Facts About Scramble and Intercept Times

Okay, here are some more lies and/or half-truths that “truthers” tell.

One lie “truthers” use is that of the scramble time from Otis Air Force Base. They claim that eyewitness testimony casts doubt that the fighters were scrambled at 8:52 and use this quote, found at 911myths.com, which they got from here,  to “prove” their point:  “William Wibel, principal of a school inside Otis Air National Guard Base, is inside the Otis base preparing for a meeting when he learns that the WTC has been attacked and his meeting is canceled. He says, “As I drove away, and was listening to the news on the radio, the 102nd was scrambling into duty.” [Cape Cod Times, 9/12/01] The WTC crash does not break on local news and radio until about 8:52 a.m. Even if he hears CNN’s early reporting starting at 8:48 a.m., it still presumably takes time to learn the meeting is canceled, go back to his car and so forth. NORAD says the fighters took off from Otis at 8:52 a.m.”

            There’s one tiny little detail “truthers” forget- they are citing what a REPORTER wrote, which means they’re getting the information secondhand. The reporter does not necessarily write the sequence of events in chronological order in their article (source ). 911myths.com provides this quote from the Cape Cod Times, “Wibel was preparing for a meeting with military commanders when he first heard about the first World Trade Center crash. That meeting was abruptly canceled.”  They further point out that if Wibel was with the military commanders, the meeting cancellation might have been a response to the initial scramble order. 911myths.com provides this alternative sequence of events: “ a) Wibel prepares for the meeting, b) hijacking alert, c) meeting cancels, and Wibel packs up,  d) hears WTC has been attacked and leaves.”  Yes, this is also speculation, and 911myths.com admits as much but they also correctly point out that it’s still perfectly plausible.

            Furthermore, there is also another possibility.  Wibel may have been so far inside the base he didn’t hear the planes take off or he simply ignored the sound of the jets.  After all, if you live on or near a military base, you tend to get used to the sounds of aircraft taking off and landing, shelling, etc ( source ) I can vouch for this as I live near Camp Pendleton.  Every now and then, Camp Pendleton does its war games and we hear choppers and shelling, but I’m so used to those sounds that I simply tune it out.

            Another lie is found in David Ray Griffin’s book ““ The New Pearl Harbor.” Griffin claims that Flight 11 should have been intercepted within 10 minutes of being hijacked, but he clearly needs to do a better job of research ( reference ).

            Despite what people believe, the air traffic controller does not simply pick up the phone and call the nearest airbase-  there are procedures that must be followed. Here are the steps that they must go through, as outlined by 911myths.com: 1) Air Traffic Control (ATC) must first determine that there is a problem and the loss of radio contact or sudden course changes aren’t a result of some other routine cause.  After all, loss of radio contact can simply be equipment malfunction or weather and a sudden course change may also be weather related, 2) If there is a problem, the ATC will report the problem to their supervisor and explain why they’re worried, 3) If the supervisor concurs, he will call the FAA and ask to speak to the hijack coordinator, who is the one who deals with NORAD, 4) The FAA hijack coordinator requests an escort by direct contact with the National Military Command Center (NMCC), but, guess what-  the planes aren’t scrambled yet ( source).   The thing is hijacking is a law enforcement issue, so law enforcement has to ask the military for assistance.  Then, the duty officer of the National Military Command Center ( NMCC) has to call NORAD to ask about the availability of fighters. Then they have to get the okay from a representative of the secretary of defense, which can take a while.  Clearly, just these steps alone can take MUCH longer than 10 minutes ( source ).

            The Payne Stewart intercept is a case in point-  it took 76 minutes, NOT 20, as “truthers” claim ( reference ). Air Traffic Control lost contact with Stewarts place at 9:33 am EASTERN Daylight Time and the intercept occurred at 9:52 am CENTRAL Daylight Time ( reference ).

            Let’s not forget the Jan 2002 incident where teenager Charles Bishop crashed his plane into a Tampa, Florida skyscraper-  before the crash, he flew very low over a military airbase but no intercept occurs.  NORAD was unaware of the problem until 5:13 pm, almost 10 minutes AFTER Bishop had crashed. They alerted the fighters at 5:16 pm, the fighters took off at 5:21 pm and reached Tampa at 5:45 pm, meaning, had an intercept occurred, the intercept time would have been 55 minutes ( source )

            Then, on or near  June 20,  2002, 9 months AFTER 9/11, 2 F-16’s failed to intercept a Cessna that passed too close to the White House.  911myths.com provides the following timeline: “

7:59 p.m. Cessna enters “restricted” air space
8:03 p.m. FAA notifies NORAD
8:04 p.m. Cessna enters “prohibited” air space
8:06 p.m. Two F-16s get orders to scramble
8:06 p.m. Cessna passes White House “within a few miles”
8:17 p.m. F-16s take off from Andrews AFB. Intercept occurs “a few minutes later.”

            You will notice that in spite of tightened security, streamlined intercept procedures and the fact that the fighters were less than 10 miles away from Washington, DC, the time from the problem to the fighters taking off was 18 minutes and the planes arrived on the scene a little bit after that ( reference ).

Furthermore, even after the fighters take off, identification and intercept are not certain- in 2002, military jets could only ID and intercept about 40% of intruders in training drills ( reference ).   Now, if they can only successfully ID and intercept 40% of intruders in training drills, it seems to me that in an actual combat situation, that rate might be lower as things happen so fast in the heat of the moment

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