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."