The authors of the Popular Mechanics book about 9/11 offered to solve this problem. While acknowledging that Hanjour "may not have been highly skilled," they said that he did not need to be, because all he had to do was, using a GPS unit, put his plane on autopilot.118 "He steered the plane manually for only the final eight minutes of the flight," they state triumphantly119---ignoring the fact that it was precisely during those minutes that Hanjour had allegedly performed the impossible.
14. Would an al-Qaeda Pilot Have Executed that Maneuver?
A further question is: Even if one of the al-Qaeda operatives on that flight could have executed that maneuver, would he have done so? This question arises out of the fact that the plane could easily have crashed into the roof on the side of the Pentagon that housed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and all the top brass. The difficult maneuver would have been required only by the decision to strike Wedge 1 on the side.
But this was the worst possible place, given the assumed motives of the al-Qaeda operatives: They would have wanted to kill Rumsfeld and the top brass, but Wedge 1 was as far removed from their offices as possible. They would have wanted to cause as much destruction as possible, but Wedge 1---and only it---had been renovated to make it less vulnerable to attack. Al-Qaeda operatives would have wanted to kill as many Pentagon employees as possible, but because the renovation was not quite complete, Wedge 1 was only sparsely occupied. The attack also occurred on the only part of the Pentagon that would have presented physical obstacles to an attacking airplane. All of these facts were public knowledge. So even if an al-Qaeda pilot had been capable of executing the maneuver to strike the ground floor of Wedge 1, he would not have done so.
15. Could al-Qaeda Operatives Have Brought Down the World Trade Center Buildings?
Returning to the issue of competence, another question is whether al-Qaeda operatives could have brought down the Twin Towers and WTC 7?
With regard to the Twin Towers, the official theory is that they were brought down by the impact of the airplanes plus the ensuing fires. But this theory cannot explain why the towers, after exploding outwards at the top, came straight down, because this type of collapse would have required all 287 of each building's steel columns---which ran from the basement to the roof---to have failed simultaneously; it cannot explain why the top parts of the buildings came straight down at virtually free-fall speed, because this required that the lower parts of the building, with all of their steel and concrete, offered no resistance; it cannot explain why sections of steel beams, weighing thousands of tons, were blown out horizontally more than 500 feet; it cannot explain why some of the steel had melted, because this melting required temperatures far hotter than the fires in the buildings could possibly have been; and it cannot explain why many firefighters and WTC employees reported massive explosions in the buildings long after all the jet-fuel had burned up. But all of these phenomena are easily explainable by the hypothesis that the buildings were brought down by explosives in the procedure known as controlled demolition.120
This conclusion now constitutes the consensus of independent physicists, chemists, architects, engineers, and demolition experts who have studied the facts.121 For example, Edward Munyak, a mechanical and fire protection engineer who worked in the US departments of energy and defense, says: "The concentric nearly freefall speed exhibited by each building was identical to most controlled demolitions. . . . Collapse [was] not caused by fire effects."122 Dwain Deets, the former director of the research engineering division at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, mentions the "massive structural members being hurled horizontally" as one of the factors leaving him with "no doubt [that] explosives were involved."123
Given the fact that WTC 7 was not even hit by a plane, its vertical collapse at virtually free-fall speed, which also was preceded by explosions and involved the melting of steel, was still more obviously an example of controlled demolition.124 For example, Jack Keller, emeritus professor of engineering at Utah State University, who has been given special recognition by Scientific American, said: "Obviously it was the result of controlled demolition."125 Likewise, when Danny Jowenko---a controlled demolition expert in the Netherlands who had not known that WTC 7 had collapsed on 9/11---was asked to comment on a video of its collapse, he said: "They simply blew up columns, and the rest caved in afterwards. . . . [I]t's been imploded. . . . A team of experts did this."126
If the Twin Towers and WTC 7 were brought down by explosives, the question becomes: Who would have had the ability to place the explosives? This question involves two parts: First, who could have obtained access to the buildings for all the hours it would have taken to plant the explosives? The answer is: Only someone with connections to people in charge of security for the World Trade Center.
The second part of the question is: Who, if they had such access, would have had the expertise to engineer the controlled demolition of these three buildings? As Jowenko's statement indicated, the kind of controlled demolition to which these buildings were subjected was implosion, which makes the building come straight down. According to ImplosionWorld.com, an implosion is "by far the trickiest type of explosive project, and there are only a handful of blasting companies in the world that possess enough experience . . . to perform these true building implosions."127
Both parts of the question, therefore, rule out al-Qaeda operatives. The destruction of the World Trade Center had to have been an inside job.
16. Would al-Qaeda Operatives Have Imploded the Buildings?
Finally, we can also ask whether, even if al-Qaeda operatives had possessed the ability to cause the World Trade Center buildings to implode so as to come straight down, they would have done so? The answer to this question becomes obvious once we reflect upon the purpose of this kind of controlled demolition, which is to avoid damaging near-by buildings. Had the 110-story Twin Towers fallen over sideways, they would have caused massive destruction in lower Manhattan, destroying dozens of other buildings and killing tens of thousands of people. Would al-Qaeda have had the courtesy to make sure that the buildings came straight down?