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Of a Fire in a Field and a Hole in the Sky



The Tower of Voices, a roughly 93-foot-tall concrete and steel structure, contains a wind chime for each of the 40 passengers and crew members who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, and represents the final phase of the Flight 93 National Memorial. Each chime will generate its own distinctive sound.

At the end of April in 2006 a couple of friends asked me to go with them to see “United 93,” but I declined both offers saying I wasn’t sure that I needed any reminders other than what I saw in New York on that day. In the end, though, I went to it as I went to the funerals, alone.

When people who were in New York on that day talk about it, it always seems to be focused on the day itself. Nobody talks much about the days and the weeks and the months that came after that day in New York City.

In a way, that’s understandable because what happened for days and weeks and months after was pretty much a slowly diminishing repeat of that day. Things got better, got back to the new “normal.” The wax from the candled shrines was scraped away, and in time — quite a long time actually — even the walls and fences full of fading flyers asking if you had seen one or the other of those we came to call “the missing” were gone.

Most of these ghastly portrait galleries were simply washed away by the snows and rains that followed that autumn day. Some were covered in long sheets of clear plastic duct-taped and sealed.

I pose you your question: “What would you do, an ordinary person in an extraordinary moment when life and death, good and evil, were as clear as the skies over America on September 11? “

It was as if somehow preserving them for a long as possible would in some way preserve the hope that those in the towers who had been turned to ash and dust were, somewhere, somehow, still merely missing. Some were even laminated and replaced more than once on a chain-link fence that ringed Ground Zero forming a patchwork of Kinkos-copied faces framed by wire and the hole in the sky.

Inside the wire under the hole in the sky was, in time, a growing hole in the ground as the rubble was cleared away and, after many months, the last fire was put out. Often at first, but with slowly diminishing frequency, all the work to clear out the rubble and the wreckage would come to a halt.

The machinery would be shut down and it would become quiet. Across the site, tools would be laid down and the workers would straighten up and stand still. Then, from somewhere in the pile or the pit, a group of men would emerge carrying a stretcher covered with an American flag and holding, if they were fortunate, a body. If they were not so fortunate the flag covering over the stretcher would be lumpy, holding only portions of a body from which, across the river on the Jersey shore, a forensic lab would try to make an identification and then pass on to the victim’s survivors something that they could bury.

I’m not sure anymore about the final count, but I am pretty sure that most families, in the end, got nothing. Their loved ones had all gone into the smoke and the dust that covered the end of the island and blew, mostly, across the river into Brooklyn where I lived. What happened to most of the three thousand killed by the animals on that day? It is simple and ghastly. We breathed them until the rains came and washed clean what would never be clean again.

The best among us all had our rituals for getting through those days and, to tell the truth, for a long time in New York, the best of us were the most of us. In time, as you can see today, that faded out of a lot of New Yorkers’ souls, and left them even emptier and more cynical than before as they turned back to petty politics and bad art. A lot of the output of these damaged souls can be seen in the media products that the city produces to fainter and fainter acclaim. But we were, for a bit, somewhat united by the evil that had been visited on us. That and the need to bear witness to our dead.

My own ritual for living in the aftermath was, for some time, to bear witness to the heroism of the firemen and the policemen by attending their funerals and honoring them. In the beginning I vowed I would go to every single one, but in the end I simply couldn’t take it. I managed to go to about a dozen before I faltered. I just wasn’t, it turned out, that strong.

Far away on that day, far from the pillar of flame and plume of ash at the foot of the island, there was another fire in a field in Pennsylvania. Those nearby felt the shudder in the earth and saw the smoke, but it would be some days before we understood what it was, and longer still until we began to know what it meant.

The film I saw by myself tonight expands that meaning and brings a human face to the acts by the passengers of United 93 that endure only in that rare atmosphere that heroes inhabit. What I know in my heart, but what always escapes my understanding until something like this film renews it, is that heroism is a virtue that most often appears among us not descending from some mythic pantheon, but rising up out of the ordinary earth and ordinary hearts when the moment calls for actions extraordinary.

I saw this ordinary courage in New York on that day as I learned of the police and the firemen who had gone up the stairs to save others’ lives. That they, in their hundreds, had gone up when all others were fleeing down is an image that can never be erased from my memory. Time fades all impressions as surely as it faded the faces of the missing on the walls of my city, but let’s, just for now, remember it it once again, for it we fail to remember and sustain the memories of our heroes, we are surely done as a nation and a people.

There are two gigantic buildings soaring into the sky above you. They are both consumed by flames and thick putrid smoke on the upper floors. The burning is so high up that those trapped above choose to leap to their deaths rather than suffer what it coming at them in the rooms behind them. Untold thousands are struggling to escape from these twin funeral pyres.

As you arrive in your heavy and hot survival gear you know that putting the fires out is a near impossibility. All your training tells you that. But putting them out is never really your goal. Your goal is to go into the building, climb up, and save as many as you can that are surely trapped unknown floors high above you.

The situation is unprecedented. Rubble litters the streets and, after awhile, you hear the sharp crashes as the jumpers above shatter on the ground on all sides of the buildings. Your communication gear is all but useless and the tactical situation is confused. But you know, from long experience and training, that if thousands are getting out the various exit stairways, there may well be hundreds trapped somewhere high above that you can still save. The situation is extraordinary, but you are a fireman or a policeman, and your duty is known and, to you, quite ordinary. It is, as you always like to say, just your job.

And so, without a lot of hesitation, while hundreds around you are running down and out of the building, you walk into the building. And then, with perhaps a prayer, you walk up into the smoke and the flames determined to save as many as you can or die trying.

And on that day you do die. You die in the hundreds. Every one of you an ordinary hero on an extraordinary day. Every one moving, until the last moment, up the stairs.

To this day, those men who went up those stairs exist in my mind as starlight, beyond my capacity to comprehend — only to honor. But I went to a few of their funerals and so I know, if only slightly, the human face and the life and the families of about a dozen.

Far above and away to the west on that day, there was as we knew, and now as we have seen, another group of American men and women who, when they found out what was happening and what was to be their likely fate, also took that fate in their own hands and came on, fighting to thwart or reverse that fate, until the last moment of their lives. Ordinary people in an extraordinary situation finding the ordinary courage to resist and to fight against the evil that appeared among them.

That’s the theme and the pace and the action of “United 93:” How ordinary people, at first strangers to each other, found the courage to act together in the face of certain death.

Despite the whines and the cavils of the weak and the vile and the corrupt among us, “United 93” has no “message.”

Despite the rising and continuing attempts to cheapen the film from the spiritually and politically bankrupt that batten off America, “United 93” has no politics.

You don’t “review” this film if you have an ounce of soul left to you. You watch it.

“United 93,” from the first frame to the last, simply and clearly lets you see what happened high in the air on that day. It is, as the phrase on the poster says, “The plane that did not reach its target.” Instead, it reached something unintended and much higher. It became and will remain a legend; an integral part of the tapestry of the American myth from which we all draw what strength remains to us, and, in the future, will surely need to draw upon even more deeply. Like the best of our legends, it arises out of our ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

“United 93” lets you see, without footnotes or the faintest tinge of an agenda of any sort, how ordinary people in one of the most banal yet dangerous modern settings, refused at the last to be cowed or frightened and, knowing full well that all was probably up for them, still fought to save their lives or, in the end, thwart the designs that evil had brought on board.

For when I think, not about the film “United 93” — that remains a pattern of light and dark in the caves where we come together to share our dreams and myths and more paltry entertainments — but about the actual flight on that actual day high in the air to the west of the city, I can understand why the passengers, knowing what they knew, would become united in an effort to save themselves.

But I also think that, in the end, saving themselves was not so much on their minds. I think that, at that time and in that place, they understood that those chances were slim indeed. Instead, I like to think that the men and women of United 93 had their souls set upon, in those last moments, the refusal to die as passive victims with seatbelts fastened as the monsters in the cockpit pushed their evil mission to its appointed end.

In a film of brief but telling moments, there’s one moment towards the end where you see one man reach down and remove his seatbelt. In that moment you can sense that he goes from being a passive victim to a man who has decided to stand up and engage the evil that has taken control of his life; to take the controls back from thugs and the cut-throats and the mumbling fanatics of a wretched and burnt-out god.

That man, like the firemen who went up the stairs, and his fellow passengers who attacked up the aisle in those last moments, became, in the end, one of the Americans who decided on that day and the days that followed, to stand up. Soon after, that man and all the others on United 93 went into the smoke of that fire in the field.

“United 93” is a simply told, near-documentary look at how that fire in the field came to be. As I said above, the film has no message, but if you — as I finally did — choose to go, it will pose you a question: What would you do, an ordinary person in an extraordinary moment when life and death, good and evil, were as clear as the skies over America on September 11? Will you, as so many of our fellow citizens yearn to do these days, stay seated? Or will you stand up?

On one of our days to come, there will be another test. You’d best have an answer prepared.

The Field

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Gordon Scott September 14, 2018, 12:32 AM

    I was looking for something else today, and came across a whole series of YouTube videos explaining how it was all a hoax, including Flight 93 crashing into that field.

    I know any sort of event like this generates conspiracy theories.

    It still pisses me off. I once went to a lecture by some PhD who had it all figured out. It was the usual chain of bullshit. “Jet fuel doesn’t burn hot enough to melt steel, ” among other canards. Came the question time, I went to the microphone and told him that the steel doesn’t have to melt. It just has to get hot enough to lose its tensile strength. That’s why girders in modern buildings have insulation around them; to keep them cool long enough for the fire suppression systems to work.

    But when an airplane crashes through the building, it strips off some of that insulation. It also severs some of the pipes that carry water to the sprinklers. It doesn’t take much of that sort of damage. The steel is now vulnerable to heat and there’s nothing to cool the fire. The temperature rises, and the steel begins to weaken, until it fails on one floor. The weight of the 30 stories above crush that floor out of existence. And the impact causes the next floor below to go. . . .

    I pointed this out, in fewer words. I told him that with this leg of his creation pulled out, his whole line of crap crashes down. Oh no, he says, it’s never happened before. Skyscrapers don’t collapse without explosives. And he just ignores what he doesn’t like, and goes on, and the audience hisses, because they want to believe.

    Still pisses me off, today.

  • downeasthillbilly September 14, 2018, 6:22 AM

    A friend of my wife walked down the stairs, and arrived at the ground floor just as the first tower came down. The pressure wave knocked him down, but an ordinary hero from the FDNY picked him up and shoved him toward the door. Her friend escaped. The ordinary hero did not. No. We will NEVER forget.

  • Annie Rose September 14, 2018, 6:52 AM

    My husband, a fire chief for 30 years, is still haunted to this day by 9/11. It is a deep pain for him to realize the sacrifice that these people made for the love of others. No he wasn’t in NYC. But as a fire protection/safety engineer with a keen understanding of building structures and fire fighting, he knows that those firefighters knowingly and willingly climbed to their deaths in those towers, all to save as many as they could. Thank you for your insights into these courageous people, those in the towers and those on that flight. Few people realize how truly extraordinary they are. True heroes.

  • Tom Hyland September 14, 2018, 9:05 AM

    Gordon Scott is pissed off. Conspiracy theories… keeping him pissed off. Gordon cannot condone nor entertain the idea that people in positions of power conspire… plan and execute evil events in privacy. A read of world history would reveal to Gordon that governments conspire and create false flag events in order to invent wars and other atrocities. Personally, I don’t believe one word Katy Couric told me regarding 9/11. I watched a video recently, was put together in 2012, an interview of a woman from Shanksville, Pennsylvania describing the “thing” that flew over her car and crashed into the steaming ditch…. that same ditch where there was no plane… just steam. If you ask, “where’s the plane?” then you hate America and you’re a conspiracy theorist. This video makes more sense to me than anything Katy ever told us.

  • ghostsniper September 14, 2018, 9:16 AM

    Gordon, there are several major errors in your 3rd and 4th paragraphs that any entry level engineering student could quickly point out to you. Here’s a tip. Girders are horizontal and columns are vertical.

    Girders hold up the stuff that’s on top of them, floor systems, non-load bearing walls, furniture, etc., and columns hold up the girders. Melt the girders and the stuff they are holding will fall down, melt the columns and the girders and the stuff they are holding will fall down. When a girder falls down its because whatever was holding them can no longer do so. When a column falls down it’s because the column supporting it from below falls down. When a column falls down it does so by leaning until such time it crosses over the angle of repose and then it’s own weight works against it. It is simply physically impossible for a series of 80+ columns stacked on top of each other to collapse without leaning one way or another. My understanding is that the towers collapsed vertically without leaning.

    Also, you make it sound as if the floors collapsed in one full size piece, 83 down onto 82, 82 down onto 81, etc., but again this is a physical impossibility because of the columns.

    Lastly, it seems most people believe a tall building is designed and built from the ground up but that is not true, it is the opposite. It’s not possible to design a 1 story building and then put another floor on top of it, over and over. Know why? The first floor will fail because it wasn’t designed to support additional floors above because of costs. A 1 story home, for example, is designed as such with no thought as to installing a 2nd floor later on. I have encountered this many times with clients that want to remodel their buildings by putting 2nd floors on top and I have to explain the additional cost of making the 1st floor structurally stable so as to support the weight and various loads of that 2nd floor. When a designer designs a 100 story building and then the client says they want to add another floor to the top, the entire building must be redesigned to accept the additional loading all the way down to the ground. You have to know the end projection in order to design the first floor, that which will support all other floors above it. The structure is strongest at the bottom.

    I feel like I’m trying to explain Engineering 909 to someone that doesn’t understand Engineering 101 yet. I don’t mean that as an insult. There is a reason that a medical student must go through years of medical school before he gets to his specialization school because he doesn’t have the capacity to understand, yet, the subject matter that will be discussed in the latter.

    In short, the only reason the public at large, and purchased whores, claim to believe the media stories about the destruction of the twin towers is because they lack the knowledge to understand why it can’t be as they claim. The truth is out there but most haven’t the will for various reasons to go find it. I am not defending the phd you mentioned cause I wasn’t there and didn’t hear what he said.

    • jrod September 12, 2021, 7:27 AM

      Gee, Mr. Science, could you next explain to me why bumble bees can’t fly.

  • Tom Hyland September 14, 2018, 9:52 AM

    I’m not alone?? Thanks ghostsniper for offering some rational and critical thinking into the discussion. Let’s take a look, once again, at Building no. 7 and this very brief video narrated by Dan Rather. This building was 47 stories tall and there was some furniture smoldering on the 44th floor. How does a steel structure, supported by vertical columns, begin it’s pulverization at ground level and fall down into its own footprint… because of that fire upstairs?

  • Vanderleun September 14, 2018, 10:56 AM

    “”Melted” Steel
    Claim: “We have been lied to,” announces the Web site AttackOnAmerica.net. “The first lie was that the load of fuel from the aircraft was the cause of structural failure. No kerosene fire can burn hot enough to melt steel.” The posting is entitled “Proof Of Controlled Demolition At The WTC.”

    FACT: Jet fuel burns at 800° to 1500°F, not hot enough to melt steel (2750°F). However, experts agree that for the towers to collapse, their steel frames didn’t need to melt, they just had to lose some of their structural strength—and that required exposure to much less heat. “I have never seen melted steel in a building fire,” says retired New York deputy fire chief Vincent Dunn, author of The Collapse Of Burning Buildings: A Guide To Fireground Safety. “But I’ve seen a lot of twisted, warped, bent and sagging steel. What happens is that the steel tries to expand at both ends, but when it can no longer expand, it sags and the surrounding concrete cracks.”

    “Steel loses about 50 percent of its strength at 1100°F,” notes senior engineer Farid Alfawak-hiri of the American Institute of Steel Construction. “And at 1800° it is probably at less than 10 percent.” NIST also believes that a great deal of the spray-on fireproofing insulation was likely knocked off the steel beams that were in the path of the crashing jets, leaving the metal more vulnerable to the heat.

    But jet fuel wasn’t the only thing burning, notes Forman Williams, a professor of engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and one of seven structural engineers and fire experts that PM consulted. He says that while the jet fuel was the catalyst for the WTC fires, the resulting inferno was intensified by the combustible material inside the buildings, including rugs, curtains, furniture and paper. NIST reports that pockets of fire hit 1832°F.

    “The jet fuel was the ignition source,” Williams tells PM. “It burned for maybe 10 minutes, and [the towers] were still standing in 10 minutes. It was the rest of the stuff burning afterward that was responsible for the heat transfer that eventually brought them down.””

    9/11 Conspiracy Theories – World Trade Center – Debunking the Myths

  • Vanderleun September 14, 2018, 10:59 AM

    WTC 7 Collapse
    Claim: Seven hours after the two towers fell, the 47-story WTC 7 collapsed. According to 911review.org: “The video clearly shows that it was not a collapse subsequent to a fire, but rather a controlled demolition: amongst the Internet investigators, the jury is in on this one.”
    Fire Storm: WTC 7 stands amid the rubble of the recently collapsed Twin Towers. Damaged by falling debris, the building then endures a fire that rages for hours. Experts say this combination, not a demolition-style implosion, led to the roofline “kink” that signals WTC 7’s progressive collapse. (Photograph by New York Office of Emergency Management)

    FACT: Many conspiracy theorists point to FEMA’s preliminary report, which said there was relatively light damage to WTC 7 prior to its collapse. With the benefit of more time and resources, NIST researchers now support the working hypothesis that WTC 7 was far more compromised by falling debris than the FEMA report indicated. “The most important thing we found was that there was, in fact, physical damage to the south face of building 7,” NIST’s Sunder tells PM. “On about a third of the face to the center and to the bottom—approximately 10 stories—about 25 percent of the depth of the building was scooped out.” NIST also discovered previously undocumented damage to WTC 7’s upper stories and its southwest corner.

    NIST investigators believe a combination of intense fire and severe structural damage contributed to the collapse, though assigning the exact proportion requires more research. But NIST’s analysis suggests the fall of WTC 7 was an example of “progressive collapse,” a process in which the failure of parts of a structure ultimately creates strains that cause the entire building to come down. Videos of the fall of WTC 7 show cracks, or “kinks,” in the building’s facade just before the two penthouses disappeared into the structure, one after the other. The entire building fell in on itself, with the slumping east side of the structure pulling down the west side in a diagonal collapse.

    According to NIST, there was one primary reason for the building’s failure: In an unusual design, the columns near the visible kinks were carrying exceptionally large loads, roughly 2000 sq. ft. of floor area for each floor. “What our preliminary analysis has shown is that if you take out just one column on one of the lower floors,” Sunder notes, “it could cause a vertical progression of collapse so that the entire section comes down.”

    There are two other possible contributing factors still under investigation: First, trusses on the fifth and seventh floors were designed to transfer loads from one set of columns to another. With columns on the south face apparently damaged, high stresses would likely have been communicated to columns on the building’s other faces, thereby exceeding their load-bearing capacities.

    Second, a fifth-floor fire burned for up to 7 hours. “There was no firefighting in WTC 7,” Sunder says. Investigators believe the fire was fed by tanks of diesel fuel that many tenants used to run emergency generators. Most tanks throughout the building were fairly small, but a generator on the fifth floor was connected to a large tank in the basement via a pressurized line. Says Sunder: “Our current working hypothesis is that this pressurized line was supplying fuel [to the fire] for a long period of time.”

    WTC 7 might have withstood the physical damage it received, or the fire that burned for hours, but those combined factors—along with the building’s unusual construction—were enough to set off the chain-reaction collapse.

    9/11 Conspiracy Theories – World Trade Center – Debunking the Myths

  • ghostsniper September 14, 2018, 1:00 PM

    In a society that consists mostly of children disguised as adults the gov’t-media offered up a reason in childlike terms that was easily understood by all. Placate sort of rhymes with “Pancake”. “Melting”. Easily understood words, with no application. You will never see those words in an engineering environment. It’s as if understanding very complex engineering projects could, by way of bobbing heads, be explained to kindergarteners.

    The gov’t has never lied about anything, ever.

    Who knew? Each floor was in and of itself a separate yet monolithic part capable of staying intact while “pancaking” all the way down until they hit bottom then they revealed themselves to be that which they were all along – 100,000 separate pieces that magically all pancaked in unison. Why didn’t they teach this amazing phenom in engineering classes so designers could plan for it?

    Structural columns that would make the architects of the pyramids tremble, with 3″ thick flanges and 2″ webs, not to mention countless steel gussets, vertical and horizontal cross bracing, and wind bents, all managed to weaken just enough to convince the children that magic had occurred.

    How long do you think it takes to melt 2″ thick structural steel that is 18″ wide x 16′ long, so that it can bend enough to compromise the load it is toting? Keep in mind the capacity of the columns was far more than the load they were bearing.

    By choice I became a designer of large scale buildings and by force I became a demolitions specialist and I also worked in the forges of US Steel for a spell, and I cannot explain, nor can anyone else, complex engineering issues to herd members, and the children will point and call names, as they always do.

  • ghostsniper September 14, 2018, 1:12 PM

    “But I’ve seen a lot of twisted, warped, bent and sagging steel. What happens is that the steel tries to expand at both ends, but when it can no longer expand, it sags and the surrounding concrete cracks.”

    How in the world do they come up with stuff like this? There are a half dozen errors in that paragraph.
    If you heat steel anywhere along it’s length it will defy physics and expand ONLY at the ends. I’ll have to make note of that. In the history of the universe structural steel columns and girders have NEVER been “surrounded” by concrete because of the very reason that nitwit fire marshal stated, not to mention there would be no reason to do so.

    The rest of that thing was littered with “probably”, “about”, and “likely”.
    That “engineer” got his 15 seconds.

  • Anonymous September 14, 2018, 1:50 PM

    Fire can cause a steel framed building to collapse. It appears to be rare and these buildings are not skyscrapers, but it can happen.
    Only two steel frame buildings are on this list.
    “There’s a list of buildings which have collapsed due to fire here: Historical Survey of Multi-Story Building Collapses Due to Fire. Scanning this document, to include only building which are made of steel (and not e.g. reinforced concrete), shows only two:
    Alexis Nihon Plaza Montreal, Canada
    Steel frame with composite steel beam and deck floors; fire resistive without sprinklers
    15 floors, Office
    Oct. 26, 1986, after 5 hour fire, which then continued for 13 hours
    Partial 11th floor collapse
    One New York Plaza New York, NY, USA:

    Steel framing with reinforced concrete core, fire resistive with no sprinklers.
    50 floors, Office
    August 5, 1970
    Connection bolts sheared during fire, causing several steel filler beams on the 33-34th floors to fall and rest on the bottom flanges of their supporting girders.”
    Elsewhere, three steel frame buildings which have collapsed due to fire have been cited.
    However, you’ll notice they do not fall symmetrically into their own footprints at free fall. Building 7 DID fall at free fall.
    Nor are they completely demolished.
    Fires have burned for much longer than those at Building 7 without collapsing the building. It was certainly not engulfed by flames. As for the structural damage caused by falling debris, the damage was asymmetric, which should have, if it did indeed cause collapse, caused an asymmetrical one.
    It is my understanding that collapse of vertical columns must take place in a very carefully coordinated, timed sequence for a building to collapse symmetrically as WTC 7 did. Its collapse does not appear to be consistent with fire and/or physical damage to the building-an incredible anomaly, if that is indeed what happened.

  • ghostsniper September 14, 2018, 2:13 PM

    “First, trusses on the fifth and seventh floors were designed to transfer loads from one set of columns to another.”

    Oh dear, more lying.
    I’ll mince this one up into 1/2″ sq pieces then I’m done with this thread….

    Compare toothpicks to 2×4’s.
    What does that mean ghost?

    Wanna see a reasonable facsimile to the structural skeleton of the towers? Look no further than your local walmart. Next time you’re in there peel your orbs off those amazing chinese trinkets on the endcaps and let you gaze soar upwards. Way up there, about 24 feet up, all painted in white, the network of steel members that supports the roof system on that massive 135,000 sf space.

    At the top of the chain of command you’ll see the “trusses”, more commonly referred to as Bar Joists.
    They consist of 2 opposing angle irons for the top and bottom chords, and zig-zaggy round steel rods. All of these components are welded together to precise demensions in a factory. Notice if you will that the bar joists are top chord bearing only, this is because their load is very low in comparison. That is, only the top chords bear on the structural girders as the weight the trusses must bear is minimal.

    Next in line are the girders, horizontal large steel I-beams. The top chords of the bar joists rest on the top flanges of the girders. Girders are connected to vertical steel columns. These are the load bearing components that support all the lesser components and transfer all of that weight into the structural footings under the concrete slab below your feet.

    On top of the bar joists are corrigated steel floor pans that are later filled with light weight concrete or ferrocrete. On top of the concrete are massive closed cell foam roofing panels that are sloped toward roof drains. Large flat roofs accumulate unbelievable amounts of rain which must quickly be disbursed. On the roof are massive air conditioning systems and various other mechanical components. Sometimes the weight of these systems and component are more than the structure below can handle and must be transferred to adjacent structural members. This is done through additional girders and inverted buttressing. NEVER are trusses used to transfer due to their limited structural integrity.

    In my analogy the “trusses” are toothpicks and the girders are 2×4’s. Which would be used to transfer large amounts of weight?

    Take a first year engineering course and you’ll see how silly all this nonsense is.
    We don’t know what happened, but we know what didn’t happen and that is the official set of lies that have been propagated. In time a lot of people came to disbelieve the official story about Oswald and the same will happen with 911. Some day. Over and fuckin out.

  • Vera September 14, 2018, 2:23 PM

    Fires rarely collapse steel framed buildings, but they can. Structural damage at WTC 7 was not severe,
    but there was some damage. However, fires and asymmetric structural damage cannot cause a building to come completely down at free fall (which it did)
    into its own footprint.

  • Vanderleun September 14, 2018, 3:32 PM

    Well, there’s always the truther’s wonderful slight of hand:


  • Vanderleun September 14, 2018, 3:35 PM

    Plus the fact that, although it is a term of art, buildings do not as a rule ever collapse neatly into “their own footprint.”

    Photos of the results of the collapse are shown with “footprints” here


    9/11 Theories: “Fell Into Its Own Footprint” | Mr. Rational

    So what exactly does it mean for a building to fall into its own footprint? Well it’s a demolition term which describes creating an implosion to destroy a building so it does not damage other buildings surrounding it. Many truthers are fond of calling the destruction of the two towers implosions and claiming that the two buildings fell into their own footprint. Yet, in the same breath they will claim that it is impossible for much of the debris to be ejected out from the collapse without the aid of explosives. So which is it? An implosion or an explosion? Apparently it’s both, and when a person holds an irrational belief, accepting two contrary ideas is incredibly easy.

    The following video shows just how much damage WTC1 and 2 did to surrounding buildings, including WTC7. It also has a good explanation (though slightly outdated, as its creator indicates) of WTC7’s collapse along with some spooky music.


  • Vanderleun September 14, 2018, 3:41 PM

    Conspiracy Theories | The Z Blog

    “The thing that makes conspiracy theories popular is not their amusing leaps of faith and logic, but that they satisfy our need to know. JFK was most likely not killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, at least Oswald did not act alone. Whoever helped him either got very lucky, which is always a possibility, or they were very good at covering their connections with Oswald. Either way, we’ll never know, because the people who investigated it were never able to solve the riddle. Some crimes go unsolved and as humans, we truly hate that.

    “Something similar will probably happen in time with 9/11. The neocons expertly used the event as a propaganda tool to get their war plans passed. We know guys like Richard Perle were scheming about remaking Mesopotamia for a long time. That does not mean, however, that the neocons pulled the 9/11 job. It means that the official story is mostly bullshit to cover-up gross incompetence and to promote the forever war. In time, people will stop believing the official story and most people will think 9/11 was a conspiracy.

    “Of course, just because the official version of events is nonsense, it does not mean there is a conspiracy. In the case of 9/11, gross incompetence is the most likely issue being covered up by the government. We see how this works with the current FBI scandal, where the DOJ and FBI are feverishly trying to hide the fact that senior people in both agencies were ham-handedly running a domestic spying ring. The same clowns running the Trump spying operation were the ones who bungled 9/11 and the aftermath.”

  • Vera September 14, 2018, 5:51 PM

    “Why do you say they fell in their own footprint??
    Clearly, that is a false meme.”

    “Because clearly it is well recognised as a fact… I said ‘virtually’. They came straight down as everyone but you apparently saw.
    Where do you expect 110 floors to go? Do you expect them to be stood up nice and neatly but compressed like a concertina? I see you are a subscriber to Metabunk Metaphysics as well.:confused: Anything to promulgate the OS [ official story], no matter how outlandish or absurd…
    At least you are being reasonable enough to accept the obvious fact that it is impossible to bring down a building literally into it’s own footprint… In fact if one small section were to fall, it could not possibly be in it’s own footprint, (unless it hit the floor and magically bounced back through a window into the building) and would likely wind up some distance away.
    It is accepted demolition parlance to refer to a ‘straight down’ demolition, (as opposed to a ‘fall over’ demolition), as falling in it’s own footprint. ”
    Not to argue semantics, the building came down symmetrically.
    “Given the strength and resilience of steel, the failure to break even one of the major columns in a steel-framed building could cause it to tip to one side as it collapsed.
    It is inconceivable that any random event or combination of events, such as aircraft collisions, fires, or fuel tank explosions, could cause the simultaneous failure of all the support columns in a building — especially a tall steel-framed building — needed to cause it to collapse vertically.”
    It was an implosion.
    “Sometimes, though, a building is surrounded by structures that must be preserved. In this case, the blasters proceed with a true implosion, demolishing the building so that it collapses straight down into its own footprint (the total area at the base of the building). This feat requires such skill that only a handful of demolition companies in the world will attempt it.”
    Zman writes a mean blogpost. I have enjoyed reading them from the blog’s beginning. He seems to have a pattern of imputing negative outcomes to incompetence rather than malevolence and giving precedence to randomness and coincidence in his discussions of dys/malfunctions. Just a different outlook.

  • Rob De Witt September 13, 2019, 11:05 PM

    The most recent attack on the truth is from Marxist Feminism in its fantasy of “toxic masculinity.”

    I didn’t see any women in those pictures of firefighter climbing to their deaths, did you?

  • Bunny September 14, 2019, 5:01 AM

    Speaking of the firefighters, and in more news that didn’t make the news, “New York Area Fire Commissioners Make History, Call for New 9/11 Investigation”.
    “And so it was, on July 24, 2019 — nearly 18 years after the horrific attacks that traumatized a nation and changed the world forever — the Franklin Square and Munson Fire District, which oversees a volunteer fire department serving a hamlet of 30,000 residents just outside of Queens, New York, became the first legislative body in the country to officially support a new investigation into the events of 9/11.
    The resolution, drafted and introduced by Commissioner Christopher Gioia, was unanimously approved by the five commissioners. Members of the audience — including the families of fallen firefighters Thomas J. Hetzel and Robert Evans, both Franklin Square natives — joined in solemn but celebratory applause after the fifth ‘ay’ was spoken.”

  • Bunny September 14, 2019, 5:15 AM

    And Rob, serious media outlets are happy to report that 9/11 happened not only because our watchdogs were too male, they were also just too white.

  • Tom Hyland September 14, 2019, 7:55 AM

    This is a quote… recently spoken by Cornell University professor Dave Callum….

    “I am a ‘conspiracy theorist’. I believe men and women of wealth and power conspire. If you don’t think so, then you are what is called ‘an idiot’. If you believe stuff but fear the label, you are what is called ‘a coward’.”

  • Scullman September 14, 2019, 8:51 AM

    So after all that info: girders, columns, trusses, when steel melts, when it don’t, and on an on, why don’t you just come right out and say it? Someone in the U.S. government, in the Bush administration, sanctioned the planting of demolition charges in the North and South towers and in Building Seven, and purposefully murdered three thousand innocent Americans, and timed it in advanced knowledge of the airliners smashing into the buildings to fool the rest of us.
    Got it.

  • Rob De Witt September 14, 2019, 9:09 AM

    Bunny September 14, 2019, 5:15 AM

    And Rob, serious media outlets are happy to report that 9/11 happened not only because our watchdogs were too male, they were also just too white.

    Of course they are, and of course it doesn’t surprise, does it? Nonetheless, changing the subject doesn’t avoid my question: I didn’t see any women in those pictures of firefighter climbing to their deaths, did you?

  • Bunny September 14, 2019, 1:48 PM

    No, nor would I want to. That would prove dangerous for everyone concerned. Men and women have obviously different physical abilities.

  • Fletcher Christian September 14, 2019, 2:06 PM

    Scullman: Or, to put it another way, it was all the fault of the joos and the President of the USA was bought and paid for. /sarc

    Let’s put the fault where it belongs, shall we? A small number of homicidal lunatics considerably worse than animals, and in a wider sense a so-called religion large numbers of whose adherents literally danced in the streets when they heard the news.

    For the latter of those, alone, the tall man of smoke who wears a wide hat should have stooped over two places in Saudi Arabia on 9/12/2001. And that’s being merciful; it’s at least arguable that Riyadh (the capital of the country most of the loonies came from, and the country that paid for it) and Islamabad and Kabul, capitals of the countries where they were recruited and trained, should have paid in the same way.

    That might have brought peace. And if not? Well, the UK alone not to mention the USA has enough bombs to finish the job – permanently.

    Maybe the smoke of their burning would have offset the CO2 increases and dealt with global warming as a bonus.

  • Bunny September 14, 2019, 2:10 PM

    Rob, I should have said even MORE dangerous for everyone concerned. Of course, it was extremely dangerous, even fatal, for the firefighters.
    Scullman, how can you get to the who and the why when the what hasn’t been satisfactorily determined?
    “Set up to fail”- the 9/11 Commission
    NIST failure-

  • Scullman September 14, 2019, 5:46 PM

    Ok, Bunny. Got your point. And here’s mine: In the vid the guy from NIST says that “controlled demolitions” brought down World Trade Center Towers 1, 2 and 7.
    In other words, the U.S. government under the Bush Administration, planned the destruction in lower Manhattan and purposefully destroyed the buildings that killed three thousand innocent civilians. And they timed it with advanced knowledge of the attack of hijacked airliners.
    Is that not what all of this leads up to?
    Why does everyone keep tap dancing around all this evidence? Either the jets crashing into the towers brought them down, or somewhere in this government a plan was put it motion to murder Americans for a political purpose.
    It’s one or the other. Pick one and just stop all this bullshit.

  • Tom Hyland September 14, 2019, 7:51 PM

    Yes… you’ve figured it out, Scullman. You are correct. Was that so hard? Our own government with the dipshit W sitting at the helm, destroyed these buildings and everybody in them so it would be such a shocker that Congress would pass the USAPATRIOTACT the next day. More wars, more death, and MORE PROFIT for the military/industrial complex. The same people who OWN THE NEWS. So just sit tight and believe what they tell you. Or don’t. Why not start thinking for yourself? Never heard of a false flag? “Remember the Maine” “Burning the Reichstag” “Pearl Harbor” “JFK Assassination” “Gulf of Tonkin” “Sandy Hook Elementary School” Want to read this article describing 41 false flags? Think governments don’t conspire… for profit? Click this link.

  • Bunny September 14, 2019, 8:07 PM

    It’s fairly obvious the 9 /11 Commission and NIST report both failed to provide satisfactory answers to a great many questions. But the guy from NIST is just a guy from NIST.
    He states, “I was not involved in those investigations or writing those reports…”. He’s giving his very well-informed opinion. Meanwhile, people keep waiting for public opinion to galvanize demand for a re-investigation so some “authority” can re-examine the evidence and follow wherever the facts may lead. A person can certainly have an opinion, but when it comes to accusations of mass murder and treason, all ducks had better be in a row. You’re putting the cart before the horse. If the official story does not add up, and I don’t believe it does, then the first step would be to determine what actually brought down the buildings. It does not follow that the whodunnit is thereby automatically made apparent. In any case, we may never know the answers to any of the questions. The more time passes, the longer the official narrative prevails, the more the media ignores new developments, the less likely our chances of knowing the truth.

  • ghostsniper September 12, 2021, 8:19 AM

    The structural steel, columns, beams, girders, cross bracing, wind bents, etc., were all barged up and sent to, I read, china. Therefore they were not available for close inspection. Doesn’t that seem strange, considering the magnitude of what happened? Couldn’t that steel have been reused right here in the USA? Why did it have to be shipped to the opposite side of the planet?

    About this so called “pancaking”. There is no such word in the field of structural engineering because, in part, it’s not possible, and it’s a silly word. Talk to any engineer about their work. They are serious people and not prone to silliness. My bet is the word “pancaking” was invented by a media person with little grasp of reality except in the realization that all serious media subjects must be down graded in such a way that a simpleton might be able to understand.

    Let’s assume for a moment that this “pancaking” is a thing that happens.
    The beams in a building are horizontal and support all of the things on the floor or roof that are in between the columns. On a one story structure the roof beams are supported by columns. On multi-story buildings each floor and the top floor roof are supported by columns.

    Columns are vertical.

    Cross Bracing is angled and usually runs from the junction of a column and beam to an adjacent column and beam. Think of Cross Bracing as being on a 45 degree angle. Cross Bracing is installed in the perimeter and interior (intermediate) columns.

    The distance between one column and the next is called a Bay. Bays are generally, but not always, uniform in width and height.

    Take a look at the cross section of a steel beam or column. They are shaped like a capital I. The vertical part of the I is called a “web” and the horizontal parts are called “flanges”. This is the shape of a standard I beam. Modifications to I beams that make them stronger and able to withstand moments of stress. Notice the junction between the webs and the flanges, and that it appears to be a 90 degree joint. In that 90 degree angle, all along the length of the beam or column, devices named “gussets” can be welded in place on specific spacings. The gussets act as buttresses to prevent them from buckling due to overloading forces. Additional steel can be welded to the webs and flanges called “web stiffeners” to prevent beams and columns from twisting.

    My understanding of the of the column design in the WTC were flanges 3″ thick and webs 2″ thick. I have never worked on a project with steel of that proportion. They are unusually robust. The sort you might find in long span steel bridges.

    I beams are created in a process called “extrusion” whereas molten steel is forced under very high pressure through a die, which is a piece, or multiple pieces of hardened steel, the changes the raw molten steel slabs into the refines I beam shape. I beams are made as per the engineer teams loading specifications as to web and flange width, thickness and length, labeled according to an assembly plan and shipped to the site.

    Stand a column, like I described, upright, then weld another column to the top of the first one. Then another on top of the 2nd one. You now have 3 steel I beams standing vertically and welded together so as to be 1 very tall column.

    Now, suppose the base of that very tall and robust column is sitting on something that cannot ever be moved in any way, ever. Let’s call that something, Bedrock. The very foundation of the planet, the core of the earth. How much weight do you think it would require to compress that entire column, “pancake” as some are want to say, into the surface of that bedrock while staying within it’s own footprint?

    If you can draw a line from point A-0001.000 to B-0002.001 to C-4000.009 to D-9648.365b, etc., etc., all day long and not get bored maybe you can get a grasp on what the silly media gov’t criminals have falsely and stupidly claimed for more than 20 years. I have not back read this for errors.

  • ghostsniper September 12, 2021, 8:25 AM

    3 para from last should be “3 steel I columns” not 3 steel I beams. Remember, columns are vertical, beams are horizontal.

  • Vanderleun September 12, 2021, 4:07 PM

    “Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
    pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
    raze out the written troubles of the brain,
    and with some sweet oblivious antidote
    cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff
    which weighs upon his heart?”

    Doctor: “Therein the patient must minister to himself.”

  • Tom Hyland September 12, 2022, 6:52 AM

    Paul Craig Roberts has written a summary of 9/11 now 21 years onward as the floor becomes cluttered with calendar pages. Scream about jet fuel and steel beams all you want… this is how it all went down.

  • Dirk September 12, 2022, 7:40 AM

    Most recognize now, what many here knew then. Our Govt. is an evil sombitch!, zero morals, zero ethics, zero regard for the law, “ In the Garden of Allah”

  • jwm September 12, 2022, 7:55 AM

    I am not an engineer, nor the son of an engineer.
    But I’m going to make a wild ass guess, and say that it takes some serious preparation to plan a controlled demolition. You don’t just hide a stick of TNT in the janitor’s closet. It would take a lot of time, and great many workers, sneaking in an out of the WTC, and planting explosives, timers, detonators for the operation. Obviously they were so good, and so secret that they went about their prep work week after week with no one noticing anything odd. Notice they were so secret that no engineer, no worker, no family member of any of the conspirators has come forward.
    Did GWB, and the rest of Washington shamelessly, and ruthlessly exploit the attack for their own craven ends?
    Without a doubt.
    Was 9/11 a planned demolition?
    You tell me. Go ahead, and use your imagination. How’d they pull it off?
    They planned this for How long in advance? GWB had been in office less than a year. Time enough? Someone knew the planes were coming, and sat there with the remote controls ready to start the timed explosions? Someone saw the planes hit, pushed the buttons, and went home for a meal with the family?
    I doubt it.


    • Tom Hyland September 12, 2022, 10:05 AM

      The globalists have been planning the theft of all property, all money, and the total subjection and slavery of all people forever. Jefferson and Madison fought Hamilton to prevent him from creating a national bank. Well, we got one now, over a hundred years, and our money is almost worthless. You actually think 9/11 was such a nasty plan that it was beyond the capability of evil people to allow it to go forth? How did they pull it off you ask? Look at the mightiest skyscrapers ever built as they disintegrate into their own footprint and that’s how they pulled it off. Quite effectively. Nazis went home every evening for a meal with the family after killing subhumans on a daily basis. Burp.

  • Bunny September 12, 2022, 9:27 AM

    Here is a starting point, assuming you are serious in your quest for truth. It’s more meaningful to do your own research. Of course, we all know there are never any successful conspiracies, due to people always blabbing. That’s just a given. And one pandemic later, what difference at this point does it make?

  • jwm September 12, 2022, 10:27 AM

    You did not answer the question:
    How did they prep those buildings for demo?
    Your answer amounts to saying they did it by magic.
    Go ahead, Tom. Think up a plan to sneak in all those explosives.
    How’d they do it?
    How did they get the crews in there with all the skilled labor, and machinery they’d need to it? ‘Scuse me ma’m we have to move your desk so we can saw through this beam. How’d they rip out walls and floors where necessary to reach critical points, pack in the explosives, the detonators, the wireless receivers, and then patch it all up so no one’s the wiser. On two one hundred and ten story skyscrapers, and on one forty some story building. All unnoticed. And as far as total sociopathic monsters (ala Nazi’s) go. That would have to include, now, all those hundreds of workmen. They were all in on it, and no one has said anything to this day. Maybe they were all in the towers as they fell.
    I hate the globalists no less than you do. My contempt for our own political class could not be greater. I already said: They were willing to ruthlessly exploit the attack for all sorts of unsavory purposes. But there is a limit to what even they can do.


    • ghostsniper September 12, 2022, 11:10 AM

      First, you have to let go of the silliness you’ve been exposed to all of your life and especially in the past 20+ years. You HAVE to think realistically, otherwise nothing written here will ever make sense to you.

      Do you know how big an acre is? Go outside right now and walk about 80 steps in a row (about 200′) in any direction. THAT is 1 of the 4 sides that make up a square acre. The floor plan of either WTC tower were roughly 1 acre in size.

      Now, as you stand there at step 80 and look around and try to imagine how far away the other 3 corners of that acre are, do you think it’s possible to hide a palette size (4’x4’x4′) item in that area? How about 10 palette size items?

      When the average person goes into a large commercial building they see the superficial stuff, the carpeting, the wall coverings, the lighting, the furniture. When an architect or engineer goes into the same building he is noting where the doors to the mechanical rooms are located. He sees the hidden fasteners for the removable floor and ceiling panels that conceal the corridors and catwalks for all of the electrical, plumbing, and mechanical access areas. He is aware of the endless honeycombs just beyond the novices grasp.

      When the average person looks at the blueprints for a large scale commercial building his head swoons over the shear enormity of the thing. Thousands of lines, dimensions, cryptic notes, references to other sheets, etc. The architect or engineer looks at blueprints and he slurps it up with a watermelon spoon. The lines, the dimensions, the notes, all of it spells a fantastic story written in a language he languishes in and he wallows in it deeply, it’s second nature to him.

      The german gov’t turned over to the us army an 800′ long steel girder bridge that had fallen into disrepair to be used for training purposes. The army decided that, in part, the bridge would be used for a demolition exercise to try to find errors in the design of many other bridges throughout the country that had long ago been established as blockades for potential russian forces. I was chosen as part of the 12 man team that would parachute in at night carrying on our backs the equipment we would require to drop this bridge that had a deck more than 70′ above the ground. As usual, the last guy out of the plane carried the blasting caps and that wasn’t me. Some 10 hours after we hit the ground that bridge was wired and readied to be demolished, with stuff the 12 of us carried on our persons. FIRE IN THE HOLE!

      The problem with all of this WTC stuff is magnitude. It’s impossible for the average person to grasp the scale of the thing in any way. And, out of nowhere, the gov’t-media complex took a complicated and overly wrought emotional subject and ran it through a kindergarten translator and produced a version of “what happened” that even fairly serious people could believe. Once that false seed had been planted worldwide there was no way for most people to get beyond that narrative no matter what. No amount of proof will convince those that have already been convinced. Once again the criminals in the gov’t have taken advantage of the gullibility of the average american citizen.

      • Tom Hyland September 12, 2022, 1:46 PM

        Thank you ghost, again, for stepping in and replying with rational foresight in an attempt to explain to those myopic-straddled folks who cannot break their predetermined mindset. JWM could read Roberts’ article I linked to above. Also, JWM could visit countless videos of firemen, cops and the locals telling news crews of EXPLOSIONS before and during the collapse of all three buildings. It was a planned demolition and they pulled it off.

  • jwm September 12, 2022, 2:18 PM

    First: thank you, Ghost for the reply. I was hoping you’d weigh in on this. From what I gather, you think it is plausible that demo crews wired the WTC, and blew it on cue. OK. As for the four acres, in 1987 I spent an afternoon on the observation deck up top of the WTC. I remember it well. WTC was a city in itself. Not implausible that some one could possibly sneak all that stuff in.
    As far as Paul Craig Roberts, I have read his stuff. Seriously not impressed with either him or Ron Unz for that matter. I’ll leave it at that.
    I’m not going to take this any farther. I still do not believe the controlled demo, but my reasons are my reasons. I don’t expect I’d change anyone’s mind, and I’m not going to try.


    • Tom Hyland September 12, 2022, 4:15 PM

      And just maybe the World Trade Center had the explosives built in originally when it was constructed back in the early 70’s. You think the evil doers don’t make plans long in advance?

      • ghostsniper September 12, 2022, 6:53 PM

        Would you even know what explosives look like?
        Hint: A wooden box with TNT on the outside is for cartoons only.

        Sneak? Hell, they drove it right in with forklifts and no one was the wiser.

        Each tower, with 10’s of thousands of occupants was a city unto itself with trainloads of things being hauled up and down the express elevators everyday. Take copier/printer paper. How many palettes of that stuff was used in each tower each day?

        The battalions of maintenance workers that kept those “cities in the skies” functioning everyday. Building “up” is many times more expensive than building “out”, in money a labor. Every floor has huge maintenance and mechanical rooms and access corridors, vertical and horizontal, for gaining access to all of the HVAC, plumbing, fire sprinklers, electrical, and technology webwork.

        The structural network of columns and associated reinforcements that created the core of stability in those 2 buildings were strong enough to sustain and counter the enormous and continuous onslaught of wind forces over an almost 30 year period. I have seen the plans and the cross sections and the calculations and after spending a lifetime in the architectural-engineering-construction environment combined with my experience and knowledge of military demolitions there is no way in hell I can ever be convinced those towers were destroyed by mere commercial jets. It is simply not possible. It’s like flies hitting the screen door.