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It's not that simple. Come on - think this through.

The Pentagon may cover the biggest surface area of any building, but it's not particularly tall. In fact it only has four storeys, at maybe fifty feet. There's a scale photo from a recent study here. For comparison the tail fin on the 757 is just over 44ft.

Let's be conservative and say the approach speed is 300mph, or five miles a minute.

Let's say you're a minute away from your target at an altitude of a couple of thousand feet. How tall does a four storey building look five miles away at a shallow angle?

Fifteen seconds from impact, that four storey building is still more than a mile away.

Because I'm in a pedantic mood, I've worked out the visible width of the target corridor from a mile away. It's a little more than half a degree. And that's just to hit the damn thing at all, never mind score a bullseye on the ground floor.

Let's call it a degree if you assume that some overshoot into the body of the building still counts as a success. (And that's generous considering the actual shallow angle of approach.)

Unlike a car, which is fairly responsive, any altitude and pitch correction is going to take at least a few seconds to work itself through your brain, the avionics, the engines and flaps. Mostly likely you'll overshoot any correction and have to compensate in the other direction, which will eat further into your time allowance. What you certainly can't do is throw a 757 around the sky like a sports car.

Still, being even more generous, the reality is that if you're more than a few degrees out a mile away, you've already missed - by a long way.

As I said - impressive flying.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Sep 15th, 2006 at 07:25:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt it's much harder to hit than a runway.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Sep 15th, 2006 at 07:27:32 PM EST
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Hitting the ground floor is impressive only if the pilot was aiming at the ground floor.  

Do you if the pilot was aiming for the ground floor?

And if so ... how?

(Just being my usual amiable self  ;-)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Sep 16th, 2006 at 12:33:40 AM EST
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