Needs debunking: Pentagon plane could have been shot down

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At 9:03, it was known that all hijacked planes were on a suicide mission, and it was also known that flight 77 had deviated course & could not be contacted. They certainly knew it was hijacked by the time various passengers informed their relatives.

Why on earth was it not shot down? It could have hit a more crowded place than the pentagon.


Senior Member.
Flight 77 hit the Pentagon at 9:37.

Immediate response​

At 8:32 a.m., FAA officials were notified Flight 11 had been hijacked and they, in turn, notified the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). NORAD scrambled two F-15s from Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts and they were airborne by 8:53. Because of slow and confused communication from FAA officials, NORAD had nine minutes' notice, and no notice about any of the other flights before they crashed. After both of the Twin Towers had already been hit, more fighters were scrambled from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia at 9:30.[194] At 10:20, Vice President Dick Cheneyissued orders to shoot down any commercial aircraft that could be positively identified as being hijacked. These instructions were not relayed in time for the fighters to take action.[194][195][196] Some fighters took to the air without live ammunition, knowing that to prevent the hijackers from striking their intended targets, the pilots might have to intercept and crash their fighters into the hijacked planes, possibly ejecting at the last moment.[197]

[194] "We Have Some Planes" (PDF). The 911 Commission Report. 911 Commission. pp. 20–42.


Senior Member.
Prior to 9/11, every hijacked plane was redirected to a different airport, either to be held for ransom or to defect to an enemy country. Often no passengers were killed, but while one or more sometimes was hijackers never killed an entire plane of people, even in cases where planes were hijacked with as few as four hostages.

Unprecedented events look a lot different from the other side.


A female F-14 jockey answered this question on a 911 documentary I watched last night on TV.

Firstly it took a long time to get the fighters in the air and vector them in.

Secondly, they were unarmed. She explained that the rockets were not only stored elsewhere but they were in various sections which were stored in various elsewheres. It took many hours to days to arm a military aircraft in peacetime.

She was under no doubt that if push came to shove her and her fellow pilot were expected to go kamikaze and ram the airliners. I have no doubt she would have done it.


Senior Member.
The 9/11 Commission estimated that the flight was hijacked between 08:51 and 08:54, shortly after American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center and not too long after United Airlines Flight 175 had been hijacked. The last normal radio communications from the aircraft to air traffic control occurred at 08:50:51.[30] Unlike the other three flights, there were no reports of anyone being stabbed or a bomb threat and the pilots were possibly not immediately killed but herded to the back of the plane with the rest of the passengers. At 08:54, as the plane flew in the vicinity over Pike County, Ohio, it began to deviate from its normal assigned flight path and turned south.[31] Two minutes later, at 08:56, the plane's transponder was switched off.[23] The hijackers set the flight's autopilot on a course heading east towards Washington, D.C.[32]

The FAA was aware at this point there was an emergency on board the airplane. By this time, Flight 11 had already crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center and Flight 175 was known to have been hijacked and was within minutes of striking the South Tower. After learning of this second hijacking involving an American Airlines aircraft and the hijacking involving United Airlines, American Airlines' executive vice president Gerard Arpey ordered a nationwide ground stop for the airline.[23] The Indianapolis Air Traffic Control Center, as well as American Airlines dispatchers, made several failed attempts to contact the aircraft. At the time the airplane was hijacked, it was flying over an area of limited radar coverage.[33] With air controllers unable to contact the flight by radio, an Indianapolis official declared that it had possibly crashed at 09:09.[33]

[33] Phillips, Don (November 3, 2001). "Pentagon Crash Highlights a Radar Gap; Limited System in One Area Made Flight 77 Invisible to Controllers for Half-Hour". The Washington Post.

It's hard to intercept a plane if you don't know where it is.


Senior Member
At 9:03, it was known that all hijacked planes were on a suicide mission, and it was also known that flight 77 had deviated course & could not be contacted. They certainly knew it was hijacked by the time various passengers informed their relatives.

Why on earth was it not shot down? It could have hit a more crowded place than the pentagon.
The BIG problem with your post and thread is that you make it appear as if there were a claim that needs debunking, when in fact you are Just Asking a Question.
  • What is the claim? Please spell it out!
  • Whose claim is it? Where and when was that claim made? Please source the claim!
  • What facts and evidence are presented by the claimant and the source that support the claim? Have you done any preliminary thinking about that supporting evidence - if there is any supporting evidence at all?
Without a claim to debunk, the thread has no topic.
Without supporting evidence, a claim would not have merit, would not in fact "need" any debunking.

You say "[a]t 9:03 it was known". Question one: Was known by WHOM? By every person on planet earth? By every living soul in America?
Not everybody was watching the news, you know? The air traffic controllers (ATC) working AA77 - did they know "at 9:03" - as opposed to 9:04 or later - that "all hijacked planes were on a suicide mission" - yes or no?

You say "it was also known that flight 77 had deviated course" - I presume you mean "At 9:03" also. Well, is that so? It was known there was a problem with AA77 - but ATC did not know how the plane had deviated from course - they had simply lost radar and radio contact. Did you know that?
Who else do you think "[knew] that flight 77 had deviated course"? Please enumerate them, ideally by name and position - everybody that YOU know "[knew] that flight 77 had deviated course".

You say "They certainly knew it was hijacked by the time various passengers informed their relatives."
Who are these unnamed "they"? The same who "[knew] that flight 77 had deviated course"? How, and when, would those who "[knew] that flight 77 had deviated course" have learned of the content of calls made by various passengers to their relatives?
Are ATC in the business of mind reading? Do they listen in on all air phone calls? Please, lay out for us how on earth you think that "They certainly knew it was hijacked by the time various passengers informed their relatives"!

"Why on earth was it not shot down?"
Because there was no armed fighter plane in a position and with the required authorization (which would have had to come from the President or Secretary of Defense) to shoot it down.
The only pair of armed fighters that would have been in the region with a physical chance to intercept were the alarm fighters at Langley AFB. Please lay out a realistic timeline of the communications (name all the relevant players involved) that would have resulted in the information getting escalated to the National Command Authority and back down the chain of command to the Langley fighters. Parallely, please lay out a realistic time line for the flow of information from Cleveland area ATC to NORAD or whoever else would need and work with operational data (coordinates...) that would have enabled the Langley fighters to actually navigate to an interception point prior to 9:37.

These timelines ought already exist - by the claimant for the claim you think "needs" debunking.

If there is no such evidence that a shoot-down was realistic, the claim "could have been shot down" is not made out, and needs no debunking.
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