The Original No Planers:
Most Witnesses at the WTC Heard And Saw No Planes
Morgan Reynolds — February 28, 2008
“The closer you were, the less you knew.”
–Police Chief Joe Esposito, NYPD
“It was almost like the closer you were,
the less you knew…As we look back,
we were the least informed.”
–Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer, FDNY
Inside the lobby, I think we knew less
of what was going on than
people outside or in the street, or the
people watching on television.
–Thomas von Essen, former FDNY fire commissioner
The official 9/11 conspiracy theory claims that suicidal Muslims hijacked four airliners on the morning of September 11, 2001 and slammed them at high speed into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a landfill in rural Pennsylvania. Millions believe these stories based on the (dwindling) authority of the U.S. government and corporate media, reinforced that morning by “live” images on TV of a plane disappearing behind the towers, followed by a sensational, Hollywood-style explosion in the south tower.
Yet doubts, questions, counterevidence and logic subvert the official story at nearly every turn. For example, did Muslims really hijack airliners? How good is the evidence for that claim? Did Boeing airliners crash as advertised? Do physical and circumstantial evidence support this proposition? Figuring out what really happened is the first question to investigate about 9/11, just like any other criminal or scientific investigation.
The insurmountable problems for the official conspiracy theory include the evidence that aluminum wide-body 767s did not seem to “crash” into the towers but instead, as portrayed in pictures and videos, slipped silently into and disappeared inside said steel-framed towers from nose to tail, wing tip to wing tip, with an apparent silhouette of passage of an airplane outline mysteriously appearing some unknown time after the explosion, undersized though these gashes in the buildings were, without slowing, without degrading, without crumpling, without deforming, without breaking off wings or wing tips, flaps, panels, actuators, fuselage or tail section, without fuel spillage, without burned fuel spilled down the face of either impact wall; without a visible wake vortex in the (delayed) explosions or sound of a jetliner and without evidence of any airplane pieces visible in the tower holes or below the impact zones despite the combined weight of 166 tons of airplane parts or 332,000 pounds, 6.2 million aircraft parts according to Boeing, plus cargo and fuel weighing some 230,000 pounds, and no known air crash investigation with confirmation of parts unique to each commercial airliner matched to maintenance logs; the explosion fireball was remarkably gray in contrast to real explosions of large jets with charcoal and black fireballs;
Picture source here.
elementary physics makes the two “crash” events as depicted impossible; “America fell for the Roadrunner trick” as an anonymous poster on a forum put it. Even Bill Pitts of the National Institute of Standards and Technology who was in charge of WTC pictures and videos in NIST’s investigation remarked, “…to me it’s still amazing that the building just ate the plane. It’s amazing that fires didn’t start initially when it first went through…it’s miraculous when you look at it.”1
Regardless of laws of physics, missing debris and many other contradictions in the plane stories, proponents (“plane huggers”) insist that thousands of witnesses in Manhattan saw and heard two airliners that morning so there can be no doubt that they crashed into the towers. Certainly some eyewitnesses claim they saw or heard planes, yet the only systematic study of eyewitness testimony found surprisingly few among the 501 first responders interviewed who claimed to see and hear planes, much less see and hear them crash into the twin towers.2
Here we consider another data source for witness accounts: Never Forget: An Oral History of September 11, 2001.3 This book gathers together the recollections of 81 people obtained some weeks and months after the event.4 Their testimony was not under oath nor subject to perjury penalties, memories had faded because the interviews were not done immediately after the event, some may have lied (though I accuse none of these witnesses) and memories may have been influenced and distorted by social pressure and media/governmental propaganda. Yet it seems worthwhile to study what the witnesses said, as portrayed in the Fink-Mathias 292-page volume.
The testimony of 72 witnesses concerned events at the WTC that fateful morning while the remaining 9 accounts pertained to non-WTC events. Of the 72 witnesses, only 39 were in a reasonably good position to see and/or hear jetliners attack the twin towers. I arrived at this figure by including all who said they were inside a WTC building or on the grounds of the WTC when an alleged plane hit, all those who were in the vicinity of the WTC at that time, and anyone who claimed to see or hear an airliner head into the WTC independent of the witness’ claimed location.
Twenty-four of 39 witnesses failed to see or hear a plane. These “no planers” like so many downtown that morning failed to report seeing or hearing a plane, and some insisted that the initial explosion in each tower came from within. Many witnesses remarked that they only “learned later” that a plane had hit the tower. Below are relevant remarks by all 24 witnesses. These are followed by brief comments by the author.
• Brian Smith, 24, FDNY Battalion 31: “I am stationed in Brooklyn…maybe a mile or so from the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges…my partner and I, Brian Gordon, and I were heading out to my car in the parking lot to go home, when we heard some kind of muffled explosion. We just disregarded it as vehicular noise up on the BQE…just at that point we saw the beginning of that plume of cloud from the plane driving into the North Tower. So we ran back inside…they dispatched us right away…We went down to the 10-10 House [Liberty Street fire station, across from WTC on the south side], backed the ambulance into the one of the engine bays, and asked the captain what he needed. He said there were a lot of injuries. At this point, things were just starting to happen. The South Tower was struck right then, and we got a whole bunch of new injuries…And as we were filling up the second milk crate, it sounded like another plane was coming in [during destruction of South Tower]. The firefighter and I just looked at each other and we dropped what we had and started to make our way back toward the firehouse, running down Liberty Street. The sound was deafening. I really thought that it was another plane coming. I thought it was a 747 looking to make a landing on Liberty Street…I started to hear that sound again. It sounded like another plane coming in. At this point it just seemed like all these planes forgot where La Guardia Airport was. Everybody was looking to make a landing. I had no idea what had really happened. I just thought they were planes. I didn’t know until after I left Manhattan that the towers even came down. I just thought that 747s were landing all over the place. I honestly thought that a plane landed on Liberty Street in front of the firehouse, and that by some miracle I survived it.”
• Gary Smiley, 38, FDNY paramedic, was carrying an injured woman across Church Street who kept yelling “plane” and Smiley recalled, “I looked up at that point, and that’s when the second plane hit the South Tower. The explosion was unbelievable. It was right over my head. You didn’t hear anything. People ask me sometimes, ‘What did you hear?’ I heard nothing.”
• Ada Rosario Dolch, 46, Principal of the High School for Leadership and Public Service, was at her high school at 90 Trinity Place a few blocks from the WTC when the first hit occurred: “All of a sudden the lights went out…Then, maybe five seconds later, we heard this tremendous boom. I immediately thought it was a bomb…One of my students came in, and she said, ‘Mrs. Dolch, a plane just hit the World Trade Center,'” yet Mrs. Dolch saw and heard no plane. “And then there was another horrendous bang, and the building shook. This time we felt the impact. That’s when we found out that another plane had just hit the South Tower.”
• David Kravette, 41, a broker for Cantor Fitzgerald, was in the lobby of the North Tower when something hit it and he said, “…you hear this really loud screeching sound. I turn around and it’s kind of coming from the elevators. So I run away from it, like ten steps…a huge fireball explodes in the lobby…We went down to where the marina is, where the yachts are. And that’s when we found out what happened, that a plane had hit the building.” Kravette saw and heard no plane hit the North Tower. “Meanwhile, I’m trying to call my wife and none of the cell phones seemed to work. I didn’t see the second plane hit. I just heard a noise and people yell. I saw the aftermath. We started heading uptown.”
• Roy Bell, 47, account manager for Alliance Consulting, was in the North Tower: “…I was on an elevator on the 78th floor, which is the Sky Lobby, when the plane hit the building…There was fire everywhere…My recollection is pretty fuzzy…I just took off. I had no idea what had happened. I thought it was an explosion…When I left the elevator, it looked like sheets of white fire, thin sheets of fire…My shirt was on fire. My hair was burning. I had second-degree burns on my hands and first- and second-degree burns on my face…And because we were injured, we got out a lot quicker than everybody. I exited through the parking garage at the Barclay Street exit. The second tower had already been hit, but I never felt it on the staircase of tower 1.”
• Michael Jacobs, 34, investment banker with May Davis, was in a elevator around floor 4-5 in the North Tower: “We had no clue a plane had hit the building because we were at its base…You don’t hear a boom. You hear a noise, but you don’t hear a plane crashing.”
• Christopher Wiener, 32, bond trader for Garban Intercapital, was in the South Tower on the 55th floor: “When the first plane hit tower 1, I didn’t know what it was…I thought it was the generator or some sort of explosion…a man came out with a transistor radio…and he started giving us a blow-by-blow…a plane had hit tower 1…as I came out of the [south] tower, the second plane hit my tower. I had just opened the door to go outside and there was an explosion that I’ll never forget. It haunts my dreams to this day, and it was the most bloodcurdling sound I’ve ever heard…I tried to get back into the building so I wouldn’t get crushed by anything.”
• Ralph Blasi, 52, director of security for Brookfield Properties: “I was in my office at the World Financial Center which faces the Trade Center, when the first plane hit. I looked out the window, saw the fireball, and said to my property manager, Mike Bosso, ‘Mike, they just bombed.’ That was my initial reaction: ‘Mike, they just bombed the Trade Center’…We were very reactive that day. The first plane hit. You run, you do what you have to do. The second plane hit and you know this is not a situation where you can sit around the table and discuss what you’re going to do.”
• Terri Tobin, 40, NYPD public information officer was at Church and Vesey at the time of the second hit and quietly remarks: “As the second plane hit the South Tower, I went into the North Tower. Every five feet there was an officer directing someone to safety, and it was moving along really well. So I moved over to the South Tower.”
The “dog that did not bark” at the WTC was that there were so few reports of a deafening sound from incoming “kamikaze airliners.” Everyone should have heard thundering airliners screaming at above-top-speed, and none but the deaf could have missed it. Testimony about the ear-splitting sound of the above-top-speed airliners should have been nearly universal yet few remarked about the deafening sound or said their ear drums nearly split open it was so painful. Full throttle jet engines will emit 130-140 db at their source, vastly in excess of the loudness in front of amplified speakers at a rock concert (approximately 110-120 dB). When dB levels increase by 10, the subjective loudness roughly doubles, so 130 dB is twice the cacophony of being in the front row at a rock concert and 140 dB would be four times the loudness at a rock concert. Any lengthy exposure to 140 dB courtesy of, say, within 200 feet of a full throttle jetliner is dangerous and at the pain threshold.5 The sound at 1,000-2,000 feet should be comparable to front-row rock concert seats.
• Hector Santiago, 41, NYPD detective: “We’re standing on the north side of the building [WTC 1], on the corner of Vesey…All of a sudden there’s a secondary explosion: Boom! And you see the fire coming out of the building…What was that? The boss thinks it might have been a bomb. Now you think terrorist, and now he’s getting into the groove. We had no idea that it was the second plane because we’re on the north side of the building.”
• Bernard B. Kerik, 47, NYPD Police Commissioner: “I turned around to say something to Hector [Santiago] when there was this enormous explosion. I looked up and the other building, building 2, was sort of exploding and igniting above. And I thought, Now what’s happened? How did that building ignite this other building?”
• Joe Esposito, 52, NYPD Chief of Police: “I was pulling up to police headquarters…the officer on post was very excited…I heard him say, ‘A plane just hit the Twin Towers.’ I looked over my shoulder and I saw the building exploding…So I’m saying, ‘Tell me exactly what you saw.’ And he actually gave the number of the plane. It turns out what he saw was accurate, naturally [!?]…We drove there. It’s only two blocks from 1 Police Plaza…We make a right turn on Vesey, which is right adjacent to the North Tower. As we’re on that block, the recorder who’s in the passenger seat of the emergency service truck starts yelling, ‘Another plane, another plane.’ And at that point, we hear the explosion. I was on the running board, so I didn’t see it immediately. I said, ‘What happened?’…The closer you were, the less you knew.”
Esposito photo source here.
• John Abruzzo, 43, staff accountant, Port Authority, and C5-C6 quadriplegic: “I worked on the 69th floor of the North Tower…My desk faces north. I can see over my partition out the north windows. I don’t remember hearing any sound, or an explosion. But I do remember that the building suddenly swayed, and that it swayed in one direction only. I thought the building was going to collapse right then and there. We’ve been in storms, you know, where the building sways back and forth, but that’s nothing…it took an hour and a half to get from the 69th floor down to the street level, and another ten to fifteen minutes to get to Stuyvesant High School.”
• Peter Bitwinski, 48, assistant manager, Port Authority: “I was sitting at my desk about eight-forty-five or so in the morning, just writing something, and all of a sudden something hit the building. Clearly it was something big because the building shook violently. I didn’t even know whether I would survive because of the way the building was shaking. But a minute or two later the building stopped shaking…There wasn’t that much traffic in the staircase so we were moving fairly well. It was probably shortly after we started making our way down that the second plane hit. But I was oblivious to that. I didn’t really notice the building shaking, or any kind of movement that would have tipped me off to the fact that the other building was hit. We just kept moving.”
• Steve Greenberg, 43, Senior Client Specialist, Aon: “I started at Aon on September 4…I was in a training class…held on the 92nd floor of tower 2. All of sudden we felt a low boom and the building shook a little bit. We didn’t think anything of it…We asked what happened, and somebody said a small private plane hit the first building…I would say we got down to approximately the 70s when we heard an announcement saying the building was secure, that we could go back up, everything came loose. The second plane must’ve hit, and the walls starting cracking. We all fell to the floor and everyone was grabbing onto each other, holding onto each other. We were right under where the second plane hit. The ceiling practically down on us. You saw the walls starting to crack and split.”
• Gloria Novesl, 55, insurance broker, Aon, was with Steve Greenberg: “When we were told that tower 1 was on fire, we proceeded to go down the stairwell…We kept going down to, I don’t know, 74, 75, when there was another crash. Our building, tower 2, started to crack open. We just like looked at each other again and said we needed to get the hell out of there…and as we’re going down, people started to come down with glass in their arms, bleeding, with burns, and just looked at each other and said, ‘What happened?’ They told us that another plane had hit, and we said, ‘Another plane?’ So we just had to get out.”
• Lori Guarnera, 39, insurance broker, Aon: “…I went upstairs to the 102nd floor of tower 2…I was sitting there drinking my big Starbucks coffee and typing up some e-mails when I heard this enormous explosion. I believe it was this girl, Tammy Lasiter, who worked across the hall from me a couple of doors down, who screamed, ‘Oh, my God, it’s a bomb.’ I went back into my office…I could see papers flying around outside. I knew something was desperately wrong…I start going down the stairs from the 102nd floor…I’m on the backside of the block across from the Trade Center on Broadway when I hear another explosion. This is when the plane hits tower 2.”
• Moses Lipson, 89, WTC construction inspector: “At 8:46 a.m., I stood waiting to take the elevators down to the mechanical equipment room on the 41st floor of tower 1…The plane crashed into the north face of the tower, causing the building to sway 1.5 feet south. My office was on the south side of the 88th floor. The plane hit the 92nd to 94th floors…I did not hear the collapse of 2 World Trade Center. The lights went out momentarily.”
• Marcel Claes, 47, FDN”Y Engine 24: “We are with Ladder 5 at Battalion 2 in Greenwich Village, Houston and Sixth Avenue, about a mile and a half from the World Trade Center…So that morning I was sitting house watch…the call came in. I believe the ticket said, ‘An explosion at the World Trade Center,’ which I didn’t really hear at the time. I just heard the bells go off and I got on the rig and we headed toward the World Trade Center. On the way down, I looked out the window and I saw the damage, and I said to the probee sitting across from me that it was an explosion. When we got to the lobby of the North Tower, I found out a plane had hit the building…So we’re climbing and after about a dozen floors we’re exhausted…We made it up to the 30th floor…I was on my knees catching my breath, and all of a sudden we felt this rumble and we heard this noise, like a train was going through your living room. And I jumped up and ran…We figured we were safe because the noise stopped…I didn’t know until later that the second plane hit the other tower.”
• Mark DeMarco of the NYPD Emergency Services Unit said he was at the northeast corner of the WTC (Church and Vesey streets): “I was getting some tools out of our truck when I heard a massive explosion behind me. I turned around to see what it was, and it was the second plane hitting the South Tower.”
• Jillian Volk, 24, preschool teacher: “I was on corner of Church and Thomas, at work at the preschool. It’s about a five-minute walk from the Trade Center…I didn’t see the first plane hit tower 1, but I felt something because my classroom has floor-to-ceiling glass windows in it, and it shook. One of my students looked at me and said, ‘It’s thundering.’ I knew it wasn’t thundering. There was no way it was thundering. It was a beautiful day. A woman came running into the hallway and said a bomb had gone off in the Trade Center. I panicked. I called Kevin… Once the second plane hit, panic broke out. I did not actually know there was a second plane. We were not aware of what was happening. But there was panic outside our door. Panic…We still didn’t really know what was happening. I must have been in shock because nothing was sinking in.”
• Thomas von Essen, 56, former FDNY fire commissioner: “We were going along East River Drive when I saw some smoke. I asked my driver if he thought it was a cloud. He said, ‘No way. It’s a fire.’ We got a little farther down and the buildings opened up and I could see a big hole in the side of the North Tower. At first I thought it was probably a private plane. Maybe some rich guy had a heart attack, something like that. We raised the volume on the department radio and heard that there was an explosion of some sort at the Trade Center. So we drove over there, went around to the lobby entrance on West Street, and went inside…Inside the lobby, I think we knew less of what was going on than people outside or in the street, or the people watching on television. When the South Tower got hit, there was more confusion. Obviously we knew it was terrorism then.”
Essen photo source here.
• William Allee, 60, NYPD Chief of Detectives: “I was in my office at 1 Police Plaza…and I heard what initially sounded like a missile. And then seconds later I heard an extraordinary explosion. I looked out the window and saw what looked like a mushroom cloud without the top, without the cap, and the remainder of the World Trade Center above it…We ran over to Vesey Street, and naturally there were sirens and everybody was coming. There were hundreds of people on Vesey Street, between Church and Broadway, so I told a bunch of uniformed officers to clear the spot…I heard a second explosion and looked up and saw the second tower with the same configuration of smoke and fire. I hadn’t heard or seen a plane, but people were yelling that that’s what it was. There were things spiraling down out of this dark cloud. I was like a deer caught in the headlights, staring up, and my sergeant said to me, ‘Boss, you better get out of here. We better get out of here.'”
• Margie Edwards, 40, volunteer, no location given: “I watched the first building on fire, the second building being hit, and then from my office I watched both buildings fall.”
Here are a few comments on the testimony by “no planers” above:
• Brian Smith notes no loud plane coming in at the time of the South Tower hit yet heard deafening sounds like airplanes “coming in” during destruction of the South Tower.
• Gary Smiley heard no roar from a kamikaze airliner screaming in at 120+ decibels and 540 mph.
• Once again, Ms. Dolch neither saw nor heard a plane.
• David Kravette was in position to hear and see a plane approach and possibly hit the second tower but did not hear a high-speed jetliner, nor did he see a plane.
• Trapped, Jacobs eventually pried the elevator doors open and said nothing about the South Tower hit for understandable reasons.
• Mr. Wiener did not hear or see a kamikaze airliner.
• Police Chief Esposito believed a police officer who had such incredible concentration and vision that he could read an airliner’s ‘vehicle license tag’ (tail number N334AA) even though it was purportedly speeding along at 443 mph (650 feet per second)!?
• Abruzzo does not mention a hit on tower 2.
• DeMarco “turned around to see what it was, and it was the second plane hitting the South Tower” yet notes no sight or sound of a plane.
• Witness Edwards is somewhat ambiguous but does not say affirmatively that she saw a plane hit tower 2 nor that she heard a plane at high speed.
Next consider 9 witnesses who reported seeing a plane but who failed to mention an incredibly loud plane traveling at high speed, a puzzling oversight by many of these witnesses.
• Michelle Wiley, 52, musician: “We live in an apartment in Gateway Plaza, a block over from the World Trade Center…My dad was an old air force lifer, so I know planes. I’ve been around them since I was little…I stood up by the window looking out at the Center when I see this plane flying very low, but very steady, toward the World Trade. I immediately said to myself, ‘This plane is going to hit it. It’s not spiraling, it’s not smoking, it doesn’t look out of control.’ I picked up the phone and dialed 911. I don’t know why. I said, ‘There’s a plane flying into the World Trade Center.’ And the operator said, ‘My God, I didn’t know that.’ By the time I was through the sentence, the plane was through the building…I thought about trying to run to the place where our car was parked, and just get in and drive out, but thank God I didn’t because that’s when the second plane hit. Now I was conflicted about what to do. Then the South Tower collapsed.”
• Steven Bienkowski, 37, NYPD Harbor Unit Scuba Team: “I happened to be sitting in the back left side of the (helicopter) ship. There were two pilots, two crew chiefs, my partner, and I. We were on the southwest side of the South Tower, and I glanced over my shoulder and there came a United Airlines aircraft right at us, a little bit underneath where we were. And I do mean a little bit underneath us. It probably missed us by about three hundred feet, and it proceeded to fly right through the building, right in front of us. I must have gone numb. I don’t remember hearing an explosion, although it must have been extremely loud. I don’t remember the helicopter moving…When that second plane went into the building, it just looked like an evil magician’s trick. It looked nothing like what I would have imagined a plane crashing into a building would look like. The plane just completely disappeared and turned into a giant fireball. Being there was surreal. I guess the brain tries to protect you in times like that. You have some kind of defense mechanism in there that shuts down some of your senses. It just doesn’t allow you to believe.”
• Robert Leder, 29, executive, SMW Trading Company: “Our office is on the 85th floor of 1 World Trade Center. I was looking outside the window, facing the Empire State Building, when I saw the plane coming into the building. There was such a dramatic change in atmospheric pressure from the plane hitting…The whole office reeked of jet fuel, or kerosene…At around the 50th floor, I got a cell phone call through to my wife…This must have been a minute before the second plane hit. I never heard it. We had no idea that 2 World Trade was struck by a plane. Thank God we didn’t know. If we had, there would have been panic…This is after 2 World Trade Center collapsed, and it didn’t even occur to me that it collapsed. I was still thinking, How did this happen from a small plane hitting our building?”
• Cathy Pavelec, 52, Port Authority administrator: “I worked in 1 World Trade Center, on the 67th floor. I had a window office that faced north. I just glanced out the window and I saw the plane. I was a little bit over to my right and I noticed that it was very low… as I watched the plane get closer and closer and closer, I was in complete disbelief. I just sat there and watched as it crashed into the building over my head. I saw the blunt nose of the plane, over my head, and I watched the fuselage disappear into the building…there was a very odd smell in the stairwell, which I realized afterward was the jet fuel. But nobody realized that then.”
• Errol Anderson, 47, FDNY recruiter: “That morning, I was in the office at Metrotech headquarters in downtown Brooklyn…I received the news that a plane had hit tower 1 at the World Trade Center. Lieutenant Sheldon Wright and myself looked out the window and saw it. And while in Lieutenant Wright’s office I saw the second plane hit. Excuse my words, but I said, ‘Oh, shit. A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.'”
• Joseph Torrillo, 46, director FDNY Fire Safety Education: “I got to my old firehouse, Engine 10, Ladder 10, which is on Liberty Street directly across from the World Trade Center…We got out of the car and ran around the corner to the firehouse, and with that the second jet came right over our heads and slammed into the building. At that point, there were people lying all over the street. There was debris, pandemonium.”
• Kenneth Escoffrey, 43, FDNY Ladder 20: “We were standing outside the firehouse, on Lafayette Street between Spring and Prince, when a plane, flying low, showed up directly across from the firehouse. Before we realized what was happening, we heard the collision and saw the smoke. We ran back inside the firehouse and alerted the others that the plane had crashed…There were three of us left at the station—myself and two other gentlemen—and we turned on the TV. That’s when we realized that the plane had hit the World Trade Center…We decided to go see if we could help. As we pulled up in front of the North Tower, about ten minutes behind our company, we saw the devastation…The chief then asked us to go up to the mezzanine level…A Port Authority cop asked us if we could give him a hand with an overweight person on the staircase. I believe that’s when the second plane hit. At that time we didn’t know what it was. I thought maybe the elevators had fallen down the shaft and made that explosion. You could actually feel the wind from the blast when going up the staircase…We got into the courtyard and crossed over the North Tower to building 6. Somewhere in there, about thirty feet away from the West Side Highway, we heard what sounded like an incoming missile. We started to run. It seemed like we had a good five-second run when a blast knocked us down.”
• James Filomeno, 47, FDNY Marine 1: “On September 11, I was working at the Marine Division, Marine 1, off the West Side Highway. When I came into work, I was having breakfast with the guys when over the teleprinter it came that building 1 had had an explosion. We looked to see. We went outside on the pier and we actually saw the big red fireball exploding into the building. And then it came over that it was an airplane that just hit. So right from there we went over on the boat. It only took us three minutes to get there. And as we were getting there, I watched the second jet coming, and I watched it going over our heads. We actually saw it crash into the building right over our heads. Shortly after the plane exploded, we watched people get thrown out of the building. They were cartwheeling on fire as they came out. We could hear the faint screams. Everybody was just about crying watching all this, all seven of us on the boat.”
• Artie Collins, 47, NYPD detective: “I was at the Brooklyn Army Terminal…When I got there, the first plane hit the World Trade Center. When the second plane hit, I was down on the water where you can see Manhattan. We saw the second plane hit.”
A few comments on the plane spotters above who ignored commenting on a raucous cacophony from a jetliner:
• The Wiley account implies a remarkably short time between the South Tower hit and its collapse 56 minutes later. Government and media claim American Airlines Flight 11 flew at high speed into the North Tower, in particular NIST claims 443 mph or approximately 650 feet per second. If Ms. Wiley had spotted a plane when it was one mile north of the North Tower, she would have had 8 seconds to get to a telephone, dial 911, wait for someone to answer, ‘Hello, this is 911, how may I help you?,’ and reply “There’s a plane flying into the World…’ oops, time was up a few seconds ago. If she had spotted the plane two miles north of the tower, quite a distance, she would have had twice the time—16 seconds—to originate and conduct her telephone conversation. Perhaps the biggest wonder is that she did not comment on the deafening jet roar of a high-speed airliner and a loud “collision” with the North Tower.
• Four observations seem in order on Bienkowski: the helicopter does not appear in videos of the South Tower hit, the witness did not note the jet roar of a full throttle plane nor comment on its incredible speed, he did not hear the explosion, and, most importantly, the incident did not look real to him. Instead, the event “looked like an evil magician’s trick…nothing like what I would have imagined…the plane just completely disappeared…Being there was surreal.” Surreal was the same word used by videographer Evan Fairbanks in his interview with Peter Jennings of ABC News. Also, see the related testimony of James Cowan below, also of NYPD Harbor Unit Scuba.
• It is odd that Mr. Leder “saw the plane coming into the building” and did not describe it as an airliner, instead subsequently puzzling over the situation, “How did this happen from a small plane hitting our building?”
• Pavelec does not mention the South Tower hit.
• Anderson seems to refer to the aftermath of the alleged plane hit on tower 1 in the form of a hole and smoke rather than claiming he saw plane 1. He clearly claimed to have seen plane 2.
• Torrillo offers no further description. Further questioning would be required to confirm exactly what he saw and heard in terms of a plane overhead and a plane crash.
The next two witnesses form a unique class because they heard noise from something like a plane yet saw no plane:
• Anthony R. Whitaker, 57, captain, Port Authority Police: “On 9/11, I was—and I still am—the commanding officer of the World Trade Center police command…I routinely stood on the mall floor. We had 75 stores in the mall at the World Trade Center, and it was my habit to stand in front of one of the stores, Banana Republic, which is situated approximately 50 feet from the entrance doors to the lobby of building 1, which is the North Tower. So on that morning, between the hours of eight-thirty and the time of the impact of the first aircraft, that’s where I was, standing in front of Banana Republic in the shopping mall of the World Trade Center…So I was standing in front of Banana Republic when I heard what sounded to me like a roar, just a roar, and it just continued to get louder and louder and louder until it got so loud that it sounded like it was right next to me, right next to the left side of my face. So I looked to my left, and at that instant I saw a gigantic fireball coming of the lobby of building 1 on the south side, which is the Marriott side. It was coming right at me, and it appeared as if it was pushing people in front of it, and all around it, and inside of it, just free-floating. It was the eeriest thing I’ve ever seen.”
• Jose Rodriguez, 28, NYPD officer: “I’m in the Fifth Precinct, which is Chinatown…I was in a polling place when I heard people outside screaming. I remember coming outside, and I saw a giant hole and smoke pouring out of the North Tower. And people were screaming about a plane going into the tower, but they weren’t sure what kind of plane. Cars started shooting up the Bowery, which is where I was standing…We went down to the World Trade Center area, near Vesey and Broadway. I got out of the car with the deputy commissioner. We heard a buzzing noise, which sounded like a plane. I never saw it hit. From where we were standing at Vesey and Broadway, St. Paul’s Church was right there, and Millenium Hotel was right next to us. All I saw was this humongous explosion, and flames just pouring out of the building. And at that point there was complete chaos. People started running, screaming. I saw the engine of the plane shoot across, and parts of the building come down. When I first saw it, I thought that maybe part of the North had fallen on the South Tower. But, and then I was, like, ‘Nah, I did hear the plane. It was another plane.'”
Another duo said they saw a shadow, perhaps that of a plane, but did not remark about jet engine noise.
• Spencer Kobren, 36, writer: “I live on Greenwich Street, about two blocks south of the World Trade Center, and at first, I didn’t even consider getting out of the building. After the first plane hit, I went on my terrace and I saw all these people on their rooftops and they were just looking. People were actually taking pictures…Then, I’m watching television and I see a plane coming on the screen about to hit tower 2. I could also see the shadow of the plane, and that wasn’t on TV. The explosion threw me about four feet. I was in my living room. I live in a loft and I was thrown to the kitchen area, right on my back. I tried to be as calm as possible, but my back had gone out…We were told to wait in the building because too much stuff was falling. All of a sudden I hear this sound, a noise like I’ve never heard in my life, the most frightening sound I’ve ever heard, like a thousand helicopters on top of us. And a rumbling like the earth was about to split apart. That was the first tower falling…We made it out of the apartment on our stomachs and people were screaming. People had glass in their hair, completely gray, full of soot and bleeding. People were disoriented. I remember one girl who was talking on a cell phone, or she thought she was talking on her cell phone. I wanted to make a call and I asked her for her phone, and it was just a piece of her phone. The girl was in shock.”
• Jay Jonas, 44, FDNY Ladder 6: “On September 11, I was the captain of Ladder Company 6 in Chinatown …I was having a cup of coffee in the kitchen when I heard a noise. We didn’t know what it was, but it was the jet trail of the jet plane going into the World Trade Center. And then we heard a loud boom. It was so loud I thought it was a truck driving off the Manhattan Bridge, which is very close to my firehouse. My house watchman was standing in front of the quarters, and he saw the plane go across, and he was banging on the intercom. He said, ‘A plane just crashed. A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center.’ So I went running out in front of the firehouse and I started questioning him, ‘What kind of plane?’ He said, ‘It was a big plane.’ ‘Was it a commercial jet?’ ‘Yeah, it was a commercial jet’…We parked the fire truck on West and Vesey, just south of the pedestrian overpass that goes across West Street…Once we got into the building [tower 1], the first thing we saw were two badly burned people right near the lobby entrance…While I was waiting in line, I saw this big black shadow on the ground outside. All of a sudden we heard another loud explosion. And that was the second plane hitting the second tower. We didn’t know what it was at first. We thought it was something happening in our building. And a guy came running in and told us that a second plane had just hit the second tower, which dramatically changed the demeanor inside our building. Now it was painfully obvious to everyone that this was not an accident.”
One comment on the testimony above:
• Kobren’s statement about seeing a plane on TV enter the South Tower while simultaneously seeing a plane’s shadow is impossible if the TV plane image was not “live,” real time, but on a multi-second delay of approximately 17 seconds, as is likely.6
Only two witnesses of 39 claimed to both see and hear a plane, and both were first responders:
• Joseph Pfeifer, 46, FDNY Chief, Battalion 1: “…we had a call to a possible gas leak in the street. So we went to the gas leak and there was a slight odor of gas in the street…So we called Con Ed, and we were wrapping up with the operation there and standing around in the street. And then we hear this very loud plane coming overhead. In Manhattan, you rarely hear planes because of the high buildings. So we all looked up. In almost disbelief, we see the plane pass, and it’s flying low. Our eyes followed it as it passed behind the buildings, and then it reappeared, and it appeared to me that it aimed right into the building. It smashed into the building. There was a large fireball. And then a couple of seconds later you heard the sound of the explosion. I told everybody to get in the rigs because we’re going down there, to the Trade Center. I got into the battalion car with Jules Naudet, the French film guy who made the 9/11 documentary tape. If you saw the tape, you saw our faces blank with disbelief that a plane was heading toward the Trade Center, followed by the actual impact. I picked up the department radio and I told them that a plane just hit the World Trade Center, and to transmit a second alarm. That was done immediately. That was the first official report of this happening…A lot of the high-ranking citywide tour commanders of the fire department started coming in…We’re trying to explain our rescue plan to people when the second plane hits the South Tower. We heard that. We saw debris coming down…It was almost like the closer you were, the less you knew…As we look back, we were the least informed.” Pfeifer lost his brother Lt. Kevin Pfeifer in the attacks but was promoted to FDNY’s chief of Counterterrorism and Preparedness.
• James Cowan, 39, NYPD Harbor Unit Scuba: “A little while later we heard a sound that we thought was one of our fighter jets. And that was the plane that struck the South Tower. We were on the seawall, right next to the World Financial Center, which I guess would be about a half a block over from the South Tower. In our unit, we keep three divers on the boat and two divers in the helicopter at all times. So the helicopter was evaluating whether they could do a rooftop rescue when the second plane was coming in. And the second plane came in so tight on them that the pilot took evasive action and pulled up, and the plane actually flew underneath them before striking the building.”
As usual in evaluating eyewitness reports, the testimony overall is problematic without rigorous clarification. Scientific and physical evidence supported by the sturdy laws of the physical sciences rank as the best evidence that the 9/11 perpetrators faked the airliner crashes. The next best evidence is the videos: videos that show a physically impossible aircraft entry into a steel/concrete skyscraper must be fake, by definition. Does it matter that there are nearly 40 videos out there? No, it doesn’t because in the digital age it is easy to fake videos. Nor have any videos been authenticated by routine legal procedures applied to pictorial and video evidence. Further, only a half-dozen videos show the South Tower penetration sequence.
That leaves witness reports. The defects of eye- and ear-witness reports are well known, see footnote 4. A preponderance of testimony examined by this study neither saw nor heard a screaming jetliner on 9/11. Evaluating the remaining witnesses who testified to the contrary must rest on questions of credibility, further queries including testimony under oath and subjected to serious cross-examination. Also, any scientist must note the following regarding witnesses on 9/11 at the Trade Center:
• Purported witness testimony that contradicts the laws of physics and physical facts is worse than useless.
• A solid majority of witnesses saw and heard no plane.
• Psy-op planners not only planted physical evidence and manipulated videos but also hired actors and paid people to lie.
• Memories are malleable.
• Many witnesses were in shock, traumatized and disoriented during 9/11.
• Drones, missiles and other aircraft can be disguised to look like airliners.
• Image projection techniques via black technology may be advanced enough to project speeding airliner images on a clear morning by publicly unknown techniques.
Quite independent of the claims of witnesses, the official airliner tales are proven hogwash, as repeatedly demonstrated by scientific analysis.7 The twin tower “crashes” are impossible as depicted no matter what a minority of witnesses say. And uniform testimony, not surprisingly, is missing from WTC testimony, especially a surprising lack of near uniform testimony about deafening noise. No planers at the WTC outnumbered plane huggers by 2:1 or better, producing a preponderance of evidence for no planers. Therefore, witness testimony cannot offset the physical evidence and scientific arguments against plane crashes at the WTC.
It is doubtful that conflicts in testimony will ever be entirely reconciled. Nor is it vital that this occur to prosecute perpetrators like Cheney, Bush, Fox News, ABC, etc. because the evidence for their participation is overwhelming the facts that have no other explanation but that the accused did it, including the plane fraud.
Perhaps the most fascinating testimony among plane “huggers” remains that of scuba specialist Steven Bienkowski who said he was aboard a NYPD helicopter southwest of the South Tower as a plane approached on 9/11: To him it “looked like an evil magician’s trick…nothing like what I would have imagined…the plane just completely disappeared…being there was surreal.” Surreal indeed.
1 Jeff Hill audio
3 Mitchell Fink and Lois Mathias, Never Forget: An Oral History of September 11, 2001, NYC: Harper Collins, 2002.
“Another common observation in these [eyewitness memory] studies is that after an event has been experienced, new information about the event sometimes comes to the person’s attention and becomes incorporated into memory. The result is that the memory is supplemented or altered. When exposed to misleading post-event information, subjects have misrecalled the color of a car that was green as being blue, a yield sign as a stop sign, broken glass or tape recorders that never existed, and even recalled something as large and conspicuous as a barn when no barn was ever seen.” Elisabeth Loftus, et. al., “Who Remembers What?: Gender Differences in Memory,” Michigan Quarterly Review, 26 (1987): 78. At the WTC “new information” about planes occurred not just in the hours, days, weeks and months after the event but during the 9/11 event itself while people were under stress, panicky, in shock, and traumatized. “There is in fact some evidence indicating that women do respond to eyewitness situations with a greater degree of stress, and that this greater stress may, in at least one respect, produce more inaccurate recollections” (p. 81). “Across many studies that have now utilized the ‘lost-in-the-mall’ procedure, an average of ~30% of subjects have gone on to produce either partial or complete false memory…guided imagination, suggestive dream interpretation, or exposure to doctored photographs, have also led subjects to believe falsely that they experienced events in their distant and even in their recent past.” Elizabeth F. Loftus, “Planting misinformation in the human mind: A 30-year investigation of the malleability of memory,” Learning and Memory, 12 (2005): 361-6. Loftus also writes of, “…a vast effort to investigate the memory processes…that show unequivocally how humans are the authors or creators of their own memories. They can also be the authors or creators of someone else’s memory,” in “Memories of Things Unseen,” Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13 (2004): 147. “Largely in response to the mounting list of wrongful convictions discovered to have resulted from faulty eyewitness evidence, an effort is gaining momentum in the United States to reform police procedures and the various legal rules addressing the treatment of eyewitness evidence in criminal trials. Social scientists are committing more resources to studying and understanding the mechanisms of human memory in the eyewitness context, and lawyers, scholars, and legislators are devoting increasing attention to the fact that faulty eyewitness evidence remains the leading cause of wrongful conviction in the United States. Reform measures mandating that police use established best practices when collecting eyewitness evidence have been implemented in New Jersey, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Minnesota. Bills on the same topic have been proposed in Georgia, New Mexico, California, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, and others.”
6 Thanks to CB-Brooklyn for this comment.
7 See, for example, articles by Reynolds and Reynolds/Rajter.