Did Flight 93 Crash in Shanksville?

intro • official claim • timeline • unusual crater • suspicious debris • flight recorders • mysterious white aircraft

witnesses • hijackers & passengers • theories • news articles • image gallery • crash comparisons • links

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Last updated:  09/13/2010


Mysterious Small White Unmarked Aircraft



Witnesses to the mystery aircraft before the 'crash'


Shocking eyewitness account by Susan McElwain!

(She did not witness an A-10 'Warthog' fighter plane as previously speculated.)

"Susan McElwain:  It was pure white, there wasn't any markings on it, there was no rivets. It was that close I would have seen them. It was so molded like it was all one piece... It was cylinder, it came back and this spoiler was across it.
Terrorcell: And there were no wings or...?
Susan: I did not see any wings.
Terrorcell: What do you think it was?
Susan:  I can only go by what other people have said to me cuz at the time I thought it was a plane. But like that guy from California who mailed me a bunch of pictures and that guy from Bedford who sent me a bunch of pictures, they all said the same thing that it had to be a missile or an unmanned plane or something..." - Interviewed by Terrorcell and Sam Ettaro.


Susan McElwain, 51 - who lives two miles from the site, knows what she saw - the white plane rocketed directly over her head.
"It came right over me, I reckon just 40 or 50ft above my mini-van," she recalled. "It was so low I ducked instinctively. It was traveling real fast, but hardly made any sound.
"Then it disappeared behind some trees. A few seconds later I heard this great explosion and saw this fireball rise up over the trees, so I figured the jet had crashed. The ground really shook. So I dialed 911 and told them what happened.
"I'd heard nothing about the other attacks and it was only when I got home and saw the TV that I realized it wasn't the white jet, but Flight 93.
I didn't think much more about it until the authorities started to say there had been no other plane. The plane I saw was heading right to the point where Flight 93 crashed and must have been there at the very moment it came down.
"There's no way I imagined this plane - it was so low it was virtually on top of me. It was white with no markings but it was definitely military, it just had that look.
"It had two rear engines, a big fin on the back like a spoiler on the back of a car and with two upright fins at the side. I haven't found one like it on the internet. It definitely wasn't one of those executive jets. The FBI came and talked to me and said there was no plane around.
"Then they changed their story and tried to say it was a plane taking pictures of the crash 3,000ft up.
"But I saw it and it was there before the crash and it was 40ft above my head. They did not want my story - nobody here did."
Mrs Mcelwain, who looks after special needs children, is further convinced the whole truth has yet to come out because of a phone call she had within hours from the wife of an air force friend of the family.
"She said her husband had called her that morning and said 'I can't talk, but we've just shot a plane down,' " Susan said. "I presumed they meant Flight 93. I have no doubt those brave people on board tried to do something, but I don't believe what happened on the plane brought it down.
"If they shot it down, or something else happened, everyone, especially the victims' families, have a right to know." - Daily Mirror (9/13/02)

"Susan Mcelwain of Stonycreek Township said a small white jet with rear engines and no discernible markings swooped low over her minivan near an intersection and disappeared over a hilltop, nearly clipping the tops of trees lining the ridge.
It was less than a minute later, Mcelwain said, that the ground shook and a white plume of smoke appeared over the ridge. "It was so close to me I ducked," Mcelwain said. "I heard it hit and saw the smoke. All I could think of was how close I came to dying. "
- The Bergen Record (9/14/01)

(Video clip:  livevideo)

Tom Spinelli, 28 - was working at India Lake Marina, a mile and a half away. "I saw the white plane," he said.
"It was flying around all over the place like it was looking for something. I saw it before and after the crash."
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." -Daily Mirror (9/13/02)

More - Another Somerset County resident, Tom Spinello, said that he saw the plane. He said that it had high back wings. -The Pittsburgh Channel (9/12/01)

Val McClatchey - Val McClatchey heard the 757 roar over Indian Lake, three miles east of where it would crash. She had been watching the "Today" show, with footage from New York, and now the Pentagon.

She looked out the window, above the red barns. She caught a glimpse of it, like light off a watch face. Then nothing, and then a boom that nearly knocked her off the couch.

"I thought it was a small plane. I figured they were just trying to get out of the air." - Pittsburgh Live (09/11/02)


Note that the official story says Flight 93 came in from the west towards Indian Lake, but it was first report that it was flying east:

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

"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." -Pittsburg Post Gazette (09/13/01)




Witnesses to the mystery aircraft after the 'crash'

"John:  We think it was shot down because as soon as it crashed a big fighter plane flew over the school.

Tessa: I think that the passengers took it down.

Brian:  I think it was both. At the same time really... We saw that  plane like right after it happened.  We were the only ones who saw it pretty much from the school.  Nobody one else saw.

Narrator: How long after did you guys see the fighter plane?

John:  Like ten seconds. 

Brian:  Right there. It was right after everything.

John:  As soon as we saw the mushroom cloud, this plane goes flying over." - GNN: "UA 93: The Road To Shanksville (part 2)"

(Video clip:


Robert Blair - Robert Blair, 41, also of Stoystown, was driving his coal-hauling route when he saw the plane crash a few miles away. He noticed the second plane because he had heard on his truck radio earlier that the FAA had grounded all aircraft, and he said it was flying east -- the same direction as Flight 93. He said the FBI asked him whether it looked like a military plane, but Blair remembered only that it was "a big jet flying low." - Washington Post (09/14/01)

Jim Brandt - "Somerset County resident Jim Brandt said that he saw another plane in the area. He said it stayed there for one or two minutes before leaving." - The Pittsburgh Channel (9/12/01)

Dale Browning - "It's the damndest darn thing," said Dale Browning, a farmer.
"Everybody's seen this thing in the sky, but no one can tell us what it is." - The Bergen Record (9/14/01)

Rick Chaney - "Chaney described the plane as a Lear-jet type, with engines mounted near the tail and painted white with no identifying markings." - The Bergen Record (9/14/01)

Susan Custer - "said she saw a small white jet streaking overhead." - The Bergen Record (9/14/01)

Dennis Decker - "As soon as we looked up, we saw a midsized jet flying low and fast," Decker said. "It appeared to make a loop or part of a circle, and then it turned fast and headed out." Decker and Chaney described the plane as a Lear-jet type, with engines mounted near the tail and painted white with no identifying markings." - The Bergen Record (9/14/01)

Robin Doppstadt - was working inside her family food-and-supply store when she heard the crash. When she went outside, she said, she saw a small white jet that looked like it was making a single circle over the crash site.
"Then it climbed very quickly and took off. "
- The Bergen Record (9/14/01)

John Fleegle, manager, Indian Lake Marina -


"Like I said, probably within, within 45 seconds or a minute of impact, we were there. We were there before any fireman, any paramedics, or anybody; we were on site. When we got there, there was a plane flying up above and he was smart, he flew straight for the sun, so you couldn't, you couldn't look at it and see exactly what type of plane, or if it was a fighter or what it was. But we caught a glimpse of it and as he was swinging, he was basically traveling in the same direction as the plane." - GNN: "UA 93: The Road To Shanksville (part 2)"


(Video clip:


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 - and he also saw the white jet.
He was working at the Rollock Inc. scrap yard on a ridge overlooking the point of impact, less than half a mile away. "I heard this real loud noise coming over my head," he told the Daily Mirror. "I looked up and it was Flight 93, barely 50ft above me. It was coming down in a 45 degree and rocking from side to side. Then the nose suddenly dipped and it just crashed into the ground. There was this big fireball and then a huge cloud of smoke."
But did he see another plane? "Yes, there was another plane," Lee said. "I didn't get a good look but it was white and it circled the area about twice and then it flew off over the horizon." - Daily Mirror (9/13/02)




Official explanation for the mysterious small white plane

FBI Explains Other Planes At Flight 93 Crash

"Hoping to dispel rumors that United Airlines Flight 93 might have been shot down by military aircraft, the FBI Saturday said that two other planes were in the area but had nothing to do with the hijacked flight crashing in western Pennsylvania.

The FBI said that a civilian business jet flying to Johnstown was within 20 miles of the low-flying airliner, but at an altitude of 37,000 feet.
That plane was asked to descend to 5,000 feet -- an unusual maneuver -- to help locate the crash site for responding emergency crews.
The FBI said that is probably why some witnesses say they saw another plane in the sky shortly after Flight 93 crashed at 10:10 a.m. Tuesday in a grassy field near Shanksville, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

The FBI said there was also a C-130 military cargo aircraft about 17 miles away that saw smoke or dust near the crash site, but that plane wasn't armed and had no role in the crash. That plane was flying at 24,000 feet.
Earlier in the week, witnesses described seeing more planes to WTAE-TV reporters. Click here for video of those accounts.
On Friday, WTAE-TV reported that the mystery pilot in the white plane may have been an area farmer.

James K. Will, a Berlin, Pa., farmer who pilots a white Cessna with red stripes (pictured at right) and who has an airstrip near his farm, told Team 4 reporter Paul Van Osdol that he circled the scene about 45 minutes after the crash.

Will said he had just returned from Altoona and, when he'd heard about the crash, flew to the site to take photos of the wreckage. Pennsylvania State Police said that his plane may have been the one that many saw.
Will's flight was intercepted by a state police helicopter and was escorted to the Johnstown-area airport. His plane was searched and he was released." - ThePittsburghChannel (09/15/01)


"The FBI's later explanation for the white jet was that a passing civilian Fairchild Falcon 20 jet was asked to descend from 34,000ft to 5,000ft some minutes after the crash to give co-ordinates for the site. The plane and pilot have never been produced or identified. Susan Mcelwain says a Falcon 20 was not the plane she saw." - Mirror UK (09/12/02)

The White Jet
"Claim: At least six eyewitnesses say they saw a small white jet flying low over the crash area almost immediately after Flight 93 went down. theorizes that the aircraft was downed by "either a missile fired from an Air Force jet, or via an electronic assault made by a U.S. Customs airplane reported to have been seen near the site minutes after Flight 93 crashed." weighs in: "Witnesses to this low-flying jet ... told their story to journalists. Shortly thereafter, the FBI began to attack the witnesses with perhaps the most inane disinformation ever — alleging the witnesses actually observed a private jet at 34,000 ft. The FBI says the jet was asked to come down to 5000 ft. and try to find the crash site. This would require about 20 minutes to descend."
FACT: There was such a jet in the vicinity — a Dassault Falcon 20 business jet owned by the VF Corp. of Greensboro, N.C., an apparel company that markets Wrangler jeans and other brands. The VF plane was flying into Johnstown-Cambria airport, 20 miles north of Shanksville. According to David Newell, VF's director of aviation and travel, the FAA's Cleveland Center contacted copilot Yates Gladwell when the Falcon was at an altitude "in the neighborhood of 3000 to 4000 ft." — not 34,000 ft. "They were in a descent already going into Johnstown," Newell adds. "The FAA asked them to investigate and they did. They got down within 1500 ft. of the ground when they circled. They saw a hole in the ground with smoke coming out of it. They pinpointed the location and then continued on." Reached by PM, Gladwell confirmed this account but, concerned about ongoing harassment by conspiracy theorists, asked not to be quoted directly." - Popular Mechanics (03/05)

- See maps of all witnesses at:  NineEleven2001



Why was an executive jet owned by Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett "tracking" Flight 93 instead of a military jet intercepting it?

"Additional recordings would be played from the cockpit of an executive jet that tracked Flight 93 on Sept. 11...
An official for NetJets, a company that sells shares in private business aircraft, confirmed that the plane tracking Flight 93 belonged to the company.
The official, who asked not to be identified by name, said the company was asked not to comment on the Sept. 11 flight but would not say who made the request." -Holland Sentinel/AP (8/09/02)

In 1995, world-renowned financier Warren Buffett purchased his first fractional share in the NetJets® program. Three-and-a-half years later, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway purchased NetJets Inc.
"As a NetJets fractional aircraft Owner, I had Three-and-a-half years to examine the service of NetJets before Berkshire Hathaway purchased NetJets Inc. We knew we were purchasing the premier provider of aviation solutions in the world. And you can quote me to the world on that."
- WARREN BUFFETT Chairman and CEO Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

 More about Warren Buffett and his connections with 9/11


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