The Secret HijackingThe Fifth Plane landed in Cleveland - by Woody Box
August 17, 2004
In the morning of September 11, Delta Flight 1989 made an emergency landing at Cleveland Airport. This is a well established fact. Less known to the public is that another airplane landed under similar circumstances about half an hour later, on a different runway. This second airplane is confirmed by news reports and eyewitnesses, but its existence is covered under a murky haze of disregard. I've called it "Flight X".
The purpose of this analysis is to find out more about Flight X. Browsing
through documents and private messages from September 11, we will encounter
two airplanes whose existence seems to have been kept secret in a similar
way. These airplanes are then checked for possible correspondences with
Flight X. We will reconstruct a flight path for Flight X which is not proven
in a criminalistic sense, but fits the facts much better than any other
The first airplane under inspection is the "Fifth Plane". Many people
remember the broadcast media reporting a fifth hijacked airplane for a
short time in the morning of September 11. Distingishing it from other
"fifth" airplanes on September 11 like a Korean Airlines jet which was
diverted to Alaska, and also from some "fifth" airplanes reported in the
days after the attacks (allegedly attempted or stalled hijackings), the
Fifth Plane I'm talking about has four characteristics: 1) it was widely
broadcasted between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., even abroad; 2) it was said to
be hijacked; 3) it was heading for Camp David/Washington D.C., but was
distingished from UA 93; 4) it vanished from the news as if it never had
existed, without any explanation.
The second airplane is the "Radio Hijacker Plane". A lot of people know
the distorted audio messages which were allegedly sent by the hijackers
of UA 93: "Keep remaining sitting, we have a bomb on board". Air controllers
and pilots reported also screams coming from this airplane.
In a kind of "airplane algebra" I will show now that with a high degree
- the "Fifth Plane" existed
- the "Radio Hijacker Plane" was not UA 93
- Flight X from Cleveland, the "Radio Hijacker Plane", and the "Fifth
Plane", are the same plane.
According to the local radio station WCPO, quoted in the "Cleveland
Airport Mystery", United Airlines confirmed that Flight 93 had landed in
Cleveland, i.e. Flight X = UA 93. I have already expressed my reservations
against this short, cryptic and uncorroborated report, and this article
will show that the opposite is true. Flight X is not UA 93.
The Fifth Plane
The Fifth Plane existed. Here is a sample of Internet messages.
In and among the tidal wave of coverage, most of which was the same
stuff from differing angles, I heard a reporter say that FIVE planes had
been hijacked. Later in the day I heard about only four with no explanation
of why they had said five earlier. Source
One of the things I want to know is why all morning I heard reports
about a fifth plane that had been hijacked, one without a known location.
The question I asked myself is: how you can lose an airliner, and why that
piece of news seems to have gone away. Source
I am so glad that someone else heard that about the 5th plane. I
thought I was losing my mind! I kept asking about the 5th plane and no
one but me had heard that particular report. I could have sworn that I
heard there were 5 planes. Don't know if the 5th one was hi-jacked or just
flying off course. Source
Ok, the plane that crashed near Pittsburg crashed in a large field
that just coincidentally happens to be near an air force base. We pretty
much think it got blown out of the sky around here. In addition, earlier
they kept talking about a second missing plane they believed was heading
toward Washington, but suddenly all talk of that disappeared. Anyone know
what happened to it? Source
There was a point on Tuesday when I am absolutely sure that a fifth
plane was reported as being "intercepted" by Air Force fighter jets and
was now "no longer a threat," which to me sounds like a euphemism for "shot
down." Mid-day Tuesday this was being reported as fact, and now there's
not a word of it anywhere. So strange is the turnaround in official facts
that it almost feels like I imagined it. I'm betting on enforced news blackouts....
For example, after Flight 93 had crashed the media was still reporting
a plane in the air, heading toward DC. Was this just that the implications
of 93's crash hadn't filtered to the news desk, or was there another plane?
The strange thing is that I was scanning the radio from right after
the first crash and I kept hearing, repeatedly, that there was a plane
heading for the wh/cd. First it was described as a fourth plane, but after
that one was reported down in PA, it was reported that there was a fifth
plane heading for the wh/cd. Source
These messages cannot be dismissed as reflections of pure rumours because
a fifth plane was also noticed by a multi-agency video conference on September
11: At 10:03, the conference received reports of more missing aircraft,
“2 possibly 3 aloft,”and learned of a combat air patrol over Washington.
(9/11 report, p.
It was also noticed in Washington D.C. by some very important people
- after the crash of UA 93:
At 10:02, the communicators in the shelter began receiving reports
from the Secret Service of an inbound aircraft —presumably hijacked —heading
toward Washington. That aircraft was United 93. The Secret Service was
getting this information directly from the FAA. The FAA may have been tracking
the progress of United 93 on a display that showed its projected path to
Washington, not its actual radar return.Thus, the Secret Service was relying
on projections and was not aware the plane was already down in Pennsylvania.
At some time between 10:10 and 10:15, a military aide told the Vice President
and others that the aircraft was 80 miles out. Vice President Cheney was
asked for authority to engage the aircraft. His reaction was described
by Scooter Libby as quick and decisive, “in about the time it takes a batter
to decide to swing. ”The Vice President authorized fighter aircraft to
engage the inbound plane. He told us he based this authorization on his
earlier conversa tion with the President. The military aide returned a
few minutes later, probably between 10:12 and 10:18,and said the aircraft
was 60 miles out. He again asked for authorization to engage. The Vice
President again said yes. (9/11
report, p. 41)
CNN correspondent Chris Plante was in Washington at this time and watched
a scrambling fighter: All right, the area to the west of the Pentagon
has been evacuated further back by law enforcement and military officials
as they anticipate a second aircraft arriving at the Pentagon. It has been
deemed to be threatening enough where I saw at least one F-16 fighter jet
in the air over the Pentagon, headed to the west, where the plane was reportedly
coming in from. Again, they are saying here a second aircraft is expected
to arrive at the Pentagon sometime soon. They take it seriously enough
that they have scrambled at least one fighter jet that I saw, probably
either from D.C. Air National Guard or the Maryland Air National Guard,
both of which fly F-16s. CNN
The 9/11 report claims that the hijacked plane approaching Washington
was just a phantom. When Cheney was interviewed by Tim Russert five days
after the attacks, he
didn't admit that the crucial "shoot down order" (better: engage order)
was meant for a phantom flight. Maybe he didn't like to let the people
know of the grotesque fact that after fighters have been scrambled several
times in vain to avert real attackers, this time they successfully averted
a not-existing attacker.
But the phantom flight theory leads to very problematic conclusions:
Cheney based the decision to scramble fighters and engage the aircraft
on flawed informations from the FAA. The FAA obviously didn't observe a
moving radar blip since the crash of UA 93. The FAA had "lost" the plane,
but for some reason assumed that it would go straight to Washington, along
an ominous "projected path". So the FAA was in effect guessing the position
of the plane, but didn't forward the vagueness of this information to the
Secret Service. What if the presumed hijackers would have decided to deviate
from the course to Washington and attack Philadephia or New York again?
I don't think that after the WTC and Pentagon attacks such a behavior of
the FAA is sufficiently described as incompetence.
The report implies also that the FAA was not aware of the crash of UA
93 until at least 10:15 and claims that Cleveland Center didn't notice
the crash: NEADS first received a call about United 93 from the military
liaison at Cleveland Center at 10:07.Unaware that the aircraft had already
crashed, Cleveland passed to NEADS the aircraft’s last known latitude and
longitude. NEADS was never able to locate United 93 on radar because it
was already in the ground.(9/11
report, p. 30)
But Cleveland was well aware of the crash. Cleveland controller Stacey
Taylor was responsible for UA 93 in its last moments and was watching it
very carefully. Here's her statement on NBC,
BROKAW: You're keeping your eye on Flight 93 at this point?
Ms. TAYLOR: Yeah. And then the transponder came back on. We got two hits off the transponder. That's something we've always wanted to know. Why 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 readout on the airplane. I can't remember the precise numbers, but it was around 6400 feet, and then around 5900 or 5800 feet. And we're thinking, 'Oh, you know, maybe something's happened, maybe this isn't what we think it is.'
BROKAW: (Voiceover) But minutes later, at 10:03, the transponder shuts offagain. Flight 93 disappears from radar.
(Computer graphic showing flight path for United 93)
Ms. TAYLOR: I had another airplane that I was working. And I told
him, I said, 'Sir,' I said, 'I think we have an aircraft down.' I said,
'This is entirely up to you, but if you'd be willing to fly over the last
place that we spotted this airplane that--and see if you can see anything.'
And he's like, 'Yeah, we'll do that.' So he flew over, and at first he
didn't see anything. And then he said, 'We see a great big plume or a cloud
BROKAW: You knew it was down at that point.
Ms. TAYLOR: We knew.
So when UA 93 disappeared from radar, Ms. Taylor immediately suspected
the airplane was down and asked a nearby pilot for help. The pilot confirmed
her conjecture. Why did the FAA forward a "projected path" of an confirmed
downed airplane to the Secret Service? And how does the FAA explain the
contradiction between Ms. Taylor's statement and the claim that Cleveland
Center was unaware of the crash?
The assumption that the Fifth Plane was just a phantom and mixed up
with UA 93 leads inevitably to serious contradictions. We should drop it
and instead postulate a real airplane en route to Washington, creating
a real radar signal which outlasted the UA 93 crash.
Is Flight X the Fifth Plane?
The final fate of the Fifth Plane lies in the dark. The media stopped
the coverage soon and dropped the subject like a hot potato. Contradicting
rumours that it crashed (conveyed by CBS) or was forced down near Camp
David turned out to be wrong. They were probably based on the fuzzy official
statement that the airplane was "no longer a threat". It's quite sure that
it was intercepted by fighters, but we don't know its way afterwards. Because
we also don't know where Flight X came from, it's tempting to assume that
the two planes are identical, but the proof is still missing.
After all, in the huge history encyclopedia called the Internet we find
I'm sure there was a fifth plane involved that was headed toward
Camp David; however, that plane was forced (yes forced, militarily) to
land in Cleveland. I thought the target could also have be NASA's Glen/Lewis
Research Center that is right next to the Cleveland Airport. The news reported
that the plane landed because of a suspected bomb on board but they haven't
released anyone that was on that plane. The closed NASA and transported
everyone that was on the plane there for questioning. They are going through
the plane and luggage with a fine toothed comb. The original flight plan
was from Boston to LA.They closed all exits from the freeway to get into
the airport and even bus drivers were told that if they attempted to exit,
they would be shot. People that were already at the airport were forced
to walk for miles to get transportation home because they were not even
allowed to remove their cars from the parking lots. Source
This message is the missing link between the Fifth Plane and Flight
X. Admittedly, the author is an unknown individual with nickname "Connie"
and no star reporter from the Washington Post. Nevertheless, it appears
that "Connie" was at or near Cleveland Airport on 9/11. The report sounds
credible and corroborates the thesis that Flight X and the Fifth Plane
The Radio Hijacker Plane
Cleveland: United ninety-three, check in when flight level three-five-zero – [unintelligible].
United 93: United ninety-three check in three-five-zero.
Cleveland: United ninety-three, three-five-zero, Roger. United ninety-three,
you have traffic to your one o’clock, twelve miles eastbound three-seven-zero.
United 93: Negative contact, we’re looking United ninety-three.
Cleveland: Somebody call Cleveland? [No noise on this Cleveland tape, must be a different frequency being monitored by Cleveland on another tape.] United ninety-three verify three-five-zero, United ninety-three verify your flight level, er, three-five-zero. United ninety-three verify your flight level is three-five-zero. United ninety-three Cleveland, United ninety-three Cleveland. United ninety-three do you read Cleveland Center please?
United 797: United fifteen twenty-three, did you hear the company, er, did you hear some other aircraft on a frequency a couple of minutes ago, screaming?
United 1523: Yes I did, seven ninety-seven, and, ah, we couldn’t tell what it was either.
United 797: OK.
Cleveland: United ninety-three Cleveland, if you hear the center,
ident [command for United 93 to send secondary radar transponder positive
American 1060: American ten-sixty, er, ditto also on the other transmission.
Cleveland: American ten-sixty, you heard that also?
American 1060: We heard it twice.
Cleveland: Roger, we heard that also. [No noise on Cleveland tape.] Thanks. We just wanted to confirm that wasn’t some interference.
Executive 956: Executive nine fifty-six.
Cleveland: Executive nine fifty-six, go.
Executive 956: Just answering your call. We could year that, er, yelling too.
Cleveland: OK, thank you, we’re just trying to figure out what’s going on.
United 93: [unintelligible] this is captain, please sit down, remain sitting, we have a bomb on board. [Signal strength 5, readability 1.]
Cleveland: Uh, calling Cleveland Center, you’re unreadable, say again slowly.
Executive 956: [unintelligible] sounded like he said he had a bomb on board.
Cleveland: Uh, say again, you there, United ninety-three? (Translation
and Comments: Joe Vialls)
Joe Vialls has analysed
the recording and gives two reasons why the distorted radio messages
didn't come from UA 93:
1) When UA 93 checks in to Cleveland ARTCC Airspace (in the beginning
of the tape), its message is clear and understandable (Signal strength
5, readability 5). But later, the hijacker's voice is distorted by heavy
background noise (Signal strength 5, readability 1). This means that the
two messages have different origins, i.e. they came from different locations.
2) Air controllers have the technical means to determine the direction
where a radio signal comes from (per RDF, Radio Direction Finding). Vialls:
"Though the Cleveland controller appears to infer that two distorted radio
calls about a 'bomb' originate from United Flight 93, this is not actually
the case. By repeatedly calling Flight 93, the controller is actually trying
to determine whether or not the calls originated from that aircraft....Nor
are there any proper RDF logs available to prove the point of origin of
the wholly independent 'bomb' claims, which could easily have been transmitted
from another unidentifeid aircraft, or from the ground."
Vialls concludes that the "bomb" messages are faked, but he doesn't
seem to know that the air controllers had already determined their origin:
it was Delta 1989!
Now around 9:30 a.m., controllers hear words that seem to confirm
their worst fears. They hear shouting as Flight 1989 approaches the Ohio
border. Then they hear a voice: "Get out of there!" Then what sounds like
a scuffle. Minutes later, a new voice, this one with a heavy accent: "Ladies
and gentlemen, here it's the captain. Please sit down. Keep remaining sitting.
We have a bomb aboard." No one who hears those words believes they are
coming from Werner (pilot of Delta 1989). Not with such a heavy accent.
No way. Rather, the transmission seems to be from a hijacker who unwittingly
spoke over the radio when he meant to address passengers. USA
During tense moments that morning at Cleveland Air Route Traffic
Control Center, the first guess was that Delta Flight 1989 was hijacked,
not United Airlines Flight 93. "We knew right away we had a problem. The
first thought was, 'Is that Delta 1989?'" said Rick Kettell, manager of
the Federal Aviation Administration's busiest regional center. CNN,
The center's controllers were concerned about the Delta flight because
it had departed Boston five minutes behind United Flight 175, which crashed
into the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York.We knew the
magnitude of what we were dealing with," Kettell said. "We knew what happened
in New York before our involvement became very keen." Shortly after Delta
Flight 1989 checked in with the Cleveland Center while over Syracuse, N.Y.,
the center's controllers heard two transmissions that sounded like a cockpit
So the screams and the first hijacker messages were apparently coming
from Delta 1989's position. The airplane was at that time 25 miles away
from UA 93. But there were no screaming people aboard Delta 1989, no bomb,
no hijackers. How do we solve this contradiction?
The most logical solution is: there was an airplane flying parallel
to Delta 1989, probably some thousand feet higher or lower. The transponder
was turned off, and its radar blip was not visible to the controllers because
it was "covered" by the Delta 1989 blip. It was flying in the "radar shadow"
of Delta 1989. This airplane was the origin of the famous radio messages
and likely hijacked. This on the first view daring explanation will turn
out to be perfectly consistent with the reports of the Fifth Plane.
There is another reason why UA 93 was probably not the Radio Hijacker
Plane: the radio hijacker ordered the passengers two times to remain sitting,
the last time at 9:39 (9/11 report, p.12). But at this moment the
passengers of UA 93 had been forced to the rear already. Jeremy Glick called
his wife at 9:37 on an airphone and told her that he had left his seat
in row 11. Tom Burnett called his wife at 9:34 on an airphone, too (Jere
Longman, Among the Heroes). But according to the 9/11 report, all airphone
calls have been made from the rear of UA 93 (9/11 report, p. 456, footnote
No. 77). This discrepancy is best solved by assuming that we are dealing
with two different airplanes.
Is Flight X the Radio Hijacker Plane?
The mayor of Cleveland, Michael White, said in his first news conference
on September 11 that air controllers reported screams
coming from Flight X, and that a bomb was on board. He admitted indirectly
that there were unconfirmed
reports that it was hijacked. Cleveland air controllers (likely the
same ones) have heard screams, too, they knew about a bomb threat and suspected
a hijacking. The similarities are striking. White's source was most likely
refering to the same radio calls that are discussed here. We don't know
where the Radio Hijacker Plane went after the radio transmissions, and
we don't know where Flight X came from. The thesis that Flight X is identical
with the Radio Hijacker Plane is, while not proven, very appealing.
The Flight X Timeline and Path
The thesis Flight X = the Fifth Plane = the Radio Hijacker Plane has
yet to pass a test where time and location data are cross-checked with
each other. If it's possible to compose a timeline and a flight path matching
all three flights without contradictions, the thesis gets a big kick. If
contradictions emerge, we have to drop it.
Evaluating the sources for the Radio Hijacker Plane (RHP) and the Fifth
Plane (FP) yields this time table:
9:28...................25 miles NE of Youngstown/Ohio.........(1)..........Screams
from Flight X (RHP)
9:31...................Youngstown/Ohio ................................(1)..........First hijacker radio message from Flight X (RHP)
9:39...................Cleveland/Oberlin................................ (1)..........Last hijacker radio message from Flight X (RHP)
10:10.................80 miles NW of Washington.................(2)..........Flight X (FP) is heading Washington
10:18.................50 miles NW of Washington.................(2)..........Flight X (FP) is intercepted by fighters
X is forced to land
(1) This is based on the assumption that the RHP was first flying in
the radar shadow of Delta 1989, i.e., it flew along the same path. USA
Today relates details of the Delta 1989 path. And when UA 93 made his
turn at 9:36, Delta
1989 was told to stay away from it. It was just 15 miles away at this
(2) 9/11 report, p.41
The table indicates that Flight X made two sharp turns: the first one
over Ohio, just like UA 93, and the second one 50 miles west or northwest
of Washington - near Camp David - when he was intercepted by fighters and
forced to move off the capital. We know the time and approximate location
of the second turning point from the 9/11 report. Considering the airplane's
speed as well as the geographical distances and bearing in mind that it
entered Ohio airspace together with Delta 1989, we can roughly estimate
the time of the first turning point: 9:38. This yields the following flight
There are no data available for the gap between the Radio Hijacker Plane
and the Fifth Plane (or between 9:39 and 10:10, in chronological terms).
However, a "lost plane" was reported over Ohio by local broadcast stations:
was still a missing plane that had been in the area earlier." Cheney
received reports in his shelter that there was an aircraft downed in Ohio.
And an air controller from Cleveland Center, writing under pseudonym, has
heard from a "lost" airplane, too, but we have to classify this information
as hearsay, because he was not in Oberlin on September 11. So the evidence
for a "lost plane" is fuzzy, but it's a nice designation for the gap.
If we put together the paths of Flight X, UA 93 and Delta 1989, we get
an interesting picture:
The paths of this sketch are just approximate, of course, and rely in
part strongly on estimations. Nevertheless, we know that Flight X was headed
for Washington just like UA 93, and at the same time. So if we accept that
Flight X was hiding behind Delta 1989 when entering Ohio airspace, we should
also consider the possibility that Flight X was hiding behind UA 93 after
the turn. The airplane changed its cover. This scenario would explain the
"lost plane" reports: when Flight X left the Delta 1989 cover at about
9:38 and turned around, his radar blip was visible for a short time before
he reached the new cover UA 93. Then the blip vanished, and the "lost plane"
was born. Some controllers misinterpreted the missing blip as a crash,
and the rumour of a plane "downed in Ohio" was born. This scenario explains
also why UA 93 climbed on 41700 feet when he turned around: he wanted to
clear the way for Flight X. The two hijackings were obviously coordinated.
And of course it would be interesting to find out the airport where Flight X started.