Please Denounce the Whoppers:
An Open Letter to James Randi and the Skeptic Community

John H. Morrison

January 21, 2010

Why couldn’t ATC find the hijacked flights? When the hijackers turned off the planes’ transponders, which broadcast identifying signals, ATC had to search 4500 identical radar blips crisscrossing some of the country’s busiest air corridors.1

At the time of the hijackings, there were 4,500 planes in the skies over the continental United States. Without transponder data or radio contact, controllers were forced to search for the missing aircraft among all the identical radar blips, with each controller responsible for varying numbers of planes in his or her sector.2

Popular Mechanics

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.3

The 9/11 Commission Report

With the first two quotes above, Popular Mechanics tells us flat-out that ATC must search thousands of radar blips, across the entire country, for a commercial aircraft that has lost its transponder signal. Popular Mechanics has thereby followed the the admonition, “If you tell a lie, make it a whopper.” (The third quote is discussed in the second part of this letter.)

This admonition reflects the notion that one best gets away with lying by boldly telling a humungous, transparent falsehood. It may be difficult mentally to reject such an enormous falsehood. Nevertheless, the sheer enormity of the September 11, 2001 attacks and their consequences of the past decade demand that the skeptic community, the science community, and every person of integrity denounce the major falsehoods.

It takes a commercial airplane literally hours to cross the continental US.4 An airplane flying 600 mph can travel at most ten miles each minute it’s gone from ATC’s view. At 450 mph, the airplane can travel only 7.5 miles each minute. ATC would limit its search to a region attainable in the time elapsed — a far smaller region with only ten or twenty aircraft.

A second idiocy is inherent in Popular Mechanics’s claim: the notion that ATC can’t distinguish an aircraft without a transponder signal among aircraft with transponder signals. If several airplanes are within the search region, and all but one transmit transponder signals, that remaining aircraft is the wayward aircraft.

It is silly to suggest that ATC could be foiled by simply turning off a transponder. A rogue airplane flying through the country’s busiest air corridors is a disaster waiting to occur. ATC (with half a century experience) would have procedures for identifying, tracking, and responding to such a rogue airplane.

Note Popular Mechanics’s propaganda technique: they attempt to preempt the obvious argument (made in the previous paragraph) by refering to aircraft “crisscrossing some of the country’s busiest air corridors.” But this quote is given as a reason for ATC’s inability to track a wayward aircraft, rather than as a reason to rapidly locate and track the wayward aircraft.

In fact, controllers claimed to have tracked American Airlines Flight 11 all the way to its crash into the North Tower without the benefit of the transponder.5 6

The Popular Mechanics quotes are in the sections of the article and the book titled, “No Stand-Down Order.” Those sections pretend to to explain why NORAD never set fighter jets to intercept or even approach any of the hijacked aircraft. Popular Mechanics is treated and cited as a major authority in defense of the official story. With claims like these, Popular Mechanics’s discussion of 9/11 requires careful skeptical scrutiny, if not outright rejection as blatant propaganda.

The Second Whopper

The third quote opening this article, from the first chapter of the 9/11 Commission Report, attempts to explain how the FAA could report to the Secret Service the approach of an airplane 80 miles away (then 60 miles away at least two minutes later), when in fact the airplane had crashed 150 miles away.7 The evidence for the alleged projection consists solely of an April 8, 2004 interview with Tim Grovac (misspelled “Tim Grovack”).8 Handwritten notes of the interview have been released.9 I have not found anything in the handwritten notes about aircraft trajectory projections. The Commission did not cite any actual FAA records or controller testimony about an actual projection of Flight 93’s path.

The projection would have continued at least nine minutes after the crash in the Commission’s account. The Commission’s use of the phrase “may have” reflects only the minimal evidence (zero verifiable evidence) in support of such a monstrous claim, and the Commission’s disinclination to investigate the claim.

These are but two examples of lies, propaganda, and incompetence in the official story, or told by allegedly credible authorities in defense of the official story. I have sent you (James Randi) many examples in private correspondance. The truth of 9/11 cannot stand lies, incompetence, and propaganda.

Please Publicly Denounce the Whoppers!