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The World Trade Center Bombing
The determined man at the controls of Flight 175 was now less than one minute from his own demise, and was in that state of heightened alertness that only approaching death can generate.
Ahead, as he hurtled across New York towards Manhattan Island, he could see the vast plume of smoke (1). His colleague in Flight 11, approaching from the opposite direction had already made an almost perfect impact on the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
On the far side of the tower, concealed from his view, was the gash (2) where the hijacked airliner had spread its fuel payload over several floors of the building. Just as the trainers had coached.
But the sight still managed to unnerve him. It was one thing practicing the approach for countless hours on a computer simulator, but this was real life -and no mistake could be made. The planners had insisted that the planes must strike the towers at a banked angle. Otherwise the fire would be confined to only a couple of floors and would not set the building comprehensively alight. Without perfect execution, the imperialists would only suffer minor casualties, he had been told.
What they never told him was that the aircraft impacts were only one half of the plan. One visible and psychologically terrorizing aspect would be provided by the suicidal aircraft. But the other half of the plan was unknown to the two pilots and their accomplices. Bombs had already been planted inside both towers.
They would be detonated after the planes had struck, to ensure the total destruction of the buildings and their evidentiary contents. The bombs inside the towers were strapped to radio-trigger detonators. Other plotters would be near the scene -monitoring TV coverage to determine the right moment to push the final buttons. The full PsyOps (psychological-warfare) effect would be the complete disappearance of these two symbols of US confidence and power.
But if the plane struck at the wrong angle, or even worse -missed altogether, the whole scheme was in danger. Substantial fires were necessary as a cover for the subsequent collapse.
The planners had taken every precaution. Their flight approach paths were calculated to align the two towers as a single target -without a gap between them. His orders were clear. His target was the South Tower, but if the first plane struck the wrong tower, he was to switch to the other. In either event, he must strike at the remaining target with a military precision.
But he didn't. And that's where things began to go wrong.
BANKING ON SUCCESS
A straightforward level approach would have been so much easier. Just line up the towers in the cockpit window and plow straight in. This banked approach was much harder to accomplish. Imagine swinging a stone on the end of a string, aiming to strike a standing beer bottle. Imagine getting only one try. A fully laden 767 is like an elephant with wings -the apotheosis of maneuverability.
Now, the pilot was now less than two miles from his target. The screaming noise of the engines on high power were already causing heads to turn among the early morning crowds below. But they didn't really understand what was happening. One eyewitness would later recount that the first plane had tried to to veer off the tower, but hit it nevertheless. That witness had mistaken the intent of the final course correction.
For no matter how well executed the approach, it would be necessary to make one last seconds adjustment to get right on target. In the final five seconds, the tower would still be half a mile away. That's when the collective million hours of preparation would telescope into seconds and determine the success or failure of the mission.
And it wasn't going well. As the tower rushed to fill the view in the cockpit window (3), the pilot realized that he was going too fast and wide of the target to boot. He would miss to the right. Instead of a minor tilt of the controls, he would have to lean the aircraft hard left -NOW!
As the airliner tilted acutely to the left (5), the air under the wings began to leak away -depriving the craft of vital lift, even as the extra centrifugal force generated by the turn meant that he needed more lift -not less. The maneuver was only partly successful. Despite the course correction, the plane still drifted to the right.
In that last instant (6), he never really had time to consider his own death. The training and his death-moment concentration focussed him so intently on the task. With a grinding crash the side of the building gave way, as Flight 175 struck near the corner of the tower -too far to the right.
The howl of metal and concrete impacting each other was overlaid with the crack of plate glass shattering. The concrete floors of the building cut through the plane like a egg passed through an egg slicer. The metal in the wings offered little resistance. In an instant, the plane had disappeared into the tower like a bird returning to a nest.
But it was no longer an aircraft. The separated parts careered across the floors of the South Tower. It was no longer obeying the laws of aerodynamics. It was subject to the dictates of the angular momentum caused by the banked approach -and that last moment course correction.
That's when things began to go even more wrong for the cynical perpetrators of the mass death that was now being inflicted on those in the shattered airliner's path.
THE ARC OF FAILURE
Earlier, the North Tower impact site had been right in the center of the tower (2). The entire fuel load and flotsam was dumped deep inside and remained in the building -where it exploded.
But now as Flight 175 disappeared inside the South Tower, it burst like a paper bag full of water. The thousands of pounds of jet fuel were liberated to follow a path dictated by the momentum of what had once been an aircraft.
A wash of jet fuel and airplane parts tore through the interior of the building at hundreds of miles an hour; sweeping everything before it and just starting to ignite as it rushed along. But it didn't take the same course as had aircraft debris inside the North Tower, eighteen minutes before. By contrast, the majority of the fuel and debris from the second plane smashed out of the building and exploded OUTSIDE in the open air over the street
The plane's approach was an arc of a great circle -one that had tightened even further with that final twitch on the controls. Imagine again a paper bag of water spun on the end of a string. If the paper bag bursts, the water inside will head off at a tangent to the original arc.
In the same fashion, the fuel now tried to take a course to the right of the original flight path. The aircraft had impacted near the corner of the building. Within fractions of a second the already igniting fuel had raced diagonally across the corner to burst out into the open air again, on the adjacent side of the Second Tower. Photos even show a smoking engine which shot out as it had not even been slowed by the building interior.
This air explosion provided a stunning pyrotechnic spectacle witnessed by countless millions, but it was an operational disaster. For it left the thorny question of explaining how the South Tower -which took less than half the fuel load of it's North Tower twin -was the first of the two to collapse.
THE WRONG TOWER FELL FIRST
Even before the second plane hit the South Tower, it's northern counterpart was already burning strongly, with a great plume of dense black toxic fumes drifting over a stunned Manhattan. Flight 11 had rocketed deep inside the building before the fuel ignited. On some floors the fire burned across the entire width of the building. By 9:45 a.m. the North Tower was ablaze not just on the floors that took the impact, but all the way to the top of the building .
The towers sprinkler fire extinguisher system were bolstered by automatic hermetrically sealing doors on every floor to prevent the spread of fire. But office workers still found themselves stumbling down sometimes darkened and smoke-filled fire escape stairs.
The giant steel beams used to build the towers had been cast in Japan -no American steel milll could roll out the massive 'I' beams. The explanation accepted by the mainstream media pundits for the collapse of both towers is that these beams softened like warm toffee in the intensity of the fires.
If that were the case, then the North Tower was the obvious candidate to be the first to collapse. Not only did it have almost a twenty minute head start on the South Tower conflagration, but the fire extended to the whole area of many floors. The South Tower fire was smaller and more confined, so that by 10:30 a.m. there was an obvious difference visible to those in the streets below and the hypnotized TV cameras now trained on the incredible sight.
But can the collapse in any event be really blamed on the fires within? The great explosions on impact had consumed all the jet fuel in seconds. Now it was plastic fixtures, cabling and internal partitioning that were burning. Or smoldering, to be more precise. Only near the great gaping holes -where there was access to an air supply- did the fire burn with anything like the intensity required to melt great beams of steel.
Neither had the impacts significantly weakened the structural integrity of the buildings. Even under normal circumstances these flexible buildings swayed so much in high winds that seasickness was a noticeable problem among workers on upper floors. Even on floors near the impact sites, many had felt only a mild shudder as the aircraft struck.
For the fire to be the cause of the collapse, most of the array of steel beams that spanned each floor would have to be engulfed in continuous extremely high temperature fire. This did not happen, nor was it essential to the plan. If the real intent had been to collapse the towers by means of fire then the planes would have struck the corners of the towers nearest to each other. That would have increased the chances of one tower collapsing into the other.
What actually happened next -before either tower collapsed, was one or more massive explosions in the other buildings around the towers. Explosions that sent clouds of masonry dust into the air. The first of many blasts that would rock the World Trade Center complex.
The explosions marked the final phase.
The curtain was coming down on the performance.
And the towers themselves would be next to fall.....
by Fintan Dunne,
Research Kathy McMahon
18 September 2001
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