The Improbability of Piloting UA175

Officially, UA175 was piloted into the south WTC tower by a complete novice Boeing 767 pilot, Marwan al-Shehhi.

It was flown for the last few seconds of its existence at approximately 540 mph, and right before impact, the plane made a sharp bank to hit the south tower nearly dead on. The south tower was 208 feet wide, and the jet had a wingspan of 156 feet. There was therefore only about 50 feet leeway for a complete dead-on hit.

There has been a lot of discussion about whether a speed of 540 mph is even achievable near sea level with the type of turbofan engines that UA175 had. The official story thus holds that the plane was coming out of a "power dive", in order to reach this extreme speed. Nonetheless, 540 mph appears to be over the maximal operating velocity of a Boeing 767 at 1000 foot altitude.

The other issue is how capable Marwan al-Shehhi was of piloting a 767 to its target in the first place. The official story holds that once a plane is in the air, the only tricky part is landing, and that guiding it up and down, left and right, is not particularly hard. There is probably some truth to this argument, although one could see that an inexperienced pilot could easily lose control of the aircraft if there was too much maneuvering involved. Further, relatively easy piloting would only be applicable to ideal flying conditions-- not a life-or-death situation, where the plane was at an almost unmanageable speed. We are expected to believe that this amateur pilot was able to precisely aim the jet AFTER coming out of a stomach-churning, heart-stopping power dive.

Thus, the critical point remains that it is ridiculously improbable -- essentially impossible-- for an inexperienced pilot, under extreme duress, to steer a large jet plane, flying at or over maximal possible speed, to hit a very narrow target, within a few hundred foot altitude window.

Yet, people still believe the official story.


(cross-posted at DU here, for the lulz)