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News ::
Physical and mathematical analysis of Pentagon crash (english)
24 Oct 2002
Modified: 27 Oct 2002
It is not in dispute that something hit the Pentagon wall and damaged it. Neither is it in dispute that AA 77 is missing. But was AA 77 involved in the Pentagon incident? This article presents an analysis of the physical aspects of the incident, and concludes with a brief examination of the issue of eyewitnesses

by Gerard Holmgren

investigation77 (at)

Copyright: Gerard Holmgren. October 23 2002.This work may be freely copied and distributed without permission as long as it is not for commercial purposes. Please include the author's name, the web adress where you found it, and the copyright notice.


It is alleged that on Sept 11, 2001 a hijacked Boeing 757,
American Airlines Flight 77, hit the Pentagon. It is not in dispute that something hit the Pentagon wall and damaged it. Neither is it in dispute that AA 77 is missing. But was AA 77 involved in the Pentagon incident? This article presents an analysis of the physical aspects of the incident, and concludes with a brief examination of the issue of eyewitnesses.

The Sept 11 crashes are unique and unprecedented events in the history of both the press and aviation. In many cases, light plane crashes involving 2 to 3 people have triggered investigations which continued for years. Considering that the explosion and cremation of planes had never before happened, the lack of reporting and/or official investigation is doubly puzzling. The issue of whether a crash results from sabotage or accident should be irrelevant to the alarming question of why four planes allegedly cremated themselves as a result of low to medium impact crashes.

One of the purposes of accident reconstruction in plane crashes is to determine what failed and therefore what is subject to improvement. Normally, the press releases the findings as news in the public interest. Professional analytical information has not been released on the September 11 crashes. If it exists (for insurance purposes, for instance), it has not been released. Why have authorities and the press treated the Sept 11 crashes differently? Who is doing the professional analysis and why does the public not have access to it?


Sourced from


Wingspan 124 ft 10 in (hereafter rounded to 125 ft)
Length 155 ft 3 in (rounded to 155 ft)
Tail height (with landing gear extended ) 44 ft 6 in
Fuselage Width 12 ft 4 in (rounded to 12 ft )
Max fuel capacity 11,489 gallons
Max range 4449 miles
Max take off weight 255,000 lb.

The following specifications were not directly available from any source I could find, but I calculated them based on the above figures, after measuring diagrams and photos. Exact accuracy cannot be guaranteed, but they are close and are sufficient for this analysis.

Tail height (without landing gear extended) 35 ft
Fuselage height (without landing gear extended) 14 ft 6 in (7 ft 3 in above wings, 7 ft 3 in below wings))
Length of each wing 56 ft 3 in
Engine diameter. 9 ft. 6 in
Engine length 11 ft 6 in
Position of engine mounting on wing. Outer edge of engine 25 ft from where wing joins fuselage.
Width of each tail fin 15 ft 6 in
Total tail fin span 39 ft (fuselage is narrower at this point)
An estimated 5 ft of engine is below fuselage level, making the total height of the aircraft without landing gear extended, 40 ft.

Youíll find the calculations throughout this article easier to critically analyze, if you write down the above figures before continuing.


Based on this and other similar photos,

I have estimated the hole in the Pentagon wall to be about 65 ft wide, by comparing it with the height of the building which is 77 ft.

Depth of damage. This is more complex.The Pentagon consists of 5 rings of building, each separated by a space between. I couldnít find any source which directly stated figures for the depth of the rings and the spaces, and the perspective problems of photos make it more difficult to estimate than the width. On the basis of aerial photos, ( see the links below ) I have estimated the depth of the ring itself to be about 32 ft, and the open space behind it, about the same. The outer ring collapsed , leaving a total depth of about 65 ft that the plane could potentially have fitted into, considering that the second ring of the building was intact.

It should be noted that the original hole was much smaller. The 65 ft wide hole developed when a section of the wall collapsed later.
Look at the following photos, taken soon after the crash, before that section of wall collapsed. The thick smoke and the water jets from the firefighters make it difficult to get a clear view, but we can determine that the hole wasnít anywhere near even 40 ft wide. Probably less than 20. In most of the photos, itís difficult to find any hole at all.
(see the two photos in question 7 )
(click on the trajectory section and scroll to the photo with the caption ďHole centerĒand the subsequent photos)

Calculations based on the 65 ft wide and deep (including open space between the rings) hole which developed later, are unreasonably generous to the 757 argument. Nevertheless, I will continue to conduct the analysis on that basis. I am going to attempt to prove that it was physically possible for a Boeing 757 to crash into that section of wall, in a manner consistent with the photographic evidence. If I manage to prove that it was physically possible, that doesnít prove that it happened - it simply keeps the argument alive. If it proves to be impossible, even by expanding the assumed hole to orders of magnitude greater than what it really was, then it didnít happen and the argument is concluded.


By what means could a plane with a wingspan of 125 ft and a length of 155 ft fly into a building, leaving a hole 65 ft by 65 ft, leaving no significant wreckage outside? Is it possible to calculate a wing angle at which the plane might have fitted through? If not, where is the wreckage that did not enter the building?

The plane cannot have impacted with the wings in a near parallel to the ground position and have had the wings enter the building. If it impacted in this manner, the wings must have broken off before they had a chance to hit the building. 125 ft of wing cannot pass through a wall without leaving a 125 ft hole. In order to suggest that the entire plane passed through the 65 ft hole, we must calculate the angle at which the wings would have to have been tilted.

This can be easily done with some graph paper.
Draw a baseline, representing 65 ft - the width of the hole. Draw vertical lines at each end, representing 77 ft - the height of the building. Draw a line representing 125 ft - the wingspan, starting it from the bottom left corner, towards the top right corner, at the angle necessary for the wingspan line not to intersect the right hand vertical line. Youíll see that it is possible for the plane to pass through the 65 ft wide hole, but not for all of the wingspan to pass within the impact area. A significant portion of one wing has passed above the building, avoiding any impact. This section of wing measures about 25 ft - almost 1/2 a wing.

The minimum possible amount of the plane which can have avoided the impact area is a figure something greater than this because the analysis has been biased by a number of factors, beyond credibility in favour of fitting the plane through.
1) assuming the original impact area to be 65 ft wide, when we know that it was significantly smaller.
2) assuming the lower wing tip to be at ground level, which it may not have been.
3) assuming the angle of the fuselage to the wall to be 90 degrees, meaning that the plane travelled straight through, not widening the impact area beyond itís own effective horizontal width. For example, if the fuselage struck at a 45 degree angle, with the same degree of wing tilt, it would create an impact hole 97.5 ft wide.You can plot this on graph paper too. If you draw two parallel lines straight up the page, crossing a line drawn horizontally, the width of line they pass across is equal to the distance between the parallel lines. If you draw the lines at a 45 degree angle to the horizontal line, they intersect with an area 1.5 times the distance between them. So as soon as any angle is postulated for the approach of the fuselage, then the wings need to be tilted harder in order to fit into the 65 ft hole, increasing the amount of wing that passed above the impact area. If we postulate the wings to be tilted at a ridiculous angle like 80 degrees, not only does this increase the area of wing thatís passed above the impact zone, but also causes the fuselage to be almost at the top of the building, meaning that one of the 15 ft tail fins, now pointing almost straight up, starts to protrude above the impact zone. It doesnít matter how the angle of approach or wing tilt is juggled. Itís impossible to fit anything remotely approaching the entire plane into the impact zone.

Therefore, this substantial portion of the plane did not hit the building and cannot have been pulverized amid the rubble, and must be accounted for in some other way.

To give an idea of how much the unaccounted for section of wing increases if we lessen the degree of bias, here is a different set of assumptions.
Original width of hole 40 ft. Lower wing tip 10 ft above the ground.
The amount of the wing which would now pass above the impact point would be about 47 ft. And the entire upper tail fin would no longer fit in sideways, because the bottom of the heavily tilted fuselage would be hard up against the right edge of the hole.The wing angle could be tilted more heavily to fit in the tail fin, but this further increases the length of wing passing above the impact zone. This is still assuming a fuselage angle of 90 degrees, and a hole larger than what it really was. So we have to stretch the variables beyond credibility in favour of the 757 theory just to reduce the unaccounted for piece of wing to 25 ft.

Since this large portion of wing would not have had any serious impact upon it, there is no reason for it to have been pulverized into nothing, unless there was an explosion powerful enough to cremate the wings right to the extremities. If this did not occur, then this section of wing would have suffered no impact other than that of falling to the ground or on to a roof after it broke off. Itís conceivable that it could have broken up into a few smaller pieces, but not to have been pulverized beyond evidence of it ever existing. So there should be evidence of a large piece of wing, or several pieces, large enough to be clearly identifiable, outside the crash site, or possibly sitting on top of the rubble. Most likely, it (they) would have finished up somewhere inside the courtyard or on a roof. The chance of it finishing up on top of the rubble would be small, the chance of being buried under the rubble, negligible, and the chance of being under the rubble and smashed into pieces too small to identify, effectively zero.

No evidence exists of any such wreckage, and there is no reason why it should not have been found and presented if it existed. We must therefore conclude that if the 757 theory is to be kept alive, one has to postulate an explosion significant enough to cremate an entire length of wing beyond evidence that it ever existed. Because the only available energy source for such an explosion is the fuel, and an explosion must generate force equally in all directions, this forces us to the conclusion that most of the plane must have been similarly cremated by the explosion.There is also the problem of the tail. Being the last part of the plane to enter the building, the wall should already have been smashed down by the time it entered. So the tail should have suffered less impact than the forward part of the plane, increasing the likelihood of large identifiable pieces being found. That no evidence remains of it also forces us to postulate a massive explosion capable of cremating it.

Before examining this question further, I will now do the same style of analysis on the scenario of the plane hitting the wall with the wings approximately parallel to the ground.

If this happened, it is clear that the wings never contacted the wall. They certainly did not pass through. The hole is 60 ft too narrow, leaving 30 ft of each wing that cannot have passed through. And there is no evidence of any damage to the sides of the hole that would indicate contact of this type. If the wings did hit the wall, they canít have simply bounced off, without leaving any damage to the wall, while simultaneously cremating themselves from the force of the impact. Especially if the fuselage was apparently able to plough significantly into the building, before being cremated. Not only is the fuselage penetration indicative of the test of strength between the wall and the plane, but the wall would have been weakened by being split open by the fuselage, making it easier for the wings and tail as they followed. So in the event of the wings being parallel, since no wreckage exists to support their existence, we must also postulate an explosion significant enough to cremate the wings to their extremities, in order to account for the two missing 30 ft sections.

Regardless of at what angle the wings may have been tilted, it is impossible for all of the wreckage to have been impacted, buried and crushed beyond identification within the rubble of the 65 ft by 65 ft area of wall damage. A significant section of at least one wing, something more than 25 ft long, never entered the impact zone, and cannot have been cremated by impact alone, and yet appears to have vanished. The lack of any other wreckage also indicates cremation. And since explosions generate force equally in all directions, one canít postulate an explosion powerful enough to cremate the extremities of the plane - tail, nose and wing tips without postulating that the entire plane was cremated.

Therefore, it is either drop the 757 theory or postulate an explosion powerful enough to cremate the wreckage to the point that no evidence remains of itís existence.

Before examining in detail the explosion question, lets look at the depth of the hole. 65 ft. The length of the alleged plane was 155 ft. Nothing identifiable remains of any part of the plane. If we were not to postulate an explosion we would have to suggest that the fuselage was compacted to 40% of itís original length - at least, just to explain the lack of damage to the second ring. Thatís assuming the entire depth of the first ring to have been burst through in the initial impact, and part of the compacted plane to have protruded out into the space between the two rings. But if such compacted wreckage came to rest there, it would be highly visible, and without a subsequent explosion, there is no way to explain where the compacted fuselage went. So the entire length of the plane needs to be compacted into the space of the first ring - about 30 ft - quite impossible. One would have to suggest that the fuselage compacted to about 20 % of itís length against the unyielding wall, and then suddenly burst through, coming to rest inside as a 30 ft lump amongst the rubble. Or alternatively, that it was still being compacted even after it burst through, meaning that as the rear of the plane entered, the rubble and the compacted remains of the front of the plane, were still providing significant resistance, like a person trying to hold a door shut against a stronger opponent, and being gradually pushed back. This canít happen. The wall either holds or it doesnít. The plane either penetrates or compacts. It doesnít do both simultaneously. Itís possible that there could have been a certain amount of compaction before penetration, but at some point the wall had to give way, and once it did, there would be no more compaction. If itís going to give way, it will be early in the process. And yet, postulating a 50 % compaction of 90 % of the plane, before it suddenly burst through - which is quite impossible - would still leave a final fuselage length of 85 ft to be accounted for - also impossible. And this still leaves unsolved the problem of what happened to it afterwards.

Thereís a severe problem not only with the width of the impact area, but also the depth. Neither the fuselage nor the wings can fit into the allotted space.

Postulating an angled entry slightly reduces the amount of compaction required, but not by the orders of magnitude necessary to fundamentally solve the problem. For example, if one was to redo the last calculation on the basis of a 45 degree entry, it would be reduced to a 42% compaction of 90 % of the plane before bursting through, leaving an 85 foot length of wreckage, which lying at a 45 degree angle, would leave about 37 ft of fuselage extending beyond the first ring, almost reaching the second. And there would now be either a wider entry hole, or a greater section of wing which missed the impact zone. .Although debris of some kind exists, there is nothing of enough substance to provide any evidence of what kind of plane it was, and the volume is insufficient to account for anything remotely approaching the dimensions under discussion. This is further proof that in order to keep the 757 theory alive, we must postulate an explosion which cremated the plane.


The only available energy source for such an explosion is the fuel load, which means that the explosion must have been centred in the fuselage. An explosion generates force equally in all directions. It had to have cremated both ends of the plane, which means that the minimum force which can be postulated is one sufficient to destroy a tail or nose from 77 ft away. Thatís what was required if the explosion occurred in the exact centre of the plane. Shifting it away from the centre means that less force is needed at one end, but more at another. Since the force must be generated equally in all directions, the smallest force we can postulate is one emanating from the centre, if we assume the force needed for cremation to be equal at both ends. Because any discrepancy in relation to that question is not calculable, I will assume that to be the case. If it is incorrect, it wonít effect the integrity of the following analysis, because it reveals fundamental problems with the scenario as a whole, which canít be solved by shifting the problem from one part of the plane to another. An equal force must have been generated forward of the centre point, behind it, above it, and below it. (At least potentially so, if not blocked by the ground ) So we must draw a 3D circle around the centre of the plane, and know that every point on the edge of that circle was impacted by a force sufficient to cremate the tail of a plane, and that all points closer to the centre were subject to an even greater force.

If the plane blew up as it was entering the building, there are two basic scenarios. 1) The centre of the explosion was inside the building. For example, the plane entered with the wings sharply titled, and exploded after the wings had entered (and passed above ) the impact area. 2) The explosion occurred outside the building, because it happened earlier in the process than in scenario 1).

The previous analysis of the depth problem tells us that scenario 1) is impossible. If the plane was half way into the building (77 ft of penetration), then even allowing for 12 ft of compacting, the nose would have been hard up against the second ring when the explosion took place. Thereís no sign of such damage to the second ring. Nevertheless, Iíll explore the full implications of the ďinside the buildingĒ scenario, just to make sure that nothing is left out.

Assuming half the plane to be inside the building, and the explosion to be just inside the hole, at this time the tail is still about 77 ft to the front of the wall. Itís exposure to the blast is partly shielded by the fact that the explosion is actually inside the collapsing section of the building. The same goes for the nose which is, allowing for compaction, about 60 ft forward of the blast centre, outside the collapsing ring. And yet both were cremated. So we have to increase the alleged power of the blast to account for the shielding of the front and rear extremities. We canít quantify the shielding, and must note that because the wall had been smashed down by this time, the shielding may have been small, but we can say that the force of the explosion was something greater than what was needed to cremate the nose and tail, had the plane been in the open.

What would have received the greatest impact from this blast? The centre of the fuselage, and the first ring of the building. The explosion was right inside it. So the building was subject to a force significantly greater than that of the cremated nose and tail.

What was the effect on the building of this massive blast ? Nothing, apparently. It had already been split open and weakened by the impact of the plane entering it. It appears to have suffered no extra damage as a result of the explosion. The wall face was negligibly damaged beyond a width of 65 ft - less, when we take into account that the original hole was smaller. Neither was the inside area of the wall, behind the face, significantly damaged width-wise beyond this point. Neither did the force of the explosion have any effect further into the building. The second ring, right next to the cremated nose, closer than the cremated tail, suffered no damage. If the explosion was centred in the middle of the 65 ft hole, just inside the building, then allowing for the width of the fuselage, it means that the wall suffered negligible sideways damage only 26 ft from the edges of the fuselage which was cremated. Speculation that the wall was of an extraordinarily strong construction, apart from suggesting an impossible strength, makes no contribution to explaining these anomalies. If it was so tough, then how did the plane slice itís way into it to begin with? Weíd have to believe that in the test of strength between the plane and the wall, that the plane penetrated the solid wall, but was then completely obliterated by an explosion which had no effect on the now damaged and weakened building. This isnít possible.

Thereís a further problem. A number of alleged witnesses claim that small pieces of the plane were scattered over a wide area. One (Mike Walter, whoís report I reviewed in a previous article linked later in this article) said he saw debris up on the overpass. Penny Elgas (report reviewed later in this article, said a piece of the plane landed in her car. A number of photos ( examined later) purport to show small fragments of the plane, flung out considerable distances from the scene. But curiously, none of these alleged witnesses or any of the photos describe showers of rubble from the building. Why arenít there stone pieces scattered all over the place, if the building was the centrepoint of the explosion?

But this is an aside from the main proof. The scenario of the explosion inside the building is impossible on two counts.
1) That an explosion of sufficient power to cremate a 100 ton aircraft, some of it at distances of 77 ft away, could have no impact on an already partly demolished stone building, which was at the centre of the blast.
2)That not enough length of plane could have entered the building, unless one is to suggest that the explosion occurred right at the front of the plane, which then forces one to increase itís alleged power by orders of magnitude to cremate the rear, more than 140 ft away, compounding the problems of reason 1.
So itís impossible for the explosion to have occurred inside the building.

In order to keep the 757 theory alive, we must postulate that the explosion took place outside the building. Then we have the same problem in reverse. Suppose the centre point of the explosion was the centre of the plane. If it took place when the wings were close to the wall, then the wall was still subject to the maximum force. A greater force than that applied to the tail. And the nose is now the part thatís shielded, inside the wall. If the 125ft wingspan was parallel and right next to the wall and was cremated, then there should be 125 ft of severe damage along the wall, and an extensive area of gradually declining damage beyond this point. If we tilt the wings at 45 degrees, to reduce the effective horizontal width and effective height of the wingspan to about 90 ft, meaning that no part of the wing was further than 90 ft from the blast, we must still postulate an area of massively destructive force at least 90 ft wide along the wall face, with gradually declining severity of damage further to the sides. There canít have been a sudden cut off point for damage to the wall. It would have been pulverized to nothing at the centre point, gradually reducing in severity, to cosmetic damage such as broken windows, blackening and superficial face damage at a point significantly beyond the wingspan width. Since the wall shows negligible damage beyond 65 ft, the damaged area isnít wide enough to accommodate speculation of the nearby wings being blasted into nothing. Even if the plane went in at the crazy angle of a 90 degree wing tilt, the wing extremities covering a total span of 125 ft, above and below the explosion still have to be cremated, meaning that an equal span of force has to be generated sideways along the wallface. And yet somehow the building escapes with negligible damage beyond a total span of 65 ft. So this didnít happen either.

The last hope is to suggest that the explosion took place almost at the instant of impact, before the plane had significantly penetrated the wall. This places the centre of the blast the maximum possible distance from the wall - about 77 ft. It makes no difference to try to compound this by suggesting that the blast was also further towards the back of the plane, because then we have to increase itís power, to account for the cremated nose. The wall, at the point where the nose struck, still has to be receiving a force equal to that necessary to destroy the nose.

If we draw the 77 ft circle around the middle of the plane, the extremities of the 65 ft hole are only about 8 ft beyond the circle, meaning that this width of wall should still have been subject to massive force, and that we should still be seeing very significant damage beyond this width. At 50 ft either side of the centre of the nose, creating a wallface length of 100 ft, the wall is only about 16 ft from the circle. So although the scenario is not as ridiculous as the previous scenarios, itís still impossible to reconcile the narrow area of significant damage to the wall with the enormous forces being inflicted on the nearby plane. When one considers that only 16 ft away, the blast is powerful enough to cremate a plane tail or nose, the impact on the 100 ft section of wall should be dramatic.

And this scenario creates another problem. It requires the postulation that there was no significant penetration of the plane into the wall. In this case, then virtually all of the damage we see to the wall, was caused by the explosion, not the impact. In this case, itís very difficult to create a plausible scenario for the shape and size of the damage. The force would have been at itís greatest in the centre where the nose was obliterated. It would have been gradually less as you look to the sides. So the original damage should have been V shaped, with the centre point of the V, in the middle of the 65 ft hole, and the wide shallow area at the outside wall. No such evidence exists. What we see is a neat rectangular hole. The obvious counter argument is that the original shape of the hole has been masked by the later collapse of one wedge of the wall, and that the early photos are too obscured by smoke and water to tell us exactly how far and in what shape the original damage extended. Quite so, but this admits that most of the damage wasnít even caused by the explosion directly, but simply by the secondary collapse, meaning that the original area of direct damage was tiny. For example, the points on the wall 20 ft each side of the centre, creating a total span of 40 ft, were only 5 ft further away than the tail, which was allegedly cremated. So this area should have been ferociously demolished in the original damage. Early photos show this wasnít the case, and only 15 ft further to each side - points which are only about 9 ft further from the blast than the tail, all we see are broken windows. Some are still intact.

This photo demonstrates the absurdity of this scenario

The windows you can see just outside the damage area are only about 10 ft further away from the blast centre than the nose or tail would have been.

Trying to solve this problem is futile.The fundamental problem is that the modest damage to the wall is not only irreconcilable with the impact of a such a large plane, but also irreconcilable with the explosive forces needed to destroy one.

So any scenario of the plane hitting the building at a 90 degree fuselage angle is impossible. The wreckage is not inside the building, is not outside, and the force of a blast powerful enough to cremate the missing wreckage was impossible in the context of the wall damage.


The above calculations and analysis were based on the assumption that the fuselage struck the wall at a 90 degree angle. This wasnít because I necessarily believe that whatever hit the wall did so at this angle. It was because it a) favoured the 757 theory to the maximum, by keeping the entry point as narrow as possible, and b) kept the maths simple as an introductory reference point to the problem.The calculations change for every different angle assumed. Itís impractical to do a separate analysis for every possible angle, but neither is it necessary. It is sufficient to take a snapshot half way through the range of possibilities. By assuming a fuselage angle of 45 degrees, we gain an insight into the trend of how the problem changes by angling the fuselage.

First, the parallel plane scenario. Plotted on graph paper, this shows that at the point that the fuselage strikes the wall, the inner wing tip is only about 18 ft from the wall. If the fuselage continued to drive into the wall at this angle, the wingtip would strike the wall about 65 ft from the near edge of the hole made by the fuselage. If the wing was to slice into the wall, we should see a continuos rip in the wall extending about 65 ft until it joined up with the fuselage hole. Meanwhile, as the fuselage was driving deeper and wider, it would create itís own hole moving further away at 45 degrees. If the wall collapsed along the fuselage impact area, then weíd see one long hole made by the fuselage. If it punched through cleanly, weíd see a 45 degree tunnel, and a separate hole starting 65 ft away from the southern edge, (assuming the plane to have been coming from the south west.) From the size and shape of the damage to the wall, we know that this didnít happen.

Letís straighten up the angle of the plane to try place the wingtip strike within the 65 ft hole area. The hope here is that then the entry point of the inner wing might come within the area where it was masked by the later collapse. Iím going to try to create a scenario where there might have been one point of entry for the fuselage, and a separate one less than 65 ft away for the wing, creating two holes within a 65 ft area. This would appear to unsupported by early photographic evidence, but we may be able to argue that the thick smoke and the water jets at the time obscured it.

But it doesnít work. If we straighten the angle to 67 degrees, it only reduces the distance of the wingtip strike from the near edge of the fuselage strike by a few feet. Once we straighten the angle further, itís almost back to the 90 degree scenario, so thereís no point in pursuing that further. This is before we introduce the impact of the outer wing, which would slice a big hole to the north of the fuselage area. Even if you ignore the previously examined problem of compaction into the 65 ft depth, then connecting all this up into one hole, creates one of about 140 ft wide before the second wing enters the building. So the scenario of the fuselage having come in on an angle with the wings parallel and penetrating the wall is impossible.

Did the wing break off and not damage the wall? If so, we should see big chunks of the wing scattered to the south of the main crash site. No such wreckage exists, so this didnít happen either. What about an explosion? We have the same problems as with the 90 degree scenario, but worse. Even if the explosion occurred the instant of collision, the centre point would be much closer to the southern stretch of the wall, than in the 90 degree scenario, where we were able to place it 77 ft away. A section of wall more than 100 ft long would be closer to the centre of the blast than the tail. And if debris was flung out, much of it would have been hurled into the wall. Thereís no significant damage extending for anything like this length along the wall. So the scenario of an angled approach with parallel wings, whether penetrating, breaking off or exploding is impossible.

Lets look at a 45 degree approach with tilted wings. Nothing changes as far as the explosion scenario goes, because the distance between the exploding fuselage and the wall hasnít changed. An impact scenario still gives a width way beyond the 65 ft hole. If the plane didnít explode,and fully impacted from a 45 degree angle with the wings tilted at 45 degrees, the total impact area would be about 125 ft wide, perhaps split into three separate areas - inner wing strike, fuselage, and outer wing strike, or perhaps if the sections of wall between the different strike areas collapsed, it would be one long hole. It makes no difference which wing was titled up or down, but whichever one was up would have a significant section pass above the building.

Every possible scenario has ben examined. Straight approach, angled approach, parallel wings, tilted wings, trying to fit the plane into the building, and trying to construct a credible scenario for an explosion to explain the lack of wreckage. None of them work. So itís impossible for a plane of that size to have caused the incident.

These results are in spite of the fact that I biased the equations beyond credibility in favour of the 757 theory. Imagine the results had I assumed an impact hole of 40 ft, which still would have been orders of magnitude greater than the original hole.

This really concludes the argument. When a plane hits a building, the wreckage must be accounted for in one way or another - all of it. Either it is inside the building, or it is outside the building, or it is disintegrated to nothing. If none of these three happened, then it was never there.

It is acceptable, indeed predictable, for small fragments to be unaccounted for, but not 99.99% of the plane. The plane weighed about 100 tons, so 1 ton of alleged wreckage would represent 1% of the plane. The fragments claimed by some to be wreckage of the plane ( which I will examine later ) would be srtuggling to represent 0.01% of the plane.

Nevertheless, I anticipate that some people will still want to argue that 2+2 = 5, and claim the 757 theory to be still alive on other grounds.
So I will now suspend the results of the previous analysis,and examine other aspects of the case.


The previous analysis examined the question of whether it was possible for the plane to have been cremated in the context of the damage to the Pentagon wall. It was shown not to be. But is such a cremation possible anyway, in any situation? The only available source of energy is the planeís fuel.

Jet fuel burns at 800 degrees C. Aluminium, from which a large part of a plane is constructed, melts at 660 degrees C.

During the aluminium recycling process, it is heated to 700 degrees C, and then poured into moulds.

So it is possible in theory for burning jet fuel to melt aluminium, although this is not the same as cremating it. Whether itís possible in practice depends upon the ratio of fuel to aluminium and how efficiently it is applied.

One look at the shape of an aircraft tells us that itís a very difficult shape to efficiently apply such energy to. Long and thin one way, crossed at 90 degrees by another section, also long and thin. So if one was to try to melt a 757 by sitting it in a tub of burning jet fuel, the tub would have to be a very specifically designed shape, unless you wanted to waste an awful lot of fuel. No such intelligently designed, controlled and efficient application of fuel can occur in a crash, so even if all of the fuel burned or exploded, only a small proportion of it could have been applied in an efficient manner to the task of melting the plane.

How much fuel was on board? A maximum possible figure can be calculated from the specifications referenced at the beginning of the article. According to the official story, the plane left Dulles, flew about 400 miles to Ohio,and then 300 back to Washington before crashing - about 15.7 % of itís maximum range. So if it had a full tank on departure, then the most fuel it can have had when it crashed was about 85 % of itís maximum capacity. This is 9765 gallons. The maximum take off weight of the plane is 255,00 lbs. Letís assume a rounded figure of 200,000 lbs of aluminium and other materials in this plane. Iíll call it 180,000 lbs of aluminium.

This is a guess, but not a completely uneducated one. According to

about 80% of the structural material of a plane is aluminium, although it doesn't specify whether this is by weight or volume. If we assume that it refers to weight, then if the plane's weight - minus the fuel load was 200,000 lbs at take off, this gives a figure of 160,000lb of aluminium.Tthe other significant materials are steel and titanium. (See the above link) Since both steel and titanium have higher melting points than aluminium,

thus increasing the work needing to be done by the burning fuel, a factor which then needs to be offset by such materials as glass and plastic, then assuming the other 40,000 lbs of plane weight to be roughly equivilant to another 20,000 lbs of aluminium in terms of the energy required to melt the plane would appear to give an accurate enough estimation for the analysis which follows.

Such crude approximations are only a problem if the result is marginal, so lets see if it is.

It means that each gallon of fuel, even applied with intelligent efficiency would have to melt about 18.5 lbs of aluminium. Does this sound possible? Assume a 50 % efficiency rate, which would seem extraordinarily generous. The result is the equivalent of half the available fuel being applied with intelligently designed efficiency, and the other half being completely wasted. So the equivalent ratio for the problem is the need for each gallon of fuel being able to melt 37 lbs of aluminium, in a controlled and designed situation.

Letís translate this data into an everyday example. 1 gallon is about the size of the small emergency fuel cans that motorists carry. 1 lb of Aluminium makes about 29 and a half standard soft drink cans.

So 37 lbs of aluminium is about 1090 cans. Can you melt 1090 aluminium cans with a 1 gallon can of kerosine? Letís reduce the alleged cremation of AA 77 to a crude model with a scale about 1 to 10,000. This model is extremely crude, but nowhere as crude as simply saying ďThe plane burned - end of thought process.Ē The model doesnít take into account other materials such as glass, plastic, fibreglass, steel, titanium etc. And the scaling is extremely rough. But the only point in exploring this model further would be if it gave any indication that the melting of the aircraft was even remotely possible. Reduce the fuel load to a scale of 1 to 10,000 - about 1 gallon, and then halve it to account for the 50 % efficiency. Reduce the weight of the plane to the same scale - about 18 lbs of aluminium. Reduce total cubic volume of the plane by the same scale, in order to keep the same weight to size ratio- and material to air ratio. This means reducing the dimensions to a scale of about 1 to 22. ( 22 times 22 times 22 = close enough to 10,000 ) The result is a fuselage about 7 ft long, about 6 inches wide and about 7 inches high, with a very thin cross section representing the wings, about 5 ft 6 in long. This structure is made from 18 lbs of aluminum - about 530 compressed aluminium cans. To give an idea of the density, each foot of the fuselage would contain about 70 cans worth of metal. Fill a section in the middle with half a gallon of kerosine and set fire to it, and see if you can melt it. Better still, attach a fuse to a small firecracker placed inside, to give the fuel the best chance of going up in one sudden catastrophic explosion, rather than burning slowly, to see if we can not just melt, but actually cremate the model - reduce it to a pile of dust and ashes. It is of course, impossible.

Lets look at the small scale model from a different angle. 1 gallon is about 12 standard soft drink cans. So we need 12 cans worth of kerosine to melt 530 cans. Thatís about 44 cans to be melted for each full can of kerosine. Expressed another way, take one standard soft drink can, a scew top lid from a cordial botlle, put two lidfuls of kerosine into the can, drop in a match and see if it melts.
1 gallon of kerosine cannot melt 18 lbs of aluminium even in the most efficiently applied, controlled situation one could devise.

And weíre only talking about melting, not cremation. Even if this ridiculous scenario was possible, we should see a big block of something approaching 100 tons of melted aluminium somewhere. This would be a little hard to miss, if it was there.

The US government may be the most powerful on Earth, but if it believes that it has invented legislation that changes or suspends the laws of physics, then it needs a reality check. Things can only happen if there is enough energy to drive the process. All such processes are calculable and predictable. If there was insufficient energy for an alleged event, then it never happened. There wasnít enough energy in the fuel load to melt, let alone cremate the plane, which means that it didnít happen.
Once more, the argument is concluded, but for the sake of hard line sceptics, lets move on to another aspect.


There are some who like to point to the WTC crashes to make the point that planes can and do explode into nothing in a crash. It is curious that the only examples which can be found of this allegedly explosive cremation of crashing planes just happens to be on Sept 11, 2001. A thorough examination of the history of aviation disasters on any other day shows that this simply doesnít happen. This will be demonstrated by a library of aviation disaster photos to be presented shortly.

Unless the laws of physics were different on sept 11 2001, all that the WTC crashes demonstrate is that these planes must have been loaded with explosives, because a tank of kerosine does not have the capability for that kind of explosive force without the input of an extra energy source, nor the total available energy to do the job. Following is a series of photos of planes which crashed into mountains, nosedived into the ground, collided with other aircraft, crashed on take off, crashed into buildings, streets or forests, had bombs planted aboard them, or crashed next to petrol stations. Note the remarkably intact wreckage compared to what happened in the WTC crashes and what is alleged to have happened in to AA 77.
Not all of the crashes are entirely comparable in terms of impact and fuel load, but there are enough different situations here to make the point that total cremation of crashing aircraft, without the input of additional energy other than the fuel load does not and cannot happen.

Hereís a good comparison. An American Airlines Boeing 757 which crashed into a mountain.

Hereís three more 757 crashes and a 767

This plane crashed into a field 80 degrees nose down.

This DC 10 crashed into a mountain.

This one crashed right next to a petrol station and still didnít blow anything up.

And hereís a whole lot of other crashes This is what real wreckage of real plane crashes looks like.

Wreckage photos of the plane which crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945 are unclear, but here is a description of the wreckage.

[[Some debris from the crash fell to the streets below, sending pedestrians scurrying for cover, but most fell onto the buildings setbacks at the fifth floor.Still, a bulk of wreckage remained stuck in the side of the building. After the flames were extinguished and the remains of the victims removed, the rest of the wreckage was removed through the building.]]

Here's the wreckage of the cessna which crashed into a building in Tampa in Jan 2002.

That should be enough to make the point. But in case you want to see more, these sites - from which the above photos were sourced,

have photos of hundreds more crashes which I havenít linked to individually. In the first list, they are listed from top to bottom by date. One famous date is conspicuous by itís absence. Sept 11, 2001. There were 4 plane crashes that day. But none of them left any wreckage. What it means is that the WTC crash planes and whatever hit the Pentagon were destroyed with powerful explosives. Information about UAL 93 has been so scarce that its hard to comment. ( Why the secrecy ? )The preceeding photos demonstrate that the WTC crashes were unique in aviation history. Itís already been demonstrated that a full tank of jet fuel doesnít have the available energy to do the job.

The analysis below demonstrates from a different perspective why crashed planes do not explode in massively destructive fireballs. Kerosine (jet fuel) is not a volatile enough material. But what would happen, just supposing we could get a fuel tank to blow up? Although jet fuel is not a particularly explosive substance, it is possible to get it to explode in some situations.

Because it so rarely happens, we are forced to examine a different kind of air disaster - TWA 800, which blew up in mid air, shortly after take off. The official story is that it was caused by an exploding fuel tank. Sceptics say that it was hit by a missile. Regardless of which it was, there was plenty of wreckage.The following analysis of arguments relating to TWA 800, demonstrate that both sides of the argument act to debunk the official story of AA 77. If it was hit by a missile, then it demonstrates that even an impact of this ferocity still doesnít reduce a plane to dust and ashes, and doesnít set off a catastrophic fuel tank inferno capable of cremating a plane. If the official story is true, then the arguments put forward to support it (several years before AA 77) act as inadvertent rebuttals to the official AA 77 story.

In this article on TWA 800,
Petroleum engineering research offers clue to TWA 800 explosion by David S Salisbury,

he discusses a theory put forward by Stanford University Professor Sullivan S. Marsden about why TWA 800 exploded. Professor Sullivan has had to propose a very complex set of circumstances to try to explain how such a unique event as the alleged explosion of a fuel tank could have occurred.

Salsibury writes

[[Jet fuel normally is not explosive at temperatures below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But on TWA 800 the air-conditioner heat exchangers probably warmed the air/fuel mixture in the tank above that point. When the aircraft is flying, the energy given off by the heat exchangers is effectively dissipated to the outside air. But when the air conditioners are run while the aircraft is on the ground and the tank is nearly empty, the heat exchangers put out enough heat to raise the temperature of the air/fuel mixture into the danger zone, Marsden says. ]]

In other words, itís impossible to blow up a full tank of fuel, without input of extra energy, because the air /fuel mixture isnít right, and the presence of the full fuel load cools it to below explosive temperature. Even a full fuel tank falls ridiculously short of the energy required to even melt a plane, let alone cremate it, and this theory is saying that the only real risk of an explosion is with a near empty tank. Which is why TWA didnít get blown into nothing . And why it simply canít happen, even when planes have bombs planted aboard or are shot down.

TWA 800 was a 747. Marsdenís theory cited very specific concerns with the fuel delivery systems of 747s. Whether or not his ideas on TWA 800 are plausible, what it demonstrates is that aviation experts, even when concocting cover stories for the government, if this is what Marsden was doing, do not accept that aircraft simply explode and are cremated as a matter of course. Itís a very complex argument to try to explain how a fuel tank might have exploded. Or at least, that was the official view before Sept 11, 2001

Sceptics claim that even Marsdenís theory is ludicrously overestimating the explosive capabilities of jet fuel. From this Washington post article.

[[September 27, 1997
William S. Donaldson says the "misted fuel" in the airliner's center wing tank wasn't hot
enough to explode and that only a blast outside the plane could have set off the chain of events.
Legislator Probes TWA 800 Countertheory
Congress has quietly begun probing a retired Navy officer's claim that jet fuel in TWA flight 800's center wing tank was too cold to explode without being first shaken into a volatile mist. William S. Donaldson's assertion challenges virtually every remaining theory of the NTSB in its search for the cause of the July 17 .... crash. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., Ohio Democrat, who has been probing the issue virtually alone, was asked by aviation subcommittee Chairman John J. Duncan Jr., Tennessee Republican to "investigate all the circumstances" and report back. Mr. Duncan ordered staff help for Mr. Traficant, whose staff has consulted with Mr. Donaldson. "You could basically sit in that tank with a lit cigarette and snuff the cigarette out in the fuel and it won't explode," said Paul Marcone, Mr.. Traficant's top aide. "Your agency has been depicting the volatility of the fuel as if it were nitrobenzene," the former navy jet pilot said in a combative letter to NTSB Chairman James E. Hall, accusing him of covering up important facts and basing his judgments on fuel-temperature testing done on the ground in a desert. he said the fuel never reached the danger point of 127 degrees Fahrenheit and believes only an explosion outside the plane could have set off the chain of events.]]

This is a significant comment. [[ "You could basically sit in that tank with a lit cigarette and snuff the cigarette out in the fuel and it won't explode... Your agency has been depicting the volatility of the fuel as if it were nitrobenzene." ]]

5 years later, with the occurrence of the Sept 11 crashes, the allegedly explosive nature of jet fuel has been further ramped up to the power of dynamite.

Of course ,the article also cites opinions rebutting Donaldsonís remarks, but it reinforces the point that a glib statement that ďAA 77 blew up and disintegrated to nothing - perfectly normal, end of story, whatís the all argument about? Ē is not credible.

The controversy over TWA 800 continues, shedding more light on how ridiculous is the claim that it was a full fuel load which blew AA 77 into nothing. In this extract, a supporter of the official TWA 800 story suggests that a full fuel tank is safer than an empty one. (June 1997)

[[Large airliners don't need to fill up all their fuel tanks for most of their flights. They save money and reduce the risk of accidents by not carrying excess fuel. Loeb sees a hazard in this. TWA 800, with no more than 100 gallons of fuel in its big center wing fuel tank, had been waiting two hours to take off. Loeb claimed on PrimeTime Live that its air-conditioning packs, located beneath the fuel tank, heated the fuel enough to vaporize some of it, creating what host Sam Donaldson called "a virtual bomb ready to explode." Loeb admitted that the investigators had not been able to find anything that might have ignited this "bomb," but he brushed that aside, saying if there had been no explosive vapor, there would have been no accident. ]]

So, even those who are claiming that TWA 800 went down because of an exploding fuel tank, have as a central part of their theory, that a full fuel tank reduces the risk of explosion. From the same article

[[The New York Times reported that the NTSB planned to set off a 747 center wing fuel tank explosion this year to see if the vapor from 100 gallons of fuel would have enough force to break a 747 in two. That important test has not been made, and there are no plans to make it. Instead, the NTSB plans to explode a small bomb near the center wing fuel tank of a 747 in England in July to see what kind of damage a small shaped charge will do and "more importantly," they say, what sound it will make. ]]

So theyíre arguing about whether an exploding fuel tank can even break a plane in two, not whether it can reduce it to dust and ashes. According to their theories, it canít explode if itís full (it still wouldnít have enough energy anyway) and if itís empty enough to explode, itís arguable whether it could break a plane in two.
Another article about TWA 800

Herald International Tribune July 24 1996

[["If it was an accident, it would scare the hell out of us," said Michael Barr, director of aviation safety programs at the University of Southern California. "These planes just don't blow up. There's too many fire walls, too many checks and balances.'
Chrisotpher Ronay is equally troubled. As head of the FBI bomb unit for seven years, he investigated 30 aircraft bombings before retiring in 1994.
"I can't recall anything that has had a catastrophic effect like this case," he said. "You could blow the hell out of a cargo compartment with a luggage bomb, but you have to blow up a fuel cell or an engine to get an explosion like that." ]]

And yet, this explosion, of a violence unprecedented in aviation history still left lots of wreckage.

From the same article

[[The specific fuel involved is called Jet A, a derivative of kerosene and a sluggish explosive. To explode, it must mix with air, an indication that one or more of the eight fuel cells in the jumbo jet's wings were breached--either by violent engine or mechanical failure, by a well- placed bomb or possibly by a missile.
There have been cases of sudden mechanical failure that caused fire and the loss of aircraft. An Air Force C-141 transport plane crashed in Europe in the late 1970s when an engine exploded; spraying hot fragments that ignited paint in a cargo hold.
A Boeing 767 ripped to pieces over Thailand in 1991 when a computer error caused one engine to deploy its reverse thruster, sending the plane into a vicious spin.
But in neither case was there a cataclysmic explosion.
Before TWA 800 went down last week, there had never been an explosion of such ferocity aboard a 747-100, a 'wet-wing,' or plane that carries all its fuel in wing tanks.
"You have to have instant ignition into a large fuel source," said Mr. Barr, who trains accident investigators. "The way those fuel tanks are sealed, it just doesn't happen."
Few bombings of commercial aircraft have ended in such a fiery conclusion. In many cases, jetliners have survived even severe damage from explosions and landed safely.
In 1986, terrorists planted a sheet of plastic explosive the size of a business letter under one seat on a TWA flight from Rome to Athens. The explosion killed one man, blowing his seat out of the plane. A grandmother, daughter and grandchild were sucked out of the resulting hole. But the plane survived.
In the 1988 crash of Pan Am 103 at Lockerbie, Scotland, there was no fiery explosion- until fuel-laden parts of the plane hit the ground.
In that case, a bomb using 10 to 14 ounces (about 340 grams) of a plastic explosive was hidden in a radio cassette player. When detonated by a amine device, it blew a hole in the fuselage skin, which rapidly fractured and peeled away. The plane broke into five sections that tumbled to Earth over the Scottish countryside. ]]

This mentions a fiery explosion at the Lockerbie site, when fuel laden parts hit the ground. Iím not saying that no explosion can occur. What Iím saying is that itís not easily triggered, and doesnít have enough energy to cremate a plane. In the case of the Lockerbie bombing, the bomb itself was not enough to trigger an explosion of the fuel tank. Since the plane broke up into five sections, the impact of the exploding fuel upon the full wreckage could not be tested. Hereís one section of the wreckage.

So if a bomb, breaking a plane into 5 pieces, still doesnít trigger a sudden explosion of the fuel tank, then what does? Crashing into something solid, like a mountain or a building - but apparently only on sept 11, 2001.Thereís no evidence that an explosion of the type and power alleged to have cremated AA 77 or the WTC planes has ever happened to any other plane, or ever could in the situation of a normal crash. Although the political circumstance behind the Sept 11 crashes, and (in the case of WTC crash 2 ) the spectacular imagery involved was unprecedented, there was nothing unusual in the impact physics of the crashes. Planes regularly crash into mountains, streets, the ground, buildings and other planes, and are not cremated.

Web author Jack Cashill writes (August 16 2001)

[[Until recently, the only listed "fuel tank explosion" in the 80-year history of airline disasters was a Philippine Air Lines 737 that blew while the plane was backing out a Manila airport gate in May of 1990. And even this case is suspect. ]]

In all of these cases significant wreckage - at least - survived. In some cases, the whole plane. So many are saying that even the alleged explosion of jet fuel aboard TWA 800, which left plenty of identifiable wreckage, was impossible. If the official story on TWA 800 is a cover up, then the fuel tank never exploded, and the whole matter of an allegedly exploding fuel tank even breaking a plane in two is an outrageous lie. If the official story is correct, or at least genuinely plausible, then fuel tank explosions are only a risk with near empty tanks, and donít have anything like the necessary energy to disintegrate a plane. And photographic records of aviation disasters demonstrate that fuel tank explosions donít happen as a result of regular crashes, or if they do they donít cremate the planes.

In the entire history of aviation, only four passenger jets have ever exploded into nothing, or are alleged to have done so as a result of a crash. All four just happen to have been the Sept 11 planes. And in the case of the WTC, the impact surface was mostly glass - about as soft a target as a plane can hit, with the possible exception of water. So this debunks any assertion that the alleged explosion of AA 77 was a result of being flown into a fiercely resistant surface, which itself is already debunked by examples of planes which flew into mountains and werenít cremated, including the earlier linked photo of an American Airlines 757 which crashed into a mountain. Thatís about as conclusive a comparison as one can get. The only possible conclusion is that the WTC planes had powerful explosives aboard, and that whatever hit the Pentagon was a much smaller object, also destroyed by explosives.

Not only was the alleged explosion of AA 77 impossible in the context of the modest damage to the Pentagon wall , and impossible because there wasnít enough energy in the fuel - itís also been shown anecdotally to be impossible in the context of aviation history.

Nevertheless, Iím once again going to suspend these findings, to examine another aspect.


So lets have a look at the photos of the alleged wreckage.

Additional to the fact that this represents less than 0.1 % of the volume of the alleged plane, what evidence is there that any of this was once part of a Boeing 757 ? It could be from anything. We know that something hit the Pentagon, that there was an explosion, and that where there is a
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