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Okay but - have you considered what's involved in crashing an airliner into a building * exactly * at ground level?

This may have been debunked already, in which case I'm happy to see links explaining how it was done.

But otherwise, this one has me baffled.

Normal airport landings use a system called ILS which guides the pilot to the runway, and optionally autolands if visibility is poor, or the pilot is feeling lazy.

The Pentagon obviously had no ILS. So we're talking about aiming something with the handling characteristics of a very, very large and unwieldy object, travelling at a very high speed.

I'd estimate the target corridor subtends an angle of a couple of degrees. Too high and you overshoot. Too low and you crash into the ground well ahead of the target, spraying the facade with debris, but not doing any structural damage.

You have to get this angle right while flying at between 300 and 500mph. This doesn't give you a lot of time to make pitch and altitude corrections during the final approach.

You can't use the altimeter to improvise a glideslope because there are no clear horizontal cues outside of the windows that you can check against - and everything is happening too fast to run a checklist anyway.

So you're:

Not using instruments or other aids

Approaching at a rate at which everything is happening between 2 and 4 times faster than for a typical landing.

Hitting a target corridor, which has to be accurate to (let's be generous) a few degrees

In something with the handling characteristics of an airborne express train

This may be exactly what happened. But if so, it's extremely impressive flying.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Sep 15th, 2006 at 06:15:48 PM EST
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