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Flight 93

Instapundit celebrates the right-wing holiday of Sept. 11 by linking to a post of his from the day of the attacks, a post which, he says, "still holds up pretty well."


What caught my eye was another post of his from that day. In it, he reports that United Airlines Flight 93 had indeed been hijacked, and quotes from an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The Westmoreland County Emergency Operations Center said it received a cell phone call at 9:58 a.m. from a man who said he was a passenger aboard the flight. The man said he had locked himself in a bathroom and told 911 dispatchers that the plane had been hijacked. He said he thought the plane was going down and told dispatchers that he heard an explosion and saw white smoke on the plane.
Then the line went dead. Dispatchers contacted the FBI. The plane went down near the town of Shanksville, on hillsides dotted with old strip mines.
The accepted narrative of the Flight 93 hijacking is that the passengers charged the cockpit and fought the hijackers, who then purposely brought the plane down. But how does an explosion and white smoke, while the plane was still in the air, fit into that scenario?

Wikipedia says that the New York Times later explained this away, basically saying that the report wasn't true:
Earlier reports have said that a previously unidentified passenger, Edward Felt of Matawan, N.J., said in a 911 call from a restroom that he saw a puff of smoke and heard an explosion, leading some to cite this as evidence that the plane was shot down by the military to prevent it from crashing into sensitive targets. But the 911 dispatcher, John Shaw, and others who have heard the tape, including Mr. Felt's wife, Sandra Felt, say he made no mention of smoke or an explosion when he said, 'We're going down.'
However, the Wikipedia entry also notes that the NYT explanation conflicts with a later report from the same paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that published the original story:
Edward Felt, a computer engineer who had been on his way to a business meeting in San Francisco, may have been the last person to place a phone call from the doomed plane before it crashed on Sept. 11 near Shanksville, Somerset County. Eight minutes before the crash, he had called 911 from an airplane lavatory and reached a dispatcher in Westmoreland County. And so, before they joined the other relatives to hear the cockpit voice recorder tape, Edward's widow, Sandy, his brother, Gordon, and his mother, Shirley, were led to a small conference room at the Princeton Marriott Forestall Village Hotel, where they were joined by two FBI agents and a victim-assistance counselor. Sitting around a polished wood table, the agents handed each of the Felts a typed transcript of the 911 call, and then played it. Ed's call was made at 9:58 a.m. In a conversation with dispatchers lasting about one minute, he spoke in a quivering voice saying, "We are being hijacked. We are being hijacked." He went on to describe an "explosion" that he heard, and then white smoke on the plane from an undetermined location. Then the line went dead.
This is confusing, to say the least. If Felt did indeed report an explosion and white smoke, there is obviously something missing from the official account of Flight 93. People have long speculated that Flight 93 was actually shot down, and this could be construed as evidence for such a view. However, it is also known that the hijackers of Flight 93 told passengers that they had a bomb on board. It has always been assumed that this was an empty threat, intended only to encourage passengers to comply. But if they did have a real bomb, it might explain Felt's account of an explosion. It would also raise some questions about how the hijackers managed to smuggle a bomb aboard the plane.

Don't worry; I'm not turning into a 9/11 conspiracy theorist or anything. But this does seem like an odd discrepancy that wants for an explanation.

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