Saturday, September 11, 2010

911 - where were you?

I remember that day like it was yesterday, because I saw things that I knew were totally impossible. I was on my way to Martha's house when I heard that a plane had crashed into the Twin Towers. Oddly enough, suddenly every light went green and I arrived within minutes to run in and find Martha glued to the TV watching the whole thing unfold.
I sat for a minute or two looking at the planes hanging out of the Twin Towers waiting to hear they were pulling people out through the cockpit windows and wondering how on earth they were going to remove those planes.
Now, I want you to understand something. I have spent my life on airports. My father was both a pilot and an aircraft mechanic. I have figured the loads and how to balance them for cargo aircraft and never had a plane tip in any direction. I am good at my job.  I also have a more dubious area of training starting on the farm with my uncle and ending in a few wars. I know how to blow things up. I am really good at that job.
When the towers collapsed, my exact words were: NO F'N WAY!
Martha turned and in horror asked why.
Number one, the Towers should have had no trouble supporting the weight of the planes lodged in them.
Number two, if the Towers had collapsed from the weight of the aircraft, they would have collapsed in the direction of the aircraft, not straight down. There would have been a disaster of mammoth proportions taking out a good deal of the city if the weight of the airplane had caused the collapse.
Number three, the planes should not have exploded. If a plane does not explode on impact, the fire suppression mechanisms should prevent it from exploding a few minutes later. Jet fuel is kerosene. It is not the most explosive of compounds. You have to light it and give it plenty of air.
Number four, if the plane by some miracle did explode, the force of the explosion should have pushed the building in the opposite direction once again, creating a huge disaster.
That is why the poor responders felt perfectly safe ordering their crews into the Towers and the crews felt safe entering the Towers. They were probably trying to reach the people on the aircraft. The pilots would have been killed on impact. I, and everyone else in the air craft field, have seen planes hanging out of buildings and literally, out of mountains. I have seen a plane smack the side of a mountain and only the pilots were killed, the rest of the plane was fine. They were pancakes. I saw a crop duster go into the side of a barn (not the sturdiest of buildings) and get stuck there two stories up. The pilot was fine. All that hay makes a good cushion and the fuel small planes use is very explosive not to mention chemicals for killing insects that are petroleum based. It didn't explode. It took a crane to remove it.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to demolish a building by imploding it so it collapses straight down? Just watch tapes of the pros doing it for renovations. They charge through the nose. They spend at least a week or two studying every support in the building. You have to blow the building from the middle out to cause the collapse to be internal. One misfire and the building next door is a pancake.  Now you know why I could not take my eyes off the screen. I was watching the impossible.
I lost friends on those two air craft. I also know that the Towers were chock full of asbestos and anyone at ground zero or within a couple of miles that took a breath is probably under a death sentence. I would love to get my hands on the person who engineered that collapse and I am pretty darn certain he is not in a cave in an Arabic country. He is one darned good engineer. I would say he is the cream of crop in demolitions.
Now, as I said, my father was a pilot and I can fly an airplane if need be. I just never got my pilot's license because it is very expensive and very time consuming. You don't just hop over to flight school for 8 weeks, scoot out with your license and fly a commercial jet. You don't do it in a year. You might manage to fly a little puddle jumper that seats two, but not a jet. Those things are like trying to drive a battle ship through down town. They are cumbersome and do not respond rapidly. They maneuver worse than Vanwitch trying to make a U-Turn in a crowded parking lot.  Heck, I even hated taxiing the things on the runway. I felt like my ass was responding 5 minutes after I pointed the nose somewhere. Man, want to talk a HUGE turning radius??? A commercial passenger plane is a whole 'nother kettle of fish from a fighter jet. BUT, and you might want to remember this, they can be remotely flown by someone with a laptop, a gps and a joystick with pin point accuracy that cannot be achieved by a human in the cockpit. It has been done. The techniques were being researched when I was teenager so that a passenger plane could be landed without a crew if something went wrong. Well, that was the cover story and since they were using small fighter aircraft I am not inclined to believe the truth of it. I am sure that considering dinosaurs were roaming the earth back then, they have perfected the technique by now.

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