Flight 93

A few days ago I watched the Discovery Channel’s “documentary” The Flight That Fought Back about Flight 93, the plane that terrorists crashed into a Pennsylvania field. It consisted mostly of interviews with family members with cuts to brief re-enactments. Considering its genre and subject, the show did a fairly good job of steering away from being maudlin, but just the stories of that day are emotionally compelling. I was fairly ignorant of the details of Flight 93, except for the “Let’s Roll!” rally, and the broadcast left me wanting to know more:

  • If, as the 9/11 commission concluded, the passengers were unable to break through the cockpit door even using the several-hundred-pound (according to one interviewee) food cart, how were the terrorists able to gain entry originally, especially since the pilots had earlier received a text-message telling them to be on the lookout for such break-ins?
  • During the re-enactment when terrorist Ziad Jarrah seemed to be asking the others whether he should pilot the plane into the ground, the broadcast cut to a very brief comment from Jarrah’s former flight instructor, who said in essence that he couldn’t imagine such a nice guy as Jarrah doing such a thing. Then the program cut back to Jarrah looking very nervous, who asked (according to subtitles) “Is that it? I mean, shall we put it down?” From the actor’s tone of voice and body language, I got the impression that the show’s directors might have been implying that Jarrah was having second thoughts and was considering landing the plane safely–is that what they meant to convey? Is that even a slightly plausible scenario? Or am I just crazy?

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