The Truth about The 9/11 Hijackers' Flying Ability

Here are some more facts for “truthers” about the hijackers’ piloting skills, provided by Giulio Bernacchia, who spent 27 years as a pilot (source).

The article Mr. Bernacchia is debunking is titled “The Impossibility of Flying Heavy Aircraft Without Training” by  Nila Sagadevan and is found here. In his paper, Mr. Bernacchia’s statements are in bold (source).

Sagedevan’s first claim is that the hijackers could not have acquired sufficient training as they couldn’t even fly a small Cessna – however, as Bernacchia points out, that’s what flight schools are for – all pilots start their career at that level (reference).

Mr. Bernacchia also points out that Sagedaven’s claim that non-pilot’s have a misconception of how easy it is to operate a flight simulator is irrelevant – and he doubts Sagadevan even bothered making a survey of non-pilots.   This wouldn’t be surprising, as “truthers” aren’t known for being very thorough when it comes to research.

Next, Mr. Benracchia states that Mr. Sagadevan should be more specific as to who he’s talking about when he says that making a few lazy turns are easy but any other kind of maneuver is difficult.  In point of fact, the average Joe Schmoe off the street would have just as much trouble with precise maneuvers while an AA Chief pilot would perform either with ease (source).

Sagadevan’s claim that navigating to a specific place hundreds of miles away at over 500 MPH is  impossible for an untrained pilot also false, as we see here.  As Mr. Bernacchia points out, Sagedaven never specifies what the pilot is untrained in.  Furthermore, it’s not that difficult to go from one point to another by plane as the pilot can simply follow roads, train tracks, or even road signs if they fly low enough.  Furthermore, the sun and the stars are useful tools for navigating, and most pilots just set up the Flight Management System and let it do the work (reference). Hmm, navigating’s not so difficult as Sagadevan leads us to believe.

In addition, as we see here, all hijackers had private pilots licenses, and the ones who hit their targets had commercial pilots licenses, as per Chapter 7 of the 911 Commission Report. Hint: That means they were “barely average” by FAA standards, which are fairly high standards (source).

Now, as for the flight simulator itself, the cockpits in the simulator are identical to real cockpits, for rather obvious reasons. That, and the pilot is generally going to be looking at the cockpit, and not the simulator’s hydraulics (source).

Furthermore, Sagadevan’s claim that one has to be a decent pilot to operate the simulator with any skill is false, unless one wants to become a flight simulator instructor, for one obvious reason.  The purpose of a simulator is to TEACH someone how to fly.  Hint: That means one uses a simulator in ORDER TO BECOME A GOOD PILOT. In addition, simulators are used to familiarize pilots with the controls that would be in the real plane (reference).  They’re called simulators for a reason.

There’s also the fact that the hijackers let the pilots do the hard part – take-off and landing are two of the most difficult procedures (reference). 

Mr. Bernacchia also correctly points out that hijackers on a suicide mission aren’t going to be too worried about pre-flight checks and such, as the actual pilots handled that (source).  Hint: The FAA isn’t in the habit of training terrorists to use planes on suicide missions (see here).

Now, as for the fact that the hijackers were able to overcome pilot Charles Burlingame, here are the facts:

  1. Pilots can’t move quickly as they’re strapped into their seats.
  2. It’s doubtful that the hijackers went in one at a time- they more than likely ganged up on the pilot and first officer, and
  3. Prior to 9-11, the procedure was to just to what the hijacker said due to the fact that all hijackings prior to 9-11 simply meant a detour. This procedure doesn’t work too well when the hijacker’s on a suicide mission (reference).

Finally, Burlingame could NOT have rolled the plane on its back as that maneuver at a high altitude would cause the plane to stall before completing said maneuver – in point of fact, the flying community talked about the possibility of “incapacitation maneuvers” but deemed them to pose a higher risk than the hijacker – and this was POST-911 (source)


Posted May 9, 2008 by Victor Chabala in Real 9/11 Facts

%d bloggers like this: