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9/11 Commission

Pentagon Attack Witnesses

When the Pentagon was attacked around 9:49 AM, traffic was stalled on the highway directly to the west of the targeted section. It is probable that hundreds of people witnessed some part of the assault.

Theories that a missile instead of a jetliner attacked the Pentagon on 9/11/01 have been strenuously promoted by Thierry Meyssan and others. But not a single witness claims to have seen a missile, against dozens who identified the attack plane as a large jetliner. A 757 would be almost impossible to confuse with a missile, even at a high speed.

French researcher Eric Bart compiled an extensive body of eyewitness accounts. A theme of the accounts is a sense of disbelief.

e x c e r p t
title: it was a plane bomb
authors: Eric Bart

Among 9/11 oddities : the Pentagon scene.


Witness disbelief

A plane ?

  • "My brain could not resolve the fact that it was a plane because it only seemed like a small hole in the building. No tail. No wings. No nothing". - Steve DeChiaro
  • "It just went 'pfff'. It wasn't what I would have expected for a plane that was not much more than a football field away from me" - John O'Keefe
  • "A huge jet. Then it was gone. Buildings don't eat planes. That plane, it just vanished. There should have been parts on the ground. It should have rained parts on my car. The airplane didn't crash. Where are the parts? There was a plane. It didn't go over the building. It went into the building. I want them to find it whole, wedged between floors or something. I want to make it make sense. I want to know why there's this gap in my memory, this gap that makes it seem as though the plane simply became invisible and banked up at the very last minute" - Skarlet
  • "It was in the air one moment and in the building the next... I still have a hard time believing it" - M.K.

A missile ?

  • "It was so eerily similar to another experience during the Gulf War - a missile strike that killed a Marine in my unit" - Phillip Thompson
  • "For those formerly in the military, it sounded like a 2000lb bomb going off" - Terry Morin
  • "A bomb had gone off. I could smell the cordite. I knew explosives had been set off somewhere" - Don Perkal
  • "Most people knew it was a bomb" - John Bowman
  • "It smelled like cordite, or gun smoke" - Gilah Goldsmith
  • "I knew it was a bomb or something" - Mike Slater

As a whole, the body of eyewitness accounts is fairly consistent. It supports both aspects of the official story, such as the approach and crash of a 757-like jetliner, and aspects beyond that story, such as the detonation of a bomb. 9-11 Research analyzed the accounts in Eric Bart's compilation to find strong support for several elements:

e x c e r p t
title: Pentagon Attack Eyewitnesses: Topical Excerpts
authors: Jim Hoffman
  • large jetliner [The plane that swooped down on the Pentagon was a twin-engine jetliner]
  • moment of impact [The plane appeared to explode into a huge fireball upon or just before impacting the Pentagon.]
  • explosive detonation [An explosive detonation, producing a strong concussion and leaving the smell of cordite, accompanied the attack]
  • other aircraft [A C-130 followed the jetliner up to the crash site and flew away.]
  • approach details [The plane clipped lamp-posts, banked to the left, and had its flaps up.]

The eyewitness evidence suggests that there was more to the event than officials have admitted. It is doubtful that the crash of a jetliner would produce a sharp explosive concussion, emit the odor of cordite, or result in explosions seemingly before impact, as several accounts and the pattern of damage to the Pentagon's facade suggest.

On the other hand, this evidence contradicts theories that the attack aircraft was something very different from a 757, such as a missile or Global Hawk drone. Not surprisingly, proponents of such theories have cherry-picked atypical eyewitness accounts while ignoring the larger body of eyewitness evidence, and used excerpts of witness accounts out of context. An example of the latter is the use of Mike Walter's statement about a "cruise missile with wings".


page last modified: 2006-08-18
Copyright 2004 - 2011,911Review.com / revision 1.08 site last modified: 12/21/2012
The Pentagon is ringed by highways with sprawling interchanges -- many on the side from which the plane approached. (Image, maps.google.com.)
These photographs taken soon after the attack by Steve Riskus show extensive fires along the Pentagon's facade. Riskus, on his web page states: Yes, I did actually see the plane impact the building.