I saw a link today to an amazing Washington Post story that I missed when it was published five years ago: two Air Force pilots who scrambled on the morning of 9/11 in an effort to intercept the fourth hijacked airliner, in what was basically going to be a suicide mission.
Over the years, I’ve read a lot about 9/11, and I’ve even followed—with amusement or maybe bemusement—some of the nutcase “conspiracy theories” that claim that the U.S. government plotted and carried out the attacks. (For an idea of what that’s all about, take a deep breath and click here. 9/11 “truthers” are a strange breed and you sometimes wonder whether they’re seriously deluded or just yanking our collective chains.)
The only such conspiracy theory I ever gave any consideration to dealt with that fourth plane: right after 9/11, I thought it was possible—maybe even likely—that the U.S. military had shot down Flight 93 to protect the Capitol or whatever its target was. My feeling at the time was that the government would want to keep the shootdown a secret, for obvious reasons. But of course it’s laughable to think that governments can keep secrets like that for long, and after a few months I accepted the reality of the passengers on that flight having taken matters into their own hands.
Also, such a mission, even though it would have involved shooting down a commercial airliner, would ultimately have been seen as heroic so the military wouldn’t have needed to cover it up.
We now know that the Air Force really did try to take down Flight 93, albeit with unarmed jets, because there wasn’t time to load missiles on the planes. Here’s another article about the same mission.
It was truly a remarkable day; I previously wrote about it, six years ago, in this post.