We Have Some Holes in the Plane Stories

By Morgan Reynolds, Ph.D.
March 2006
excerpted from http://nomoregames.net/index.php?page=911&subpage1=we_have_holes

Where there is much desire to learn,
There of necessity will be much arguing,
Much writing, many opinions; for opinion
In good men is but knowledge in the making.
—John Milton

Two Boeing 767s Vanish into Twin Towers

Most 9/11 researchers reject the government’s Big Boeing Theory for the Pentagon and Pennsylvania events for lack of supporting evidence and presence of contrary evidence. Skepticism about BBT at WTC is less common but if we look at the gashes in the towers, a telling question arises:


How could two large wide-bodied aluminum jetliners penetrate massive steel towers and disappear with no deceleration visible, no plane wreckage visible in gashes and none knocked to the ground below the impact zone?
Expressed another way, no confirmed debris exists from two alleged 767 high-speed crashes into skyscrapers within 17 minutes of each other, a stunning lack of evidence to support the official 767 theory. Given long experience with airplane crashes, it is difficult if not impossible to accept the proposition that a wide-body jetliner can smash into a dense steel-concrete tower and disappear virtually without a trace, much less do it twice within 17 minutes in the same city block. Yet the NIST (pdf pg 38) states about the south tower, “the aircraft completely disappeared into the building in a fifth of a second.”


Tower walls were composed of high-strength steel beams approximately 14 inches square on one-meter centers (39.37”) surrounding windows with each column beam secured to others by steel spandrel plates about 52 inches x 10 feet forming a belt around each floor (see p. 8 pdf). Steel beam thicknesses varied from 4” at the base and tapered from 5/8” to ¼” in the WTC 1 impact zone and 13/16” to ¼” in the WTC 2 impact zone. WTC floors were grids of steel topped by four inches of steel reinforced lightweight concrete in corrugated steel pans. Walls effectively were dense webs of nearly 40% steel covered by aluminum and backed by steel and concrete floor grids mated to an incredibly strong and dense core of 47 cross-braced steel columns, stairwells and elevator shafts.
In a violent encounter between an aluminum plane weighing nearly 140 tons and a steel tower weighing 500,000 tons, the plane, of course, would be crushed. Aluminum has lower yield and failure strengths than steel and a Boeing 767 mass was a minuscule—to use Hoffman’s term—three hundredths of one percent of each tower’s mass. “The impact did nothing,” as UC Berkeley structural engineer A. Astaneh-Asl said, “the airplane did not do much damage.” Like a pin into skin or a person falling through the ice on a lake, a 140-ton airplane flying at over 400 mph could inflict local damage without damaging the structure globally. In particular, the engines themselves thrusting along full throttle at approximately 450-550 mph obviously could penetrate a steel tower, even fly through it. But whatever blew each gash in the towers, only 13% or less of the upper perimeter columns on a few floors were broken and the upper structure of the towers remained intact.
A fuselage, with only minor hyperbole, could be termed a hollow aluminum tube. Among large jetliner components, only engines and landing gear would retain serious structural integrity in a collision although small parts like actuators would remain intact too. Higher speeds increase kinetic energy by the square of speed and a frontal area of under 25 square meters would create local damage. Yet planes running into mountains, construction equipment, concrete barriers, and steel buildings fare very poorly, just as speeding automobiles hitting a guardrail, telephone pole or tree do. A plane flying into a WTC tower should break up, shatter and scatter pieces everywhere. The only issue is the exact pattern of destruction the building would impose on its intruder.


A key question regarding each jetliner’s disappearance is:
Would wing tips and tail break off against each steel wall or disappear entirely inside each building?
Ordinarily the answer would be that wing tips and tail would shear off on impact and bounce to the ground below. Wing tips have enormous forward momentum at impact but begin to decelerate as the nose and fuselage collides with a steel wall, five floors of steel-truss-steel-reinforced-concrete, and a steel inner core. This would wreak complete havoc on the plane, although the plane in the south tower videos looks like an invincible hot knife going through a soft butter tower. Localized force applied by the wing tips was insufficient to fragment steel columns or spandrel plates and we should have seen video footage of the repelled wreckage bounce to the ground. There are no reports of such wreckage that I can find. A decelerating tail section would slow down and break off too, yet we saw no trace of it. “The impact of the inner half of an empty wing significantly damaged exterior columns but did not result in their complete failure,” the NIST concedes (pdf, p. 105). In plainer terms, the hollow sections of the wings may damage steel columns but not fragment them (complete failure). Instead, the dense steel exterior of each tower would “reject” or “bounce back” so-called empty aluminum wings, especially wing tips, the outer sections.


Airplanes crashing into buildings, much less steel skyscrapers, are rare events but there is some experience beyond airport terminal mishaps. The Empire State building and Tampa crashes suggest that wings and tails break off, and even a fuselage does not penetrate far, at least at low speeds. Higher speeds increase kinetic energy by the square of speed, raising penetration power at the WTC. A vertical dive by an El Al 747 cargo plane that must have weighed 300+ tons, twice the weight of an alleged 767 at a WTC tower, got the better of an approximately 12-story apartment building (notice the abundant plane debris?).

 This recent crash in Iran into a 10-story building yielded the expected devastation of the 75-ton C130. Both of these buildings remained standing despite having structures that were far weaker than the 110 story steel framed WTC towers.

Most of us would agree that planes are flimsy things, as Marcus Icke points out: “Computer simulation and mathematical analysis of the impact by MIT, University of Purdue and others indicate that upon impact the wings of the 767 would have shattered and the fuel ignited outside the towers facade, the aircraft would have lost about 25% percent of its kinetic energy on impact and that the tail fin would have sheared off due to torsional forces. In layman’s terms this means that the aeroplane would have decelerated sharply [emphasis added] crumpled up and exploded against the tower’s wall with only heavy objects like the engines and undercarriage puncturing the towers facade. The entire airframe would not have glided through the outer wall and would not have left a large hole roughly the same shape and size of a Boeing 767-200.” Icke’s accompanying photos support his analysis by showing a MD80 landing hard, with its air frame bending and tail breaking off.

There probably is little dissent from the proposition that a jetliner is fragile relative to a WTC tower and even flimsy relative to a local impact area. Hoffman says, “In fact, jetliners are very light and fragile compared to buildings: they consist mostly of aluminum and have skin less than 2mm thick,” but he attempts to save the official theory with the following theory: “[T]he wing tips were shredded by the grating of meter-spaced columns.” This is the same story the NIST relies on to answer the implicit question: where is the wreckage? Why no debris? Wing tips and tail allegedly shredded instead of fracturing and shearing off. All the confetti then supposedly was deposited, absorbed or sucked inside the towers. This is an absurd proposition. Most steel beams and belt sections around the floors did not fail. Consequently, the wall rejected or repelled wing tips and tail because the gash is seriously undersized. Plane pieces do not deform like a gel or liquid and wrap around intact steel and pass into each tower. Major aircraft debris rejected by each tower would be knocked to the ground below the gashes. Hoffman offers no evidence for his “shred/wrap around” theory nor does he cite precedent from previous air crashes. It is an impossible proposition about how wing tips might have breakable joints precisely placed to coincide with columns and belts, break and then wrap around and vanish. Planes smash up, shatter, and disintegrate in irregular pieces in a crash, they don’t “shred” and wrap around intact steel pillars and belts. And even if 100% did “shred” in the metal-to-metal failure mechanism described by Wierzbicki, that material would not magically move around every beam and end up inside the building. To put it as bluntly as possible:

All steel beam and belt sections that were hit and did not fragment must have rejected plane pieces and bounced them outside each tower, period.

Yes, knife-edged grates shred cheese but dull steel columns and spandrel belts at each floor do not “shred” aluminum wings into thousands of aluminum strips and suck them into each tower. Columns and spandrel belts 52” high reject wing tips by shearing them off and bouncing them back to the ground in the fashion that telephone poles reject crashing cars. 100% of “shredded” parts cannot wrap around intact steel columns and belts and continue deep into the interior of each tower. Further, most parts do not shred, instead they shatter and break apart.

WTC crash videos show the south tower silently “absorbing” a plane and completely enshrouding it. Oddly enough, no deceleration occurs in these videos. Those clever Arab pilots parked each aircraft as if flying into an upper level airplane hangar without “braking.” A noiseless collision without deceleration is physically impossible and the chances of two 767s vanishing completely inside two towers are slim and none.
Suppose we explicitly enumerate the possibilities by strength and speed. For simplicity, assume two possible values for airplane strength upon exterior impact (invincible or flimsy), two values for aircraft strength during penetration inside a WTC tower (invincible or flimsy) and two possible speed changes during the crash process (deceleration or no deceleration). The following eight combinations exhaust the possibilities:
  1. Invincible/Invincible/No deceleration
  2. Invincible/Invincible/Deceleration
  3. Invincible/Flimsy/No deceleration
  4. Invincible/Flimsy/Deceleration
  5. Flimsy/Flimsy/No deceleration
  6. Flimsy/Flimsy/Deceleration
  7. Flimsy/Invincible/No deceleration
  8. Flimsy/Invincible/Deceleration
Looking this pattern over, physics declares all the odd theories (1,3, 5, 7) truly “odd” because they are impossible: a plane must decelerate at impact due to the laws of conservation of momentum and conservation of energy. It is no different than a human springboard diver going through air and then decelerating as he pushes against the resistance of water.
Further, physics rejects any theory that posits an invincible airplane (a plane remaining intact after an abrupt collision with a steel skyscraper) that also disintegrates (flimsy) in the next instant in the same general physical environment (temperature, etc.). Nor is theory 8 possible because a solid airplane cannot transform itself from flimsy to invincible, thereby eliminating theories 2, 4, and 8. That leaves theory 6 as the only theory possible physically yet it is contrary to the WTC facts. Conclusion: No Boeing 767 hit either WTC tower. QED
In detail, we have:
Theory 1 is impossible because the 767 would slice through a tower and continue at the same speed, flying out the other side like a .357 magnum bullet fired through 1 mm thick balsa wood. Further, a Boeing 767 cutting completely through a tower would seriously destabilize the tower by cutting substantial core sections and major sections of at least two walls. Theory 1 does not apply and is contrary to observation.
Theory 2 cannot apply for multiple reasons: i) the holes were too small to allow a complete 767 to pass through, ii) all parties agree 767s are not invincible and even the government felt obligated to produce photos of aircraft pieces, and iii) because of its size relative to a tower, an intact 767 would almost certainly be visible in a tower, on the ground below the impact hole or crashed at another site. The last feature is contrary to observation.
Theory 3 is physically impossible because a solid like an airplane does not transform itself from invincible to flimsy within a fraction of a second in the same environment (temperature, etc.). Further, a solid called an airplane would have to decelerate sharply and crumple too neatly to vanish within the tight space allowed. A tower wall is only 50 feet longer than the length and width of a 767. Zero deceleration upon impact, although shown in south tower videos, is physically impossible.


Theory 4 is physically impossible because a solid like an airplane cannot transform itself from invincible to flimsy within an instant in the same general environment (temperature, etc.). Theory 4 posits deceleration, contrary to the videos. Theory 4 must be the government theory yet it could not have happened that way because invincibility and simultaneous fragility is impossible.


Theory 5 is physically impossible because a flimsy, high-speed object must decelerate sharply upon impacting an invincible object unless it acquires more energy from somewhere yet video evidence shows no deceleration.


Theory 6 is a logical, physically plausible combination that characterizes air disasters except for the four crashes within 80 minutes on the morning of 9/11. A 767 would be flimsy in a high-speed collision against a steel and concrete tower except for engines and undercarriage. Yet each tower had “clean” gashes free of airplane debris as if punctured by an invincible air vehicle. Flimsiness implies plenty of parts visible in gashes, elsewhere in each tower and on the ground below each impact site. These consequences of theory 6 are contrary to fact.


Theory 7 is physically impossible because a solid cannot transform itself from flimsy to invincible during a collision, given an essentially static environment. Further, a flimsy airplane must decelerate and fail to seriously penetrate a steel tower. Airplane pieces would be highly visible, contrary to observation.


Theory 8 is physically impossible because a solid cannot transform itself from flimsy to strong during a collision in a static environment. A flimsy airplane would decelerate but it would also leave visible debris, contrary to observation.
Although impossible, theory 4 must be the government/Hoffman theory because it gets two out of three right: the 767 must decelerate and is flimsy inside. Yet the theory is impossible because the plane cannot be invincible at impact and then shred inside; the government/Hoffman theory also contradicts videos that display no deceleration.


A skeptic might argue that option 4 is possible because the plane would easily pierce the outer walls and then slow as it encountered more resistance further into the building. The problem with this is that it requires the plane to be slowing and/or disintegrating at the front while maintaining velocity in the rear. It’s as if the plane had encountered no resistance whatsoever. This is contrary to the laws of conservation of momentum and energy. Unless a failure mechanism exists that can explain how a plane can be as strong as a bullet in one instant and then as weak as an aluminum can with no deceleration in the next, we are left with an impossible theory.


But we’re in luck! The government claims it has the rejoinder. NIST simulation videos purport to show how theory 4 (Invincible/Confetti/Deceleration), might have happened! Swaddled in $20 million scientific trappings, this NIST flight of fantasy has some serious problems. First, NIST chooses theory 4, a physical impossibility. Second, if that is not sufficient, NIST completely avoided modeling the official “progressive pancake collapse” theory for the obvious reason that such a model would conflict with all the data, especially near-free-fall-speed in all three skyscraper collapses. This omission signifies “the collapse of the pancake theory,” as A.K. Dewdney says. Third, despite impressive computer power and a high level of detail, the magnitudes of the parameters were amped up by as much as 20% to get the desired results. Fourth, a simulation is only as good as the model (GIGO) so any engineer/modeler can play with the parameters and approximations until the desired result arrives. In the present case, they played plenty. By contrast, imagine the NIST coming out with a model that found the invincible-penetration-then-obliteration theory contrary to physical law! Fifth, a model can only represent reality under given approximations and finite data. NIST denies curious scientists access to the model’s proprietary codes and parameters so they cannot examine the model’s behavior, especially against other data. Sixth, the time is barely readable on the two NIST videos and they cannot be downloaded for a frame-by-frame analysis with a regular PC. In short, a federal agency spends $20 million and says, “Trust us.”


Turning back to reality again, another physical problem for the official WTC theory is that the maximum spread across the north tower hole is 126 feet and the south tower spread is only 103 feet, openings insufficient to accommodate a 767 wingspan of 156 feet. And wings with momentum do not “fold back onto themselves” in order to slip through an undersized hole along with the fuselage. Momentum breaks wings off in a forward motion and they torque inward (pdf) during deceleration but there is no evidence that this happened. Commenting on the Pentagon crash, Hoffman erroneously writes, “It would seem reasonable to assume that the wings and tail could have folded back and thereby avoided impacting those areas.” If I walk forward with my arms extended and bump into you, I can feel the forward momentum in my arms. Only when wings encounter a superior barrier would they "fold back" because they are breaking off. They will only fold back catastrophically in a collision. Engine thrust near maximum power makes wings "folding back" doubly impossible. In videos, we see zero wing and tail foldback, instead we observe 100% clean penetration of the wings and tail. A gash large enough to swallow a complete aircraft is important because wing tips and/or tail section were not sheared off on the impact side of either tower but disappeared.

The wings of a Boeing 767 are swept back approximately 35 degrees. This means wings do not strike the steel wall “flush” during the milliseconds of the crash process. Engines and wing roots impact first, almost simultaneously, and the wing tips, which are 40 feet back, hit a fraction of a second later. The official theory must be that wing roots and engines break through columns and spandrel plates following penetration of the “powerful” nose and fuselage, while wings stay intact to burst subsequent columns, floors and spandrel plates further away from the fuselage. The only way for tips to reach into the building and enter the “Hoffman shredding stage” is for the wings to remain intact and plow or “saw” through the steel columns and floors like an angled carpenters cut in the progressive fragmentation process (thanks to Gerard Holmgren for this point). Science is nothing but refined common sense and this “sawing” theory is contrary to common sense. While a 767 would carry enormous “momentum” or kinetic energy at impact, resistance by steel columns, spandrel plates, floors and core would consume its fixed energy supply rapidly. A more plausible sequence if only for its empirical regularity would be that the violence of the collision and consequent deceleration would shatter and break wing tips off. The wing tips would not break through columns, plates and floors but bounce to the ground below, rejected by intact columns and spandrel plates.


That leaves 767 proponents 100% dependent on the shredding/wrap-around theory that all debris slipped neatly between columns and around the spandrel belt at each floor, as if vacuumed into the deep interior. That hypothesis lacks plausibility, positive evidence and precedent, as far as I can tell. The shredding/wrap-around theory is much too neat. Wing spars have considerable structural integrity (“The wing tips were pulled up 15.5 feet from normal position over the top of the fuselage at a pressure of 1,200,000 pounds. The wing did not break…”) and 767 wing disappearance on the impact walls is impossible without bigger gashes or perfect shredding and wrap around.


For the sake of argument, suppose that a plane’s aluminum skin and frame were strong enough unaided to shatter braced steel walls and leave a tidy outline for “the folks to see.” In addition to a steel wall and multiple steel/concrete floors, within less than a tenth of a second the airliner would encounter resistance from a dense core occupying 27% of each tower’s floor space with 47 high-strength, cross-braced steel columns, three stair wells, multiple elevator shafts, and mechanical equipment within 60 feet of the WTC 1 impact wall and 37 feet of the WTC 2 wall. Even a sturdy “knife slicer” aircraft would not travel far against such dense resistance. The energy to plow through the local area of a tower is transferred from speed and the plane itself must slow because it has no new source of energy.


At 159 feet long a Boeing 767 is almost 77% as long as any side of a tower and planes do not fold up like accordions. Real terrorists would have flown much larger 747s into lower floors later in the day to maximize destruction and loss of life, but the 747 at 211.5’ wide and 232’ long would have been impossible to “sell” as vanishing. With smaller 767s anyone who thought about it nodded and said, “Oh I see, they disappeared inside. That figures. Sure enough.” Yet jetliners are not accordions, to state the obvious, nor are they aluminum beverage cans. Suppose, for the sake of argument, a crashing 767 maintained its shape and sliced all the way to the other end of the dense steel core. Seven feet of the intact jetliner’s tail section would have stuck out of the north tower. Yet peering as far as we can into the photos of the gashes, we see no tail section or aircraft debris whatsoever.


Hoffman and like-minded defenders of the 767 theory want their cake and eat it too: supposedly powerful 767s easily penetrated steel walls and floors yet identically crumbled within a fraction of a second and vanished inside despite huge fuselage length and wingspan ¾ the length of a tower wall. Both 767s were never seen again from any side of either tower, a dazzling combination of imposing strength and fragility within a tenth of a second.
The two end points—easy tower penetration at high speed without visible deceleration and flight termination within 200 feet—are nonsense.


Faith in the Big Boeing Theory rests on each 767 disintegrating completely into small pieces inside each tower, concealing all plane parts. The immense difficulty with this idea, also favored by the NIST, is how to reconcile an aluminum aircraft bursting through the steel in its path followed immediately by complete failure within 0.1 seconds, shredding completely and vanishing. The south tower plane should have decelerated in the videos and plane parts like wing tips should have bounced off the wall and many of the 626,000 parts should have been visible in the gashes. We did not see that. The official/Hoffman theory is impossible to accept unless the plane was rigged to explode or disintegrate upon contact with the wall, enabling its thorough destruction inside. That might restore some plausibility to the 767 story but it is certainly not the government story. Such explosives would add considerable complexity for the perpetrators in an already-complex crime package, violating the KISS rule. The basic problem remains that a large commercial jetliner could not punch a clean, debris-free hole into a steel tower wall to begin with. The plane would need help, explosive help of its own and/or explosives from inside the building. Even the explosions that took place blew no aircraft parts out the tower gashes to settle below the impact walls.


With respect to the south tower, it was amazing that the 9/11 maestros reproduced their wide-body magic within 16 ½ minutes in the same city block. If anything, more of the vaunted 767 should have been visible in the south tower because it was only 37 feet to the core, barely more than a 1st down and 10. UA 175 supposedly hit the south tower at 543 mph or higher, although air resistance makes this is a suspect speed for a 767 at sea level in the absence of a dive. The NIST report (pdf p. 92) asserts a nearly flat approach with a descent angle of only 6 degrees below horizontal. UA 175 allegedly sliced through a hole two-thirds the wingspan of a 767, dumped abundant fuel in a spectacular fireball out the east side, and kept wings and tail section intact, disappearing completely inside the tower. After silent entry into the tower, UA 175’s remaining kinetic energy dissipated within a quarter second and proved insufficient to penetrate the east or north wall. A crashing jetliner would decelerate because of the resistance of the steel wall, six steel/concrete floors and the dense core within 37 feet of the south tower wall, impacted within .05 seconds. No deceleration and no visible plane wreckage means we have situation in progress because these alleged facts are physically impossible. A jetliner cannot be invincible and then flimsy the next instant.


A minor eyebrow-raiser was the 38-degree banking angle implied by the south tower hole. Such a banking angle ordinarily would imply a left-hand turn north in the last few seconds but it would take a skilled pilot at the controls of a cumbersome jetliner, to say the least, to hit the 207’ span at the alleged 543 mph.


The basic problem with any alleged trajectory, oblique or otherwise, remains how such a long and wide jetliner could vanish without decelerating in such limited floor space with nary a trace. With a fuselage 155 feet long, an intact 767 would have been visible out the south tower hole, the east side or both. The fuselage could not neatly fold up, accordion style, to conceal itself after demonstrating strength enough to silently rip through the south wall, six steel/concrete floors and penetrate so far into the core to vanish. In sum,
There is no convincing physics for how two wide-body aluminum jetliners flying at high speed could penetrate steel walls, floors and core via undersized gashes, exhibit no deceleration in videos, decelerate to zero within a quarter second, and conceal themselves entirely within each tower.


What about the plane parts government found? Engines and landing gear could have flown out of either tower, although we seem to lack solid eyewitness testimony and video evidence of major parts flying out. Spencer suspects that a canister was propelled from the NE corner of the South Tower with "debris" to support the passenger plane hoax. Some photos and videos show unidentified objects shooting out, for example, p. 39 in Hufschmid’s Painful Questions. The FBI and FEMA—a black ops agency with virtually no investigative expertise then headed by Bush campaign manager and family loyalist Joe Allbaugh—displayed a few parts during their felonious mission to destroy crime-scene evidence. None of the parts are consistent with 767 crashes (substantial sections of unburned fuselage, a 737 engine part, a piece of unburned landing gear) nor have they been independently verified and matched by serial number against the maintenance logs of the specified aircraft. This piece is a 737 engine part (CFM 56) according to aircraft experts rather than from a 767. By contrast, the authorities found an alleged hijacker’s paper passport that survived a fiery crash, subsequent fire and tower demolition. Its purpose obviously was to tell a bloodthirsty America whom to hate.
The 9/11 planners understood the physics of crashing aluminum jetliners into the steel towers. Logically enough, they did not rely on commercial 767s like backward “Arab terrorists” might. No, the deceivers used more reliable technology to get the desired special effects to foment war and its insider benefits.
Sorting out theories of “what really happened” awaits another day but note that nothing I have written above constitutes an endorsement of a particular alternative theory to the official 757/767 BBT lies. To reassure a few people out there, I want to state my skepticism about the most controversial, “holograms,” based on the implausibility of successfully projecting 3-D holograms of large commercial aircraft flying at high speed on a sunlit morning. We seem to lack solid evidence that such break-through stealth technology existed or was used. I am no expert but I understand that the big impediment would be a 360-degree display surface to project the deception to witnesses and cameras.