9-11: AA 77; Research Sources, an update


This article updates researchers and historians on the state of publicly available information concerning American Airlines Flight 77 (AA 77). I reference previous articles I have written which may also be helpful.

Informative Web Sites

The website, undicisettembre.blogspot, an Italian web site, has published an interview of Patrick Smith, a professional pilot. The pilot discusses the capabilities of the hijacker pilots, specifically Hani Hanjour, the designated pilot for AA 77, once commandeered. According to the website:

Patrick Smith is an airline pilot with more than twenty years of experience. He currently flies Boeing 757s and 767s. He is the host of the well-known Ask The Pilot website and author of the book Cockpit Confidential: Questions, Answers, and Reflections.

Another web site, new to me, is a worthwhile compendium of diverse information from multiple sources concerning the flight of AA 77 on September 11, 2001.

The blogger, cjnewson88, updated an article, “American Airlines Flight 77 Evidence.”  The article covers nearly every aspect of the AA 77 story.  Embedded are You Tube videos created or referenced by Newson.

Newson references the work of Tom Lusch.  Lusch has long been concerned about radar issues, such as the Indianapolis Air Traffic Control Center loss of AA 77 as a primary target on controller scopes.

Lusch’s own work is exhaustive and one outcome is that he suggested refined language for the Commission Report to more accurately describe what happened at Indianapolis.  Newson includes Lusch’s language in his article. Two members of the Commission Staff have reviewed Lusch’s work and pose no objection to his refinement of our work.

Unfortunately, Lusch lost his web site some months ago and has just recently begun a reconstitution effort.  Interested readers can follow Lusch’s work at his new web site, “Thomas G. Lusch.”

Reagan National Tower and TRACON

Newson includes a video, “Ronald Reagan National Airport with ATC Audio,” that counts down the final minutes of the flight of AA 77. The radar time and air traffic control time may be off a bit when combined, but they are close enough to provide a history of the event as it happened. [Note: the title, above, is Newson’s title used on his website, not the title of the You Tube video, itself.]

At about 9:34 EDT radar time, a voice is heard in the background sounding an alert for the presence of an unidentified unknown approaching the nation’s capital. Shortly before 9:35 EDT an “S” tag appears on the track of AA 77. That tag marked the track so all TRACON and Tower personnel could easily follow its progress. That tag also allowed the Secret Service to follow the track since they had a radar feed from National TRACON.

The Secret Service did follow the track, once tagged, and provided screen prints depicting the advance of AA 77, as seen by the Service, to Commission Staff.  My archived AA 77 slide set has the times of those screen prints annotated.  I made those annotations, lightly in pencil, on the slide depicting the gradual, descending turn of AA 77 back to target.

Military aircraft in the area

The combined TRACON radar and Tower air traffic control communications also account for the presence of military fixed-wing aircraft in the area: Venus 22; Word 31; the Bobcats, 14 and 17; and Gofer 06.  I discussed all but the Bobcats in a 2009 article, “9-11: The Mystery Plane; not so mysterious.” I discussed the Bobcats in another 2009 article, “9-11: The Bobcats; a teachable moment.”

I recently posted a transcript of the Commission Staff interview with the Gofer 06 pilot.

AA 77

The convergence of evidence compiled by Newsom is conclusive. AA 77 was commandeered by five hijackers who then flew it into the Pentagon between 9:37 and 9:38 EDT, September 11, 2001.