Did Flight 93 Crash in Shanksville?

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Last updated:  09/13/2010

Suspicious Debris


If Flight 93 and all of it's passengers disintegrated upon impact in which only small pieces were found, then how did fragile items made of paper, plastic, and fabric survive the crash so well intact?

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Red bandana recovered from the United Airlines Flight 93 crash site -

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Photograph of the personal effects of CeeCee Lyles found at the scene in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed. -


"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.
For example, about two weeks ago, FBI agents presented the wedding ring and wallet of passenger Andrew Garcia to his wife, Dorothy, in Portola Valley, Calif.
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.
The families of college student Toshiya Kuge of Tokyo and computer specialist Waleska Martinez of Jersey City, N.J., already have claimed some of their remains. Miller said Martinez's family took possession of her remains within weeks of the crash -- she was one of the first victims identified -- and Kuge's did the same before Thanksgiving.
Miller identified the last of the bodies Dec. 19. He is still doing DNA tests on additional tissue samples.
Hendrix said the personal effects that survived the crash were ejected from the plane at the moment of impact.
In the meantime, Douglass is refurbishing jewelry, straightening credit cards and photos with steam heat, and topically disinfecting most other items.
When the FBI releases to Douglass the "unassociated" material gathered from the crash site -- items that haven't been matched to an individual on Flight 93 -- the company will photograph each item and compile a catalog for victims' families. Members can then make claims for items they recognize.
Miller said Douglass also was helping with the disposition of unidentifiable remains from the site." -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (12/30/01)

"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.


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.

Wallace Miller, the lanky, Civil War-studying county coroner, did see it.
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." - Pittsburgh Live (09/11/02)

'Fighting' knife found in Flight 93 wreckage

FBI investigators found a stout "fighting" knife among the wreckage at the United Airlines Flight 93 crash site in western Pennsylvania, says a federal official who reviewed photographs of evidence at FBI headquarters here.
It's no secret that Islamic terrorists carried knives on board Flight 93 and the three other planes they hijacked on Sept. 11, but they were widely thought to be box cutters and possibly other short-bladed knives.
Any knife with a blade less than four inches, including box cutters, was allowed on planes under Federal Aviation Administration rules before the attacks.
"One of the knives found at the crash site in Pennsylvania was one of those belt-clip, serrated, locking-blade knives," the official said. "Its design is purely and simply a fighting knife."
He added: "Knives such as these should not have been allowed through (airport) checkpoints," assuming the knife was not stowed in checked baggage.
The FBI declined to comment on the Flight 93 knife.
"That would be considered evidence in an active investigation, so we can't comment," said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson." -WorldNetDaily (03/22/02)

"Hijacking Letter Found at Three Locations" - FBI (09/28/01)

"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. The FBI released an untranslated copy of the letter; the British newspaper The Observer published this translation. 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.

"When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, 'Allahu Akbar,' because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers." -PBS/Frontline




How did these large pieces of fuselage debris escape being burned, or buried and land outside in the forest under the cover of trees and why did it take so long for these photos to be released?

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Photograph of an airplane part found at the scene in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed. -

What happened to the interior side and insulation from this windowed fuselage piece?

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Photograph of an airplane part found at the scene in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed. -




If a Boeing 757 burrowed itself down to 45ft below the ground of "soft dirt" and its voice recorder was found at 25ft under, then how come one of its alleged engines, the strongest and heaviest part of the plane, only managed to barely penetrate underground and why is there no other plane debris near it in the crater?

(Photo source:

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)

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)

Exh. GX-P200060 (intr'd: 04/11/2006)  Photograph of an airplane part found in the crater at the scene in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed. -

September 11, 2001 - The FAA Responds

"Thursday night, as the backhoe was moving mounds of dirt in a crater that was about 30 feet deep, the flight data recorder fell to the ground. The cockpit voice recorder was found later." -FAA

2 planes had no part in crash of Flight 93
"The voice recorder would have picked up the last 30 minutes of conversation in the cockpit, unless the hijackers turned it off or it was too severely damaged in the crash. It was found around 8:25 p.m. Thursday, 25 feet below the ground in the crater gouged out by the doomed jet. It appeared to be in good condition." -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (09/16/01)




If Flight 93 nosedived in the ground at nearly 90 deg and one of its engines was found in the crater, how did its other engine wind up hundreds of yards away from the crater near a pond behind the forest?

Blue circle is where Popular Mechanics say an engine was found in or near the pond behind the crash site.  (Map source:

Pond is about 300 yd SE from the crater (Google Earth).

(Satellite map:  Google. Click photo for hi-res.)

Small pond seen near upper middle of photo to the left of the "reddish" tree.  (Photo source:; mirrored at:

Black box recovered at Shanksville site

"State police Maj. Lyle Szupinka said investigators also will be searching a pond behind the crash site looking for the other recorder and other debris. If necessary, divers may be brought in to assist search teams, or the pond may be drained, he said.

Szupinka said searchers found one of the large engines from the aircraft "at a considerable distance from the crash site.”
It appears to be the whole engine,” he added." -Pittsburgh Live (09/14/01)

Flight 93 probe involved trooper with local ties

"I found a lot of parts," said Marshall, who was awarded a 2000 Law Enforcement Agency Directors award for identifying a man nearly four years after he was found murdered.
"The biggest part I found was one of the plane's engines. It was about 600 yards from the crash site itself. I think they took it out with a winch on a bulldozer."
Marshall, who served four years in the Air Force, said he found many parts that he couldn't specifically identify.
Whenever he found a suspected part, he would notify the FBI or United employees." - (10/08/01) [Wayback]

On Hallowed Ground
"A section of the engine, weighing almost a tonne, was found on the bed of a catchment pond, 200 metres downhill." - The Age (09/09/02)

Town embraces role it never sought
"While the FBI and other authorities have said the plane was mostly obliterated by the 500 mph impact, they also said a 1,000-pound piece of one of the engines was found "a considerable distance" from the crater in the wide open spaces of the Svonavec Coal Co." -Standard-Times (09/11/02)




How did debris from the crash site, including human remains, travel up to 8 miles away?

America Under Attack: FBI and State Police Cordon Off Debris Area Six to Eight Miles from Crater Where Plane Went Down
"DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we want to take our viewers live to Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Our Brian Cabell is standing by. This of course is the site where United Airlines flight 93 crashed on its way from Newark to San Francisco, crashed on Tuesday, and I understand, in this investigation, there's some breaking news.  Brian, what can you tell us?
BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, in the last hour or so, the FBI and the state police here have confirmed that have they cordoned off a second area about six to eight miles away from the crater here where plane went down. This is apparently another debris site, which raises a number of questions. Why would debris from the plane -- and they identified it specifically as being from this plane -- why would debris be located 6 miles away. Could it have blown that far away. It seems highly unlikely. Almost all the debris found at this site is within 100 yards, 200 yards, so it raises some question. We don't want to overspeculate of course. But there were some cell phone callers, one cell phone caller in particular, who said saw a bomb, or something that looked like a bomb with one of the hijackers. Also, the man who took over the plane apparently announced at one point, he had -- there was a bomb on board the plane.
Again, we don't want to speculate, we don't want to jump to conclusions. But what we do know is that there's a site about half mile behind me, where the plane went down, where most of the debris is, and then about six miles away up by a lake, there is another area that's been cordoned off, and state police and the FBI have said definitely there is debris from the plane located there. We have a crew on the way right now. We should have pictures of that a little bit later on.
KAGAN: Which was first question, so I'll move on to my next one, Brian.
WE don't want to speculate about this large debris field. But it seems to me from covering a number of plane crashes on the scene, that if nothing else, this is not typical for a plane crash to be spread across an area this large.
CABELL: It's certainly doesn't make sense, because most of the debris has been found in a very compact area, within 100 yards, 200 yards, maybe a little bit beyond that. Then all of a sudden they're telling us six miles away, they have another concentration of debris, very small pieces. Most peoples here no bigger than the size of briefcase. The debris six miles away may be smaller. We have talked to a number of individuals here. They say they have talked to people who saw this plane during the final moments. They haven't confirmed whether they saw -- whether they talked to anybody who saw this plane actually land, or crash rather, and as to whether it broke up on the way, we don't know that. The FBI being very tight-lipped about that.
But again, at It leads to that possibility. It certainly leads to a number of questions." - CNN (09/13/01)

Black box recovered at Shanksville site

"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.

Crowley said the recorders from Flight 93 did not send out any emissions. It was discovered by an “integrated search team” of state police and federal

Forensic archaeologists and anthropologists were among experts who came to the site yesterday to aid investigators in searching the wide debris field to help retrieve potential evidence and human remains.
Crowley said the FBI and NTSB have not determined whether a bomb exploded inside the aircraft before it crashed. Residents of nearby Indian Lake reported seeing debris falling from the jetliner as it overflew the area shortly before crashing." -Pittsburgh Live (09/14/01)

2 planes had no part in crash of Flight 93; Business jet, military cargo plane were in area of hijacked United Flight 93

"Two other airplanes were flying near the hijacked United Airlines jet when it crashed in Somerset County, but neither had anything to do with the airliner's fate, the FBI said yesterday.
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.
Debris from the crash has been found up to 8 miles from the crash site, but searchers are concentrating on the crater where most of the remains are located. Papers and other light objects were carried aloft by the explosion after impact of the plane and they were transported by a nine-knot wind." -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (09/16/01)


"India Lake also contributes to the view there was an explosion on board before the Newark-San Francisco flight came down. Debris rained down on the lake - a curious feat if, as the US government insists, there was no mid-air explosion and the plane was intact until it hit the ground.
"It was mainly mail, bits of in-flight magazine and scraps of seat cloth," Tom said. "The authorities say it was blown here by the wind." But there was only a 10mph breeze and you were a mile and a half away? Tom raised his eyebrows, rolled his eyes and said: "Yeah, that's what they reckon."
Light debris was also found eight miles away in New Baltimore. A section of engine weighing a ton was located 2,000 yards - over a mile -from the crash site. Theorists point out a Sidewinder heat-seeking missile attacks the hottest part of aircraft - the engine.
The authorities say the impact bounced it there. But the few pieces of surviving fuselage, local coroner Wallace Miller told us, were "no bigger than a carrier bag". -Daily Mirror (09/13/02)

Investigators locate 'black box' from Flight 93; widen search area in Somerset crash

"Finding the flight data recorder had been the focus of investigators as they widened their search area today following the discoveries of more debris, including what appeared to be human remains, miles from the point of impact at a reclaimed coal mine.
Residents and workers at businesses outside Shanksville, Somerset County, reported discovering clothing, books, papers and what appeared to be human remains. Some residents said they collected bags-full of items to be turned over to investigators. Others reported what appeared to be crash debris floating in Indian Lake, nearly six miles from the immediate crash scene.
Workers at Indian Lake Marina said that they saw a cloud of confetti-like debris descend on the lake and nearby farms minutes after hearing the explosion that signaled the crash at 10:06 a.m. Tuesday.
He also said the National Transportation Safety Board has told investigators that the plane, which began its flight in Newark, N.J., was flying east when it crashed but could provide no other information about its path or intended target.
In a morning briefing, state Police Major Lyle Szupinka confirmed that debris from the plane had turned up in relatively far-flung sites, including the residential area of Indian Lake. Investigators appealed to any residents who had come across such debris, in the surrounding countryside or even in their yards, to contact them, emphasizing that even the smallest remnants could prove to be important clues.
In response to a question on recurring rumors that the plane might have been shot down, Crowley said that at this stage of the investigation, no possibility was being ruled out. He stressed, however, that no evidence had surfaced to support that theory.
Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown, noted and discounted the same speculation here Tuesday, saying that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield had assured him that the government had not shot down the hijacked plane to prevent it from hitting a potential target." -Pittsburg Post Gazette (09/13/01)




If a plane didn't crash in Shanksville, then what caused the crater and where could have some of the small pieces of metal debris that was reported all over the place come from?

Notice there is no fire damage outside the the crater. (Photo source:  Click for larger image.)

"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." - Washington Post (05/12/02)

"The plane, too, was decimated. The largest pieces were the size of suitcases, the smallest the size of dimes.
"It just looked like somebody just dropped a bunch of metal out of the sky," Miller said." - Houston Chronicle (09/08/02)


"Before Miller can even unfold his lanky 6-foot-4 body from the vehicle, a deputy sheriff thrusts at him a plastic baggie containing a handful of jagged metallic nuggets, mangled and melted into irregular shapes, little bigger than children's marbles." - Washington Post (05/12/02)

"Szupinka said most of the remaining debris, scattered over a perimeter that stretches for several miles, are in pieces no bigger than a “briefcase.”
“If you were to go down there, you wouldn’t know that was a plane crash,” he continued.  The debris is very, very small.
The best I can describe it is if you’ve ever been to a commercial landfill. When it’s covered and you have papers flying around. You have papers blowing around and bits and pieces of shredded metal." - Pittsburgh Live (09/14/01)

"If you would go down there, it would look like a trash heap," said state police Capt. Frank Monaco. "There's nothing but tiny pieces of debris. It's just littered with small pieces." - (09/12/01)

"Bits of metal were thrown against a tree line like shrapnel, said state police spokesman Trooper Thomas Spallone of Troop A in Greensburg.
There are just shreds of metal. The longest piece I saw was 2 feet long." - (09/12/01)

Property owners try to put past behind them

"Some visitors to the Flight 93 temporary memorial look across the abandoned strip mine in Stonycreek Township and mistake the pile of scrap they see for debris from the hijacked jetliner.

But only shards of the plane were found by investigators after it plummeted into the ground one year ago today.
The mangled heap of iron and steel actually belongs to Rollock Inc., a scrap metal business owned and managed by the father-and-son team of Tony and Chris Kordell of Bedford County.
The property they purchased three years ago abuts the crash site, which lies just several yards beyond the perimeter of the Kordells' land." - (09/11/02)


(*Remember that the only reported witness to actually see Flight 93 reportedly crash was Lee Purbaugh, who was ex-Navy and only on his 2nd day of work at Rollock.)

Rollock Inc - 156 Rollock Rd, Stoystown, PA

(About .4 miles away. google map. Click photo for hi-res.)


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Killtown Flight 93



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