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A Look at the Incredible Claim That Hijackers with Box Cutters Commandeered 4 Planes on 9/11

At Reddit, I managed to get into a discussion with one of the wags on that site regarding a question someone posed on 9/11.  What’s so sophisticated about hijacking a plane? No point in letting the outcome go to waste.

In answering such a question, it’s important not to let these types lead you down straw-man fallacy paths. My response is concise. It’s based on a statement to me from my cousin who was a 20-year domestic-airline pilot. He said this to me shortly after 9/11: No American pilots would turn over an aircraft to hijackers wielding box cutters, as claimed on 9/11. That seems logical, but in today’s world we need to tighten up our case.

The wag responded with a whole list of global hijackings dating back a century to prove it was not a big deal. However, a perusal of the list revealed only three U.S. hijackings between 1983-2001 — and two were thwarted by the crew, one crashed.

From Wikipedia: The so-called “Golden Age” of skyjacking in the United States ran from 1968 through 1979, with attacks tapering off after as new regulations made boarding aircraft with weapons extremely difficult.

Jan. 11, 1987: A Continental Airlines DC-9 was hijacked in flight by Norwood Emanuel. Captain Mark Meyer was credited with thwarting the hijacking by quickly landing at Dulles International outside of Washington, D.C

San Luis Obispo in 1987, when a disgruntled PSA employee shot the pilot of PSA flight 1771 to death, resulting in the crash of the plane and the death of everyone aboard.

April 7, 1994: FedEx Flight 705 experienced an attempted hijack by disgruntled employee Auburn Calloway as it left Memphis, Tennessee.

So four hijackings on 9/11 would have been one of the most extreme outliers and coinkydinks in history. Not only were hijacking attempts in U.S. skies rare in the 18 years leading up to 9/11, but in the United States no hijacker succeeded in taking over the aircraft during that period. I could find no hijackings — even during the “Golden Age” (1968-1979) — that succeeded where the perp carried a knife, let alone a box cutter. And it happened four times on 9/11. 

Commercial pilots are trained to squawk a universal hijack code (7500), if they are subject to an attempted hijacking, thereby notifying FAA controllers on the ground. The fact is that not one of the eight pilots (four pilots and four co-pilots) on the four hijacked planes performed this action.

“To communicate to air traffic control that an aircraft is being hijacked, a pilot under duress should squawk 7500 or vocally, by radio communication, transmit “(Aircraft callsign) Transponder seven five zero zero.”

So the storytelling goes something like this: First the hijackers were able to overcome stewardesses on four separate flights and obtain a key to the cockpit door. This was somehow accomplished without commotion in the midst of passengers.

Then the hijackers were able to unlock the doors and enter the cockpit in manner that “surprised” the crew sufficiently to beat all eight crew members on four separate flights to the squawk module in their own cockpits. This, plus overcoming the crews, was all done with a comic-book world hijacking weapon shown here. I know for a fact from my conversation with my cousin that many — if not most — airline pilots during this period were former military, including him.

Update: New footage of WTC has been released on June 1, 2018 from FOIA request. Go to full screen. The money shots start at 45:25 showing good quality footage of the molten metal streaming off the building. At 47:15 the building goes down, with some of the best footage ever of the sheer dustification of the structure. He slows it to 0.25 speed at 47:30. End 49:45.

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