Sept. 6, 2016
911 Blogger

The black boxes from the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, were found and retrieved in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, a significant amount of evidence indicates. And yet government officials and the official investigation into the attacks have asserted that these devices were never recovered.

A plane’s two black boxes record important information about a flight. The black boxes from American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175–the planes that hit the World Trade Center–could therefore have helped investigators determine what happened on these aircraft before they crashed on September 11.

A number of people who were involved in the recovery effort in the weeks after 9/11 have said they saw or helped recover objects at the World Trade Center site that appeared to be black boxes from a plane. One worker unearthed an object that looked like a black box at Pier 25 on the Hudson River. FBI agents who inspected the object initially said enthusiastically that it appeared to be a black box, but subsequently said they didn’t think it was one of these devices. A firefighter has described helping FBI agents retrieve three black boxes at Ground Zero and a colleague of his recalled seeing one of these being recovered.

Additionally, investigators reportedly detected a signal that was being emitted by one of the black boxes from Flight 11 or Flight 175 and recovery workers were sent to search in the location where the signal was coming from.

One government official actually said off the record that all four black boxes from Flight 11 and Flight 175 were recovered. This was certainly a reasonable assertion. It would in fact have been unusual if the devices were never found, since a plane’s black boxes are made to survive extreme conditions, and so the black boxes on Flights 11 and 175 should have withstood the conditions they endured on September 11.

Furthermore, experts have said they knew of no plane crashes, other than those at the World Trade Center, after which the black boxes weren’t recovered. Indeed, the black boxes from the two other planes that were hijacked on September 11–American Airlines Flight 77 and United Airlines Flight 93–were recovered within a few days of the 9/11 attacks.

If the accounts of the black boxes from Flights 11 and 175 being found are correct, we need to consider why the discoveries went unreported. And why has it been officially claimed that no black boxes were found at the World Trade Center site?

Might it be because the information on the black boxes is inconsistent with the official account of the 9/11 attacks? Perhaps it indicates that rogue individuals in the U.S. government and military were involved in planning and carrying out the attacks. So in order to maintain the official account of 9/11, it has been necessary to prevent the information on the black boxes being made public.

All commercial aircraft carry two black boxes: a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder. These devices record information while a plane is in flight, which, in the event of the plane crashing, can help investigators reconstruct the events that preceded the crash. The black boxes are each about the size of a shoe box and, despite the name, are colored bright orange, to make them more visible in the wreckage of a crash. They are located in the tail of a plane, since this is the area of an aircraft that usually survives a crash most intact. [1]

The flight data recorder records details of a plane’s operation. Sensors collect up to 700 different types of information, such as the plane’s airspeed, altitude, cabin pressure, engine performance, direction, and fuel flow. Data that cover up to 25 hours of flight prior to a crash will have been stored. The cockpit voice recorder, meanwhile, records noises in a plane’s cockpit, such as conversations and radio transmissions. The audio information is taken by up to four microphones, which are usually located on the pilots’ headsets. Sounds from the last 30 minutes of a flight prior to a crash will have been stored. [2]

The black boxes from the planes that were hijacked on September 11 could have provided investigators with invaluable information about these flights. At Ground Zero, finding the black boxes from Flights 11 and 175 was therefore considered a priority in the initial days of the recovery operation. Numerous posters showing what a plane’s black boxes look like were put up around the World Trade Center site so people would recognize the devices if they came across one as they searched through the debris. [3] The accounts below strongly suggest that recovery workers did indeed find some or all of the black boxes from Flights 11 and 175.

On October 12, 2001, an operating engineer unearthed what appeared to be a black box from a plane while he was scraping up a load of debris at Pier 25 on the Hudson River. [4] At Pier 25, a short distance from the World Trade Center site, debris was being loaded onto barges and then transported to the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island. [5] The operating engineer thought the object was the same shape as a black box. It was too badly burned and blackened, though, for him to tell if it had originally been bright orange, the color of a plane’s black boxes. The crane operator at the pier inspected the object and he too thought it looked like a black box.

The operating engineer made a call to report the discovery and got through to Lieutenant Ed Moss of the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD). In response to the call, Moss and his colleague, Lieutenant Bill Doubrawski, went to the pier and examined the object. Both men thought it appeared to be one of the black boxes. Excited at the discovery, Moss contacted Lieutenant William Keegan, who was in charge of the PAPD’s nighttime rescue and recovery operation at Ground Zero, told him what had happened, and described the object that had been unearthed. Wanting to examine the object for himself, Keegan went to Pier 25.

After comparing the object to some photos of the black boxes from a plane, Keegan agreed with his colleagues’ assessment. He has recalled that he determined the object “was absolutely close enough to the pictures available to us to notify the FBI without delay.” The PAPD officers promptly requested that some FBI agents working at Ground Zero meet them at the PAPD command post, in front of the Borough of Manhattan Community College.

Twenty to 30 minutes later, two FBI agents arrived at the command post. They inspected the object and compared it to a diagram of a black box. Like the other people who examined it, they appear to have thought it was one of the black boxes from Flight 11 or Flight 175. They said words to the effect of “Wow, this looks like it!” and “It’s the same shape!” according to Keegan. And yet for no obvious reason, after examining the object for a few more minutes, they apparently changed their opinion. They told the PAPD officers, “We don’t think it’s a black box.”

Keegan suggested to the two agents that if the object wasn’t one of the black boxes, it could be thrown onto a barge to be taken to the Fresh Kills landfill, along with the other debris. But one of them quickly protested, saying, “No, no, we’re going to take it with us.” The agents then went away, taking the object with them. Keegan and his colleagues never subsequently received any information about the object and whether it was indeed one of the black boxes. [6]

Recovery workers searched for one of the black boxes from Flight 11 or Flight 175 after a signal thought to have been coming from the device was detected in the week after 9/11.

A report published by the New York State Emergency Management Office on September 18, 2001, stated that investigators had “identified the signal from one of the black boxes” in the debris at Ground Zero. [7] The New York Times mentioned the discovery, reporting that on September 18, a law enforcement official said a signal from a plane’s black box may have been detected. “They are picking up some pinging,” the official said. “But,” the official added, “there is so much stuff on top of it, including ironwork, that it will take some time for them to get to it.” [8]

Recovery workers searched for the black box in locations where the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)–the government agency that is responsible for operating the U.S. air traffic control system–told them the signal had been detected. FAA personnel initially said they thought the signal was coming from the corner of Liberty and Church Streets, which bordered the south and east edges of the World Trade Center site. Recovery workers were therefore sent to dig at this location.

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