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6. Eyewitness Reports of Plane Parts
and Lamp Posts Sheared Off


Raining debris after the crash, on the highway and parking lots, indicates that it was a plane smacking into a building, not a missile penetrating a building.

AA Flight Attendant
An American Airlines flight Attendant saw the tail section when she went to the site to support the people who were working on the clean-up of the wreckage. If the tail section was there and hauled away soon after the crash, then it is possible that the photos that we see commonly, of the front of the Pentagon were taken late in the day, or the next day, after removal of the tail section. Documents now being held by the government as secret, need to be released, as they have been in New York. [See statement included in Eyewitness reports.]

McClain, Tom
I saw the remains of the engines in the North parking lot of the Pentagon as well as melted aluminum and other debris left from the aircraft.
"Lt Col (ret) Tom McClain," E-Mail from Listeners and Readers,

Krohn, Charles H.
One of the aircraft's engines somehow ricocheted out of the building and arched into the Pentagon's mall parking area between the main building and the new loading dock facility, said Charles H. Krohn, the Army's deputy chief of public affairs.
"Pentagon Attack Hits Navy Hard," by David A. Fulghum, Aviation Week & Space Technology, 9/17/01

Tamillow, Michael
FBI evidence teams combing the area of impact along the building's perimeter found parts of the fuselage from the Boeing 757, said Michael Tamillow, a battalion chief and search and rescue expert for the Fairfax County, Virginia, Fire Department. No large pieces apparently survived.
"No hope of finding more survivors at Pentagon," CNN, 9/12/01
As the fireball got higher and higher, you saw this debris go up in the air. I'm watching this in my rearview mirror, and then I thought, `Oh my God, there's debris coming toward me!' So my reaction was, I ducked into my passenger seat and I heard the pitter-patter of pebbles and concrete bouncing off my car. And the next thing you know, I heard this big crash come from somewhere. It sounded like glass being shattered and I thought maybe, at first, it was one of my windows so I popped up to look but everything was fine. But when I looked to the car next to me I realized that something went through (the driver's) rear windshield and shattered it. There was a hole where you could see that something went through it.
          . . . Then both I and the guy in front of me looked at his rear windshield and saw what was about a four-inch hole in it and the rest of the window was shattered as if someone took a baseball bat to it.
          "At that point I didn't know it was a plane, I thought it was a missile strike. . . .
          "Pulling away from the Pentagon there was tons of stuff on the ground, big pieces of metal, concrete, everything. We got up to a certain point and there was this huge piece of something -- I mean it was big, it looked like a piece of an engine or something -- in the road. And there was somebody, definitely a security guard or maybe a military person, with his car in front of it making sure no one touched it." . . .
          "I looked back and I saw the fire, it was just huge and just incredible.
"Amazing stories: The air, the island and the fortress, by Jennifer Simmons, Counseling Today Online, 10/01

Washington Post
By afternoon, the investigation was underway. At one point, a column of 50 FBI officers walked shoulder-to-shoulder across the south grounds of the Pentagon, picking up debris and stuffing it into brown bags. The lawn was scattered with chunks of the airplane, some up to four feet across.
"Loud Boom, Then Flames In Hallways - Pentagon Employees Flee Fire, Help Rescue Injured Co-Workers," by Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, 9/12/01

Delaware Online
Smoke and flames engulfed the west wall.
          Cars traveling nearby were lifted up off the roadway and showered with rocks and other debris.
          Among the trash littering the road was a scorched green oxygen tank marked "Cabin air. Airline use."
          When the debris shower stopped, people began getting out of their cars, some of them screaming.
"Terror spreads to Pentagon - Plane crashes with such force, nearby cars are lifted off road," by Larry Wheeler, Gannett News Service / The News Journal, 09/12/2001
"Pentagon takes a direct hit," by Larry Wheeler, Gannett News Service / The Journal News, 09/12/2001

Wallace, Alan
. . . The ground was on fire. Trees were on fire. Hot slices of aluminum were everywhere. Wallace could hear voices crying for help and moved toward them. People were coming out a window head first, landing on him. He had faced incoming fire before -- he was with the hospital corps in Vietnam when mortars and rocket shells dropped on the operating room near Da Nang -- but he had never witnessed anything of this devastating intensity.
"September 11, 2001 - Steve Miller Ate a Scone, Sheila Moody Did Paperwork, Edmund Glazer Boarded a Plane: Portrait of a Day That Began in Routine and Ended in Ashes," by David Maraniss, Washington Post, 9/16/01

Timmerman, Tim
A pilot who saw the impact, Tim Timmerman, said it had been an American Airways 757. "It added power on its way in," he said. "The nose hit, and the wings came forward and it went up in a fireball."
          Smoke and flames poured out of a large hole punched into the side of the Pentagon. . . . A piece of twisted aircraft fuselage lay nearby.
"`Everyone was screaming, crying, running. It's like a war zone'," by Julian Borger, Duncan Campbell, Charlie Porter and Stuart Millar, The Guardian, 9/12/01

Terronez, Tony
"Pulling away from the Pentagon there was tons of stuff on the ground, big pieces of metal, concrete, everything. We got up to a certain point and there was this huge piece of something -- I mean it was big, it looked like a piece of an engine or something -- in the road. And there was somebody, definitely a security guard or maybe a military person, with his car in front of it making sure no one touched it."
          "I looked back and I saw the fire, it was just huge and just incredible. I still can't believe it. At that point in time, I remembered I had a camera in my trunk. I got off an off-ramp beside the Pentagon and parked my car in the grass and started taking pictures. The whole time I was taking pictures it was so detailed. I could this huge piece of a wheel on fire through the black smoke, but I couldn't see into the Pentagon itself. . . .
"Amazing stories: The air, the island and the fortress, by Jennifer Simmons, Counseling Today Online, 10/01

Sucherman, Joel Multimedia Editor, saw an American Airlines jetliner fly left to right across his field of vision as he commuted to work Tuesday morning. . . .
          . . . Ironically, the passage of emergency vehicles got traffic moving again, which was now crunching over twisted metal Sucherman guessed was the skin of the plane.
"Journalist Witnesses Pentagon Crash," by John Dodge,, 9/13/01

Probst, Frank
Frank Probst . . . [a] Pentagon renovation worker and retired Army officer, . . . stopped by the renovation workers' trailer just south of the Pentagon heliport. . . .
          Probst took a sidewalk alongside Route 27, which runs near the Pentagon's western face. . . .
          "He has lights off, wheels up, nose down," Probst recalled. The plane seemed to be accelerating directly toward him. He froze.
          "I knew I was dead," he said later. "The only thing I thought was, `Damn, my wife has to go to another funeral, and I'm not going to see my two boys again.'."
          He dove to his right. He recalls the engine passing on one side of him, about six feet away.
          The plane's right wing went through a generator trailer "like butter," Probst said. The starboard engine hit a low cement wall and blew apart. . . .
          He still can't remember the sound of the explosion. . . .
          "It was pretty horrible," he said of the noiseless images he carries inside him, of the jet vanishing in a cloud of smoke and dust, and bits of metal and concrete drifting down like confetti.
          On either side of him, three streetlights had been sheared in half by the airliner's wings at 12 to 15 feet above the ground. An engine had clipped the antenna off a Jeep Grand Cherokee stalled in traffic not far away.
"Fortress Reborn," by Vince Crawley,, 9/11/02
. . . I dove towards the ground and watched this great big engine from this beautiful airplane just vaporize . . . It looked like a huge fireball, pieces were flying out everywhere."
"Pentagon hit by terrorist attack," by Sgt. Jamelle A. Colbert, Pentagram /, 9/21/01

Fortunato, Don
"Traffic was at a standstill, so I parked on the shoulder, not far from the scene and ran to the site. Next to me was a cab from D.C., its windshield smashed out by pieces of lampposts. There were pieces of the plane all over the highway, pieces of wing, I think."
          "Traffic was at a standstill, so I parked on the shoulder, not far from the scene and ran to the site. Next to me was a cab from D.C., its windshield smashed out by pieces of lampposts. There were pieces of the plane all over the highway, pieces of wing, I think. . . . There were a lot of people with severe burns, severe contusions, severe lacerations, in shock and emotional distress . . ."
"Washington's Heroes - On the ground at the Pentagon on Sept. 11," Newsweek, 9/28/01

Faram, Mark
. . . At the time, I was a senior writer with Navy Times newspaper. . . .
          I was at the Navy Annex, up the hill from the Pentagon when I heard the explosion. I always keep a digital camera in my backpack briefcase just as a matter of habit. When the explosion happened I ran down the hill to the site and arrived there approximately 10 minutes after the explosion. I saw the piece, that was near the heliport pad and had to work around to get a shot if it with the building in the background. Because the situation was still fluid, I was able to get in close and make that image within fifteen minutes of the explosion because security had yet to shut off the area. I photographed it twice, with the newly arrived fire trucks pouring water into the building in the background. . . .
          That was the only piece of wreckage of any SIZE that I saw, but was by no means the ONLY piece. . . .
          As I stepped onto the highway next to the triage area, I knelt down to tie my shoe and all over the highway were small pieces of aircraft skin, none bigger than a half-dollar. Anyone familiar with aircraft has seen the greenish primer paint that covers many interior metal surfaces -- that is what these shards were covered with.
"Pentagon Debris Pic: - it's the planted "photo opportunity", not the photography," Mark Faram e-mail to Dick Eastman, Yahoo Groups "frameup," 9/17/02
See Also: "Wreckage of flight 77 on Pentagon lawn," NavyNewsStand - Eye on the Fleet /, 010911-N-6157F-001 Arlington, Va. (Sep. 11, 2001), U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Mark D. Faram. (Hi-Res version: 1600x1200, 1.44MB)

Evey, Walker Lee
EVEY: Actually, there's considerable evidence of the aircraft outside the E ring. It's just not very visible. When you get up close -- actually, one of my people happened to be walking on this sidewalk and was right about here as the aircraft approached. It came in. It clipped a couple of light poles on the way in. He happened to hear this terrible noise behind him, looked back, and he actually -- he's a Vietnam veteran -- jumped prone onto the ground so the aircraft would not actually -- he thinks it (would have) hit him; it was that low.
          On its way in, the wing clipped. Our guess is an engine clipped a generator. We had an emergency temporary generator to provide life-safety emergency electrical power, should the power go off in the building. The wing actually clipped that generator, and portions of it broke off. There are other parts of the plane that are scattered about outside the building. None of those parts are very large, however. You don't see big pieces of the airplane sitting there extending up into the air. But there are many small pieces. And the few larger pieces there look like they are veins out of the aircraft engine. They're circular.
"September 11, 2001: Federal Response," Lee Evey, Pentagon Renovation Manager, Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, Deputy Asst. Sec. of Def. for Public Affairs, Terry Mitchell, chief, Audiovisual Division, Office of ASD PA, The Pentagon, The Patriot Resource - History: September 11, 2001, 9/15/01

Damoose, John
Damoose said the worst part was leaving the Pentagon and walking along Fort Meyer Drive, a bike trail, "you could see pieces of the plane."
"`Extensive Casualties' in Wake of Pentagon Attack," by Barbara Vobejda, Washington Post, 9/11/01

Defina, Michael
The ARFF [National's aircraft rescue firefighters] foam units knocked down the bulk of the fire in the first seven minutes after their arrival, said Captain Michael Defina, who was the shift commander that day at National. . . .
          That afternoon, Captain Defina and airport Battalion Chief Walter Hood, as well as other jurisdictions' battalion chiefs, led crews inside with attack lines to fight fires on every floor of the "D" and "E" rings. The aircraft had penetrated all the way to the "C" ring.
          "The only way you could tell that an aircraft was inside was that we saw pieces of the nose gear. . . .
"ARFF Crews Respond to the Front Line at Pentagon," by Stephen Murphy, National Fire Protection Association Journal, 11/1/01

Cissell, James R.
As former Cincinnatian James R. Cissell sat in traffic on a Virginia interstate by the Pentagon Tuesday morning . . . the plane plowed into the Pentagon, sending a fireball exploding into the air and scattering debris -- including a tire rim suspected of belonging to the airplane -- past his car.
"`I saw the faces of some of the passengers'," by Kimball Perry, Cincinnati Post, 9/12/01

Braman, Chris
But by then, explosions were rocking the Pentagon, and rescuers were not allowed to get closer than 200 yards. Braman and about a hundred others watched the new wedge burn from a highway underpass. The lawn was littered with twisted pieces of aluminum. He saw one chunk painted with the letter "A," another with a "C."
          It didn't occur to Braman what the letters signified until a man in the crowd stooped to pick up one of the smaller metal shards. He examined it for a moment, then announced: "This was a jet."
"The Pentagon's first heroes in a day of heroes," Henderson Hall News /, 9/28/01

Bouchoux, Donald R.
Donald R. Bouchoux, 53, a retired Naval officer, a Great Falls resident, a Vietnam veteran and former commanding officer of a Navy fighter squadron, was driving west from Tysons Corner to the Pentagon for a 10am meeting. He wrote: "At 9:40 a.m. I was driving down Washington Boulevard (Route 27) along the side of the Pentagon when the aircraft crossed about 200 yards in front of me and impacted the side of the building. There was an enormous fireball, followed about two seconds later by debris raining down. The car moved about a foot to the right when the shock wave hit. I had what must have been an emergency oxygen bottle from the airplane go flying down across the front of my Explorer and then a second piece of jagged metal come down on the right side of the car.
Washington Post, 20 Sep 2001,

Biggert, Judy
Members of Congress have been shuttled to the site to inspect the damage. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) made the trip on Thursday. She saw remnants of the airplane.
          "There was a seat from a plane, there was part of the tail and then there was a part of green metal, I could not tell what it was, a part of the outside of the plane," she said. "It smelled like it was still burning."
"Wind carries stench of death," by Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times, 9/16/01

Bell, Mickey
The full impact of the closeness of the crash wasn't realized until coworkers noticed damage to Bell's work vehicle. He had plastic and rivets from an airplane imbedded in its sheet metal, but Bell had no idea what had happened.
"NECA Members and Electricians Narrowly Escape Death At Pentagon," National Electrical Contractors Association, 9/13/01

Narayanan, Vin
"The plane exploded after it hit, the tail came off and it began burning immediately. Within five minutes, police and emergency vehicles began arriving," said Vin Narayanan, a reporter at USA, who was driving near the Pentagon when the plane hit.
"`I fear for my daughter'," From staff and wire reports,, 9/11/01
. . . The jet roared over my head, clearing my car by about 25 feet. The tail of the plane clipped the overhanging exit sign above me as it headed straight at the Pentagon.
"`Tomorrow always belongs to us'," by Vin Narayanan,, 9/17/01

Elgas, Penny
The plane seemed to be floating as if it were a paper glider and I watched in horror as it gently rocked and slowly glided straight into the Pentagon. At the point where the fuselage hit the wall, it seemed to simply melt into the building. I saw a smoke ring surround the fuselage as it made contact with the wall. It appeared as a smoke ring that encircled the fuselage at the point of contact and it seemed to be several feet thick. I later realized that it was probably the rubble of churning bits of the plane and concrete. The churning smoke ring started at the top of the fuselage and simultaneously wrapped down both the right and left sides of the fuselage to the underside, where the coiling rings crossed over each other and then coiled back up to the top. Then it started over again -- only this next time, I also saw fire, glowing fire in the smoke ring. At that point, the wings disappeared into the Pentagon. And then I saw an explosion and watched the tail of the plane slip into the building.
"Statement from Penny Elgas - Personal Experience At The Pentagon on September 11, 2001," Supporting Material - September 11: Bearing Witness to History, National Museum of American History

Sepulveda, Noel
Master Sgt. Noel Sepulveda . . . left Bolling Air Force Base, D.C., that morning enroute to a meeting at the Pentagon . . .
          Sepulveda walked back to his motorcycle and saw a commercial airliner coming from the direction of Henderson Hall, adjacent to the Pentagon and where the Marine Corps has its headquarters.
"Pentagon hero receives Purple Heart, Airman's Medal," by Master Sgt. Dorothy Goepel, Air Force Print News 4/15/02
. . . He was standing in the parking lot at the Pentagon when he noticed a jetliner lower its landing gear as if to make a landing and then he realized that the airplane was actually heading towards the southwest wall of the Pentagon . . .
"Recognition of Master Sergeant Noel Sepulveda," League of United Latin American Citizens, 6/29/02
He saw the plane fly above a nearby hotel and drop its landing gear. The plane's right wheel struck a light pole, causing it to fly at a 45-degree angle, he said. The plane tried to recover, but hit a second light pole and continued flying at an angle. "You could hear the engines being revved up even higher," Sepulveda said.
          The plane dipped its nose and crashed into the southwest side of the Pentagon.
          "The right engine hit high, the left engine hit low," Sepulveda said. "For a brief moment, you could see the body of the plane sticking out from the side of the building. Then a ball of fire came from behind it."
          An explosion followed, sending Sepulveda flying against a light pole.
"Pentagon hero receives Purple Heart, Airman's Medal," by Master Sgt. Dorothy Goepel, Air Force Print News, 4/15/02

No parts seen -- reasoning with herself. But she saw the plane.

"Buildings don't eat planes. That plane, it just vanished. There should have been parts on the ground. It should have rained parts on my car. The airplane didn't crash. Where are the parts?" That's the conversation I had with myself on the way to work. . . .
          I spent an eternity in my car. I couldn't roll up the windows, the car smelled like the Inferno. Concrete dust coats the outside of the car, turning it a weird color. . . .
          . . . The gash in the building looks so small on TV. The massiveness of the structure lost in the tight shots of the fire. There was a plane. It didn't go over the building. It went into the building.
           . . . It's weird to watch it on TV while the same smoke drifts by your windows.
"Rerun: September 11, 2001, by Skarlet (webmaster of, Overly Caffeinated: The Punk Princess Weblog, 9/11/01

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