The Bartender’s Story

Last night, while bartending and chatting in the Smoky Drinky Bar, I began to piece together a new explanation for 9/11.

There are broadly two accounts of 9/11. The first one is that 3 or 4 jets were hijacked by a band of terrorists led by Mohammed Atta, and two of them were flown into the twin towers in NYC, and one into the Pentagon in Washington DC, while the fourth crashed harmlessly far from any city or large building. This is the official story, and it also happens to be the one that I’ve tended to believe, despite a number of implausibilities (like the fact that they barely had any pilot training).

The second story is the conspiracy theory that 9/11 was a “Deep State” black operation to produce an incident that was shocking enough to provoke a war, and perhaps even a series of wars. There seem to be innumerable variants of this theory, which include the twin towers being subjected to controlled demolition, a missile hitting the Pentagon, and various other ad hoc elements. A great many people seem to believe one variant or other this second story, which I personally find to be even more implausible than the first one (e.g. if it was a controlled demolition wouldn’t a few people have noticed the charges strapped to the columns, and the wires running between them? ).

I’ d now like to set out a third possible explanation of 9/11, which involves neither any shadowy terrorist organisation nor any even more shadowy “Deep State”. It came into focus last night when Cade Apollyon remarked that he used to have not only a copy of Flight Simulator 1.0, but also an air traffic control game, which he had used to direct imaginary planes into each others’ paths rather than away from them.

I’d never heard of an air traffic control game, but Cade’s explanation for it was that it had been developed as a true air traffic control system, and then marketed as a game when the project fell through. But while I hadn’t heard of any air traffic control game, I had actually played Flight Simulator 2 a number of times.

FS2 was really a pilot training aide, which allowed pilots to learn to fly planes, taking off, navigating from place to place, and landing, all in very realistic ways. But it was also marketed as a game, and one that I personally found rather boring, because apart from repeatedly taking off and landing, there was little else to do. So when I played it, I used to add spice by flying as close as I could to the large buildings that dotted US cities. Here, for example, is New York City, as seen in FS2:

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2.10 for IBM PC (RGB monitor, in front of Empire State Building), 1984

At the bottom of the screen are the pilot’s various instruments, showing speed, altitude, attitude, and so on. In the top of the screen there is the view of NYC below, with the Empire State building in the foreground, and, yes, the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the background.

If I had been flying this plane, I would have been aiming to skim past the Empire State Building, and then pass between the twin towers in the distance, and over the Statue of Liberty out in the bay beyond. (see map right) I would have passed within a few feet of them all. And if Cade Apollyon had been playing FS2, he would have probably been doing the same thing, and as an air traffic controller he would have been directing aircraft towards NYC for the same purpose.

There are two distinct groups of people who use flight and air traffic control simulators. One group is made up of professional pilots and air traffic controllers who are trying to carry real passengers from one destination to another without any mishap. The other group of people are gamers who are trying to have as much fun as possible by flying imaginary planes as near to each other and any building in sight as they can. The two groups have opposite goals. One group is trying to minimize danger, and the other is trying to maximize it. And both groups are using the same software, but on different computers. And sometimes they swap places.

So my third explanation of 9/11 is that danger-maximizing gamers took control of US airspace away from both danger-minimizing professional pilots and air traffic controllers for a period of a few hours on 11 September 2001 (9/11). And for this short period of time that the gamers were in control of the real world, they caused utter havoc. And during that time, most likely neither the gamers nor the professionals were aware of what had happened. American Airlines Flight 11 wasn’t flown into the North Tower by an untrained Al Qaeda terrorist, or by a highly-trained Deep State pilot: it was flown by a 10-year-old boy running FS2 on his Xbox.  The 10-year-old also happened to be one of the very best pilots in the USA, and that morning he had already flown between (or through) the twin towers about 13 times before heading off to grade school. He didn’t know that on the 14th occasion, he’d been passed hands-on remote control of a real jet rather than an imaginary one. And he flew it in along more or less the exact route in the map above.

No doubt there are many implausibilities to this third explanation. But one of its singular merits, in my view, is that there are no Bad Guys. There is no band of box-cutter-wielding terrorists, nor callous, calculating Deep State operatives in remote bunkers. There was no conspiracy at all. There were just a few kids playing FS2 and air traffic control the way they always did. And when, later that day, they learned that planes had really been flown into the twin towers at the exact same time they’d been doing the exact same thing, they couldn’t believe that they could have been the pilots. They probably still don’t believe it to this day.

But what about this, you ask:

Atta, an al-Qaeda member and licensed commercial pilot, took over the controls. Air-traffic controllers noticed the flight was in distress when the crew was no longer responding. They realized the flight had been hijacked when Mohamed Atta’s announcements for passengers were transmitted to air traffic control. On board, flight attendants Amy Sweeney and Betty Ong contacted American Airlines, and provided information about the hijackers and injuries to passengers and crew.

Pure invention. Cobbled together after the fact from garbled radio messages to support the terrorist hijacking meme which rapidly became the dominant explanation. The planes had been hijacked, but not by terrorists: Mohammed Atta was probably sitting quietly reading Planet of the Dreamers throughout Flight 11.

Perhaps some people in pilot and air traffic control circles knew that it was possible to remotely take control of aircraft, but didn’t know how to do it. It had to be terrorists, didn’t it, they told themselves.  Just like a bunch of 10-year-old kids were telling each other that it couldn’t possibly have been us, could it.

Anyway, while I’m the bartender for the 7 pm BST slot, Emily is going to try to do the same on a 7 pm EST slot.

Perhaps she’ll soon have a few of her own bartender’s tales to tell.

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About Frank Davis

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32 Responses to The Bartender’s Story

  1. garyk30 says:

    Your third scenario idea does not hold water.
    I will explain tonite in the bar.

  2. Twenty Rothmans says:

    ATC is a bit of a misnomer. If they tell you to do something that you won’t, can’t or shouldn’t do, you tell them that you cannot comply (after you don’t comply).

    Had the automated systems of the aircraft involved taken over control of them, the pilots would have disengaged the autopilots – very easy in 767s and 757s – and hand-flown. For your scenario to work, the pilots on all four aircraft would have needed to be incapacitated – which can’t be done remotely. I suppose that slowly depressurising the aircraft and suppressing the alarms would be one way of achieving this, but ex-military pilots are trained to be aware of it, and there were a few on the aircraft involved.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I don’t see why a plane can’t be remotely controlled from the ground. I don’t see why the actual pilots in the plane should always have control. We’re dealing with computing systems where control can be assigned to anyone: pilot, autopilot, or remote pilot. Or the passenger in seat 33F.

      And I can see one circumstance where a remote pilot would be very useful: when a plane has been hijacked, and the pilots are being threatened with death if they don’t comply with the hijackers demands. In such a circumstance, the pilots might ask for a remote pilot to take control of the plane. They then tell the hijackers they no longer control the plane, and can’t accede to his wishes. They may demonstrate to the hijackers that the controls no longer work. They might even let the hijackers take the controls and try to do something. Even if hijackers start smashing up the cockpit, it would have no effect..

      You may reply that no such remote control is permitted in the elaborate rulebooks governing aircraft security, But rulebooks are very easily torn up – particularly by programmers like me. Because we’re the real (if unacknowledged) rulers of the computing environment.

  3. Darryl says:

    Boeing Honeywell ‘Uninterruptible’ Autopilot System.

    https://counterpsyops.com/tag/boeing-uninterruptible-auto-pilot/

    • garyk30 says:

      This was not available when 9/11 happened.

      • Frank Davis says:

        The Boeing 777 along with other Boeing models, can in fact be flown remotely through the use of independent embedded software and satellite communication. Once this advanced system is engaged, it can disallow any pilot or potential hijacker from controlling a plane, as the rooted setup uses digital signals that communicate with air traffic control, satellite links, as well as other government entities for the remainder of a flight’s journey.

        It may not have been generally known to be available in 2001. But I would imagine that it was actually available as soon as it became technically possible, which I’d guess could have been as early as 1980.

    • Twenty Rothmans says:

      Indeed.
      But the 767/757s used weren’t FBW.
      And no pilot with stripes would go anywhere near an aircraft that could do that.

  4. ” they learned that planes had really been flown into the twin towers at the exact same time they’d been doing the exact same thing”

    I think we should label it the ‘War Games Theory”….and remember the only way to win is not to play…

  5. chris says:

    If 9/11 had been the result of some kind of Xbox game, they would have used it as an excuse to ban such games and maybe all electronic games.

  6. Fredrik Eich says:

    This is the official story, and it also happens to be the one that I’ve tended to believe, despite a number of implausibilities (like the fact that they barely had any pilot training).

    No, it is highly plausible even with out training. I worked in flight simulation years ago. I have flown 777s,737s,A330s etc all simulated. I managed to crash into the control tower of my first simulated flight with no problems. The twin towers would be very easy to hit. It’s very easy, you pull the stick back the plane goes up, you push the stick down the plane goes down and you turn left and right as you would in a car. If you know that then you know enough to do the job. They would have had plenty of time to line up. Navigation would be a problem but if you can see it you can hit it. You just point the plane at the object you want to hit and you hit it. It’s landing that is the problem and that is not a problem if you have no intention of landing!

    • Twenty Rothmans says:

      “It’s very easy, you pull the stick back the plane goes up, you push the stick down the plane goes down”
      Power for height, pitch for speed in real aircraft.

  7. nisakiman says:

    Off topic, but I just came across this on Chris Snowdon’s Twitterfeed:

    From the Daily News:

    “I thought if he’s, if he has the, the guts and the audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the five-year-old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke and the front seat passenger doing the same thing then what, what care does he give about me,” Yanez told the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

    Full transcript here.

    The mind boggles: Secondhand smoke as a license to kill? Yanez even acknowledges that the girl “was in my line of fire” but that he “directed his firearm down…as best I could” to avoid her.

    http://reason.com/blog/2017/06/22/philando-castiles-audacity-to-smoke-mari

    Takes the fear of SHS to a whole new level…

  8. Emily says:

    No doubt there are many implausibilities to this third explanation. But one of its singular merits, in my view, is that there are no Bad Guys. There is no band of box-cutter-wielding terrorists, nor callous, calculating Deep State operatives in remote bunkers. There was no conspiracy at all.

    I like the beauty of this part of your theory.

    Interesting times in Smoky Drinky last night for the EST shift, the New Zealanders and Aussies were our very congenial companions even though it was the next day lunchtime for them! This Smoky Drinky timezone thing is making head spin (more than usual even!)

    • Twenty Rothmans says:

      The Kiwis knew that they were going to win the Rugby.
      Predictably :-)

      • RdM says:

        Actually I think we’re (or some of us!) aiming for an Americas Cup win again!

        Can’t be fussed about rugby, myself… tennis, yes, fantastic;- cricket .OK as well.
        Quite like some of the Olympic Winter sports too, figure skating girls & guys, skiing.

        It’ll be great to see the Americas Cup back here again though ;=])

  9. No Frank. Bad theory! And FAR more terrifying that either deep state or terrorism!

  10. C.F. Apollyon says:

    So…I’m guessing that there is a tie-in here to what number generators did on that day?

    • C.F. Apollyon says:

      Here is a bit about what we talked about earlier Frank.

      ^Dean Radin: The Global Consciousness Project^

      And FYI…what I was talking about regarding 7-dimensional space, should probably not be compared to relativity as a whole. I have no intentions of defining/re-defining what is already well formed.

      4 dimensions of time + 3 dimensions of space = 8th dimension of time and space, existing in a single point, and this single point is in an amongst countless points. This can be either organic or inorganic matter, seeing as how they both occupy the same space, but not necessarily the same spaces at the same times.
      The short being…matter. I try to keep a little bit of everything in mind, especially Newtonian physics and Relativity, as they relate to each other in the quantum universes.

  11. Pete Soakell says:

    what about building 7?

    • Joe L. says:

      WTC7 is the strangest (as well as the least-covered) anomaly that occurred on 9/11.

      Not only were WTC 1, 2 and 7 the first three steel-reinforced high-rises in history to collapse (directly into their own footprints at near-freefall speeds, nonetheless) due to fire, but WTC7 (which was not hit by a plane) is also the only building to ever have its collapse reported 20 minutes prematurely (by the BBC).

  12. Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

    Flying High – guess we picked the wrong day to give up sniffing glue (or smoking Camel Blue). Hijacking drone command and control protocols is feasible and could lead to false flag attacks, diversion to other targets, payload substitution, and probably other innovative uses like delivering tobacco under the radar of anti smuggling tools of the state.

  13. waltc says:

    Why do you suppose a ten year old could do it and terrorists, who’d also practiced on a simulator, couldn’t? And the ten year old just so happened to do this simultaneously on four flights that also just so happened to be carrying terrorists? And what of the cell phone reports of the passengers on those flights before they crashed? Occam’s Razor is a useful tool.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Why do you suppose a ten year old could do it and terrorists, who’d also practiced on a simulator, couldn’t?

      The ten-year-old spent all day every day playing FS2 on his Xbox. That’s why he was the best pilot in the USA. The terrorists had done a few hours of pilot training,none of which involved flying into buildings, or flying anywhere near buildings..

      And the ten year old just so happened to do this simultaneously on four flights that also just so happened to be carrying terrorists?

      I doubt if the planes were hijacked exactly simultaneously. They were hijacked one after another, After each one had been hijacked it was turned to fly on a new course. The ten year old then hijacked another plane, and set that one on a new course too. He didn’t have to fly all four planes simultaneously. He could fly them serially, one after the other.

      And what of the cell phone reports of the passengers on those flights before they crashed?

      Do cell phones work at 10,000 metres altitude? I’ve heard they don’t. I don’t know, because I never tried using one. When Flight 11 was making its final approach the WTC, it was much lower. Maybe 200 – 300 metres altitude.

    • Joe L. says:

      Can anyone be 100% certain there actually were terrorists on board those planes?

      Shortly after 9/11, reports surfaced that a number of the supposed hijackers were actually still alive, and some were unhappy that their names and likenesses were being associated with the tragedy. Take this BBC article, from 9/23/01, for example.

  14. On 9/11 I was living in Germany and my kids called me in to watch it unfolding on the News. One of the things that struck me was in the first couple of hours there were several ‘talking heads’ -experts in the field on TV telling everyone just how easy it is to ‘fly’ a modern jet, very much ‘point and hit’. Someone somewhere ‘high up’ however cottoned on to the ‘Armchair terrorist cookbook’ aspect of the ‘expert’ interviews and after that first couple of hours suddenly the ‘tune’ changed. Within 120 minutes or so it, crashing a plane, apparently went from being a ‘piece of piss’ to ‘ almost impossible for a layman’.

  15. garyk30 says:

    Control by a simulation not possible by an amateur.
    You would need a radio type transmitter at your control site and a receiver on the aircraft that was linked to the controls of the aircraft; plus, you would need a tv type camera on the aircraft to transmit video to the controller.

    Since you could not be certain of which aircraft was going where, you would have to install,secretly, such equipment on every airliner in the country. Some one would notice such a thing; anyway, the cost would be enormous.

    Those radio waves are ‘line of sight’ in nature, this requires transmitter towers that are very very tall.
    In the FAA we used repeater sites as well.

    These considerations make such a thing rather unlikely.

  16. Frank Davis says:

    Remote control of aircraft was possible before September 2001:

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