You know, I've often wondered the same thing.
Especially after 9/11 and UA93. I asked myself if I were on the flight, could I have flown it away from DC and brought it down someplace. While not a private pilot, I do know enough about flying that I could at least speak intelligently with the tower and be talked down.
I'm even more confident I could do it with a small plane, like a Skyhawk. A very rough landing, and heavy damage to the aircraft, but I think I'd come a lot closer than most.
Back to UA93...I asked my Dad the very same question, who was a private pilot, and is very familiar with the 757, as he was a mechanic for UA
. He was also run up/taxi qualified on it as well. His reply was that it would all depend on the the plane's status in the air, i.e. straight and level flight or inverted and a high rate of vertical drop. In the case of straight and level on auto, his thought was that I, or he, or anyone who is reasonably intelligent and who could remain calm and collected, could be talked down and make a crash landing with heavy a/c damage and human casualties. Conversely, if it were in a steep dive and possibly inverted at low altitude, then no way in hell.
And the winner for best actress is....REESE WITHERSPOON for 'Walk the Line'!!!!!!!!