Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Those Magic Light Poles

I have discussed the light poles before, when Loose Change makes the following rather bizarre claim:

Second [actually third], the light poles. On November 22nd, 2004, a private jet en route to Houston to pick up George Bush Senior clipped a single light pole and crashed a minute away from landing at Houston's Hobby Airport.

The wing ripped off upon impact, scattering debris over 100 yards.And yet, Flight 77 managed to tear 5 light poles completely out of the ground, without damaging either the wings or light poles themselves. Instead, they seem to have just popped out of the ground.
If we look at the actual light poles, they appear far from undamaged.

An alert reader, however, points me towards the Wikipedia entry for Loose Change, which mentions the fact that light poles, for traffic safety reasons, are often engineered to break away, thus reducing the impact.

Strategy 16.2 A3: Use Breakaway Devices (T)5
General Description
This strategy targets specific poles located in high-crash locations where removing or relocating the poles is not feasible or cost-effective. The locations have a history of pole crashes or are in locations where the risk of future pole crashes is likely.

Something tells me if these light poles are designed to breakaway when a Hyundai hits them, they probably wouldn't stop a 100 ton jetliner.

This of course begs the question. If a 767 didn't put the light poles there, then what did? Do the conspiracy theorists believe in the light pole fairy?


At 17 May, 2006 17:19, Blogger Jason said...

This is a good one for Physics.

At 17 May, 2006 17:25, Blogger Jason said...

You might ask yourself where a light pole weighing 250lbs might land if a 757 flying 500mph smacks it....

At 17 May, 2006 17:26, Blogger Jason said...

I believe there are 5 poles involved?

At 17 May, 2006 17:38, Blogger Jason said...

That's a cool picture too. Curious why there's no damage on the ground from the poll and good damage to the poll.

A great physics topic all around!

At 17 May, 2006 17:42, Blogger Jason said...

More on the subject

At 17 May, 2006 17:50, Blogger ScottSl said...

You can see some better pictures here

Warning, there's a nasty graphic one.

At 17 May, 2006 18:29, Blogger Paul said...

Could it be they were blown over by wind force?

eh, maybe not.

At 17 May, 2006 19:55, Blogger Chad said...

No way a jetliner knocked those poles down. Had to have been a cruise missle....

....Or a chopper.

............Maybe Rumsfeld farted.

At 17 May, 2006 21:54, Blogger nesNYC said...

I think the Loose Change guys say these poles seem to face away from the Pentagon and don't seem to have been knocked out of the way by the plane.

But look at every video that shows airplane wings clipping stationary object and you'll see a fireball ensue since there is fuel in the wings. Why didn't that happen upon impact of not just one, or two, but 5 different poles? Guess Allah was really looking out for these "terrorists."

At 17 May, 2006 21:58, Blogger James B. said...

So you do believe in the light pole fairy?

At 18 May, 2006 04:34, Blogger Chad said...

I've seen video of a jetliner sitting on the tarmac with it's engines running at full throttle literally blow a pick-up truck driving behind it clean off the runway.

I'd think it would have the same effect on a lightpole or 5.

At 18 May, 2006 14:54, Blogger Jason said...


If you believe that you're just as crazy as the CT folks.

At 18 May, 2006 20:57, Blogger Chad said...

Jason, you don't think a couple jet engines at full throttle would produce enough thrust to move a passenger vehicle?

At 18 May, 2006 21:44, Blogger Jason said...


Jet Blast as the cause would need to include the fact that vehicles and people during the event would have been easily blown away. Which did not happen.


At 19 May, 2006 06:38, Blogger Chad said...

Not saying it is the cause. Just offering it up as a possibility.

I'm just askin' questions man. :)

At 02 July, 2006 23:32, Blogger ztkraptor said...

I love how all o fyou speak of "physics" like you understand it.
There is Dynamics and Statics involved, The wings of a Comercial Aircraft arn't made out of styrophome you know. They have about a quarter inch plating over the leading edge of the wing, which could EASILY deflect a phonepole.
Did you know that two by four plank and penetrate a BRICK WALL at high speeds? Did you know that GLASS!! GLASS!! Can impale a BRICK wall at high speeds, ever see the aftermath of a tornado. Go look at some pics before you start claiming your a physics allstar.

The lightpoles would more likely just flip over the wings, or just be sheered right though them, ever take a weed wacker to a thick bush? It just cuts right through and the bush doesn't even tip over, it kinda sheers off to the ground, same thing would happen to a lightpost being cut in half, it would simply fall down, no explosion, no balls of fire, no dents i nthe ground perhaps even....They are only light metal poles....

At 08 December, 2006 06:15, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok i'm no physics expert but from what you are sayin if a peice of glass or 2x4 could go through a brick wall a plane can go through light poles or light poles could go through a plane? well most brick walls arent a sturdy as you think depending on the density of the glass it is highly possible and i could prolly knock a hole in my house with a 2x4.

At 08 December, 2006 06:32, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok i didnt get to finish i signed in and it automatically published. another thing that comes into question why would the pentagon need poles to break away i believe even before 911 the security was still high and maniacs werent allowed to drive around hitting light poles so what would have been the need for this. but i believe when something is hit a speed near 500 mph even if it's just sliced through which it wasnt other wise there would be a more clean cut but the poles should have been more scatterd 500 is fast but if it hits a 500 mph then the pole will also be forced to move at the same speed until stoped by another object the ground. light poles light poles i really dont care i dont even know why i'm writing this just rambling nonsense i'm more worried about the billions were waisting on a bs war and no social security and all the other junk we have done nothing about.

At 24 March, 2007 21:06, Blogger Shpoogi said...


I think the information that you left out about your 2X4 going through a brick wall needs to be known. When that happens, the 2X4 undergoes massive destruction. It does in fact penetrate the brick wall, but it is nearly obliterated as it comes out on the other side. Same with the light poles and the wings. If the jet's wings hit the light poles, the poles may very well have been torn out of the ground, but the wings of the aircraft would also have sustained massive damage. This would have most likely resulted in large pieces of the wings being found laying on the ground before the impact zone on the Pentagon wall, or vaporized jet fuel being ignited by the exhaust of the still running jet engines causing a massive explosion.

At 10 October, 2007 14:35, Blogger nooneknowsme said...

While there are several designs and techniques for breakaway devices, only the steel reinforced safety pole was specifically designed for utility poles. The original design was funded by the FHWA and has gone through modifications. The latest design is called the AD IV (Ivey and Scott, 2004; Alberson and Ivey, 1994). For a depiction of the device, see Appendix 11. The criteria for applying breakaway devices are as follows:

The pole is located in the clear zone area.6

The alternatives for removing and relocating the poles are not practical because of right-of-way constraints, roadside environment, or economics.

The pole is a class 4–40 or smaller and does not have heavy devices attached.

There is a safe recovery area behind the pole, free of roadside hazards.

The pole is not located near a zone of significant pedestrian activity.

The final position of the pole and conductors (wires) should not create a hazard for pedestrians, other vehicles, and adjacent property owners.

At 13 November, 2007 13:02, Blogger Taylor said...

Those poles look awfully undamaged to me. And yeah, the rest of the plane wouldn't just disappear, if you believe that your one naive person.

At 05 December, 2007 17:19, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is what happens to a plane that hits reinforced wall at a high speed:

At 21 May, 2011 11:27, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I've seen video of a jetliner sitting on the tarmac with it's engines running at full throttle literally blow a pick-up truck driving behind it clean off the runway."

There's a big difference between blowing a 5 ton truck over it's center of gravity, and blowing 5 light poles off their bolted foundation.

If there were break away devices, I think it is near to impossible for a force which is applied per unit area (pressure) to make a strong enough torque on a small piece of the pole, high up, to knock down it down.

If a jet blast hit the lower part, there's no chance that it could have any torque on four, 3/4 inch soft steel bolts made for lateral motion of the pole.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home