"WE HAVE SOME PLANES"
"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]
"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
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
Washington Post (05/12/02)
"In its final
moments, it spun 180 degrees, hitting the ground upside down and at a
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
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
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,
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
“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)
WHAT DID HAPPEN TO FLIGHT 93?
"Lee Purbaugh, 32,
the only person to see the last seconds of Flight 93 as it came down
on former strip-mining land at precisely 10.06am..." -
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." -
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
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." -
American Heroes Changed the Course of United Flight 93
"...Purbaugh, who was at the wreckage within minutes after the
"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
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." -
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.” -
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." -
"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
interview of Wally Miller by Domenick DiMaggio (Sept. 2008) [See also:
Officials claim Flight 93's cockpit 'broke off' into the woods; remains were
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." -
witf.org (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:
(July 2002, p. 231)
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." -
Will black box reveal Flight 93's last
"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." -
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."
Sacred Ground in Pennsylvania
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
Somerset Crash Site
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." -
Memories of Flight 93 crash still fresh at
"...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
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
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." -
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
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
"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." -
Debunking the 9/11 Myths: Special Report -
"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." -
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
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. " -
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."
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." -
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
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
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
"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." -
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
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
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." -
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." -
Environmental Restoration Begins At Somerset Site, Residents Concerned About
"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
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." -
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.
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.
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.