Discussion Page for:

Frank Legge and David Chandler

The Pentagon Attack on 9/11: A Refutation of the Pentagon Flyover Hypothesis Based on Analysis of the Flight Path

First Published: Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, September 2011, Version 1

View Author Details for: Legge, Chandler


Discussion for Version 1, September 2011


Comment 1: - By: David Cole - Received 02/09/15 - Posted: 02/28/15

“There is a considerable amount of argument going on in the HR428 email list about the Pentagon … … I also must point out that you choose to leave out certain inconvenient testimony. I'm talking about Brooks, LaGasse and Boger. Why can't you mention that all three were certain the plane they saw was north of the CITGO?

Looking through the various reports you authored, doing keyword searches, reveals that very little regarding the three are being used, EXCEPT where it supports the hypothesis. Yes they said they saw the impact, but Brooks also says he looked to his left which is contrary to the official flight path and pole damages. He couldn't be mistaken about this simple fact. http://memory.loc.gov/service/afc/afc2001015/sr/sr335a01.mp3. Listen at 1:45.

Both he and LaGasse drew similar flight paths.

I don't know what happened at the Pentagon, but all of us must hold onto credible testimony until we do find out.”


Comment 2: - By: John D. Wyndham - Reviewed by: Frank Legge, David Chandler - Posted: 02/28/15

Response from Scientific Method 9/11

Abstract: As shown in this response, witness “certainty” about one detail does not trump physical evidence or conflicting witness testimony. LaGasse’s testimony, examined in detail, supports the South path. In his original testimony, Brooks sighted a large plane to his “left” when sitting in his car, not when he exited and faced the Citgo station and Pentagon. When Brooks drew the flight path, he was standing in a different place and facing a different direction than on 9/11. Under these circumstances, given his belief five years after 9/11 that the plane passed North of Citgo, he could not help but draw a flight path similar to LaGasse’s. The testimony of Brooks, LaGasse and Boger regarding a plane flight path North of Citgo is not credible when compared with the hard physical and other evidence.

[Moderator Note: Since the questioner did not indicate a specific paper, the moderator has selected The Pentagon Attack on 9/11: A Refutation of the Pentagon Flyover Hypothesis Based on Analysis of the Flight Path [1] by Frank Legge and David Chandler as the most appropriate paper on this site for our response. See also the Addendum to this paper [2].]

Main Response

The essence of David Cole’s questions appears to be this: How could these three witnesses, two policemen and an air traffic controller, be wrong about the plane’s path? After considering the hard, physical and other evidence, one might reasonably ask this counter question: How could these three witnesses not be wrong on this issue?

David Cole writes: “… I also must point out that you choose to leave out certain inconvenient testimony. I'm talking about Brooks, LaGasse and Boger. Why can't you mention that all three were certain the plane they saw was North of the CITGO?”

The short answer to this question is: Legge and Chandler, in their paper, did mention that these three witnesses were North of Citgo (NOC) witnesses. All three witnesses saw a large plane impact the Pentagon. Hard evidence fully supports the South of Citgo path, and there is no corroborating physical evidence for a NOC path. Thus these three witnesses are mistaken about a NOC path.

Our long response is this: Legge and Chandler did mention Brooks, LaGasse, and Boger as NOC witnesses – that is, as witnesses who stated implicitly or explicitly that the plane flew North of the Citgo station. See the section Discussion in the above paper [1]. However, if these witnesses were “certain” about a NOC path, then they were also certainly mistaken. As shown below, Brooks and LaGasse have memory lapses and LaGasse’s emphatic certainty (“100%” sure about events) is simply not credible when seen in the light of his other testimony.

Apart from a few other witnesses cited by CIT (Citizen Investigation Team), who viewed the plane from the Arlington cemetery and were in a poor position to judge where the plane flew with respect to the Citgo station, there is not a shred of hard, physical or other supporting evidence for the NOC path. In addition, these three witnesses are a very small minority of the total number of eyewitnesses to the plane’s path and impact, many of whom saw the plane clip the light poles that, with the entry hole, define the plane’s path.

The physical evidence, as seen in the damage trail (downed light posts, damaged low concrete wall and generator, interior damage by way of bent and missing columns, the location of the C ring exit hole, and the debris in the AE driveway), points unequivocally to a South path that makes a 52 degree angle with the impacted wall of the Pentagon. In addition, three sets of radar data and the FDR (Flight Data Recorder) data confirm the South path. No deviation around the North side of the Citgo station is possible, since this would require a very obvious steeply-banked aircraft and all witnesses described the flight as level or made no comment about the angle of bank [2]. An approach over the Navy Annex and North of the Citgo station, followed by impact, is completely ruled out by the exterior and interior damage trails. No reliable witness reported seeing the plane fly over the Pentagon, and the notion that the observed damage might have been staged, unnoticed by scores of witnesses, is beyond credulity [3] [4].

This is the point at which a competent natural scientist might stop and declare the witnesses to be mistaken. Hard science and physical evidence overrule human memory of long past and fleeting events. However, the doubts of non-scientists may continue. For those still curious, the only possible remaining questions are these: How did Brooks, LaGasse and Boger arrive at their faulty statements about the plane path? Can their recollections after five years be trusted?

In answer, Legge and Chandler point out that the circumstances under which the NOC witnesses made their statements to the CIT investigators are highly questionable. The witnesses are being led to recall several years later something that they arguably would have paid little or no attention to at the time. The startling observation, in a space of a few seconds, of a large, low-flying plane headed toward the Pentagon would reasonably overshadow any detailed observation of the plane’s position relative to its surroundings. Recalling a fleeting detail after five years have elapsed could severely challenge the witnesses’ memories. In addition, the witnesses are constantly being asked to respond to leading questions designed to evoke confirmation of the interviewer’s own viewpoint. At times the interviewer adds evaluative comments and refers to what other witnesses have said. The witnesses are unaware of this agenda, and in a poor position to couch their statements in language that avoids misinterpretation. Rather than being part of a dispassionate interview, the witnesses are unknowing participants in an assertive, directed dialog designed to lead them to a conclusion pre-determined by the interviewer.

Reasons to Doubt the Reliability of Witness Testimony about Details

Witnesses are most reliable when testifying about a significant main event. On 9/11 at the Pentagon the main event was a large low-flying plane coming from the West and hitting the Pentagon West wall. Secondary to this are details about the plane’s markings, color, attributes, or whether it hit light poles. Possibly even more susceptible to error are questions about the plane’s exact direction of flight, since the observer’s focus will be on the plane and the impending disaster rather than its position relative to the ground over which it is flying.

It is instructive to examine and compare the witnesses’ initial testimonies with their later accounts obtained by CIT. The reader is advised to pay careful attention to the testimony and to listen to and watch the recordings. As will be shown, Brook’s and LaGasse’s memories five years after the event are deficient and not credible in very significant ways. Their recollections cannot fully be trusted. This is no reflection on their competency and professionalism as police officers. They are human beings and it is well known that “to err is human.”

LaGasse’s accounts are discussed first and in detail since he is by far the most emphatically certain but conflicted and mistaken witness.

[Note: Times in the recordings are given as mm:ss or as hh:mm:ss. Times may not be exact.]

Testimony of William Lagasse, Pentagon Police Officer

LaGasse's Original Testimony, 12/04/2001

William LaGasse’s original audio interview by Jennifer Brennan can be found at the Library of Congress September 11, 2001, Documentary Project, at this location or by clicking mp3 here.

LaGasse talks essentially without interruption and gives the following information

LaGasse’s value measurements are inaccurate, the distance wildly so. In the CIT interview, he refutes his original assertion about vortices.

LaGasse's CIT Interview, 11/07/2006

William LaGasse’s video interview by CIT's Craig Ranke begins at 38:51 in the CIT video which can be viewed at this location or by clicking here.

As the video begins, LaGasse is standing by his white police cruiser parked at a gas pump on the North side of the Citgo station. The cruiser faces in an almost NE direction (55 degrees E of N) (LF in figure 1). LaGasse answers Ranke’s questions and gives the following information (highlights only recorded here):

Reasons to Doubt William Lagasse’s Testimony and Memory

What Did LaGasse Observe?

Here are some clues in LaGasse’s testimony that indicate he is mistaken about the NOC path. These clues support the South path (refer to Figure 1):

  1. In his original testimony, LaGasse says he saw the plane in front of him.

  2. He was talking to his dog in the back seat through the open driver side door of his four-door car. He saw something [the plane] out of the corner of his eye.

  3. He demonstrated how he turned to look, which was counter clockwise, or to his left.

  4. He saw the plane before he heard it.

  5. He realized his drawn flight path made the wrong angle with the Pentagon west wall, and showed with his hands a more acute angle with the west wall.

  6. He stated that, a second or less after he saw it, the plane hit the Pentagon.

When analyzed, these statements weigh against a North path and support a South path (refer to Figure 1).

Figure 1: Aerial View of Pentagon Impact Point, Light Poles, and Citgo Station

  • I = Impact point (entry hole)
  • p1, p2, p3, p4, p5 = Five downed light poles
  • L = LaGasse position under canopy at Citgo station
  • B = Brooks approximate position
  • SI = South Path
  • NI = North Path (LaGasse drawing)
  • LF = LaGasse front view direction (perpendicular to long side of station)
  • LP = LaGasse view direction toward light poles p1 and p2

Analysis of What LaGasse Observed

Conclusion: The plane was on the South path, and it traveled from right to left in LaGasse’s view, not left to right as he recalled five years later. The only evidence from LaGasse for an NOC path is LaGasse’s emphatic but changeable and mistaken memory as to direction. All his other details support the South path.

Testimony of Chadwick Brooks, Pentagon Police Officer

Brooks’ Original Testimony, 11/25/2001

Chadwick Brooks’ original audio interview by Jennifer Brennan can be found at the Library of Congress September 11, 2001, Documentary Project, at this location or by clicking mp3 here.

Brooks talks essentially without interruption and gives the following information:

Brooks’ estimated time intervals (three intervals of a few seconds each) are most likely exaggerated in length, but indicate that he saw the plane at a distance as it approached. Note that he twice uses the word “left” but this is relative to his position sitting in the parked car, not to his position when he is facing the Citgo station.

Brooks’ CIT Interview, 11/07/2006

Chadwick Brooks’ video interview by CIT's Craig Ranke begins at 30:56 in the CIT video which can be viewed at this location or by clicking here.

As the video begins, Brooks is standing by his silver or light blue police cruiser at the Citgo station close to the road. Brooks answers Ranke’s questions and gives the following information (highlights only recorded here):

Reasons to Doubt Chadwick Brook’s Testimony and Memory

Conclusion: Brooks’ memory of an event five years ago clearly fails him in important details such as light poles, plane markings, a distant view to left, etc. His improper parking is not explained. He could not have seen the plane at a distance if his car was headed NW. Brooks draws a flight path from a wrong location and direction – which invalidates his path completely. Brooks does remember a large plane flying from a location near him to impact the Pentagon. All other evidence shows that this plane flew from right to left in Brook’s view. He saw a light pole impacted by the plane and the impact location in the building which together define a South path.

Testimony of Sean Boger, Heliport Air Traffic Controller

Boger’s Original Testimony, 11/14/2001

Sean Boger’s original interview by the U.S.A. Center for Military History can be read here.

Boger gives the following information:

Boger’s CIT Interview, 11/01/2007

Sean Boger’s phone interview by Craig Ranke beginning at 45:11 can be heard at this location or here.

There is also a 13.43 video at this location or here.

[Times are from the 13:43 minute video.]

[At the start of the 13 minute video, Craig Ranke states it would be impossible for the plane to be both where Boger and other NOC witnesses saw it, and to also hit the building, because these claims are” mutually exclusive.” Ranke also states that Boger must have ducked before he saw the plane enter the building. Aldo Marquis says the same, noting that Boger was adamant about the plane hitting, but, to paraphrase, “you still have to account for the generator trailer, light poles and the people who saw the plan fly away and we’ve got one of those [a witness to flyover]”.]

Reasons to Doubt Sean Boger’s Testimony and Memory

Legge and Chandler have discussed Boger’s testimony in depth. Boger told CIT he saw the plane “practically in front of the Navy Annex.” Upon being questioned about its position relative to the Citgo station, Boger chose the right side as seen by him (NOC). This can easily be interpreted as an approximation, indicating that he did not notice the plane until it was close. Boger’s time estimate is grossly exaggerated, as is that of an Arlington Cemetery witness, William Middleton Sr. (10 to 15 secs) since the plane speed would then 200 mph or less if timed from the Navy Annex.

It is important to note that Boger said the plane “didn’t veer”, indicating that it was flying straight. Straight flight rules out the North path, given all the testimony and data confirming the plane was near the Naval Annex. Boger does state that he saw the plane bank to the right but clearly this cannot be the astonishingly steep bank required for the turn around Citgo. The FDR file shows a very brief bank to the right of 6 degrees, so brief as to cause no noticeable change of heading [3].

Conclusion: It is not clear whether Boger is certain about the NOC path. Boger was certain the plane hit, even “adamant,” as Aldo Marquis says. Craig Ranke says the two claims, “hitting” and “NOC” are mutually exclusive, which is true. All the physical evidence and the vast majority of witness testimony support a plane hitting the Pentagon on the South path. There is no reason to choose Boger’s statement about NOC five years later over his other testimony and the physical evidence. Ranke’s and Marquis’ decision to choose Boger’s NOC statement over physical evidence and to contradict Boger’s testimony as to when he ducked is very questionable. CIT’s failure to examine the consequences of its NOC suggestion and flyover by explaining how the damage was staged is also a failure to follow the scientific method.

Summary

The three witnesses, LaGasse, Brooks, and Boger all testify to plane impact. All have inconsistencies, some serious, in their accounts, and the details of LaGasse’s CIT account support the South path as do LaGasse’s and Brooks’ original testimonies. To summarize, hard, physical evidence and scientific analysis completely rule out a NOC path. Those who propose, advocate, or testify to a NOC flight path are simply mistaken.

[1] Frank Legge and David Chandler, "The Pentagon Attack on 9/11: A Refutation of the Pentagon Flyover Hypothesis Based on Analysis of the Flight Path," September, 2011.

[2] Frank Legge and David Chandler, "Addendum to The Pentagon Attack on 9/11: A Refutation of the Pentagon Flyover Hypothesis …," December, 2011.

[3] Frank Legge and Warren Stutt, "Flight AA77 on 9/11: New FDR Analysis Supports the Official Flight Path...," January, 2011.

[4] John D. Wyndham, "The Pentagon Attack: Problems with Theories Alternative to Large Plane Impact," March, 2013.