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ERROR: 'The Jetliner that Appeared to Crash into the Pentagon Actually Flew Over It'

In contrast to the the "no-plane" or small plane theories that deny the crash of a jetliner into the Pentagon on 9/11, a theory circulated since 2003 maintains that a jetliner with American Airlines livery did indeed approach the Pentagon, as reported by scores of eyewitnesses, but actually flew over the vast building, slipping away unnoticed. The same witnesses were fooled into thinking that it crashed there, we are told, by a spectacular "magic show" in which the plane flew through the explosion.

The 'flyover theory' has a certain appeal to people who accept the vigorously-promoted assertion that a Boeing couldn't have crashed into the Pentagon, because, unlike the 'no-Boeing' theories, it does not require the wholesale dismissal of the large number of witnesses who saw the jetliner. However, the absurdity of the flyover theory becomes obvious when one considers the number of witnesses who would have clearly seen it, given the geography of the Pentagon's immediate surroundings, and the predictable distribution of bystanders with a relatively clear view at any given time of day condition of traffic.

e x c e r p t
title: Google Earth Exposes Pentagon Flyover Farce, or, Critiquing PentaCon (Smoking Crack Version)
authors: Jim Hoffman


The Pentagon 'flyover theory' is the central premise of The PentaCon, despite the fact neither CIT nor any of its supporters has provided a detailed account of how the "magic trick" could have been accomplished. That theory isn't even remotely plausible when one considers the number of observers who would have had a clear view of the purported overflight, even if the maneuver were engineered to be as inconspicuous as possible. Given the topography of the Pentagon's immediate surroundings, with its vast parking lots, highways and access roads of at least six lanes on each of its sides, and highrise buildings starting 300 feet to the south, such an event would have been witnessed by hundreds at least, as an unmistakable sight of a commercial jetliner leaving a huge explosion, as if it had bombed the building. The thunderous sound of the explosion would have guaranteed that most of the people in a position to see the event would have turned their heads to see the explosion and the plane in close proximity. The same witnesses would have been riveted to the action as the plane departed from the scene, whether it made a spectacular banking turn to land at National Airport, or made an equally spectacular climb away from the Pentagon over the Potomac.

Had that happened, nothing could have silenced the hundreds of diverse witnesses who saw something so unmistakable and so utterly irreconcilable with the official story that the silver jetliner had hit the Pentagon. Had that happened, CIT would have more to work with than a few witnesses who recalled seeing the jetliner flying to the north instead of the south of the Citgo station.

From more than a mile of the 6-lane 395, with its several overpasses and flanking roads, the claimed overflight following the explosion would have been obvious and unmistakable.

The Pentacon and "CIT"

The flyover theory, articulated as early as 2003 by the internet persona Richard Eastman, has reached the greatest audience with The Pentacon , an effort representing itself as the work of two independent investigators, the "Citizen Investigation Team (CIT)", interviewing actual witnesses to the Pentagon attack to expose the purported falsity of the official story that Flight 77 hit the building.

The methods used by CIT to support their conclusion are the subject of the 2009 essay To Con a Movement: Exposing CIT's PentaCon 'Magic Show'

e x c e r p t
title: To Con a Movement: Exposing CIT's PentaCon 'Magic Show'
authors: Victoria Ashley
Unfortunately, despite the broad rejection of CIT by much of the 9/11 activist community, event organizers are all too willing to feature hyped "mysteries” like PentaCon -- seemingly regardless of the absurdity of the films' methods, the demonstrable falseness of their claims, their effectiveness in polarizing activists, or the history of disruption by the filmmakers themselves. Whether such promotions reflect a misguided belief that such films help "grow the movement" because of the "excitement" they engender or whether they reflect a more deliberate form of "false flag 9/11 truth" the effect is the same: damaging the credibility and viability of 9/11 activist efforts by giving center stage to hoax material.

The Alleged North-of-Citgo Flight Path

Although the apparent purpose of CIT's project is to discredit independent investigations of the attack by advancing the flyover claim -- with its transparently absurdity to anyone knowledgeable about the geography of the Pentagon's surroundings -- CIT's explicit focus is its assertion that the plane flew north of the CITGO station. The flyover claim is, for the most part, advanced implicitly as a corollary, since the north-of-CITGO flight-path is inconsistent with the crash damage pattern in and around the building.

Interestingly, a number of individuals who have acquiesced to CIT's aggressive campaign to secure endorsements accept both the no-jetliner-impact and north-of-CITGO claims, yet distance themselves from the flyover theory. David Griffin called the north-of-CITGO claim "established beyond a reasonable doubt", but describes CIT's case for fly-over claim as "not as clear".

The north-of-CITGO (NOC) claim is refuted by a 2011 paper by Frank Legge and David Chandler.

e x c e r p t
title: The Pentagon Attack on 9/11: A Refutation of the Pentagon Overfly Hypothesis Based on Analysis of the Flight Path
authors: Frank Legge (B.Sc., Ph.D., Chemistry) and David Chandler (B.S. Physics, M.S.,Mathematics)
It is physically impossible for any plane to pass NOC at the reported speed without banking steeply, hence the few witnesses who claimed to have observed the north path were necessarily mistaken about the path of the plane. Several such witnesses reported that the plane was flying level in the vicinity of the Navy Annex, in complete contradiction of the curved NOC path.36 The NOC witnesses are outnumbered by witnesses to impact by about 10 to 1, or about twice that if we disqualify the NOC witnesses who contradicted themselves by reporting that they saw the impact. There is a complete absence of witnesses to the plane flying over the Pentagon, though hundreds of people were in a position to see it and the sight would have been striking, commencing, or approaching, with a remarkably steep bank.

page last modified: 2011-09-05
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Two views of a 757 overflying the Pentagon made using Google Earth