers said that they had seen no pieces of the plane larger than a phone book. Later, an eight-by-seven-foot section of fuselage containing several windows would be found. It was about the size of the hood of a car. A piece of one engine, weighing a thousand pounds, landed more than a hundred yards from the crater, apparently jettisoned upward in a tremendous arc. The cockpit data recorder, one of the so-called black boxes, would be excavated fifteen feet into the crater and the cockpit voice recorder at twenty-five feet." - Author: Jere Longman


Sacred Ground in Pennsylvania

"...the plane crashed upside down at 10:03 a.m. at an estimated speed of over 500 miles per hour.
No whole bodies were recovered.
...the fourth plane had just crashed near Shanksville on reclaimed strip-mined land where they had worked.
But it took a while to identify the exact location of impact because there was no plane visible. Sally remembers Jamie phoning them from the site and saying, "There is no plane there, believe me."
The location was eventually determined because of some disturbed ground in front of a grove of charred evergreens, explains Jamie. The ground had swallowed up much of the wreckage.
The plane "went in the ground so fast it didn’t have a chance to burn," says Jim.
The flight data recorder was located on September 13, some 15 feet underground. The following day, the cockpit voice recorder was unearthed at a depth of 25 feet.

The excavators also found “a jacket that belonged to one of the terrorists,” explains Jim. The jacket contained the hijacker’s schedule for September 11. “We found the knives [the terrorists] used, too.”
Although only fragments of bodies were recovered, everyone was identified, including the hijackers, explains Emily Jerich.
Bibles that had been on the plane were found aboveground, unburned and opened to passages that seemed prophetic.
“As coroner, responsible for returning human remains, Miller has been forced to share with the families information that is unimaginable,” reported The Washington Post. “[T]he 33 passengers, seven crew and four hijackers together weighed roughly 7,000 pounds. They were essentially cremated together upon impact. Hundreds of searchers who climbed the hemlocks and combed the woods for weeks were able to find about 1,500 mostly scorched samples of human tissue totaling less than 600 pounds, or about eight percent of the total.” - St. Anthony Messenger Online (09/06)



"Lee Purbaugh, 32, was the only person to see the last seconds of Flight 93 as it came down on former strip-mining land at precisely 10.06am..." - (09/12/02)


Conspiracy theorists blog that Flight 93 photo is fake
"Taken the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, seconds after United Airlines Flight 93 plunged into a nearby field, the eerie photo was, and still is, according to the FBI, the closest thing it's got to an image of the crash itself.

Val McClatchey snapped the single picture with her new digital camera. The wife and mother had been sitting on the edge of her sofa, clutching her second cup of coffee and watching the smoking towers of the World Trade Center on TV, when she heard the sudden surge of a plane engine, followed by a violent, house-shaking boom. Mrs. McClatchey grabbed the camera and ran onto the front porch of her house along Indian Lake.
"I didn't even aim. I was just like, 'Oh, my God,' " she said. She dropped the camera, jolting the battery loose, then tried in vain to call her husband, son and daughter. She had no idea what she'd captured until the state police put a call out to people in the area, asking for photos, debris and other evidence. She took a printout of her photo to the police, she said, and, within an hour, FBI agents were at her house." - (08/06/06)


Local 'ambassadors' tend to Flight 93 site
"At the site, ambassadors show visitors a photo taken by local real-estate agent Val McClatchey. She lives just over a mile from where the plane fell. At 10:03 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, she was in her living room, watching TV coverage of the World Trade Center attacks. A loud boom shook her house. She grabbed a digital camera that was by her front door.
The photo she took shows a mushroom cloud rising into a blue sky, with a neighbor's barn in the foreground. The FBI says it is the only known image taken within seconds of the crash. Ms. McClatchey, 50, says, "If I knew how much chaos it would create in my life, I might have just deleted it."
Accusations about her photo have spread across the Internet. Conspiracy theorists say the photo actually depicts a bomb blast, or that the cloud suggests the plane was shot down by the U.S. government. Others charge the photo is a phony." - (09/12/06)


American Heroes Changed the Course of United Flight 93

"...Purbaugh, who was at the wreckage within minutes after the crash.
"I happened to hear this noise and looked up," said Purbaugh, who indicated the plane was about 40 to 50 feet above him.
Purbaugh thought at first it was just a cargo plane carrying some mail because when he ran up to the actual scene, he didn’t notice any carnage, just some mail around. He also noticed a bookbag. He said the pine trees next to the site were on fire from the explosion and the fire was also spreading through the woods.
"There was scattered debris everywhere, some in large chunks, but nothing you could identify."
Mark Stahl of Somerset, who went to the scene immediately afterwards, says, "There’s a crater gorged in the earth, the plane is pretty much disintegrated. There’s nothing left but scorched trees."
"Everything was on fire and there was trees knocked down and there was a big hole in the ground," he said." - Daily American (09/12/01) [transcribed]


Passengers Thwarted Hijackers

"The crash impact left a crater estimated to be 10-feet deep and 20-feet wide." - Pittsburgh 11 News (09/13/01)


Homes, neighbors rattled by crash

"...Stahl said. He didn’t realize a passenger jet had crashed until a firefighter told him.
Ron Delano, who lives about two miles from the crash site, also rushed to the scene after hearing about the crash.
He was stunned by what he saw.
“If they hadn’t told us a plane had wrecked, you wouldn’t have known. It looked like it hit and disintegrated,” Delano said." - (09/12/01)


Fourth crash 75 miles from Morgantown
"Capt. Monaco stood at the scene as he described the black earth “where the plane initially struck and continued on into the south,” disappearing into the woods. Monaco stated that there was a lot of debris, although little was larger than the size of a phone book.
Given the minuscule size of most debris, Monaco said, as far as survivors or bodies are concerned, “none have been seen at this point.” - (09/12/01)


Coroner remembers Sept. 11

"Miller recalled his arrival at the crash site about 20 minutes after the plane plummeted to the earth and described how the aircraft came down at a 45-degree angle. He explained how the cockpit broke off at impact, bouncing into a wooded area of about 60 acres. The resulting fireball scorched about eight acres of trees, he said.

The remainder of the plane burrowed deep into the ground, creating a long, narrow crater." - (05/30/02)


"The explanation was, when the plane came in, it was coming low. It banked at a 90deg angle -- allegedly from the people, from the struggle in the cockpit.
The right wing hit the ground right there were the impact area is and as that happened, it took the front end...[does cartwheel hand gesture].
The front 1/3 of the plane, including the cockpit, slammed into the ground off of the wing and the front 1/3 broke off and flew up into the trees and there was a fireball behind it and the remaining 2/3'rds went down in the ground." - Video interview of Wally Miller by Domenick DiMaggio (Sept. 2008) [See also: Officials claim Flight 93's cockpit 'broke off' into the woods; remains were found inside]


Pennsylvania's Ground Zero
Written by Tim Lambert
"According to investigators, the cockpit of the aircraft separated from the plane upon impact and flew into the trees, where it disintegrated." - (Nov 2001)


► Let's Roll!: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage

"I didn't see a single piece of airplane anywhere... Little could be found. Because of the reclaimed strip mine, the ground was softer than other surrounding areas. The plane had pierced the earth like a spoon in a cup of coffee: the spoon forced the coffee back, and then the coffee immediately closed around the spoon as though nothing had troubled the surface. Anything that remained of Flight 93 was buried deep in the ground." - Author: Lisa Beamer (July 2002, p. 231) [reprint]

Black box recovered at Shanksville site

"the Boeing 757 jetliner to crash into an abandoned Somerset County strip mine in a deadly sequence of terrorist attacks.
FBI Agent William Crowley announced Thursday afternoon that investigators using heavy equipment found the recorder in a crater at the crash site near Lambertsville in Stonycreek Township.

Searchers yesterday also found one of the hijacked jetliner’s engines. But by evening, the cockpit voice recorder had not been recovered.

Crowley confirmed that there were two other aircraft within 25 miles of the United flight that were heading east when it crashed, scattering debris over 8 miles." - Pittsburgh Live (09/14/01)


Will black box reveal Flight 93's last moments?

"Search crews yesterday found the flight data recorder about 4:45 p.m. at the hilltop crash site outside Shanksville, Somerset County. It was in a crater gouged by the plane when it crashed Tuesday morning. The box was turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board." - (09/14/01)


Flight 93 voice recorder found in Somerset County crash site

"Investigators last night found the cockpit voice recorder from United Flight 93, a discovery that could help authorities determine what happened in the final seconds before the hijacked Boeing 757 crashed in Somerset County.

The cockpit voice recorder, one of two black boxes aboard the plane, was found 25 feet below ground in the crater created when the plane struck the ground in Stonycreek.
FBI spokesman Bill Crowley said the recorder was found about 8:25 p.m. and was being flown to the National Transportation Safety Board offices in Washington.
The plane's other black box, the flight data recorder, which records information about the aircraft's speed, altitude, position and other information, was found in roughly the same spot on Thursday." - (09/15/01)


Sacred Ground in Pennsylvania

"The flight data recorder was located on September 13, some 15 feet underground. The following day, the cockpit voice recorder was unearthed at a depth of 25 feet.
In honor of Jim’s role in finding the black boxes, a United Airlines official presented him with a hat he treasures. It says, "I found the box." - (09/06)


Somerset Crash Site

"FBI and other investigators at the scene have excavated the crash site down to a depth of about 45 feet looking for clues. Digging a trench that deep requires special care to avoid cave-ins and constant monitoring to ensure any fumes from soil contaminated with jet fuel and hydraulic fluid do not present a hazard to emergency workers." - (09/16/01)


Memories of Flight 93 crash still fresh at 5-year anniversary
"...United Airlines Flight 93 roared out of the sky and slammed into the soft earth of a former strip mine near this small town on Sept. 11, 2001.
Many of those first to respond to the scene were surprised to find no corpses, no obvious wreckage -- only a smoking crater, singed trees and an eerie silence that made it seem at first as if there had been no plane at all.

The plane had burrowed into the soft, reclaimed earth of the former strip mine and crumpled like an accordion, he says.

Veteran FBI agent Michael Soohy had been to airplane crash scenes before, and he thought he knew what to expect: chaos, bodies, a hulking wreck of a jet.
"It's almost like a dart hitting a pile of flour. ... The plane went in, and the stuff back-filled right over it."

Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller had never handled a case with more than two deaths. On Sept. 11, he had to process 44 bodies -- or at least what little was left of them.
"We only recovered about 8 percent of potential remains," he says. "Most of the material was vaporized."
But from the fragments of bodies recovered from the site, Mr. Miller and other investigators were able to identify everyone on Flight 93: four hijackers and 40 passengers and crew." - (09/03/06)


Small town shoulders a nation's grief

"The site had been mined for coal, then refilled with dirt. It was still soft when Flight 93 crashed, and firefighters said the Boeing 757 tunneled right in. They had to dig 15 feet to find it." - St. Petersburg Times (09/10/03)


Support of strangers in Somerset County a boost to survivors of Flight 93 victims
"Yesterday, the impact crater was flanked by mounds of excavated dirt and heavy equipment.
FBI spokesman William Crowley said that rain would not halt operations but could complicate tasks such as sifting the material removed from the crater.
The excavated area within the wedge-shaped crater is now some 30 feet deep, and Crowley said investigators did not plan to go much deeper.
Recovery experts believe that the remaining 20 percent may yield an increasing concentration of evidence, human remains and effects.
As investigators have delved deeper below the impact point the material unearthed has become increasingly larger and more recognizable than the extremely fragmented debris found nearer the surface.
Crowley would not be more specific about the size or nature of any newly found items , but said, "As they go deeper, they're finding material that's more significant, I'll leave it at that." - (09/19/01)


Debunking the 9/11 Myths: Special Report - Flight 93

"Experts on the scene tell PM that a fan from one of the engines was recovered in a catchment basin, downhill from the crash site. Jeff Reinbold, the National Park Service representative responsible for the Flight 93 National Memorial, confirms the direction and distance from the crash site to the basin: just over 300 yards south, which means the fan landed in the direction the jet was traveling." - (02/03/05)


FBI finished with Pennsylvania crash site probe

"The FBI announced Monday that its investigation of the site where a hijacked jet slammed into a field here is complete and that 95 percent of the plane was recovered.
Evidence-gathering was halted Saturday afternoon and the pieces of United Airlines Flight 93 that had been recovered were turned over Sunday to the airline, with the exception of the flight data recorder and the voice recorder, which are being held and analyzed by the FBI, according to FBI agent Bill Crowley.
Crowley said the biggest piece of the plane that was recovered was a 6-by-7-foot piece of the fuselage skin, including about four windows. The heaviest piece, Crowley said, was part of an engine fan, weighing about 1,000 pounds. " - CNN (09/24/01)

Female Ambassador: "80% of the plane was in the crater"


Female Ambassador: "...before impact, [Flight 93] turned on its back and then it just telescoped into the ground. It hit at 580mph, which is cruising speed.
Gideon: How much of the plane was recovered?
Ambassador: Over 90%.
Gideon: Where was it -- was it all found in the crater?
Ambassador: Basically all in the crater.
There were few small pieces [above ground], but basically everything was recovered from in the ground."


Male Ambassador: "Because where the plane hit the ground, it literally went into the ground. They had to excavate and try and recover what they could and this top picture shows the excavation that they did. They excavated down about 40 to 45 feet and the last pieces were recovered at about 30 to 35 feet."


personal stories: instructions for the last night

"U.S. authorities found this letter handwritten in Arabic in the suitcase of Mohamed Atta. It includes Islamic prayers, instructions for a last night of life, and a practical checklist of reminders for the final operation... Additional copies of this letter were found at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania and at a Dulles International Airport parking lot in a car registered to one of the hijackers on American Flight 77." - PBS/Frontline


Flight 93 victims' effects to go back to families
"United Airlines Flight 93 slammed into the earth Sept. 11 near Shanksville, Somerset County, at more than 500 mph, with a ferocity that disintegrated metal, bone and flesh. It took more than three months to identify the remains of the 40 passengers and crew, and, by process of elimination, the four hijackers.
Those remains were gathered by the FBI and other investigators from the 50-foot-deep pit the Boeing 757 jet gouged in a reclaimed strip mine, and from the woods adjoining the crash site.
But searchers also gathered surprisingly intact mementos of lives lost.
Those items, such as a wedding ring and other jewelry, photos, credit cards, purses and their contents, shoes, a wallet and currency, are among seven boxes of identified personal effects salvaged from the site.
Since receiving the personal effects of Flight 93 passengers from the FBI in early November, Douglass has been preparing the items for return.
Around Thanksgiving, Jerry and Beatrice Guadagno of Ewing, N.J., received word that their son Richard's credentials and badge from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had been found by the FBI at the crash site.
"It was practically intact," Richard's sister, Lori, said of the credentials, which were returned in their wallet. "It just looked like it wasn't damaged or hadn't gone through much of anything at all, which is so bizarre and ironic." - (12/30/01)


The day that changed America

"Dave Fox did go out to Skyline Drive, to the old strip mine, abandoned in 1996.
He saw the smoke. He drove out in the funeral van, expecting a skid crash, with fire and fuselage chunks, and the tail off to one side. And a survivor or two, God willing.
They couldn't find the plane.
The plane pitched, then rolled, belly up. It hit nose-first, like a lawn dart. It disintegrated, digging more than 30 feet into the earth, which was spongy from the old mine work.
The hemlocks caught fire. The jet fuel pooled. The wind played with paper scraps: a Bible page, some bank-machine receipts, the corner of a business card.
Fox stepped over a seat back. He saw a wiring harness, and a piston. None of the other pieces was bigger than a TV remote.
He saw three chunks of torn human tissue.


The plane hit at about 575 mph. The cockpit and first-class cabin collapsed; the rest crumpled into it, the rivets giving, the fireball scorching everything.

Investigators crawled through the debris field, bagging bolts and bone fragments. They found chunks of seat cushion foam, and honeycombed sound insulators. Then a shoelace, some shirt buttons, and a wedding ring. Then part of a passport, and a necktie, still knotted.
He couldn't believe the scene. He saw the burnt trees, and some debris smoking in the dirt. He saw half a window frame. He saw shreds of that white cloth they put over the headrests.
He takes off his glasses, cleans them with his T-shirt. "This is the most eerie thing," he says. "I have not, to this day, seen a single drop of blood. Not a drop." - Pittsburgh Live (09/11/02)


Flight 93 crew material
"Description: This collection of flight attendant Lorraine Bay's artifacts recovered from the wreckage of United Airlines Flight 93 includes a personal logbook and an in-flight procedures manual." -


Flight 93 hijacker: 'Shall we finish it off?'

"The report says at least 10 passengers and two crew members contacted family, friends or others on the ground. They reported the hijackers were wearing red bandanas, forced passengers to the back of the plane and claimed a bomb was aboard, according to the report." - CNN (07/23/04)


Environmental Restoration Begins At Somerset Site, Residents Concerned About Well Water

"Three groundwater monitoring wells show no evidence of groundwater contamination and nearly 6,000 cubic yards of dirt sifted for human remains and aircraft debris will soon be returned to the crater left Sept. 11 by United Airlines Flight 93.

Environmental Resources Management of Wexford, Pa., will fill in the crater caused by the crash, which was dug 50 feet deep by recovery workers.

Betsy Mallison, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said that investigators still don't know how much jet fuel was spilled at the crash site. But whether it burned away or evaporated, much of it seems to have dissipated, Mallison said." - The Pittsburgh Channel (10/02/01)


Remains of the Day
"In Pennsylvania, Somerset County coroner Wallace E. Miller and his team scoured the "halo"—the field and woods surrounding the crater left when United Airlines Flight 93 plunged into the ground. The debris was everywhere. Trees were draped with scraps of luggage, clothing, bits of the fuselage and human remains. Walking through the crash site in the days after the attacks, Miller's eye caught a flash of light 20 feet up in the branches of a hemlock tree. "I only noticed it because the sun happened to hit it at just the right angle," he says. A tree climber brought it down. It was a single tooth with a silver filling. Eventually it was matched to one of the passengers.
In the first two weeks after 9/11, Miller and his team identified 16 of the 44 passengers and crew aboard Flight 93 through fingerprint and dental records.

Four of the DNA profiles from the Pennsylvania crash site didn't match material provided by the families of passengers and crew. By simple process of elimination, Smith knew these were the hijackers." - (01/03/09)


In the Senate of the United States
Monday, September 9, 2002; REMEMBERING ALAN BEAVEN; Hon. Dianne Feinstein of California
"Even though Alan's seat was in the back of the airplane, his remains were found in the cockpit at the crash site in Pennsylvania. The Beaven family has also heard Alan on the cockpit voice recorder, so it is clear that Alan, standing 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighing over 200 pounds, fought with the hijackers."
August 9, 2002.
Dear Senator Feinstein: My father, Alan Beaven, was among those 33 passengers of United Airlines flight 93. Their hurried steps toward the cockpit were the first in an international campaign against the threat of fanatical hostility. For this they should be celebrated.
Secondly, my father's remains were recovered in the front of the aircraft. Authorities confirmed that D.N.A. testing placed him in the cockpit at the time of impact. Again, given his seating placement, this evidence undoubtedly proves his centrality in the effort to regain custody of United's flight 93.
Sincerely, Chris Beaven
August 1, 2002.
Dear Senator Feinstein:
As you know, Alan's physical remains were found in the cockpit area of the plane. Alan was a 6 foot 3 inch, 205 lb powerful man.
Sincerely, Mrs. Kimberly Beaven.
ALAN BEAVEN: IN MEMORIAM; Hon. Barbara Boxer of california
"Alan Beaven was one of many heroes on flight 93 who, aware of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, chose to fight back against the hijacking terrorists. His voice was recognized by his family on the cockpit voice recorder, and his remains were found in the wreckage of the cockpit." -


*If Flight 93 weighed 60tons (US) minus any liquids and passengers and the average car weighed 4,000lbs.

"Pitch angle - Capt. (deg)" Reads at about 40 degrees

Source:  NTSB (PDF); NS Archive / Document 4 (PDF) [local] (Click pic for hi-res.)


"Figure 7 shows fuel flow and fuel remaining for UAL Flight 93, calculated in the same way as just described for AAL Flight 77.

Based on ACARS transmissions to the airplane, the fuel load on takeoff was 48,700 lb. This results in about 37,500 lb. [17.01 tons, 5,500 gal*]  of fuel remaining upon impact (the end of the DFDR data)." -NTSB (02/13/02)  [*One pound of jet fuel = 6.84 pounds per gallon.]

United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757.

"Flight 93 was going from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco. Thirty-three passengers, seven crew members and the four hijackers died." -ABC  (08/08/03) (Photo source:

Boeing 757 Specifications

Dimensions          Feet
Wing Span           124.10
Tail Height         44.6
Int. Cabin Width    11.7
Length              155.3
Cruise Speed        530 mph
Max Fuel Capacity   11,489 gal
Max Takeoff Weight  255,000lb [115 tons]

Max Range           3,900 - 4,520 miles

- Sources:  Boeing, FOX


The Boeing 757-200

Operating empty with P&W engines 57,840kg [57.84 tons] (127,520lb) -

(Map source:

Google satellite map location




Why is there such a discrepancy with the official crash angle vs. the angle reported by some witnesses?

"Miller recalled his arrival at the crash site about 20 minutes after the plane plummeted to the earth and described how the aircraft came down at a 45-degree angle." - (05/30/02)


On Hallowed Ground

"In its final moments, it spun 180 degrees, hitting the ground upside down and at a 45-degree angle." - The Age (09/09/02)


► Among the Heroes

"...the 757 had inverted and hit the spongy earth at a forty-five-degree angle..." - Author: Jere Longman

"A witness told WTAE-TV's Paul Van Osdol that she saw the plane overhead. It made a high-pitched, screeching sound. The plane then made a sharp, 90-degree downward turn and crashed. " - Pittsburgh Channel (09/11/01)

"It dropped out of the clouds," too low for a commercial flight, Butler said. The plane rose slightly, trying to gain altitude, then "it just went flip to the right and then straight down." - (09/12/01)

"The Boeing 757 still heavily laden with jet fuel slammed at about 575 mph almost straight down into a rolling patch of grassy land that had long ago been strip-mined for coal." - Washington Post (05/12/02)

"It was flying erratically and wobbling right and left, at a low altitude of roughly 2,500 feet. Its right wing dipped down suddenly and the jetliner plunged into the earth at nearly a 90-degree angle.
"...It was flippin' from one side to the other. When it went nose down straight into the ground, I looked at my watch, and it was 10:07 a.m." - Standard-Times (09/11/02)




Is it just a coincidence that Lee Purbaugh was the only person to have witnessed something actually crash into the ground, that he was ex-military, and only on his 2nd day on the job?


"Lee Purbaugh, 32, was the only person to see the last seconds of Flight 93 as it came down on former strip-mining land at precisely 10.06am..." - (09/12/02)

The crash in Somerset: 'It dropped out of the clouds'

"Lee Purbaugh, 32, working just his second day at Rollock Inc., a scrap yard next to the reclaimed strip-mine land, looked up from operating a burning torch to see the jetliner just 40 feet above him.
"I heard it for 10 or 15 seconds and it sounded like it was going full bore," said Tim Lensbouer, 35, Purbaugh's coworker.
The ground shook and the air thundered as the jetliner slammed into the ground about 300 yards away, Purbaugh said." -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (09/12/01)

Unanswered questions: The mystery of Flight 93

"The fate of United Airlines Flight 93, the last of the four hijacked planes to go down in the United States on 11 September, holds no mystery for Lee Purbaugh. He saw what happened with his own eyes. He was the only person present in the field where, at 10.06am, the aircraft hit the ground.

"There was an incredibly loud rumbling sound and there it was, right there, right above my head – maybe 50ft up," says Purbaugh, who works at a scrapyard overlooking the crash site. "It was only a split second but it looked like it was moving in slow motion, like it took forever. I saw it rock from side to side then, suddenly, it dipped and dived, nose first, with a huge explosion, into the ground. I knew immediately that no one could possibly have survived."

Purbaugh, who served three years in the US Navy..." - (10/24/02)




What did the county coroner say about finding bodies or blood at the crash scene?

"It was as if the plane had stopped and let the passengers off before it crashed," Miller said." - Pittsburg Post Gazette (10/15/01)

"Miller was among the very first to arrive after 10:06 on the magnificently sunny morning of September 11. Once he was able to absorb the scene, Miller says, "I stopped being coroner after about 20 minutes, because there were no bodies there. It became like a giant funeral service."

Thousands of people -- the locals estimate up to 1,000 a week -- have arrived at an old coal-mining access trail called Skyline Road, where finally they can see what remains of Flight 93: nothing. "There's not really much to it, is there?" Wally Miller often says to families and other visitors who are bewildered by what they don't see.

Immediately after the crash, the seeming absence of human remains led the mind of coroner Wally Miller to a surreal fantasy: that Flight 93 had somehow stopped in mid-flight and discharged all of its passengers before crashing. "There was just nothing visible," he says. "It was the strangest feeling." It would be nearly an hour before Miller came upon his first trace of a body part." - Washington Post (05/12/02)

"No bodies were recovered here, at least not as we normally think of bodies. In the cataclysmic violence of the crash, the people on Flight 93 literally disintegrated. Searchers found fragments of bones, small pieces of flesh, a hand. But no bodies." - Miami Herald (09/07/02)

"Wallace Miller, the lanky, Civil War-studying county coroner, did see it. He sat at the family funeral home, his father, Wilbur, with him. They watched the second plane sweep in low, from nowhere. They winced when it hit.
He takes off his glasses, cleans them with his T-shirt. "This is the most eerie thing," he says. "I have not, to this day, seen a single drop of blood. Not a drop." - Pittsburgh Live (09/11/02)




What are the odds that 100% of the 44 passengers were ID'd from only 8% of total remains that were found outside the crater, even though we are told 80% of the plane plunged underground and the passengers were located in the front and back of the plane upon impact?

Hallowed Ground
"As coroner, responsible for returning human remains, Miller has been forced to share with the families information that is unimaginable. As he clinically recounts to them, holding back very few details, the 33 passengers, seven crew and four hijackers together weighed roughly 7,000 pounds. They were essentially cremated together upon impact. Hundreds of searchers who climbed the hemlocks and combed the woods for weeks were able to find about 1,500 mostly scorched samples of human tissue totaling less than 600 pounds, or about 8 percent of the total." - (05/12/02)




Was it just a coincidence that the crash happened right next to a service road for easy access to the site?

Red line = plane outline

Orange dotted line = service road

Green dotted line = fire damage


(Click pic for hi-res.)

Google satellite map location




Who are the landowners of the crash site area?

Flight 93 crash site touted as memorial to victims

"The landowners, a pair of coal companies, said yesterday that they are inclined to donate the ground to become a permanent memorial to the passengers and crew of the Boeing 757.
"If we have a say about it, there's no problem with it," John Weir, land manager with PBS Coals Inc., said yesterday.
"I'd be willing to cooperate in whatever way I could," said Michael Svonavec, secretary-treasurer of the local coal company Svonavec Inc. "It's a site of national interest -- certainly, the way I see it, where we as Americans fought back against terrorism."
Precisely which parts of the site PBS Coals and Svonavec own has yet to be determined. It is hidden from nearby roads, and officials from the companies have not been allowed to examine the well-guarded site." (09/20/01)

Scene of utter destruction

"The crash site is a former strip mine owned by PBS Coal Co. and is known locally as the Diamond T. Mine." - (09/12/01)

American Heroes Changed the Course of United Flight 93
"Purbaugh’s second day on the job at Rollock Inc., a scrap metal company which owns the Diamond T mine, a former PBS Coals dig directly about the crash site, came with a shocking surprise." - Daily American (09/12/01) [transcribed]

DEP Working with Coal Company to Address Mine Drainage Issues at Proposed Flight 93 Memorial Site

"DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty met with officials of the PBS Coal Co. at the site of the proposed memorial for Flight 93 in Stoneycreek Township, Somerset County. The National Park Service is looking to purchase additional property for the permanent Flight 93 Memorial. This property is part of the large Diamond T Mine Complex that once included two surface and three deep mines. While PBS Coal Co. has completed the reclamation of the Diamond T surface area, there is still work to be done on addressing mine drainage on the site." - (10/29/04)

More land donated for Flight 93 memorial

"A coal company will donate 29 acres, including part of the site where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, and will become the third group to give away land that could be used for a national memorial.
PBS Coals Inc., based in Friedens, Somerset County, announced Tuesday that it was giving the land to The Conservation Fund, an Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit group working with Somerset County landowners and officials to preserve land for a memorial for the 40 passengers and crew who died on the flight.
With the coal company's donation, officials have garnered 175 of the 1,500 acres that a federal panel has said it would like for a permanent memorial around the crash site.
Last week, Pittsburgh-based Consol Energy announced that it had donated 140 acres of company-owned land. Last year, Tim Lambert, a Harrisburg-area resident, donated six acres to the nonprofit Families of Flight 93 Inc.
The National Park Service will lead a federal commission in designing a memorial to be placed at the crash site. President Bush has ordered that the design be completed and delivered to the Interior Department and Congress by 2005." - (12/11/03)

About WITF FM 89.5 News:

Tim Lambert
Morning Edition host/reporter

"Since September 11, 2001, Tim has spent much of his time in Shanksville, Somerset County, where he owns some of the United Flight 93 crash site, working to assure the property will be home to a fitting memorial." -WITF




Is it just a coincidence that the C-130 military cargo plane seen flying near the Pennsylvania crash site was the same one that allegedly saw Flight 77 before it supposedly crashed into the Pentagon?

"A C-130 military cargo plane was also within 25 miles of the passenger jet when it crashed, FBI spokesman Bill Crowley said yesterday, but was not diverted." -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (9/16/01)

"Lt. Col. Steve O'Brien started his day at the controls of a Minnesota National Guard C-130 cargo plane. He and his crew were heading back to the Twin Cities after moving military supplies around the Caribbean. About 9:30 a.m., O'Brien throttled the lumbering plane down a runway at Andrews Air Force Base, just southeast of the District of Columbia.
"When we took off, we headed north and west and had a beautiful view of the Mall," he said. "I noticed this airplane up and to the left of us, at 10 o'clock. He was descending to our altitude, four miles away or so. That's awful close, so I was surprised he wasn't calling out to us.
"It was like coming up to an intersection. When air traffic control asked me if we had him in sight, I told him that was an understatement - by then, he had pretty much filled our windscreen. Then he made a pretty aggressive turn so he was moving right in front of us, a mile and a half, two miles away. I said we had him in sight, then the controller asked me what kind of plane it was.
"That caught us up, because normally they have all that information. The controller didn't seem to know anything."
O'Brien reported that the plane was either a 757 or 767 and its silver fuselage meant it was probably an American Airlines jet. "They told us to turn and follow that aircraft - in 20-plus years of flying, I've never been asked to do something like that. With all of the East Coast haze, I had a hard time picking him out.
"The next thing I saw was the fireball. It was huge. I told Washington the airplane has impacted the ground. Shook everyone up pretty good. I told them the approximate location was close to the Potomac. I figured he'd had some in-flight emergency and was trying to get back on the ground to Washington National. Suddenly, I could see the outline of the Pentagon. It was horrible. I told Washington this thing has impacted the west side of the Pentagon."
O'Brien asked the controller whether he should set up a low orbit around the building but was told to get out of the area as quickly as possible. "I took the plane once through the plume of smoke and thought if this was a terrorist attack, it probably wasn't a good idea to be flying through that plume."
He flew west, not exactly sure where he was supposed to land. Somewhere over western Pennsylvania, O'Brien looked down at a blackened, smoldering field. "I hoped it was just a tire fire or something, but when I checked with Cleveland center, he told me he'd just lost a guy off the scope pretty close to where we saw it. By then, we were able to patch in AM radio, so we heard about all the planes. It was like a domino effect - a really bad day for airplanes."
He finally landed at the Youngstown, Ohio, airport. "For awhile there, almost every night, I found myself stone awake at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. Took awhile to get over it." - Minnesota Star-Tribune (09/11/02) [Reprint at:  Cooperative Research]

"Northern Virginia resident John O’Keefe was one of the many commuters who witnessed the attack on the Pentagon.
“The eeriest thing about it, was that it was like you were watching a movie. There was no huge explosion, no huge rumbling on ground, it just went ‘pfff.’ It wasn’t what I would have expected for a plane that was not much more than a football field away from me.
“The first thing I did was pull over onto the shoulder, and when I got out of the car I saw another plane flying over my head, and it scared, because I knew there had been two planes that hit the World Trade Center. And I started jogging up the ramp to get as far away as possible.
“Then the plane -- it looked like a C-130 cargo plane -- started turning away from the Pentagon, it did a complete turnaround." -  New York Law Journal (09/12/01)

- See also: Flight 77 witnesses




Was it just a coincidence that a simulated terrorist attack was being conducted in neighboring Westmoreland county just 2 1/2 months before that attacks and that the neighboring Cambria County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) had a meeting hosted by a member of the PA Air National Guard on Sept. 10 discussing the County's hazmat team and equipment purchases regarding terrorism/hazmat response?


"On June 16, 2001 the Department of Public Safety and the County Local Emergency Planning Committee conducted the largest full-scale emergency exercise ever conducted in the County. The exercise, called Mall Strike 2001, occurred at Greengate Mall and involved over 600 emergency first responders and emergency managers who responded to a weapons of mass destruction event involving the simulated release of a toxic chemical agent and the simulated release of radiation and radiological contamination. The exercise was a major training success.
The department dedicated its new Public Safety and 9-1-1 Center, located at 911 Public Safety Road in Hempfield Township, on September 11, 2001. This long awaited day was marred, however, by the terrorist attacks on the United States that also occurred on that date. In response to those attacks, the first official action at the new Center involved several days of 24 hour operations in the new County Emergency Operations Center.
The 9-1-1 Center was the only Center that had direct cell-phone communications with a passenger on United Flight 93. United Flight 93 was the aircraft that crashed in Somerset County." - Westmoreland County

In the wake of Sept. 11, just how safe are we?

"...officials with Westmoreland and Fayette counties and local municipalities say security hasn't been increased. Rather, security plans were in place before Sept. 11 and communications channels exist between Fayette, Westmoreland and its neighboring counties in preparation for a terrorist attack.

Daniel Stevens, public information officer for Westmoreland County's Department of Public Safety, said the department has held trainings for fire departments and municipal officials when these are requested. The department, just 2 1/2 months before the terrorist attacks, held a training drill simulating a terrorist attack. "When the terrorists struck the World Trade Center, Flight 93 was above Westmoreland County and actually wound up in Shanksville," stated Stevens.
Stevens said that Westmoreland County is one of 13 southwestern Pennsylvania counties and the City of Pittsburgh that make up a regional task force on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Also included is Fayette County, according to Roy Shipley, director of Fayette County's Emergency Management agency." - Courier (09/11/02)

U.S. Department of Homeland Security FEMA Preparedness Smart Practices Spotlight

A Regional Approach to Terrorism and All-Hazards Preparedness Pennsylvania Region 13 Working Group
"Summary: In 1998, 12 Pennsylvania counties and the City of Pittsburgh together became the first group in the state to try a regional approach to terrorism preparedness.

While attending a Pennsylvania emergency management conference in 1998, a number of county emergency managers began to discuss threats of terrorism and the resources needed to respond effectively should a weapons of mass destruction incident occur in their region. In searching for a way to pool their resources, they created the Pennsylvania Region 13 Working Group.
Since formalizing the mutual aid and inter-government agreements, the Region 13 Working Group has established an incident command system for response operations, created a Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS), and developed plans and procedures for surveillance and notifications, and mass immunization and fatality management. They have organized major training exercises such as "Mall Strike 2001," a simulated nerve agent and radiological incident; a simulated gas attack exercise in the Pittsburgh subway system; and a full-scale exercise testing the ability of 27 hospitals in three of the 13 counties to decontaminate victims of a chemical attack.
When United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in rural Somerset County on Sept.11, 2001, the chair of the working group was immediately in touch with other members of the group and emergency teams were deployed swiftly to the site. The group's four years of working together and preparing for terrorist events allowed them to develop and train teams that could work efficiently together during an event of this magnitude." - FEMA (03/12/03)


The 3rd quarter meeting of the Cambria County Local Emergency Planning Committee was conducted on September 10th in the air traffic control tower at the John Murtha Johnstown Cambria County Airport in Richland Township. Sergeant James Koshute of the 258 Air Traffic Control Squadron from the Pennsylvania Air National Guard served as the host. In addition to Sergeant Koshute, other LEPC members in attendance were Michael Hoover, Ron Springer, Ralph Saylor, Bernie McCreadie, June Kania, Mike Huss, Vikki King, Georgia Lehman and Leah Spangler.
Information was presented on the following issues and topics: the County hazmat team's successful team- technician certification from Bucks County Community College; completed HMEP training and preparedness grants for year 2001; applications for HMEP training and preparedness grants for year 2002; the 2000-2001 Hazardous Commodity Flow Study compiled by the Cambria County Department of Emergency Services; and equipment purchases regarding terrorism/hazmat response." - (09/01)


"The 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron is a geographically separated unit of the 171st ARW, and is located at the John P. Murtha Cambria County Airport in Johnstown Pennsylvania. Although the 258th only has 80 members, its mission is integral to the successful and safe operations of USAF, DOD, and allied aircraft at CONUS and OCONUS airfields." -


(Note: John Murtha Cambria County Airport is approx. 19 miles N of the crash site according to Google Earth.  See also:  9/10- 9/11: The Johnstown "Terror Team" Cover-up - Team8Plus)


The 20 most corrupt members of Congress (and five to watch):  Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) -




Any coincidence that a Raytheon and Northrop defense contractor is in the same county where Flight 93 crashed, or that Shanksville is a military flight corridor?

Pitt program takes first-response technologies from lab to market

"For a dozen years, Kuchera Defense Systems in Somerset County has built a robust business producing high-tech equipment for military defense customers such as Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and McDonnell Douglas." - Pittsburg Post Gazette (10/14/05)


Kuchera Defense Systems, 345 Hillside Drive, Windber, PA 15963

(Approx. 13 miles from crash site (Google Earth).  Driving distance from Windber, PA to Shanksville, PA = 22.1 miles.)

Our Customers:



Raytheon Awarding $10 Million in Contracts to Kuchera
"JOHNSTOWN, June 1, 2001 — Raytheon Company is awarding Kuchera Defense Systems of Windber five contracts totaling $10 million to manufacture electronic circuit cards, cables/harness assemblies, and other components for various radar, missile and sensor programs, according to an announcement made here today by U.S. Rep. John Murtha and officials of both companies." - (06/01/01)


Witnesses Recall Plane Crash
"A plane going over Shanksville wasn't anything unusual because it is a military flight corridor, said Kelly Leverknight, who lives in Shanksville, just a couple miles from the crash scene." - Daily American (2001) [Reprinted:]


corridor - Restricted airspace for the passage of aircraft.





Site Off Limits


The crash site almost three years later. The site remains protected and visitors are not allowed to get closer than this point. -

The Somerset County Police maintain the Memorial and have an officer on site twenty-four hours a day.

A Fence Surrounds the Crash Site of Flight 93


To preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic.


Killtown Flight 93



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