Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fly Right

One of our readers points us to this excellent article on the left-leaning political site Salon, written by a commercial airline pilot on the bogus 9/11 theories being thrown out there by the uneducated. It is well worth a read.

It's true there's only a vestigial similarity between the cockpit of a light trainer and the flight deck of a Boeing. To put it mildly, the attackers, as private pilots, were completely out of their league. However, they were not setting out to perform single-engine missed approaches or Category 3 instrument landings with a failed hydraulic system. For good measure, at least two of the terrorist pilots had rented simulator time in jet aircraft, but striking the Pentagon, or navigating along the Hudson River to Manhattan on a cloudless morning, with the sole intention of steering head-on into a building, did not require a mastery of airmanship. The perpetrators had purchased manuals and videos describing the flight management systems of the 757/767, and as any desktop simulator enthusiast will tell you, elementary operation of the planes' navigational units and autopilots is chiefly an exercise in data programming.

You can learn it at home. You won't be good, but you'll be good enough. "They'd done their homework and they had what they needed," says a United Airlines pilot (name withheld on request), who has flown every model of Boeing from the 737 up. "Rudimentary knowledge and fearlessness."

"As everyone saw, their flying was sloppy and aggressive," says Michael (last name withheld), a pilot with several thousand hours in 757s and 767s. "Their skills and experience, or lack thereof, just weren't relevant."

42 Comments:

At 23 May, 2006 13:02, Blogger BG said...

"As everyone saw, their flying was sloppy and aggressive,"

Let's break this down. Start with everyone..... who is everyone.

Who saw Flight 77 flying sloppy and aggressive?

Who saw Flight 175 flying sloppy and agressive?

No evidence reported from Radar screens saw sloppy and aggressive. For the most part, the evidence is that they saw, in some cases, odd evidently intention course changes.

The only flight where eyewitnesses and video allegedly provide evidence that is at all consistent with "sloppy and agressive" is the 2nd hit at the WTC. Even this is a stretch.

I don't expect anyone to read this and say "oh you are right".

This is such a small point, and I don't expect any of these small points to break through the "wall of denial". I believe in trying to put the truth out there, even knowing that there is little chance of making headway with most of the readers.

 
At 23 May, 2006 13:11, Blogger ScottSl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 23 May, 2006 13:15, Blogger ScottSl said...

Please read the article

Also see Danielle O' Brien's quotes


The speed, the maneuverability, the way that he turned, we all thought in the radar room, all of us experienced air traffic controllers, that that was
a military plane ยป says O'Brien. You don't fly a 757 in that manner. It's UNSAFE.

 
At 23 May, 2006 13:26, Blogger FatOllie said...

bg, I don't think you should take the pilot's use of the word "saw" literally. It's a common metaphorical expression. I think he's referring specifically to the plane that hit the Pentagon (flight 77, I believe) and "sloppy and aggressive," in that context, is appropriate. One of the primary goals of a commercial airline pilot is to fly smoothly. Often times, the only significant acceleration that a passenger feels is during take-off and landing. To fly that plane in a manner that would lead ATCs to comment that it was being flown as if it were a fighter would be "sloppy and aggressive" from a commercial pilot's perspective.

Also, missing the first approach and having to go around is sloppy. Hitting the light poles is sloppy.

 
At 23 May, 2006 13:31, Blogger FatOllie said...

Slight correction -- I see that the O'Brien quote says "military plane" and not "fighter". I was paraphrasing but should not have made that mistake.

 
At 23 May, 2006 13:31, Blogger BG said...

scotts,

I'm looking here:
http://www.salon.com/tech/col/smith/2006/05/19/askthepilot186/print.html

no quote like you are saying. Where it that quote from?

 
At 23 May, 2006 13:39, Blogger ScottSl said...

For starters its in this blog under "It was a military plane".

Its a common misquote

Second that quote was not in the article
But here.
http://www.papillonsartpalace.com/hijackeWr.htm

 
At 23 May, 2006 13:40, Blogger ScottSl said...

Here:
http://screwloosechange.blogspot.com/2006/05/it-was-military-plane.html

 
At 23 May, 2006 13:45, Blogger undense said...

bg,

Nice straw man, but you are displaying your ignorance of commercial pilots and safety briefings.

After any kind of commercial airline mishap the pilots, by regulation, are fully briefed, including flight paths, altitude changes, speed changes, course changes, etc...

Keeping that in mind, the remark - "As everyone saw, their flying was sloppy and aggressive" - makes perfect sense.

 
At 23 May, 2006 14:08, Blogger JoanBasil said...

Well, did the 9/11 commission do any simulator exercises with pilots at the levels of the people who are supposed to have been the pilots?

 
At 23 May, 2006 14:37, Blogger undense said...

Well, did the 9/11 commission do any simulator exercises with pilots at the levels of the people who are supposed to have been the pilots?

What would be the point? There are results already available from the FAA for thousands of pilots of the same relative skill level who have been in simulators.

You don't have to be uber-experienced to fly a commercial airliner in perfect weather and crash it into something. Had it been a crappy day for weather you might have a point. That would have made things far more difficult, even if they were already IFR certified.

 
At 23 May, 2006 15:15, Blogger JoanBasil said...

Why not?

 
At 23 May, 2006 15:26, Blogger undense said...

Your question is a bit non-specific Joan. Can you clarify it?
"Why not" in regard to what?

 
At 23 May, 2006 15:46, Blogger LT said...

Well, did the 9/11 commission do any simulator exercises with pilots at the levels of the people who are supposed to have been the pilots?

you're kidding right. Do you want to know if anyone with that skill level could pick their nose and fly too? sheesh

 
At 23 May, 2006 15:51, Blogger BG said...

It,
I read this article:

http://www.papillonsartpalace.com/hijackeWr.htm

It supports the adjective "agressive". It entirely contradicts the characterizaton "sloppy" , which was meant to imply, I think, a lack skill, which is also contradicted.

 
At 23 May, 2006 16:18, Blogger undense said...

bg, you aparently still don't understand the comment in context. It was one pilot commenting to another in that article.

Why are you so determined to make it something it's not? You're really playing silly word games here and it comes off looking pretty stupid.

 
At 23 May, 2006 16:33, Blogger ScottSl said...

Sorry BG but I didn't see that from the article.
In fact the Salon article comments on this.


"Radar ruse
Watching on their screens, some air traffic controllers believed Flight 77's radar track was that of a military plane."


Reality: Why wouldn't they have thought so? How many civilian jetliners zoom around a city, spiraling down to treetop level at 400 knots?

Or see other comments.....

Reality: As I've explained in at least one prior column, Hani Hanjour's flying was hardly the show-quality demonstration often described. It was exceptional only in its recklessness. If anything, his loops and turns and spirals above the nation's capital revealed him to be exactly the shitty pilot he by all accounts was. To hit the Pentagon squarely he needed only a bit of luck, and he got it, possibly with help from the 757's autopilot. Striking a stationary object -- even a large one like the Pentagon -- at high speed and from a steep angle is very difficult. To make the job easier, he came in obliquely, tearing down light poles as he roared across the Pentagon's lawn.

"The hijackers required only the shallow understanding of the aircraft," agrees Ken Hertz, an airline pilot rated on the 757/767. "In much the same way that a person needn't be an experienced physician in order to perform CPR or set a broken bone."

That sentiment is echoed by Joe d'Eon, airline pilot and host of the "Fly With Me" podcast series. "It's the difference between a doctor and a butcher," says d'Eon.

 
At 23 May, 2006 17:42, Blogger Alex said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 23 May, 2006 17:43, Blogger Alex said...

From the article:

"It's true there's only a vestigial similarity between the cockpit of a light trainer and the flight deck of a Boeing. To put it mildly, the attackers, as private pilots, were completely out of their league. However, they were not setting out to perform single-engine missed approaches or Category 3 instrument landings with a failed hydraulic system."

I can vouch for that from personal experience actually. Between the ages of 12 and 17 I was in the Air Cadets, which is a semi-military youth organization in Canada. Part of our activities included flight training, and as such I had plenty of chances to fly 2-man gliders, and small Cesna type aircraft. By the time I was 15, I had not yet earned a pilots licence but I was comfortable behind the controls of small aircraft and was able to perform some fairly fancy manouvers, and to take-off and land the aircraft. At this point, as a reward for performing exceptionaly well in my duties, I was given the chance to (for about 3 minutes) manouver a C-130 military transport aircraft.

Did I know everything about the C-130? No. Did I know what every single button and knob did? Nope. Could I have landed the thing? Only if a controled crash counts as a landing. However, from my experience with small aircraft I was immediately able to pick out the important instruments and controls, and had no difficulty handling the aircraft in flight.

Similarily, while the terrorists would have had difficulty landing an airliner, it seems that they weren't too worried about performing that manouver.

 
At 23 May, 2006 18:34, Blogger undense said...

If you want to know the controls of many commercial planes, including 757s/767s, in advance just get a copy of MS Flight Simulator. You can even learn some fairly decent flight characteristics and dynamics from using it.

 
At 23 May, 2006 19:09, Blogger nesNYC said...

did not require a mastery of airmanship.

That's speculative but one thing is for sure, even pilots land at air ports using and "Instrument Landing System" to do so. The chances that any of these "hijackers" all hit their targets without it are pretty slim.

 
At 23 May, 2006 19:18, Blogger shawn said...

The chances that any of these "hijackers" all hit their targets without it are pretty slim.

Last I checked, the hijackers didn't do any landing.

 
At 23 May, 2006 19:41, Blogger Alex said...

what the hell....buddy, I know you're constantly talking out of your ass, but every time I think I've seen you at the apex of your idiocy, you manage to pull up one more time.

The ILS is intended to make landings easier, you're an utter moron if you've convinced yourself that it's REQUIRED in order to land. And it's CERTAINLY not required in order to hit a building. All you need to do is aim the nose of the aircraft at wherever you want to go. You know how, when the hood of your car is pointed at something, your car tends to go towards it? Yeah, well, airplanes do pretty much the same thing.

 
At 23 May, 2006 19:52, Blogger nesNYC said...

Last I checked, the hijackers didn't do any landing.

Yeah, that's what you would conclude. I understand your pain.

 
At 23 May, 2006 19:56, Blogger shawn said...

Yeah, that's what you would conclude. I understand your pain.

They crashed into a tower, a tower, an pentagonal office building (oddly enough called the Pentagon), and the ground.

I guess you could make the argument they were trying for a landing on the last one. /sarcasm

 
At 23 May, 2006 21:12, Blogger nesNYC said...

They crashed into a tower, a tower, an pentagonal office building (oddly enough called the Pentagon), and the ground.

Question, what's bigger, a tower or a runway? duh.</not sarcasm>

 
At 24 May, 2006 05:57, Blogger undense said...

Question, what's bigger, a tower or a runway? duh.<\not sarcasm>

Considering you're asking a poorly posed question, since planes typically don't make head on, perpindicular contact with a runway (at least pilots generally try to avoid having that happen), all we can really consider is width. The widest runway at JFK is 200 ft. The towers were 208 ft. wide. So using that reasoning, the twin towers were actually "bigger" than a runway. At the very least they were an easier target to hit because hitting a tower only basically involved controlling one axis of the plane. Landing on a runway requires controlling two axis, not to mention speed and trim.

But I bet you knew that already.

Duh indeed.

 
At 24 May, 2006 06:46, Blogger BG said...

necnyc,

Please don't feed the bears any crap that validates any part of the hijacker story. It's all a complete farbrication.

 
At 24 May, 2006 06:52, Blogger BG said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 24 May, 2006 06:53, Blogger BG said...

It occurs to me that I should clarify my position about the hijackers:

Do I believe all these dudes were in flight schools, were observed to some extent in Able Danger, etc. etc.

Absolutely.

Did Atta have a rental car, did he drive to Portland, and fly from Portland to Boston.

Absolutely

Did he hijack a plane, fly it to NYC, remember to toss his passport out the window before he crashed, and crash a jetlines into the WTC.

Yep, this is where the lying starts.

 
At 24 May, 2006 07:23, Blogger shawn said...

Atta didn't drive a car to Logan, he flew from Portland.

Also, it's not unlikely that light objects were thrown from the explosion. You see plenty of paper flying around on that day.

 
At 24 May, 2006 08:19, Blogger BG said...

Shawn,

You and I are saying the exact same thing on the rental car. Why to you comment as if there is a dispute?

 
At 24 May, 2006 08:22, Blogger BG said...

There was an enormous amount of paper in pieces, and dust / objects. Almost like an explosion had happened....

Hmmm

How about that?

 
At 24 May, 2006 08:44, Blogger LT said...

yeah, gee, i can't imagine an explosion happened when a fuel laden jetliner crashed into a skyscraper. (gasp!)

 
At 24 May, 2006 08:47, Blogger undense said...

Why would anyone expect anything like an explosion when a large jet full of fuel smacks into a big building at 500mph?

Gee, that's just silly.

/sarcasm

 
At 24 May, 2006 08:48, Blogger undense said...

Heh. It beat me to it.

 
At 24 May, 2006 09:00, Blogger LT said...

lol. great minds think alike.

 
At 24 May, 2006 09:17, Blogger Alex said...

And fools never differ. Aint that right BG, n-sync?

 
At 24 May, 2006 09:18, Blogger LT said...

alex,
you a soldier/military experience too?

 
At 24 May, 2006 09:37, Blogger Alex said...

Yes, 8 years Infantry NCO in the Canadian Forces. Right now I'm in the proccess of doing a component transfer and going airforce. Mainly because they won't send me to Afghanistan. I figure if I don't get to fight with my boys I may as well get out of the combat arms.

 
At 24 May, 2006 10:54, Blogger LT said...

rgr

 
At 24 May, 2006 18:16, Blogger shawn said...

You and I are saying the exact same thing on the rental car. Why to you comment as if there is a dispute?

Because the way you posted you seemed to fail to realize the other set of hijackers had to get to Boston, too.

 

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