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Airliners.net Reports 9/11 - A Day Of Confusion  
User currently offlineHmmmm... From Canada, joined May 1999, 2114 posts, RR: 5
Posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 5278 times:

The following is a compilation of actual Airliners.net postings on that fateful day September 11, 2001. The original thread reporting on the events in New York that morning was started by "Hustler" and was added to several hundred times and it was viewed over 38,000 times on that day and shortly thereafter.

Airplane crashed into the World Trade Center

It shows something that we already know. That the media insists on misreporting aviation stories. The facts are rarely straight. But it also shows something else. That while the media gets their facts wrong, so do the rest of us, especially if our scoop was homemade. And often it is. And we disseminate it here on Airliners.net for mass consumption as witnessed by the plethora of members who chipped in their own minute-by-minute scoops on that terrible event even though they, themselves, should have known better. Some of the information provided that morning was reasonably accurate, considering the time frame allowed. But many of the "scoops", whether they were news feed or homemade observation, were terribly off the mark. And I've compiled the best ones here.

So, in that spirit, and with the black satire provided by hindsight after that horrific day, I give you the best of the best of the airliners.net scoops posted on the morning of Sept. 11, in a minutia of airliners.net postings. Spelling mistakes and all.

Each excerpt from a post is highlighted in yellow and preceded by the actual local New York time that it was uploaded. Followed by an editorial comment. I have elected not to give each posting its author's credit. To save the member some embarrassment. You'll recognize the gaffe that is yours.

The first plane struck Tower 1 at 8:46 am
The Second plane struck Tower 2 at 9:05 am

Member Hustler , who was geographically closest to the disaster, gets the real scoop. He starts the thread at 8:55 am, 9 minutes after first impact.

8:55:17 am: "Oh my god I saw it come down. It was horrible guys. more to come. I was next door."

The rest is history...

...but the following blurbs, in chronological order, were not:

9:07:44 am: "Just saw. It's a Cessna. Passenger flight." This member knows his airplanes.

9:09:33 am: "...appeared to be a USAIR 737 classic." Rather than a UA 767.

9:10:10 am: "a second plane, looks like a 737 or ac20ish..." Again, rather than an UA 767.

9:10:13 am: "Just heard a very unconfermed report that the a/c may have been a B727". Anything but an UA 767 it seems.

9:10:56 am: "OMG! Another plane just crashed! This time its either a 737 or 320! It would appear that UA 767s need more paint.

9:10:16 am: "Let's hope this won't break the Tenerife record casualty. (546 dead, set in 1977.)

9:13:22 am: "Just heard the news on Virgin radio... about one. But two? If there's two, I think we have a malicious controller on our hands here..." In tragedy, the best humor is the one that is not intended.

9:14:21 am: "It was definetly a 737 or A320, probably of US Airways." Nobody likes UA 767s. But why?

9:15:48 am: "Telaban!!!!!!! GOD rid em!!!!!!!!! SAD DAY!!!!!"." How did this member know about the Taliban within minutes of the impact? Now THAT is a scoop. This member's name no longer appears in the registry. He knows too much.

9:24:01 am: "The second one is (either) a 717 or 727 or 737". Strangely enough, three distinctly different aircraft. But still no UA 767. Any theories?

9:28:27 am: "CNN and the Dutch NOS (news service) are saying that the 2nd plane (is)a 737." Even the Dutch are in on it.

9:31:22 am: "6 dead and 1000 injured on BBC now". That was the casualty list of the Feb' 93 bombing of the WTC. No scoop there.

At 9:32:55 am: "Looked like an AA 737 or A300. Porbably took off from LGA." No, no, and no.

9: 36:38 am: "Some speculation now on the news that the planes may have been empty....no confirmation yet." Bizarre. It would have been more logical to speculate that the planes had passengers.

9:44:55 am: "MSNBC reporting that a bomb has been detonated at the heliport at the Pentagon in Washington." Somehow a major plane crash became a car bombing.

9:47:45 am: "Third aircraft was used to attack the Pentagon... but missed... I like a positive attitude. Especially in news reporting.

9:53:29 am: "I'm flying into JFK tomorrow!" So did a member excitedly post.

9:55:49 am: "Not anymore you're not!" Came the sardonic reply, two minutes later.

9:56:07 am: ""UA 175 being hyjacked right now!" This late-breaking scoop 51 minutes after UA 175 slammed into Tower 2 on live television.

9:56:42 am: "The Pentagon should be hit by a helicopter." Haven't they taken enough abuse already?

10:15:17 am: "Explosion at capital hill, says the Dutch NOS" Nothing happened on Capital Hill. But read on.

10:18:52 am: An airliners.net member queried to the forum:
"Has it been confirmed that there was an explosion in Capital Hill ????"

Soon came his response on this thread:

10:20:10 am: ""Yes, capitol hill confirmed. By the Dutch NOS and RTL 5" Those crazy Dutch.

10:21:38 am: "This is really scary.......please stop all these attacks.....these are really horrible!!!!! oh my gosh...... One airliners.net member's desperate plea, to any possible terrorists on the forum, to cease and desist.

10:27:14 am: "Car bomb confirmed outside state department in dc." In the race to post a scoop, even the nonexistent ends up being confirmed.

10:27:22 am: "I would like to thank all of you for providing us with information." Don't thank us yet. Read on.

10:30:01 am: "One tower collapsed. UA 175 still flying! More positive reporting.

10:37:21 am: "Car bombing at state department also." More non-existent car bombs. But still no UA 767.

10:39:26 am: "Rumors now that a 747 is down somewhere in the Northeast." A 757 wasn't big enough. Someone had to bump it up to a 747. But I suppose that's better than being bumped down to a car bombing.

10:39:37 am: ""CNN just said that they have an unconfirmed report of a 747 that went down in Pennsylvania." The next logical step in the scooping process is to claim that it was two 747s, not one. And a car bombing, somewhere.

10:41:38 am: "London is being evacuated." This member failed to mention his source. Homemade scoops are the most informative.

10:44:25 am: "Is there a god ??? Depends. Some rumors say no. Others aren't sure. Let's wait to see what the Dutch say.

11:00:12 am: "Dutch television (is)showing pictures of a flying 747 heading (towards) Washington...!" Those bloody Dutch, whose side are they on?!

11:05:45 am: "CNN reporting that a 747 has crashed in PIT." Evidently, those at CNN watch Dutch News.

11:10:12 am: "Sky news (Fox in the usa) have reported the federal aviation people are saying seven planes are unaccounted for in addition to the rest." So they are ALL unaccounted for? Thanks for the info.

11:11:32 am: "European union has been evacuated." That's a lot of people. And one hell of a scoop if it's true.

11:11:59 am: "Apparently the 767 which crashed 80 miles from Pittsburg is a 747" Thanks for the correction. I'll get the word out.

11:53:36 am: "5th plane hijacked and flying around right now!" Another scoop posted on airliners.net.

11:54:18 am: "Rumors abound @ a time like this." Amen. But can you substantiate that rumor?

And finally, at 12:42:05 pm, September 11, an airliners.net member posted five words only, to remind the forum that all these cataclysmic events were happening in a special context:

"It's also my B-day today.
Which gives September 11, an extra bit of gravity. Not only did 3021 people die, at the hands of madmen, with airliners for guns, but it happened on his birthday. What a day for world news events.

Yes, the media is usually wrong in the early going. But some of us are just as bad. We have our own press corps it seems. And the wildly incorrect information seems to be the default setting.

Some say we shouldn't speculate about accidents. I say only the authorities shouldn't speculate. The public can not be criticized for talking about what is happening, especially when the news media's whole raison d' être is to do the same thing on our behalf. However, completely false news scoops, posted as if they were faits accomplis, are embarrassing. And they are embarrassing usually a mere ten minutes later. The next time the terrorists attack, and it will come, let's hesitate to be first with a late breaking news scoop, at least until we hear what the Dutch have to say.

An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised
16 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineSabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 5212 times:

9:53:29 am: "I'm flying into JFK tomorrow!" So did a member excitedly post.

"It's also my B-day today.

Both post are from ILS (aka Airbus380 aka 20 other user names) and they were lies like 99 % of his posts.


User currently offlineGodbless From Sweden, joined Apr 2000, 2753 posts, RR: 15
Reply 2, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 5152 times:

I really enjoyed reading what you wrote here and I also agree with what you said.


User currently offlineLeviticus From New Zealand, joined Oct 2007, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 5059 times:

Very interesting reading ! Thank you "Hmmmm..."  Smile

User currently offlineBmistaff From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2003, 20 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 5038 times:

"10:41:38 am: "London is being evacuated." This member failed to mention his source. Homemade scoops are the most informative."

Parts of London were exacuated, including the Houses of Parliament and Canary Wharf, the tallest building in London. Ok there wasn't a source but there was truth in it.

User currently offlineUALPHLCS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 4987 times:

It's strange to read an see the confusion of that day. Mine is still fresh in my memory.

I was landing at ORD that morning. We knew nothing at the gate because CNN airport service gets shut off in the event of an airplane crash. With the news black out in the concourse we knew something was up. Slowly and just as disjointedly news began to filter up from the employee breakrooms. All the same rumors posted. USair Express, Cessnas colliding into one another. Nothing definate.

Stunned, we when to UA medical on the far side of the feild. Knowing only from a woman on the crisis management team who was on the bus racing to get the WHQ that one of those planes was our and more ominously that more where missing.

The folks at UA medical helped me and the colleage I was with rent a car from off airport grounds. We saw them deplane pax and bus them from all of the taxiways. I saw ORD at a standstill. You could hear birds singing next to the hangers. I never want to see that again. I'll never forget it.

Scariest of all where the news reports as we drove through Ohio. Detroit radio was reporting gas stations where inflating their prices $2 to $3 a gallon. It seemed from the radio that we where on the verge of panic. Fortunately, things began to calm down as we got to PIT. Rumors where fewer facts where stronger. We past scores of EMT's in their SUV's packed with suppiles on the PA turnpike.

User currently offlineEGGD From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2001, 12443 posts, RR: 32
Reply 6, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 4930 times:

Lol... that was harsh, but funny... Big grin.

User currently offlineTheGov From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 424 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 4847 times:

You question why no one considered the second aircraft a UA 767. I, along with everyone else, saw the UA 767 slam into the tower. I consider myself a fairly good indentifier of aircraft and I assumed, incorrectly, that it was a UA A320. The only thing that I could not see were the winglets and that kept me from believing that it was an A320 that crashed. Without the winglets, I would have more likely opted for a 737. Why did I not assume a 767? I had never seen the WTC up close so I had no frame of reference from which to judge the size of the aircraft. Had I had a frame of reference, I probably would have gone with the 767. But, if you look at the tape closely, the 767 takes on the profile of the A320 or even 737 quite well, especially at that speed and due to the blur of the camera operator.

But, as you quite correctly pointed out, speculation abounds in the first few minutes, even hours after an event like this occurs. Many of the things that were "scoops" were also reported by ABC News that day. So, the Dutch did not have a market on all the misinformation.

Thank you for this most interesting post. It certainly puts things into perspective.

Always a pallbearer, never a corpse.
User currently offlineStyles From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 89 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day ago) and read 4817 times:

Good work on that post. I went back and read the original thread and your editing puts it in good perspective.

User currently offlineQANTAS747-438 From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 2076 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day ago) and read 4796 times:

Oh boy, not another 9-11 post reliving the horrible event. It's 3 days after the 2 year anniversary... when can we start discussing airliners again?

My posts/replies are strictly my opinion and not that of any company, organization, or Southwest Airlines.
User currently offlineBoeing nut From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day ago) and read 4762 times:


You obviously didn't have anything else to do today. In an event of this magnitude, there is, was and always will be confusion. Yes, maybe a few posts were completely wrong, but on most others, you are, as I say, "picking the fly shit out of the pepper".

User currently offlineMD11LuxuryLinr From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1385 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 4528 times:


I was in the same position as you that day. I also consider myself a rather good identifier of commercial aircraft. I watched the second plane hit the tower on live TV. Then they replayed it over and over. From the shots I was seeing, I swore up and down it was an A320 or a 733. I too have never seen the towers up close or even in person for that matter, so the shear size of them wasn't apparent to me. I though they were smaller than they really were..

Caution wake turbulence, you are following a heavy jet.
User currently offlineLN-MOW From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 1920 posts, RR: 13
Reply 12, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 4466 times:

I agree ... I saw the second aircraft hit (on TV..), and even after several replays, I beleived it to be an A320 ...

- I am LN-MOW, and I approve this message.
User currently offlineSyncmaster From United States of America, joined Jul 2002, 2082 posts, RR: 9
Reply 13, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 4454 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

You criticize people that did not know the second plane was a UA 767, let me ask this, if you saw that 3 second clip of the plane running into the building at the speed it was, would you immediately say it was a UA 767? Don't be so quick to criticize people because of that.

User currently offlineTsentsan From Singapore, joined Jan 2002, 2017 posts, RR: 15
Reply 14, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 4310 times:


I think the main reason why none of us, being aviation specialists or enthusiasts, said a 767 or 757... is becos the possibility of widebody 767 crashing into the WTC was so bloody small, it was became "impossible".. it wasnt in our vocabulary of possibilities that a 767 could crash into the WTC... my first instinct on hearing that a plane crashed into the WTC was, "bloody cessna pilot dont know how to fly"... Nobody, absolutely nobody in their right mind, would have imagined a 767 into the WTC. To be put in very offensive terms, it would be "beyond our wildest dreams" (pls forgive me i dont mean to offend but i cant find any other phrase that fits).

Besides, the few second clip that was shown, its too hard to be absolutely sure of the aircraft type. Remember, we dont have the perspective of the shot. Add to that, our mentality that "no it cant be" clouds the human judgement.

NO URLS in signature
User currently offlineIkarus From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 3524 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 4227 times:

Yeah, the post is funny. Showing lots of panicked people running around like headless chickens, posting fabricated rumours... and showing that airliners.net users can be just as factual, informed, and useful a source of information as a tabloid - i.e. not at all....

For the opposite example, the thread about the mentally perturbed young man who stole a motor glider in Germany and threatened to fly it into the Frankfurt skyline should also be quoted. There, a few users sat down with radio scanners and reported the events asd they were happening, all the communication, eveything in much more detail than the TV.

The lesson: Unless you actually have information (as opposed to ideas/rumours) to add, do not post.



User currently offlineDan2002 From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 2055 posts, RR: 4
Reply 16, posted (12 years 8 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 4082 times:




A guy asks 'What's Punk?'. I kick over a trash can and its punk. He knocks over a trash can and its trendy.
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