Plane Swap Over Pennsylvania
Flight 93 and his Double - by Woody Box
January 16th, 2006
When beginning my research into the emergency landing of Delta
Flight 1989 at Cleveland which resulted in
The Cleveland Airport Mystery, I stumbled into a mess of
conflicting reports making it impossible to obtain a clear picture
of the fate of this airplane. I soon realized, however, that the
numerous contradictions could be elegantly solved by postulating
the existence of two different airplanes. Now, by a process
comparable to the untangling of two twisted phone cords, it was
possible to establish a consistent timeline for each of both
This article deals with the last ten minutes of Flight 93 over
Pennsylvania and, encountering the same contradictions, uses the
same methods to solve them. The available accounts on Flight 93 are
contradictory concerning its radar status, altitude, and flight
path while being in Pennsylvania airspace. The best explanation:
there were two different airplanes.
The radar status
The geographical position of a flying airplane is determined by its
radar echo. Radar stations send out radar waves into the air, the
airplane reflects the waves and appears as a spot on the screens of
air traffic controllers, allowing them to track it. This is the
so-called primary radar.
The radar technology has been improved in recent years. Every
commercial airplane has a special device on board, the transponder.
Using the radar waves as carrier, the transponder sends detailed
data to the ground, particularly the altitude of the airplane. For
our purpose, it's sufficient to know this feature of a
It is a well-known fact that the transponder of UA 93 - like the
ones of the other hijacked airplanes - was switched off. But much
less known are two further incidents: the transponder was back on
at a later point, and the airplane's radar blip vanished from the
controller's radar screens several minutes before the crash.
I will designate the three states as follows:
TransponderOn - the transponder is on. Controllers know the
position and altitude of the airplane.
PrimaryRadar - the transponder is off. Controllers still
know the position of the moving airplane, but not its altitude.
NoRadar - Controllers have lost the airplane's radar echo
completely, i.e. they don't know where it is.
The "transition points", i.e. the moments when the radar status
changed, are of crucial significance. The first transition is
undisputed among all known reports and documents, including the
9/11 Commission Report: At 9:41, UA 93 was over Canton, Ohio, and
switched off the transponder, i.e. TransponderOn ->
PrimaryRadar; Air Traffic Control was able to track the plane until
at least 9:53 (911 Commission Report, p. 29). It is unclear,
however, what happened thereafter. Two versions are available:
Transition A: PrimaryRadar -> NoRadar
This transition is confirmed by three sources:
At 9:53, FAA headquarters informed the Command Center that the
deputy director for air traffic services was talking to Monte
Belger about scrambling aircraft. Then the Command Center
informed headquarters that controllers had lost track of United 93
over the Pittsburgh area. Within seconds, the Command Center
received a visual report from another aircraft, and informed
headquarters that the aircraft was 20 miles northwest of
Johnstown. (9/11 Commission Report, page 29/30)
9:56:56 The track of UAL93 was no longer visible on the PIT
(Pittsburgh Airport) radar displays FAA
document, scroll down to the timeline at the end (This document
was published in 2005 following a FOIA request)
Cleveland: He’s just turned to the east of you. United
ninety-three, do you hear Cleveland Center? American ten-sixty and
Executive nine fifty-six, we just lost the target on that
93 Air Traffic Control tape
So the radar echo was lost shortly after 9:53 (911 Commission
Report) and was gone until at least 9:57 (FAA document), which
makes 9:55 (+- 1 minute) a good and narrow estimation for the
transition. In Appendix A I will show that the ATC tape does NOT
refer to the last seconds of UA 93 near Shanksville, leading to the
conclusion that the tape documents the radar loss we are dealing
with here, at 9:55.
Transition B: PrimaryRadar -> TransponderOn
This transition is confirmed by many first-hand sources, too:
"Yes. And then the transponder came back on. We got two hits off
the transponder. That’s something we’ve always wanted to
did the transponder come back on? Because the hijackers had shut it
off so that they couldn’t be tracked, even though we were still
tracking them. Now we were getting an altitude read out on the
airplane. I can’t remember the precise numbers but it was around
6,400 feet, and then around 5,900 or 5,800 feet. And we’re
thinking, ‘Oh, you know? Maybe something’s happened. Maybe
isn’t what we think it is.’" Stacey
Cleveland controller, on MSNBC
Just before ten a.m., Dennis Fritz ((air traffic manager)) took
a call in the control tower at the airport in Johnstown,
Pennsylvania. It was the Cleveland "en route" center. A large,
suspect aircraft was twenty miles south of Johnstown, descending
below six thousand feet and traveling east at a high rate of
speed. (Jere Longman: Among the heroes, p. 197)
"As the plane neared Somerset County, air traffic controllers in
Cleveland alerted their counterparts at John P. Murtha
Johnstown-Cambria County Airport that a plane was about 12 miles
away, "heading directly at the airport at about 6,000 feet,"
McKelvey, Johnstown Airport executive director
Stacey Taylor describes the return of the transponder directly. She
is confirmed by Fritz and McKelvey, who got UA 93's altitude from
Cleveland Center - an information impossible to obtain without
Furthermore, according to Fritz and all other sources, UA 93
approached Johnstown just before 10 o'clock, i.e almost the same
time when (a different?) UA 93 was lost from radar screens
because it was flying too low. So did both transitions happen on
the same plane, in very close succession? This assumption meets big
* Transition A (PrimaryRadar->NoRadar) is not mentioned with one
word by Stacey Taylor who was in charge of UA 93.
* Transition B (PrimaryRadar->TransponderOn) is not mentioned by
the 911 Commission Report; quite to the contrary, the text
suggests, in quoting pilots who spotted UA 93, that the controllers
had no clue where the plane was after 9:53.
* The flight plan change: East of Pittsburgh, UA 93 requested a
change of its flight plan, i.e. planned destination. "At 9:55:11
Jarrah dialed in the VHF Omni-directional Range (VOR) frequency for
the VOR navigational aid at Washington Reagan National Airport,
further indicating that the attack was planned for the nation's
capital.." (911 Commission report, p. 457).
One minute later, the FAA approved: At 9:56 a.m., Flight 93
asked the Federal Aviation Administration to change its destination
to Reagan National Airport in Washington. A minute later, the FAA
approved, according to Flight Explorer, a firm that tracks such
communications. (US News&World Report, 10/29/01)
At 9:56 a.m., the destination code for the plane in FAA
computers was changed from "SFO," the code for San Francisco, to
"DCA," the code for Reagan National Airport in Washington. That
indicates an air traffic controller probably changed the
destination. Typically, that is done only when it is requested by
the pilots. (St. Petersburg Times, 9/12/01)
So at 9:56, the FAA approved the flight plan change request of UA
93, at exactly the same time when (the same?) UA 93 was lost
from radar. Given this is technically possible - would the FAA
controllers really do that for a plane which they were unable to
locate? Or was it a different plane?
In the next two sections it will be shown that the altitude and
flight path data have the same ambivalent pattern as the radar
status data, thus putting the hypothesis to rest finally that both
transitions belong to the same plane .
An intriguing diagram discovered by Frank Levi shows the range of
all long-term radar sites and makes it possible to determine for
every geographical point the altitude where a low-flying plane
loses radar contact. See Appendix B.
UA 93 was lost from radar at about 9:55; it was between 10 and 20
miles southeast of Pittsburgh at this moment. In this area, a plane
disappears from radar when it is under 4000 ft roughly.
The plane conducting transition A was at about 4000 ft
Bill Wright was the pilot of a Piper Arrow flying in
the Pittsburgh area, and UA 93 crossed his way. Wright relates that
the controller from Cleveland (which was certainly Stacey Taylor)
asked him to look for the plane. It's clear from his accounts that
she knew UA 93's position, but not the altitude. This is proof that
the plane was in PrimaryRadar status when spotted by Wright. Wright
reported an altitude of 8000 ft first (FAA
document - scroll down to the end), then 7000 ft (Jere Longman:
Among the heroes, see Appendix C), confirming that the plane was in
This means that only seconds after crossing Wright's path, UA 93
switched the transponder on: it reappeared on Taylor's screen at an
altitude of 6400 ft. Therefore:
The plane conducting transition B was at 6400 ft
Combining altitude and radar status data makes it even
more unlikely that both transitions belong to the same plane. The
method is "proof by contradiction".
Let's first assume that transition A happened before B on the same
plane: According to the FAA document, Flight 93 was at 9:56:56
still on NoRadar status, i.e. below 4000 ft. A short time later, it
appears with full data set on Stacey Taylor's screen, indicating an
altitude of 6400 ft, descending. In between, it is spotted by Bill
Wright. This would mean that Flight 93 performed the following
maneuver in one or (at most) two minutes: it climbs from under 4000
ft to 8000 ft (observed by Bill Wright), stops climbing and begins
descending again before switching on the transponder. This
breathtaking maneuver may be theoretically possible, but is sent to
the realm of fiction finally if we consider the geographical
The hypothesis that B occurred before A on the same plane is even
worse: this would mean that the transponder was switched on after
9:53, but just two or three minutes later the plane vanished from
radar and never re-appeared. But when Dennis Fritz and Joe McKelvey
later got a warning from Cleveland Center "just before 10 a.m.",
the transponder was obviously activated. This is a clear
The flight path
Until now I have deliberately neglected the geographical position
of UA 93 to show that contradictions arise by comparing radar
status and elevation data only. In this section I will show that
the position data increase the mess if you try to keep up the
(official) hypothesis that only one plane was involved; just to the
contrary, the data fit with the two-plane hypothesis
The various illustrations of UA 93's path show basically the same
route. Only the last part, when UA 93 re-enters Pennsylvania, is of
interest in our context. The path can generally described like
UA 93 enters Pennsylvania over the West Virginia "panhandle",
heading southeast. It passes a bit south of Pittsburgh. Somewhere
between Pittsburgh and Somerset, it turns slightly to the right,
heading to Johnstown for a little while. But before reaching
Johnstown, it turns south and crashes immediately thereafter. This
maneuver results in a flat bulge on the flight path. Every
available diagram shows this bulge.
Apart from the various graphics, worthful hints to the exact
position of UA 93 in Pennsylvania are hard to find in verbal
reports. It follows a compilation.
* But emergency operations officials in Allegheny County and
Pittsburgh hadn't trained for what happened Sept. 11. They had
never rehearsed what to do about a hijacked plane flying just nine
miles south of Pittsburgh International Airport, heading east along
the Allegheny-Washington county line. Pittsburgh
* According to Dennis Fritz, air traffic manager of Johnstown
Airport, UA 93 was approaching Johnstown from the south. It was
twenty, then fifteen miles away from the airport before it turned
south. It did not fly over Johnstown. (Jere Longman: Among the
heroes, p. 197)
These two accounts are compatible with the official flight path if
we accept that Fritz meant "southwest" when he said "south" of
Johnstown. The following sources, however, are not:
* The 9/11 Commission Report, referring to FAA files, has UA 93
flying 20 miles northwest of Johnstown (p. 30).
* Many reports and witnesses confirm that UA 93 flew over Johnstown
before it crashed:
John Hugya, an administrative assistant to U.S. Rep John Murtha,
said he has been told that the plane initially flew over Cambria
County Airport in Johnstown. There was no communication from the
plane, and the plane was not responding to Cleveland Center, which
is how they knew it was one of the hijacked planes." Pittsburgh
Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown, said last night he could only
guess that the plane's likely target was "a second shot at the
Pentagon or the Capitol or the White House itself." "The
destination sure wasn't an open field," he said. "It's fortunate it
didn't come down sooner, on Johnstown."
"There was a lot of disbelief," Mary Miller said. "You live in
Shanksville or Johnstown, and you think you live in a rural area
where it’s safe. You don’t think about terrorists in your
Yet there they were on September 11, flying above her, banking
toward the Johnstown Airport, wings unsteady, the Boeing 757-200
coming in at an odd angle, then turning awkwardly, headed for
Shanksville ten miles away, where the airliner would slam into an
old strip mine, killing everyone aboard.
"Before we could even move, we were then told to evacuate the
building immediately because an unidentified jet was on its way to
Johnstown Airport at less than 6,000 feet and not responding to the
air control tower," she said. She went outside to her car. United
Flight 93 came into view, low, headed toward the airport. "It was
wobbling," she said. "It wasn’t flying slow and steady. The wings
weren’t stable the way you’d expect. And I thought,
‘What is going
on up there?’ " Mary Miller,
Vice President of Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America
Johnstown, Pa., airport director Joe McKelvey called 911 as
Flight 93 passed overhead. The plane kept going lower and there was
no radio contact.
Los Angeles Times
And last not least, Dennis Fritz! - who claimed somewhere else that
UA 93 did not overfly Johnstown The plane passed over
Johnstown veering south, Fritz said. Akron
Beacon Journal Note that Fritz confirms Mary Miller's
observation here that the plane turned south right over
So the evidence is overwhelming that UA 93 did indeed fly over
Johnstown, in spite of Fritz' various denials. Fritz' credibility
is seriously damaged by his own contradictions, which is very
significant because he is the only one who supports the official
flight path: UA 93 approaching Johnstown from southwest, creating a
The many Johnstown witnesses are strong corroboration for two UA
93's over Pennsylvania:
UA-93-South passed Pittsburgh along the Washington/Allegheny
County line and was lost from radar (transition A) somewhere
southeast of Pittsburgh.
UA-93-North passed north of Pittsburgh, turned on the transponder
(transition B), approached Johnstown from northwest and turned
south over Johnstown.
In case the reader is still not convinced of the existence of the
"Northern" UA 93, he should take a closer look at the statements of
Bill Wright, the Piper pilot.
At first here are the facts as they were narrated by Wright
himself. The two sources are Longman's "Among the heroes" - see
Appendix C for quotation - and an interview for local WTAE
TV. Wright was coming back with his Piper from West Virginia
after told by controllers to go back to Indiana Airport "as soon as
practical". He was flying north along a longitudinal line 20 miles
east of Pittsburgh (which I name the "Piper line"). He got two more
calls from air traffic controllers, the last one being a request to
land at the nearest airport. White was over Youngwood at this
moment, and the nearest airport was at Latrobe. But due to traffic,
he couldn't land right away, so he moved on north. A short time
later a Cleveland controller told him to look out for a big
airliner at his "ten o'clock position", i.e. a plane coming from
westnorthwest. Finally, he detected a plane that crossed his path
one mile behind him and went down through his altitude of 7000
So which airplane fits Wright's statement better - UA 93-North or
* Wright got the landing order when he was over Youngwood. He was
asked to look for the airplane at his 10 o'clock position
thereafter, i.e. while he was continuing flying north. This is
clear evidence that the plane he was asked to look for was
north of Pittsburgh, not south of Pittsburgh.
* I have already mentioned that the airliner spotted by Wright was
in PrimaryRadar status. Furthermore, it was flying at 7000 ft. When
UA 93-South was approaching the Piper line, it was already in
NoRadar status, i.e. flying under 4000 ft. Therefore it's not
possible that Wright was talking about this plane. UA 93-North,
however, switched the transponder on AFTER passing the Piper line.
This fits with Wright's account perfectly:
The Piper was over Youngwood when it received the general FAA
grounding order at 9:45. (On WTAE TV, Wright says that he was over
Youngwood "20 minutes" before the UA 93 crash.) It continued to go
north with a speed of about 150 mph (its normal cruising speed),
until it met the airliner somewhere near Vandergrift at about 9:54.
Shortly after this encounter, UA 93-North switched the transponder
back on when it was at 6400 ft.
All these data prove that Wright encountered UA 93-North.
Significance and conclusion
The existence of UA 93-North is confirmed by the 9/11 Commission
Report, Stacey Taylor and Bill Wright. The existence of UA 93-South
is confirmed by radar data, personnel from Pittsburgh Airport and
the ATC recordings. It is impossible to put all these
sources under only one hat.
Okay, the attentive reader might say, I accept that there were two
different UA 93's over Pennsylvania - but for what purpose? What
was the underlying plan of this plane swap?
Before presenting a possible and, in my eyes, probable answer, I'd
like to emphasize the general concept reflected by the twin UA 93:
the change of an aircraft's identity while it is airborne.
Many researchers are convinced that the original airliners of 9/11
were replaced by "drones", remote controlled objects which were
then directed into their respective targets. Now we have also
seriously to consider that planes were replaced by planes. UA 93 is
the best example because it is a chameleon flight:
- there are two different take-off times for UA 93: the official
one - 8:41 - and the real one - 8:28 (BTS database).
- FAA notified NORAD at 9:16 that UA 93 was hijacked, but UA 93
checked in with Cleveland Center normally at about 9:20 and stopped
communication not earlier than 9:28. So which plane was reported
hijacked at 9:16?
- Cleveland Center noticed screams and hijacker voices coming from
a plane, but the controller thought they originated from Delta
1989, not from UA 93.
- UA 93 was reported to make a landing at Cleveland Airport at
10:45 and was later "renamed" as Delta 1989.
Obviously, in the case of UA 93 the perpetrators of 9/11 made
extensive usage of the "identity change in the air" tactics. It
seems that UA 93-North and UA 93-South had different tasks; while
UA 93-South' purpose was to create the "official flight path", the
existence of UA 93-North was kept hidden - maybe because its
passengers were supposed to be hidden. Interestingly, the radar
loss of UA 93-South coincides with the flight plan
change/transponder-back-on action of UA 93-North. Both occurred at
9:55~9:56. This "coincidence" suggests that UA 93-North "replaced"
UA 93-South: identity change!
What happened to the planes?
The case of the double UA 93 seems to be proven. In this section I
present possible answers concerning their fate after the swap.
These should not be dismissed as pure speculation; rather, it is
We don't know what happened to UA 93-South, but its behaviour
-going down under 4000 ft, becoming invisible to controllers -
strongly suggests that its intention was to land somewhere in the
Pittsburgh area. Alle we have to look for now is an airport in this
area which is able to handle big airliners. I leave it to the
reader to spot this airport.
And UA 93-North? First, it is very unlikely that it crashed at
Shanksville for the simple reason that a big airliner doesn't fit
into the crater there. Second, there are several reports about a
"UA 93" after the alleged plane crash:
The Secret Hijacking, I postulated the existence of a secret
fifth plane which was reported in the morning of 9/11 on all major
news channels but was dropped soon everywhere: the Fifth Plane.
UA 93-North fits this fifth plane splendidly. It crossed Johnstown
at 10:00; it crossed the alleged crash site at 10:03; it continued
to head for Washington; Cleveland Center warned NEADS of UA
93-North at 10:07 (after the alleged crash of UA 93!); UA 93-North
appeared on the radar screens of Washington enroute controllers,
despite the fact that it was never in their airspace; sitting in
his shelter, Cheney was told between 10:10 and 10:15 that a plane
(UA 93-North) was 80 miles out of Washington, a bit later 60 miles
out; before reaching Washington, UA 93-North was intercepted by
fighters and escorted to Cleveland, where the 200 passengers were
evacuated to a nearby NASA hangar.
9/11: The Johnstown "Terror Team" Cover-up by ewing2001 and
John Doe II - highlights the role of Johnstown Airport
UA 93: Part
I: ... and kiss the official UA 93 theory good-bye! by John Doe
II - analyses the "last two minutes" of UA 93
military precision of flight paths by Frank Levi - indicates
that "identity change in the air" was one of the main 9/11
Appendix A - The ATC tape
Executive 956: Is that aircraft you’re trying to get a hold of
turned to the east now??
Cleveland: He’s just turned to the east now. United ninety-three,
do you hear Cleveland Center? American ten-sixty and Executive nine
fifty-six, we just lost the target on that aircraft.
Executive 956: Executive nine fifty-six, we had a visual on it,
just stand by.
Cleveland: You have a visual on it now?
Executive 956: We did, but we lost it in the turn.
Cleveland: You can make a turn back to two-twenty heading. Let me
know if you can see him.
Executive 956: He’s still there. We’ve got him, from nine
Cleveland: He’s still there, er, what, about twenty-five miles?
Executive 956: Affirmative from nine fifty-six.
Cleveland: Vector nine fifty-six, turning one-eight-zero.
Executive 956: Er, negative, turning nine fifty-six, he appears to
be heading right towards us.
Does this segment, which documents the loss of radar contact to UA
93, refer to the final seconds of the plane when it was between
Johnstown and Shanksville? No, it does not, for several
1) Near Shanksville, UA 93 did not make a turn to the east, rather
it turned to the south.
2) Near Shanksville, UA 93 was flying just over tree-top level. No
way Executive Jet 956 could have spotted the plane from 25 miles
distance, in particular through the ridges of Allegheny
3) The last message of Executive Jet 956 is that the plane is
heading towards him - so it is certainly not going to crash in the
4) Despite he was watching the plane continuously, Executive Jet
956 does not mention any smoke. He should have if he was observing
UA 93 immediately before (and after) its crash.
5) The smoke is finally reported by another plane, AA 1060. Where
is Executive 956? The fact that another female controller (probably
Stacey Taylor) is in contact with AA 1060 indicates that the plane
spotted by Executive 956 was NOT the origin of the smoke.
Conclusion: This passage of the ATC recordings refers to the radar
loss occurring at ~9:55.
Appendix B - The range of the radar
Each radar station generates a wide conus where all airborne
objects are detected. The diagram depicts a horizontal cut through
all these conusses at 5000 ft. Everything being at 5000 ft outside
the orange and purple areas is not visible on radar screens.
Southwestern Pennsylvania is covered by a radar station near
Clearfield, 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. The area lies
clearly inside the orange circle, therefore a plane has to be below
5000 ft to avoid radar detection there. Due to the conic shape of
the space covered by a radar station, the closer a plane is to the
station, the lower it has to fly to be undetected by radar. 4000 ft
seems to be a sufficiently accurate estimation for UA 93 when it
disappeared from radar southeast of Pittsburgh.
Appendix C - The flight path of Bill Wright's Piper
A quote from Jere Longman, "Among the heroes", p. 192:
With a plesant monotony, William Wright flew across southwestern
Pennsylvania in his single-engine Piper Arrow, mapping farmland
with an aerial photographer. They were on assignment for the state
agriculture department, flying back and forth on a route that
extended from about twenty miles east of Pittsburgh down toward the
West Virginia border....He had turned northward when he received a
message from the air traffic center in Cleveland. He was to return
to the airport in Indiana, Pennsylvania, as soon as was practical.
Then another call came: Return home right now. Then a third call:
Land immediately in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.With a plesant monotony,
William Wright flew across southwestern Pennsylvania in his
single-engine Piper Arrow, mapping farmland with an aerial
photographer. They were on assignment for the state agriculture
department, flying back and forth on a route that extended from
about twenty miles east of Pittsburgh down toward the West Virginia
He had turned northward when he received a message from the air
traffic center in Cleveland. He was to return to the airport in
Indiana, Pennsylvania, as soon as was practical. Then another call
came: Retrun home right now. Then a third call: Land immediately in
There was air traffic below the Piper, so it could not land right
away. the Cleveland center wanted to know if Wright could see a
plane off of his left wing. Ten o' clock was the direction.
No, he couldn't. Neither could Holli Joiner, the photographer. The
Cleveland controller seemed to grow frantic. He gave the location
of the plane again.
"There it is", joiner said. The gray-and-blue 757 was slightly
behind them, perhaps a mile away, descending through the Piper's
altitude at seven thousand feet. The jet seemed to move away, then
come back, Wright said, doing several steep rolls, dipping one
wing, then the other. "The wings started to rock", Joiner said, so
mesmerized that she forgot to take a picture of the United jet.
"The rocking stopped and it started again. A violent rocking back
and forth, like it was going through turbulence."
Head north, the Piper was told. Get away quickly. The 757 continued
eastward and disappeared from the Piper's view.
Many thanks to the team8plus.org team.
smells in the air - Flight data + tail number oddities
"9/11 War Games - No Coincidence"
FAA, NORAD and
93 times oddities and maps -
9/11 theories news video
and photo analysis
the skies - air traffic control system FAA Sept 11
Phones September 11 - Technical discussion phyics911 (SPINE)
Cell Phones September 11 - Technical discussion
phyics911 (SPINE) part2
Flight 93 phone call made from Illinios? september 11 passenger
9/11 Facts - war games
Ben Sliney -
Flight 93 9/11 radar flight maps
Killtown's: Did Flight 93 Crash in
also see 9-11 FAA radar
discrepancies in the Septmeber 11 flight