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:
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.