Families Say Flight 93 Tapes Prove Heroism, by Phil Hirschko

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Families Say Flight 93 Tapes Prove Heroism, by Phil Hirschko

Postby admin » Mon Sep 07, 2015 1:32 am

Families Say Flight 93 Tapes Prove Heroism
by Phil Hirschkorn and David Mattingly
CNN.com

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Senator John McCain, left, and Mark Bingham's mother, Alice Hoglan, at the memorial service held at Wheeler Auditorium in honor of her son.
Peg Skorpinski photo


PRINCETON, New Jersey (CNN) -- Relatives of the 40 passengers and crew members killed when a hijacked plane crashed into a rural Pennsylvania field September 11 said Thursday the cockpit voice recording offers further proof that those on board acted heroically -- fighting back against hijackers who commandeered United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco.

"It does indeed confirm our loved ones died as heroes," said Alice Hoglan, whose son, Mark Bingham, 31, a businessman and rugby player, was aboard the flight that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

"It was excruciating. It was wonderful," said Hoglan, who flew in from California to hear the tape.

The FBI played the 31-minute recording in closed sessions Thursday inside a Princeton, New Jersey, hotel, first for the families of the two pilots and five flight attendants and later for the families of the 33 passengers.

None of the fight crew's families -- all of whom were represented -- commented on the experience. Only a handful of some 70 passengers' relatives did.

"The whole thing was stressful," said Derrill Bodley, a music teacher who lost his 20-year-old daughter, Deora, a college junior headed home from visiting friends.

"I am just here to honor my daughter's last moments, and to be as close to her as I could be," he said.

The families listened to the tape through headphones while transcripts, including English translations of Arabic words, were displayed on screens. The recording, which was played twice at each session, was muffled especially by the noisy rush of air, relatives said.

The Department of Justice footed the travel and hotel bill for as many as two relatives of each victim. Each family was permitted to send four people.

The government offered on-site counseling and spent time interviewing relatives to assess victim impact.

U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Novak, prosecutors from the Eastern District of Virginia, were also on hand. They exhorted families not to describe the tapes' contents because they will be played as evidence in the terrorism conspiracy trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, a 33-year-old Frenchman who prosecutors believe may have been the intended fifth hijacker aboard Flight 93.

Moussaoui, who underwent pilot training in the United States and allegedly trained in al Qaeda camps inside Afghanistan, was incarcerated in Minnesota on immigration charges a month before the attacks.

Flight 93 was the fourth commercial jetliner hijacked by Islamic militants affiliated with al Qaeda on September 11, about half an hour after the second plane struck the second World Trade Center tower, and only minutes before a third plane struck the Pentagon.

News of the unfolding terrorist plot reached Flight 93 passengers when they were able to make outgoing cell phone calls. Numerous relatives who received calls have reported that their loved ones resolved to take control of their plane.

"These were clearly people who were informed of the unthinkable, digested it, and acted upon it in no time at all," said Hamilton Peterson, whose father, Donald, 66, a retiree, died in the crash with his second wife.

"If anything, I consider it another Normandy. I think this sends a message to the world that the American spirit is alive and kicking," Peterson said.

All commercial airliners are equipped with a cockpit voice recorder that runs in a 30-minute loop, erasing each previous half hour of conversation. The CVR's purpose is to provide investigators a record of everything pilots say in the last half hour preceding a crash.

Access to CVRs is usually restricted to government crash investigators and parties suing over plane crashes. But the FBI agreed to make an exception in this case.

None of the relatives who discussed the tape would characterize the ultimate confrontation between the passengers and the hijackers.

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Deena Burnett, widow of passenger Tom Burnett, said she "found more peace and comfort than I expected" when she heard the tape.

Deena Burnett, who lost her husband, Tom, 38, a business executive, in the flight, said the voices of the hijackers were not calm, and that it was easy to distinguish when the Arab hijackers and the Americans were speaking.

She was listening for Tom's voice. He had called her four times from the plane, telling her the passengers were planning to do something.

"I found more peace and comfort than I expected," Burnett said.

Kenny Nacke and Paula Nacke Jacobs drove from Maryland because their older brother Lou, 42, died on the flight en route to a business meeting.

"I am proud in a very sad way. I would rather have our brother with us than he be portrayed as a hero," said Jacobs.

"I wish they were here to tell their own story," she said.
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Re: FAMILIES SAY FLIGHT 93 TAPES PROVE HEROISM, by Phil Hirs

Postby admin » Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:45 am

What Did Happen to Flight 93?
by Richard Wallace
mirror.co.uk
September 12, 2002
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/pa ... teid=50143

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RICHARD WALLACE, US Editor, examines riddle of hijacked jet as he visits crash site

THE unmarked military-style jet swooped down at high speed through the valley, twice circled the smoldering black scar where Flight 93 had careered into the ground just seconds earlier and then hurtled off over the horizon.

GRIEF: Victims' relatives visit a makeshift memorial at crash site

At least six eyewitnesses saw the mysterious aircraft on the morning of September 11 last year. But the US authorities deny it ever existed.

So when George Bush laid a wreath yesterday at the crash site in a remote valley outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, he was one of only a handful of people who know what really happened to the 40 innocents and four hijackers aboard the doomed United Airlines Boeing 757-200.

Those unimaginable final seconds as passengers showed courageous defiance apparently wrestling for control of the aircraft have become one of the defining images of the tragedy.

And "Let's roll" -- ringleader Todd Beamer's no-nonsense call to arms -- became a defining battle cry in America's war on terror.

But of the four aircraft taken on September 11, the exact fate of Flight 93 after its two-hour journey is proving difficult for US officials to explain.

What was the white jet doing there and why won't they admit to its presence? Why did other witnesses see smoke and flames trailing from Flight 93 as it fell from the sky, indicating a possible explosion aboard?

Or -- and this is proving to be the most uncomfortable question of all -- in the moments before the airliner piled into the black, spongy earth at 575 mph did an American fighter pilot have to do the unthinkable and shoot down a US civil airliner?

Susan Mcelwain, 51, who lives two miles from the site, knows what she saw -- the white plane rocketed directly over her head.

"It came right over me, I reckon just 40 or 50 ft above my mini-van," she recalled. "It was so low I ducked instinctively. It was traveling real fast, but hardly made any sound.

"Then it disappeared behind some trees. A few seconds later I heard this great explosion and saw this fireball rise up over the trees, so I figured the jet had crashed. The ground really shook. So I dialed 911 and told them what happened.

"I'd heard nothing about the other attacks and it was only when I got home and saw the TV that I realized it wasn't the white jet, but Flight 93.

Didn't think much more about it until the authorities started to say there had been no other plane. The plane I saw was heading right to the point where Flight 93 crashed and must have been there at the very moment it came down.

"There's no way I imagined this plane -- it was so low it was virtually on top of me. It was white with no markings but it was definitely military, it just had that look.

"It had two rear engines, a big fin on the back like a spoiler on the back of a car and with two upright fins at the side. I haven't found one like it on the Internet. It definitely wasn't one of those executive jets. The FBI came and talked to me and said there was no plane around.

"Then they changed their story and tried to say it was a plane taking pictures of the crash 3,000 ft up.

"But I saw it and it was there before the crash and it was 40ft above my head. They did not want my story -- nobody here did."

Mrs. Mcelwain, who looks after special needs children, is further convinced the whole truth has yet to come out because of a phone call she had within hours from the wife of an air force friend of the family.

"She said her husband had called her that morning and said 'I can't talk, but we've just shot a plane down,' " Susan said. "I presumed they meant Flight 93. I have no doubt those brave people on board tried to do something, but I don't believe what happened on the plane brought it down.

"If they shot it down, or something else happened, everyone, especially the victims' families, have a right to know."

Lee Purbaugh, 32, was the only person to see the last seconds of Flight 93 as it came down on former strip-mining land at precisely 10.06 am -- and he also saw the white jet.

He was working at the Rollock Inc. scrap yard on a ridge overlooking the point of impact, less than half a mile away. "I heard this real loud noise coming over my head," he told the Daily Mirror. "I looked up and it was Flight 93, barely 50 ft above me. It was coming down in a 45 degree and rocking from side to side. Then the nose suddenly dipped and it just crashed into the ground. There was this big fireball and then a huge cloud of smoke."

But did he see another plane? "Yes, there was another plane," Lee said. "I didn't get a good look but it was white and it circled the area about twice and then it flew off over the horizon."

Tom Spinelli, 28, was working at India Lake Marina, a mile and a half away. "I saw the white plane," he said.

"It was flying around all over the place like it was looking for something. I saw it before and after the crash."

India Lake also contributes to the view there was an explosion on board before the Newark-San Francisco flight came down. Debris rained down on the lake -- a curious feat if, as the US government insists, there was no mid-air explosion and the plane was intact until it hit the ground.

"It was mainly mail, bits of in-flight magazine and scraps of seat cloth," Tom said. "The authorities say it was blown here by the wind." But there was only a 10 mph breeze and you were a mile and a half away? Tom raised his eyebrows, rolled his eyes and said: "Yeah, that's what they reckon."

Light debris was also found eight miles away in New Baltimore. A section of engine weighing a ton was located 2,000 yards -- over a mile -- from the crash site. Theorists point out a Sidewinder heat-seeking missile attacks the hottest part of aircraft -- the engine.

The authorities say the impact bounced it there. But the few pieces of surviving fuselage, local coroner Wallace Miller told us, were "no bigger than a carrier bag".

Nearly all the passengers were reduced to charcoal on impact and the largest piece of human tissue found was a section of spine eight inches long.

CURIOUSLY, military officials insist there was never any pursuit of Flight 93, although they were informed that it was a suspected hijack at 9.16 am, 50 minutes before the plane came down.

At 9.35 am they assumed it was heading for Washington DC after it changed course in a 180 degree turn and three F-16s -- top speed 1,800mph -- now patrolling over the capital were told to "protect the White House at all costs".

An anonymous flight controller said on the day that an F-16 was "in hot pursuit" of Flight 93 -- Washington to Shanksville is seven to 10 minutes flying time.

A few minutes before the crash Bill Wright, piloting a single-engine Piper, could see Flight 93 three miles away, but was suddenly told to turn away and land immediately without explanation.

At 9.58 am a 911 call -- the last mobile phone contact from Flight 93 -- was made from one of the airliner's toilets by passenger Edward Felt.

Glenn Cramer, the emergency supervisor who answered it, said on the day: "He was very distraught. He said he believed the plane was going down.

"He did hear some sort of an explosion and saw white smoke coming from the plane, but he didn't know where. And then we lost contact with him." Glenn Cramer has now been gagged by the FBI.

Also, according to sources, the last seconds of the cockpit voice recorder are the loud sounds of wind, hinting at a possible hole somewhere in the fuselage. What caused the smoke and explosion? Why the wind sounds?

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

FURTHER verification that some kind of military aircraft was operating in the area is scientifically irrefutable.

At 9.22 am a sonic boom -- caused by supersonic flight -- was picked up by an earthquake monitoring station in southern Pennsylvania, 60 miles from Shanksville.

That Todd Beamer and others launched an assault on the hijackers there is no doubt. The brief extracts released from audio tapes indicate a fierce struggle going on at the cockpit door.

But nobody -- official or otherwise -- has categorically said the group got into the cockpit or that their actions led to the crash. Those final, agonizing moments are mere presumption.

President Bush and his team have the whole story. So why aren't they telling the rest of us?

UA93: THE EVIDENCE

THE WITNESSES

At least SIX witnesses, including Susan Mcelwain saw a small military type plane flying around shortly BEFORE UA93 crashed. The FBI denies its existence.

THE DEBRIS

The US Government insists the plane exploded on impact yet a one-ton section of the engine was found over a mile away and other light debris was found scattered over eight miles away.

THE MOBILE CALL

Passenger Edward Felt made an emergency call from the plane. He spoke of an explosion and seeing some white smoke. The supervisor who took the call has been gagged by the FBI.

THE F-16s

UA93 was identified as a hijack at 9.16 am. At 9.35 am three F-16s were ordered to "protect the White House at all costs" when it turned towards the capital. At 10.06 am it crashed at Shanksville, less than 10 mins flying time from Washington.

THE BLACK BOXES

Sources claim the last thing heard on the cockpit voice recorder is the sound of wind -- suggesting the plane had been holed.

THE SONIC BOOM

The FBI insists there was no military plane in the area but at 9.22 am a sonic boom -- caused by a supersonic jet -- was picked up by an earthquake monitor in southern Pennsylvania, 60 miles away from Shanksville.
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