September 11, 2001 Conspiracy Theory Challenge – The Pentagon

Article By:  Scott Hall  
   September 11, 2001 is a date in United States history that changed the world.  So many terrible events that day, the lives that were lost, the damage to lives beyond those that worked within the buildings, the after effects of debates that will last until well beyond the passing of many generations to come.  Debating these issues helps all of us try and get to the core of what may or may not have been involved.  Every year, since this tragic date, debates are renewed, points and counter points are made, and film makers and conspiracy theorists get the chance to unveil a new perspective in support of their arguments.  My own personal experience during this time was to wake up in a recovery room from hand surgery, to see the news reporting of a plane that impacted a tower, a short time later, a second plane into the next tower and then a plane downed in a field as well as a plane landing into the pentagon.  This potentially controversial article will attempt to open the doors of "Yes, it really is possible it happened."

     In the coming months following the attack, our country underwent a huge transformation.  Words such as Terrorist, Al-Qaeda, Usama or Osama Bin Laden, Department of Homeland Security, Terror Alert Levels, War and Conspiracy or Cover up, came to our forefront suddenly and each carrying its own impact as to what it means.  Several items in the conspiracy realms have been pointed out, such as: was it really a series of Boeing planes that crashed into all those buildings (911: In plane sight) or why does the damage done to the Pentagon not match the dimensions of a 757 series plane and how was the FBI able to respond so quickly into those areas?  While watching this dated footage questions of my own were raised, but not in support of the conspiracy theory, rather it raises questions as to the basis of the conspiracy  theories themselves and this review will ask a few of those difficult questions.  One point in particular that got my attention was the Pentagon’s damage.

     The person’s who made the video, “In plane sight”, questioned a few areas of the Pentagon’s damage in relation to the size of the plane that impacted it.  One point was the opening’s dimensions created versus the airplane’s impact and its relative size.  The video shows after the collapse of the Pentagon’s outer structure, a 65 foot wide, 73 foot tall opening was created as well as evidence of a 16 foot in diameter hole along with some serious burn damage to the left and right of the opening created.  The question, will a 757 fit these dimensions?  According to what this video shows, those dimensions do not fit, so let’s take a closer look in order to accomplish understanding why we have the theory of conspiracy behind this tragedy and explore some counter points of interest as well.  According to the website Boeing.com, the wingspan of a 757 is approximately 124 feet wide, the overall length is 155 feet, the tail is approximately 44 feet tall, yep so far we based on these dimensions have reason to question, when reading further we see the specifications for the body is 12 feet, 4 inches.  The body of the plane is only 12feet 4 inches wide that would certainly fit in a 16 foot wide hole.  So if we take away this dimension of 12 feet from the overall length of the wingspan, we have 112 feet left over.  But we need to divide that number in half so we can see that each wing is approximately 51 or so feet in length.  That also fits into our dimensions of the impact points of our opening but does the math add up?

      When looking at the collapsed section of the building and some photo’s taken of the area, we see a triangular shape that occurred as well as a section of windows missing along the bottom floors and miscellaneous damage.  If we could presume for a moment, that this is a right triangular shape, then it would stand to reason, based in part of the math A²+B²=C² (A squared plus B squared equals C squared) that the sloped opening would also have to be wide enough to handle the plane within these dimensions.  Taking the square root of 65 squared and 73 squared we end up with the overall length of the slope at approximately 98 feet, assuming perfect angle of impact, close but then we would have debris from the extra 26 feet left over from our 124 feet, end up behind the impact point as it slams against the building or well within dimensions if the plane was below roof height, which based on video and the admittance of its creators, the impact point indeed was below the roof line. The math perspective makes perfect sense as to how this phenomenon could occur.

     Also within this video, questions of what happened to the plane and its engines and how was the building able to withstand the impact with minimal damage?  One of the many reasons that airplanes work is they are lightweight even weighing as much as they do, if they took on the same dimension of materials in a black box, it would be nearly impossible to get off the ground, so the infrastructures of aircrafts, specifically in reference to Boeing’s line of them, are made of lightweight carbon composite materials that have a aluminum alloy framing.  Most major aircraft consist of 5 major components, the two wings, the tail, the fuselage and the landing gear, all manufactured in a way as to support the resistance of flight, meaning when one piece needs support it gets it from other areas of the plane in order to keep us flying smoothly, turbulence aside.  The capacity of one of these aircraft for fuel is 11,466 gallons of fuel.  The type of fuel used is one of leaded compounds, much like some of our earlier car engines, where the leaded component was added to support lubrication of moving metal combustion parts.  JP-4, the most commonly used jet fuel, weighs 6.84 pounds per gallon, some of the weight of our aircraft if full is approximately 78 thousand pounds, or 39 tons of fuel.
Plane Pictures.com

       If we approximate that a few tons of fuel were consumed on the flight to the Pentagon, we can safely say about 30 tons may have been inside the craft upon impact.  The fuel itself can burn in excess of 6,000 (thousand) degrees maximum as it is a liquid, Kerosene base fuel, along with benzene as well as other balancing agents.  Is this hot enough to melt super structures like the two towers or cause structural failure at the Pentagon which caused a wall to collapse, the answer is yes.  The properties of this type of fuel according to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) are such that not only is foam recommended for extinguishing the flames, the fuel itself can travel to all sorts of areas and cause explosions or fires from hundreds of feet away from original ignition point as it has a flash point of negative 60 degrees Celsius (hess.com) and as with any fuel, the actual vapor is just as deadly as the liquid component.  With specifications such as these, it is theoretically feasible that the plane would have disintegrated; pending it impacted a surface hard enough to withstand the impact.  According to the video, by their own admission, the Pentagon had such a structure in place, complete with blast shielding windows (shown broken into spider web patterns in video) and 9 feet thick concrete and steel reinforced walls, which is understandable as we would want our nation’s defense capital as secure as possible, the Pentagon is touted as such.

     A key focal point in the video was the seemingly absent pieces of aircraft components or engine pieces.  The engines regardless of manufacturer are a steel, titanium alloy that is designed to withstand the stresses of thrust, torque and of course combustion of fuel inside the engine itself.  What is an alloy?  The term alloy as defined (thefreedictionary.com): A metallic substance made by mixing or fusing two or more metals or a metal and a nonmetal, to obtain desirable qualities, such as hardness, lightness and strength.  Bronze, Brass and Steel are alloys.  The melting point of titanium is3020 degrees Fahrenheit (chemicalelements.com), the melting point of aluminum is 1220 degrees and the melting point of steel is 2500 degrees (education.jlab.com) , these temperatures are well within the parameters of our maximum burn temperature of JP-4 jet fuel which is 6000 plus degrees. 
Rolls Royce Engine

Pratt Whitney Engine

     A proposal to give our Pentagon a face lift, went through unabridged in 1991, the total cost was around 1.2 billion dollars.  The Pentagon was the idea of Brigadier General Brehon Sommervelle when it was decided the War Department needed a more feasible office space to work from, where all aspects of the military could be controlled and information processed from one central location (visitingdc.com).  Costing nearly 83 million dollars, the ground breaking ceremony took place on September 11, 1941 and while the year may not be significant, the month and day certainly are where some 70 years later an attack occurred upon that same building, it stands to reason that this target on this date was set for a purpose, one that may be more historical than actually is being perceived by our conspiracy theorists.

     128 Standpipe systems each with 125 feet of hose, 672 hose cabinets, portable carbon dioxide extinguishers on wheels as well as fire extinguishers on every floor (by spec must be one every 50 to 75 feet), 465 alarm boxes, along with a sprinkler system, steel reinforced concrete (410,000 cubic yards of concrete), interior masonry walls, and a basement with suppression controls make the Pentagon virtually one of the most fire resistant and impact resistant structures in the world.  The original location of the building was eventually moved 3 miles to satisfy President Hoover’s thoughts on visibility of the capitol and cemetery monuments in the area.  The thought process from the architects that helped to design the 17 miles of corridor space total, had thought long in advance of the possibility of attack, including a renewed vigor when the Pentagon was marched on in protest to the Vietnam War.

          Looking upon our initial conspiracy theory of the Pentagon, based on mathematical equation, physical dimension, chemical make-up, and flammability ratings, we can easily see why the damage happened and that yes, it could be done by a 757 aircraft and leave no trace of the craft behind as well as cause delayed damage to the structural integrity of the walls in question.  We can see based on the same physics applied, that when the two planes that crashed into the world trade center towers, those planes also did not exit the building, but rather an explosion of glass, fireballs and smoke were the exiting results and a short time later, total building collapse.  According to an online article found dated February 2003, a group of engineers praised the construction of the Pentagon citing that the construction design did what it was supposed to do, withstand a blast and the subsequent fire that may follow.

     In conclusion without knowing all the parameters or more specifically, by taking excerpts from known reports, conspiracy theories are very possible, especially in the wake of such tragic events.  The FBI moved very fast into known attacked areas, confiscated equipment and video and many people ask why or want to point and say, “cover up”, when in essence, they may be missing some of the more pertinent details as to the why things may happen, such as evidence gathering or being smart enough to not let the public audience see the death of hundreds of lives up close and in real time. One of the more important questions not addressed, why wouldn’t the FBI and other agencies respond quickly when there was a potential threat that our USA may be under attack?  In the video in question, “The plane facts” and the conspiracies they point out, valid questions do come to mind, however, science and math have a way of helping to answer and “debunk” those theories or at the very least should make us question the theory itself.  I am more concerned for our nation in the wake of these attacks but not because of the threat of more that may occur, but for the literal bog down of resources it will take to convince people, physics and science add up perfectly especially when constructive history and events of a time much earlier than the attack, support the actual ending of the attacks.

References and further points of interest:

1)      http://boeing.com


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