Category Archives: The phone calls

Project Achilles (Parts I, II and III)

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Project Achilles Report Parts One, Two and Three

by A.K. Dewdney, January 23rd 2003

Preliminary low-altitude cellphone experiment

January 23 2003; 4:35 – 5:40 pm
Civic Airport, London, Ontario, Canada

Equipment:

aircraft: Diamond DA20/C1 Katana two-seater
engine: 125 hp
body & airframe: fiberglass/carbon fiber composite
weight fully loaded: 1630 lbs

cellphones: one Motorola model “120 CDMA” cellphone (A)
two Motorola “i1000 plus” cellphones (B)
(both fully charged at flight time)

The flight plan consisted of four “laps,” elongated circuits (shaped like a paperclip) over London, Ontario airspace. Each lap was about seven to eight miles long and two to three miles wide. Three calls were made on each of two straight legs in each lap. Calls alternated between cellphone A and cellphone B. A second i1000, intended for use at higher altitudes, slipped to the cockpit floor and could not be retrieved in those cramped quarters. A check of battery levels of the first i1000, however, showed that there had been no significant power drain on the unit.

* * * A * * * * * B * * * * A * * * * end
*
* W —– E
*
*
* * * B * * * * * A * * * * B * * * * begin

Note: “altitude” means aboveground altitude, not height above sea level, as recorded by the altimeter.

Results:

Lap 1 @ 1,100 feet altitude:

1st leg: A to business number no connection?
B to business number 1 min. complete
A to business number 1 min. complete
2nd leg B to home number no connection?
A to home number (broken) complete
B to home number complete

Lap 2 @ 2,100 feet altitude:

1st leg: A to home number no connection?
B to home number no voice, just a “beep”
A to home number no connection?
2nd leg B to home number 1 min. complete
A to home number no voice
B to home number no voice

Lap 3 @ 3,100 feet altitude:

1st leg: A to home number missed making the call
B to home number “system busy”
A to home number incomplete
2nd leg B to home number “please wait: CLEARNET”
A to home number incomplete
B to home number call made late, incomplete

Lap 3 @ 3,500 feet altitude:

A to home number incomplete
B to home number complete, but breaking up

Calls to the business number were recorded by the message system. Two calls made it through. Of the 17 calls to the home number, only about ten calls got through. In three of these, we had a conversation (of sorts) and the rest were just white noise. (no record of which)

After the third call, I decided that the cockpit was too noisy to hear the message system, so I changed my plan and called home (my wife), instead. Calls to the business number were recorded by the message system. Two calls made it through. Of the 17 calls to the home number, only about ten calls got through. In three of these, we had a conversation (of sorts) and the rest were just white noise. (no record of which)

Summary: In the preliminary test, only five of the 16 (attempted) calls resulted in any meaningful voice contact. In at least two of those calls, no connection whatever could be established with cellsites below. The composition of the Diamond Katana (manufactured right here in London, Ontario) makes it almost transparent to EM radiation at radio wavelengths and the results of this experiment are therefore optimal. Aircraft with metal skins will undoubtedly fare rather worse in the percentage of calls making it through.

low altitude (1100-2100′): 4/12 or 33 percent
mid altitude (3100 – 3500′): 1/7 or 14 percent

Conclusion: the purpose of this experiment was to probe the effect of altitude on cellphone service and to iron out wrinkles in experimental procedure. In the first instance, it looks as though there might well be a decline in service with increasing altitude. The phenomenon must now be mapped more carefully.

As far as operating procedures is concerned, it is probably best to make calls to a number you know well, to be familiar with the various status messages on each cellphone display screen, and to have someone at the other end who can log the time of the call, as well as to summarize the content. (The cockpit in most light aircraft is so noisy that one cannot always hear a voice at the other end, although I did hear my wife talking somewhat clearly on two occasions.) Also, it is important to be very organized, having a special carrier case for cellphones, writing/recording materials, etc. The airspeed of the Katana was just a little fast for me to comfortably make the calls and stay organized at the same time. Two of the calls were made rather late in the current lap, even as we began to climb out to the next one. It would be better to have a separate person operating the cellphones. We also need a meaningful call classification system to fill the gaps between complete failure and an audible conversation.

All calls were handled by the Bell Mobility Network, which has some 25 cellsites operating in the London area. I have now located all the cellsites in London, Ontario, thanks to a very helpful set of maps provided by a local cell phone aficionado:

<www.arcx.com/sites/>

Plans are now under way for part two (Below). This will involve a Cessna four-seater (with an aluminum skin), five or six cellphones of various types, an expert to operate them on my queue, and a flight plan that will explore the effect up to 10,000 feet beyond which, according to one airline pilot, there is absolutely no hope of getting through.

A. K. Dewdney
(with thanks to Corey Barrington, pilot with empire Aviation)

 

‘Project Achilles’ – Report, Part Two

by A.K. Dewdney – February 25th 2003

Equipment:

  • Diamond Katana four-seater (Empire Aviation)
  • cellphones: C1, C2, C3, C4 (See appendix for descriptions.)

Personnel:

  • Corey Barrington (pilot)
  • Darren Spicknell (operator – technician for Wireless Concepts, Inc)
  • Kee Dewdney (director)
  • Pat Dewdney (ground recorder)

Weather: unlimited ceiling, light scattered cloud at 3,000 and 25,000 feet, visibility 15 miles, wind 5 knots from NW, air temperature -12 C.

For this experiment, we flew a circular route, instead of the elongated oval. The circle centred on the downtown core and took us over most of the city suburbs. All locations below are referred to the city centre and are always about three miles distant from it.

Protocol:

At times specified by the director, the operator made a call to a specified number, stating the code number of the cellphone (1 to 4) and the altitude. The receiver recorded whatever was heard and the time the call was received. At the first three altitudes of 2000, 4000, and 6000 feet abga each cellphone was used once. At 8000 feet abga, only C2 and C3 were tried, C1 and C4 now being hors de combat.

Results with timeline:

time (pm) call no. C# loc. operator recorder
5:05 started taxi to runway
5:12 takeoff
5:14 at 2000 feet (above-ground altitude)
5:15 Call #1 C1 N success not very clear
5:17 Call #2 C2 W success not very clear
5:19 Call #3 C3 SW failure
5:21 Call #4 C4 S success not clear/ breaking up
5:24 climbed to 4000 feet abga
5:25 Call #5 C1 NE failure
5:26 Call #6 C2 N success clear
5:27 Call #7 C3 NW failure
5:29 Call #8 C4 W failure
5:33 climbed to 6000 feet abga
5:34 Call #9 C1 SE failure
5:36 Call #10 C2 E failure
5:37 Call #11 C3 NE failure
5:38 Call #12 C4 N failure
5:39 Call #13 C1 NW failure
5:40 Call #14 C2 SW success clear
5:42 Call #15 C3 S failure
5:43 Call #16 C4 SE failure
5:44 Call #17 C1 E failure
5:45 Call #18 C2 NE failure
5:45 Call #19 C3 NE success breaking up
5:46 Call #20 C4 N failure
5:49 begin climb to 8000 feet abga (cellphones 2 and 3 only)
5:50 Call #21 C2 W failure
5:50 Call #22 C3 SW failure
5:51 Call #23 C2 S success buzzy
5:53 completed climb to 8000 feet abga
5:58 Call #24 C3 SE failure
5:58 Call #25 C2 E failure
5:58 Call #26 C3 E failure
5:59 Call #27 C2 NE failure
6:00 Call #28 C3 N failure
6:01 Call #29 C1 N failure
6:01 Call #30 C2 NW failure
6:02 Call #31 C3 NW failure
6:02 Call #32 C4 NW
6:15 landed at airport

Conclusions:

To the extent that the cellphones used in this experiment represent types in general use, it may be concluded that from this particular type of aircraft, cellphones become useless very quickly with increasing altitude. In particular, two of the cellphone types, the Mike and the Nokia, became useless above 2000 feet. Of the remaining two, the Audiovox worked intermittently up to 6000 feet but failed thereafter, while the BM analog cellphone worked once just over 7000 feet but failed consistently thereafter. We therefore conclude that ordinary cellphones, digital or analog, will fail to get through at or above 8000 feet abga.

It should be noted that several of the calls rated here as “successes” were difficult for the Recorder to hear, witness description such as “breaking up” or “buzzy.”

Summary table

altitude (in feet) calls tried calls successful percent success
2000 4 3 75%
4000 4 1 25%
6000 12 2 17%
8000 12* 1 1 8%

* includes three calls made while climbing; last successful call was made from just over 7000 feet.

The four cellphones operated via four different cellular networks (cellsites). Because calls were made from a variety of positions for each network, it cannot be said that failures were the fault of cellsite placement. the London, Ontario, region is richly supplied with cellsites belonging to five separate networks.

It may be noted in passing that this experiment was also conducted in a radio-transparent aircraft with carbon-fibre composite construction. Failure to make a call from such an aircraft with any particular brand of cellphone spells automatic failure for the same cellphone from a metal-clad aircraft flying at the same altitude. A metal skin attenuates all cellphone signals to a significant degree. It may safely be concluded that the operational ceiling for cellphones in aluminum skin aircraft (most passenger liners, for example) would be significantly lower than the ones reported here.

It may therefore safely be concluded that cellphone calls from passenger aircraft are physically impossible above 8000 feet abga and statistically unlikely below it.

A. K. Dewdney
February 25/03

Appendix – Cellphone types, networks (courtesy of Darren Spicknell)

C1 Motorola i95cl – Telus Mike Network – 800 Mhz IDEN
C2 Motorola StarTac – Bell Mobility – 800 Mhz Analog
C3 Audiovox 8300 – Telus PCS Network – 1.9 Ghz CDMA / 800 MHz
C4 Nokia 6310i – Rogers AT&T – 1.9 Ghz GHz GSM. (Tri-Band – Has an
1.8 GHz and 900 Mhz GSM these are European frequencies)

IDEN – Integrated Digital Enhanced Network
CDMA – Code Division Multiple Access
GSM – Global Systems for Mobile Communications

Power Levels

The Project Achilles team

Power output of these handsets. The Nokia 6310i and Audiovox 8300 when in digital mode will output 0.2 Watts.

When the Analog Motorola StarTac is operating it is at 0.6 Watts optimal.

When and IF the Audiovox 8300 is in analog mode it will operate at 0.6 Watts (However, this is not normally the case – you will see wattage levels around 0.52 – 0.45 approximately)

Frequency

Both the Telus Mike (C1) and Motorola StarTac (C2) operate in the 800 MHz range. This will allow the signal to travel at a great distance. However, the IDEN (Mike) network has fewer site locations and is a newer Digital network. Most digital technologies operate on a “all or none” basis. When it has signal it will work well. As the signal fades, one hears no static, but some digital distortion just before the call drops.

Networks

Mike Network: Newer, all-digital network with modern antenna design, and fewer cellsites

Bell Mobility Analog: Older, analog network with less focused antenna design but many cellsites

Telus PCS: Newer, digital network with multiple frequencies, modern antenna design, and many cellsites

Rogers GSM: Our newest digital network with modern antenna design and many cellsites

A. K. Dewdney,
February 25th 2003

 

‘Project Achilles’ – Final (Third) Report and Summary of Findings

A. K. Dewdney, 19th April 2003

During the early months of the year 2003, the author conducted three experiments to determine whether and how well cellphones could be operated from aircraft. The first flight (Part One) was essentially a probe of the experimental situation, to acquire some primary data and to work out a simple, readily implemented protocol. The results of Part Two (Diamond Katana 4-seater) have already appeared in these pages. The results of Part Three (Cessna 172-R) appear immediately below.

Since this completes the suite of experiments, it is appropriate to summarize the findings and to draw some conclusions. The conclusions are based partly on the experiments and partly on two other sources. (See Appendix B at the end of the report.) Expert opinion and eyewitness testimony are acceptable not only in court, but in certain scientific inquiries where events are of short duration or experiments are too expensive or impossible to carry out. Of course, eyewitness accounts do not carry the same weight as expert opinions or actual experiments, but the eyewitness accounts quoted below seem to be both consistent and compelling.

Disclaimer: The companies hired to assist in this experiment, namely Empire Aviation and Cellular Solutions, both of London, Ontario, Canada, acted as disinterested commercial parties, with no stake in the outcome or even knowledge of the purpose of the tests.

Part Three – April 19th 2003

The previous experiment, called Part Two, established a distinct trend of decreasing cellphone functionality with altitude. It was conducted in a four-seater Diamond Katana over the city of London (pop. 300,000), Ontario in Canada, an area richly supplied with some 35 cellsites distributed over an area of about 25 square miles. The flight path was an upward spiral, punctuated every 2000 feet (abga) with a level circuit around the outskirts of the city. On each circuit a fixed number of cellphone calls were attempted by an expert operator employing a battery of well-charged phones broadly representative of those on the market both currently and in the year 2001.

(It should be remarked that not only is the cellphone technological base in Canada identical to its US counterpart, but Canadian communication technology is second to none, Canada being a world-leader in research and development.)

The purpose of Part Three was to test the effects of what might be called “Faraday attenuation” on the strength and success of calls. The presence of a metallic shell around some electronic devices can alter their behavior by its ability to attract and store electrons, especially electromagnetic waves. For this reason, the experimental craft was switched from the Katana, which is supposed to be relatively transparent to em radiation, to an aircraft with an aluminum skin, as below.

Equipment:

  • Cessna 172-R (2002) four-seater (Empire Aviation)
  • cellphones: C1, C2, C3, C4, C5 (See Appendix A for descriptions.)

Personnel:

  • Corey Barrington (pilot – Empire Aviation)
  • Darren Spicknell (operator – technician for Wireless Concepts, Inc)
  • Kee Dewdney (director)
  • Pat Dewdney (ground recorder)

Weather: unlimited ceiling, light scattered cloud at 5,000, solid/broken 24,000 feet, visibility 12 miles, wind 11 knots from SSW, air temperature +19 C.

For this experiment, we flew the same circular route as we did in Part Two, The circle centered on the downtown core and took us over most of the city suburbs. All locations below are referred to the city centre and are always about two miles distant from it.

Protocol:

At times specified by the director, the operator made a call to a specified number, stating the code number of the cellphone (1 to 5) and the altitude. The ground recorder noted whatever was heard and the time the call was received. At the first two altitudes of 2000, 4000 above ground altitude (abga) each cellphone was used once. At 6000 and 8000 feet abga, each cellphone was used twice only C2, C3, and C5 were tried, C1 and C4 being hors de combat.

Results with timeline:

time (pm) call no. C# loc. operator recorder

7:05 – started taxi to runway

7:12 – takeoff

7:15 – at 2000 feet (aboveground altitude)

7:17 Call #1 C1 N success clear, slight breakup
7:18 Call #2 C2 W success clear
7:20 Call #3 C3 SW success clear
7:22 Call #4 C4 S success (2 tries) clear
7:23 Call #5 C5 SE success clear
7:27 – climbed to 4000 feet abga
7:28 Call #6 C1 NE success clear
7:30 Call #7 C2 N success clear
7:31 Call #8 C3 NW “success” (frag) no complete word
7:32 Call #9 C4 W failure no ring
7:34 Call #10 C5 SW success clear
7:35 – climbed to 6000 feet abga
7:39 Call #11 C1 SE success clear
7:41 Call #12 C2 E success clear
7:42 Call #13 C3 E success clear, slight breakup
7:44 Call #14 C4 NE failure no ring
7:44 Call #15 C5 NE failure no ring
7:45 Call #16 C1 N failure no ring
7:46 Call #17 C2 N success clear
7:47 Call #18 C3 NW failure no ring
7:48 Call #19 C4 NW failure no ring
7:49 Call # 20 C5 W success clear
7:50 Call #21 C1 W failure no ring
7:51 Call #22 C2 SW failure no ring
7:52 Call #23 C3 SW failure no ring
7:53 Call #24 C4 S failure no ring
7:54 Call #25 C5 S success clear
7:55 – begin climb to 8000 feet abga (cellphones C2, C3 and C5)
7:55 Call #26 C2 SE failure no ring
7:57 Call #27 C3 E failure no ring
7:59 Call #28 C5 E success clear, slight breakup
8:00 – completed climb to 8000 feet abga
8:01 Call #29 C2 NE failure no ring
8:02 Call #30 C3 NE failure no ring
8:03 Call #31 C5 N failure no ring
8:04 Call #32 C2 NW success clear
8:05 Call #33 C3 NW failure no ring
8:07 Call #34 C5 W failure no ring
8:20 – landed at airport

The following table summarizes the results:

altitude (feet) calls tried calls successful percent success
2000 5 5 100%
4000 5 3 60%
6000 15 6 40%
8000 15 2 13%

Note: calls “tried” includes retired cellphones C1 and C4 above the altitude of 4000 feet where, in the opinion of the cellphone expert, they would have failed to get through, in any case. Failure to include them in the count would make the results at different altitudes non-comparable.

The results of this experiment may be compared to the results from Part Two where, instead of the Cessna, we used the Diamond Katana:

altitude (feet) calls tried calls successful percent success
2000 4 3 75%
4000 4 1 25%
6000 12 2 17%
8000 20 1 5%

To make the results comparable, however, cellphone C5 was omitted from the calculations, since it was not used in the first experiment.

altitude (feet) calls tried calls successful percent success
2000 4 3 75%
4000 4 1 25%
6000 12 2 17%
8000 12 1 8%

Analysis

Since the (1.5 mm) skin of the Cessna appears to have made little difference to the outcome of the experiment, the data of Parts Two and Three may be combined, as follows, to produce more reliable figures for the battery of test phones that were used in the experiment:

altitude (feet) calls tried calls successful percent success
2000 9 8 89%
4000 9 4 44%
6000 27 8 30%
8000 35 3 9%

The data from the first three altitudes appear to fit an inverse-linear model of attenuation. In other words, the probability of a call getting through varies inversely as the altitude, according to the formula:

Probability of success = k/altitude, where k is a constant

It will be noted that the values of k implied by these data, at least up to 6000 feet abga are remarkably consistent. However, at 8000 feet the k-value falls precipitously, implying that a different regime may be in play.

altitude (feet) k-value
2000 1780
4000 1760
6000 1800
8000 720

The expected model of attenuation with distance is of course inverse squared, a natural consequence of the three dimensions that any uniform radiation must travel through. Inverse squared attenuation follows a slightly different pattern or formula:

Probability of success = k/altitude²

To estimate k, it seems reasonable to use the data from 4000 feet and 8000 feet as benchmarks for the calculation of the constant k (not the same constant as was used in the foregoing analysis, of course.)

At 4000 feet abga the implied k-value if 7,040,000, while at 8000 feet, the implied k-value is 5,760,000. although here again the k-value appears to drop (indicating that the actual attenuation may be worse than inverse squared), we use an average of the two estimates, following our consistent practice of always giving the benefit of the doubt to the cellphones, so to speak.

Taking an average value of k = 6,400,000, we obtain the formula,

Probability of success = 6,400,000/altitude²

Using this formula, we can get a best-case estimate for the probability of cellphone success from a slow-moving light aircraft, as summarized in the following table.

altitude (feet) probability of cellphone call getting through
4,000 0.400
8,000 0.100
12,000 0.040
16,000 0.025
20,000 0.016
24,000 0.011
28,000 0.008
32,000 0.006

Private pilots flying light aircraft are nowadays familiar with the fact that they may use their cellphones to make calls to the ground, at least if they are not higher than one or two thousand feet. Above that altitude, calls get rather iffy, sometimes working, sometimes not. The higher a pilot ascends, the less likely the call is to get through. At 8000 feet the pilot will not get through at all unless he or she happens to be using a cellphone with the same capabilities as C5 (See appendix A.) But even that cellphone begins to fail at 6000 feet.

Calls from 20,000 feet have barely a one-in-a-hundred chance of succeeding.

The results just arrived at apply only to light aircraft and are definitely optimal in the sense that cellphone calls from large, heavy-skinned, fast-moving jetliners are apt to be considerably worse.

Conclusions

It cannot be said that the Faraday attenuation experiment (Part Three) was complete, in the sense that the operator normally held the phone to his ear, seated in a normal position. This meant that the signals from the test phones were only partially attenuated because the operator was surrounded by windows that are themselves radio-transparent.

Although we cannot say yet to what degree the heavier aluminum skin on a Boeing 700-series aircraft would affect cellphone calls made from within the aircraft, they would not be without some effect as windows take up a much smaller solid angle at the cellphone antenna. Signals have a much smaller window area to escape through, in general.

As was shown above, the chance of a typical cellphone call from cruising altitude making it to ground and engaging a cellsite there is less than one in a hundred. To calculate the probability that two such calls will succeed involves elementary probability theory. The resultant probability is the product of the two probabilities, taken separately. In other words, the probability that two callers will succeed is less than one in ten thousand. In the case of a hundred such calls, even if a large majority fail, the chance of, say 13 calls getting through can only be described as infinitesimal. In operational terms, this means “impossible.”

At lower altitudes the probability of connection changes from impossible to varying degrees of “unlikely.” But here, a different phenomenon asserts itself, a phenomenon that cannot be tested in a propellor-driven light aircraft. At 500 miles per hour, a low-flying aircraft passes over each cell in a very short time. For example if a cell (area serviced by a given cellsite) were a mile in diameter, the aircraft would be in it for one to eight seconds. Before a cellphone call can go through, the device must complete an electronic “handshake” with the cellsite servicing the call. This handshake can hardly be completed in eight seconds. When the aircraft comes into the next cell, the call must be “handed off” to the new cellsite. This process also absorbs seconds of time. Together, the two requirements for a successful and continuous call would appear to absorb too much time for a speaking connection to be established. Sooner or later, the call is “dropped.”

This assessment is borne out by both earwitness testimony and by expert opinion, as found in Appendix B, below. Taking the consistency of theoretical prediction and expert opinion at face value, it seems fair to conclude that cellphone calls (at any altitude) from fast-flying aircraft are no more likely to get through than cellphone calls from high-flying slow aircraft.

A. K. Dewdney,
April 19th 2003

The author has not placed his university affiliations below his name, as the research described here was not conducted with any university facilities or supported by university-administered grants. He currently holds the titles of Professor Emeritus of Computer Science and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the University of Western Ontario, as well as Professor of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo.



APPENDIX A: Cellphone types

  • C1 – Motorola i95cl – Telus Mike Network – 800 Mhz IDEN
  • C2 – Motorola StarTac – Bell Mobility – 800 Mhz Analog
  • C3 – Audiovox 8300 – Telus PCS Network – 1.9 Ghz CDMA / 800 MHz
  • C4 – Nokia 6310i – Rogers AT&T – 1.9 Ghz GHz GSM. (Tri-Band – Has an 1.8 GHz and 900 Mhz GSM these are European frequencies)
  • C5 – Motorola Timeport 8767 – Bell Mobility – 800 MHz Analog (CDMA Tri-Mode 1.9 GHz CDMA / 800 Mhz CDMA)

APPENDIX B: Letters

Professional opinions

==========================================================

Dear Sir

I have yet to read the entire [Ghost Riders] article but I do have a background in telecommunications. Using a cell phone on an air craft is next to impossible. The reasons are very detailed, but basically the air craft would run major interference, as well as the towers that carry the signal would have a difficult time sending and receiving due to the speed of the air craft. As well, calling an operator? Well that is basically impossible.

Having worked for both a major Canadian and American provider I had to instruct my staff that operator assistance is not an option. Have you ever tried to use a cell phone in some public buildings? Impossible. There are too many spots that service is voided. Just a tidbit of information to share.

Megan Conley <megan_conley@hotmail.com>

———————————————————————————–

Hi,

I am an RF design engineer, having built out Sprint, Verizon and another network in New Orleans. You are absolutely correct. We have trouble making these things work for cars going 55 mph on the ground. If you need another engineer’s testimony for any reason, let me know I will corroborate.

my engineering site: http://www.geocities.com/rf_man_cdma/

Brad Mayeux <cdmaman@engineer.com>

———————————————————————————-

Anecdotal evidence

==========================================================

Sir,

Yours is the first article I’ve read which focuses on those dubious ‘cell phone calls’. Last month my Wife and I flew to Melbourne, about 1000 miles south of here.

Cell phones are Verboten in Airliners here, but on the return journey I had a new NOKIA phone, purchased in Melbourne, and so small I almost forgot it was in my pocket. I furtively turned it on. No reception anywhere, not even over Towns or approaching Brisbane. Maybe it’s different in the US, but I doubt it.

There has to be an investigation into this crime. Justice for the thousands of dead and their families demands it.

Best

Bernie Busch <bbusch@iprimus.com.au>

———————————————————————————–

Hi Prof

I have repeatedly tried to get my cell phone to work in an airplane above 2-3000 feet and it doesn’t work. My experiments were done discreetely on [more than] 20 Southwest Airlines flights between Ontario, California and Phoenix, Arizona. My experiments match yours. Using sprint phones 3500 and 6000 models, no calls above 2500 ft [succeeded], a “no service” indicator at 5000 ft (guestimate).

There seem to be two reasons. 1. the cell sites don’t have enough power to reach much more than a mile, 2. The cell phone system is not able to handoff calls when the plane is going at more than 400 mph.

This is simply experimental data. If any of your contacts can verify it by finding the height of the Pennsylvania plane and it’s speed one can prove that the whole phone call story is forged.

Rafe <rafeh@rdlabs.com> (airline pilot)

—————————————————————————————–

Greetings,

I write in praise of your report, as I have felt from day one that the cell phone ‘evidence’ was perhaps the flimsiest part of the story, and am amazed that nobody has touched it until now.

I’d also like to bring up the point of airspeed, which is what made the cell calls a red-flag for me in the first place. I’m not sure what your top speed achieved in the small plane was, but, in a large airliner travelling at (one would think) no less than 450mph, most cell phones wouldn’t be able to transit cells fast enough to maintain a connection (at least, from what i understand of the technology) .. and we’re talking 2001 cell technology besides, which in that period, was known to drop calls made from cars travelling above 70mph on the freeway (again, due to cell coverage transits)

Anyway, thanks for shining the light, keep up the good work

Ben Adam

——————————————————————————————-

Dear Professor,

Responding to your article, I’m glad somebody with authority has taken the trouble to scientifically prove the nonsense of 9/11.

I was travelling between two major European cities, every weekend, when the events in the US occurred. I was specifically puzzled by the reports that numerous passengers on board the hijacked planes had long conversations with ground phone lines, using their mobile phones (and not on board satelite phones). Since I travelled every weekend, I ignored the on board safety regulations to switch off the mobile phone and out of pure curiosity left it on to see if I could make a call happen.

First of all, at take off, the connection disappears quite quickly (ascending speed, lateral reception of ground stations etc.), I would estimate from 500 meters [1500 feet approx.] and above, the connection breaks.

Secondly, when making the approach for landing, the descent is more gradual and the plane is travelling longer in the reach of cellphone stations, but also only below 500 meters. What I noticed was that, since the plane is travelling with high speed, the connection jumps from one cellphone station to another, never actually giving you a chance to make a phone call. (I have never experienced this behaviour over land, e.g. by car). Then, if a connection is established, it takes at least 10-30 seconds before the provider authorises a phone call in the first place. Within this time, the next cellstation is reached (travel speed still > 300KM/h) and the phone , always searching for the best connection, disconnects the current connection and tries to connect to a new station.

I have done this experiment for over 18 months, ruling out weather conditions, location or coincidence. In all this time the behaviour was the same: making a phone call in a plane is unrealistic and virtually impossible.

Based on this, I can support you in your findings that the official (perhaps fabricated) stories can be categorised as nonsense.

With kind regards.

Peter Kes <kpkes@yahoo.com>


It must be clearly understood that Prof. Dewdney’s tests were conducted in
slow-moving (<150kts) light aircraft at relatively low altitudes (<9000ft
AGL). The aircraft from which the alleged calls were made on 9/11 were
flying at over 30,000 ft at speeds of over 500 MPH.

During a recent round-trip flight from Orange County, CA to Miami, FL (via
Phoenix, AZ), I, personally conducted an unofficial “test” using a brand new
Nokia 6101 cellular phone [NB: 2005 technology]. En route, I attempted
(discretely, of course) a total of 37 calls from varying altitudes/speeds. I
flew aboard three types of aircraft: Boeing 757, 737, and Airbus 320. Our
cruising altitudes ranged from 31-33,000ft, and our cruising speeds, from
509-521 MPH (verified post-flight by the captains). My tests began
immediately following take-off. Since there was obviously no point in taking
along the wrist altimeter I use for ultralight flying for reference in a
pressurized cabin, I could only estimate (from experience) the various
altitudes at which I made my attempts.

Of the 37 calls attempted, I managed to make only 4 connections – and every
one of these was made on final approach, less than 2 minutes before flare,
I.e., at less than 2,000ft AGL.

Approach speeds varied from 130-160 kts (Vref, outer marker), with flap and
gear extension at around 2,000ft (again, all speeds verified by flightdeck
crews). Further, I personally spoke briefly with the captains of all four
flights: I discovered that in their entire flying careers, NOT ONE of these
men had EVER been successful in making a cell phone call from cruising
altitude/speed in a variety of aircraft types. [NB: Rest assured the
ubiquitous warnings to “turn off all electronics during flight” are
completely unfounded. All modern aircraft systems are fully shielded from
all forms of RF/EMF interference (save EMP, of course). This requirement was
mandated by the FAA many years ago purely as a precautionary measure while
emerging advanced avionics systems were being flight tested. There is not a
single recorded incident of interference adversely affecting the performance
of airborne avionics systems.]

Obviously, my casual, seat-of-the-pants attempt at verifying a commonly
known fact can hardly be passed off as a “scientific” test. Ergo, I shall
offer Prof. Dewdney¹s conclusion, excerpted from his meticulously detailed
and documented paper re slow-flying light aircraft at low altitudes.

Nila Sagadevan


Prof. Dewdney:

I do not pretend to be any sort of expert of cellular communications, but I am an electronics engineer and hold both amateur and commercial FCC licenses, so I do have some understanding of the relevant principles of radio communication systems.

I read with interest your analysis of terrestrial contact probabilities via cellphones from aircraft. I believe your conclusions are sound, but would like to comment on an element which you pondered regarding the sort of apparent discontinuity in what seems otherwise to be an inverse-square relation beyond a certain altitude.

Cellphones operate by Frequency Modulation, and as such the (apparent) signal strength is not discernible to the listener because the intelligence is contained only in the frequency and phase information of the signal before demodulation. Hence, the system works pretty well until it is so weak that it is abruptly lost. That is, the system can no longer “capture” the signal. It does not get louder and softer with signal strength -until the signal is below the detection level of the receiver, at which point it is essentially disappears. The cellphone also adjusts the transmit power according to the signal level received at the tower end of the link. Once it is at maximum output, if the signal diminishes beyond some minimum threshold depending on the receiver design, it is lost altogether and not simply degraded in quality. Analogous behavior is experienced with FM broadcast stations; as you travel away from the transmitter the station is received with good fidelity until at some distance it rather suddenly cannot even be received any longer at all.

Additionally, cellphone towers are certainly not optimally designed for skyward radiation patterns. Since almost all subscribers are terrestrial that is where the energy is directed, at low angles.

In summary, if your observed discontinuous behavior is real, and I believe there is technical reasoning for such, the probability of making calls beyond some threshold altitude is not simply predictably less, but truly impossible with conventional cellphones under any condition of aircraft etc. because of the theoretical limits of noise floor in the receiving systems. I think the plausibility of completing the calls from 30,000+ ft. is even much lower than might be expected from extrapolations of behavior at lower altitudes which you investigated.

Thank you for your thoughtful work in this area.

Sincerely,

Kevin L. Barton


Dear Dr Dewdney

I too can verify that on a private charter airline, Champion Air, which was a 737-300, I believe that is correct or it might have been a 727-300. But regardless of that, we took off from Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport at 0735 in July of 2003. As we were taxiing to the run way the pilot told us to please turn off all electronic equipment, i.e. Cell Phones, Laptops, etc. I did so, but shortly after take off and before the pilot said we could use our “electronic equipment” I thought I would call my mom and let her know we were in the air. We had not been off the ground for more than 2 minutes. I would guess between 2000 and 5000 ft. I was using at the time one of Motorola’s top of the line phones, a V60t. My cell phone carrier is Cingular which is quite a widespread carrier as you probably know, I had absolutely no signal at all. Since we were flying to Cozumel, Mexico I kept trying and watching for a signal until we got out past the coast line of Texas, when then I knew for sure I wouldn’t get a signal again until we landed in Cozumel. Again in June 2004 we flew out of DFW, same airline, same type of plane, and the same thing occurred. This time I left my phone on from take off and up until it lost the signal. Again we couldn’t have been more than 2000 to 3000 ft. off the ground. I lost the signal and never again got a signal until the plane landed in Cozumel. I find it highly unlikely that anyone could have used a cell phone on 9/11/01 at above 2000 feet.

Sincerely,
Brad Taylor


I’ve been using Nokia phones with automatic nationwide roaming, and Cingular before it was Cingular and long before 9/11. I confess to having turned my cell phone on while flying commercial airlines several times prior to 9/11, just to see if signals were available. At 2,000 feet the phone went totally flat. No calls out or in were ever possible. Of course all these stories are anecdotal, but according to cell phone engineers who have cared to comment have stated that commercial aircraft fly far too fast and far too high to expect that folks on flight 93 ever managed to get a call out on their own phones. They’ve said that the towers can’t transition or hand over private cell phones fast enough. I hope we can hear from other ATPs on this subject.

George Nelson (Col. USAF ret.)

© 2003-2012       Login

Were the phone calls from the 9/11 planes faked?

When Seeing and Hearing Isn’t Believing

By William M. Arkin
Special to
washingtonpost.com 
Monday, Feb. 1, 1999

“Gentlemen! We have called you together to inform you that we are going to overthrow the United States government.” So begins a statement being delivered by Gen. Carl W. Steiner, former Commander-in-chief, U.S. Special Operations Command.

At least the voice sounds amazingly like him.

But it is not Steiner. It is the result of voice “morphing” technology developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

By taking just a 10-minute digital recording of Steiner’s voice, scientist George Papcun is able, in near real time, to clone speech patterns and develop an accurate facsimile. Steiner was so impressed, he asked for a copy of the tape.

Steiner was hardly the first or last victim to be spoofed by Papcun’s team members. To refine their method, they took various high quality recordings of generals and experimented with creating fake statements. One of the most memorable is Colin Powell stating “I am being treated well by my captors.”

“They chose to have him say something he would never otherwise have said,” chuckled one of Papcun’s colleagues.

 

Most Americans were introduced to the tricks of the digital age in the movie Forrest Gump, when the character played by Tom Hanks appeared to shake hands with President Kennedy.

For Hollywood, it is special effects. For covert operators in the U.S. military and intelligence agencies, it is a weapon of the future.

“Once you can take any kind of information and reduce it into ones and zeros, you can do some pretty interesting things,” says Daniel T. Kuehl, chairman of the Information Operations department of the National Defense University in Washington, the military’s school for information warfare.

 

Digital morphing — voice, video, and photo — has come of age, available for use in psychological operations. PSYOPS, as the military calls it, seek to exploit human vulnerabilities in enemy governments, militaries and populations to pursue national and battlefield objectives.

To some, PSYOPS is a backwater military discipline of leaflet dropping and radio propaganda. To a growing group of information war technologists, it is the nexus of fantasy and reality. Being able to manufacture convincing audio or video, they say, might be the difference in a successful military operation or coup.

Allah on the Holodeck

 

Pentagon planners started to discuss digital morphing after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Covert operators kicked around the idea of creating a computer-faked videotape of Saddam Hussein crying or showing other such manly weaknesses, or in some sexually compromising situation. The nascent plan was for the tapes to be flooded into Iraq and the Arab world.

The tape war never proceeded, killed, participants say, by bureaucratic fights over jurisdiction, skepticism over the technology, and concerns raised by Arab coalition partners.

 

But the “strategic” PSYOPS scheming didn’t die. What if the U.S. projected a holographic image of Allah floating over Baghdad urging the Iraqi people and Army to rise up against Saddam, a senior Air Force officer asked in 1990?

According to a military physicist given the task of looking into the hologram idea, the feasibility had been established of projecting large, three-dimensional objects that appeared to float in the air.

But doing so over the skies of Iraq? To project such a hologram over Baghdad on the order of several hundred feet, they calculated, would take a mirror more than a mile square in space, as well as huge projectors and power sources.

And besides, investigators came back, what does Allah look like?

The Gulf War hologram story might be dismissed were it not the case that washingtonpost.com has learned that a super secret program was established in 1994 to pursue the very technology for PSYOPS application. The “Holographic Projector” is described in a classified Air Force document as a system to “project information power from space … for special operations deception missions.”

War is Like a Box of Chocolates

Voice-morphing? Fake video? Holographic projection? They sound more like Mission Impossible and Star Trek gimmicks than weapons. Yet for each, there are corresponding and growing research efforts as the technologies improve and offensive information warfare expands.

Whereas early voice morphing required cutting and pasting speech to put letters or words together to make a composite, Papcun’s software developed at Los Alamos can far more accurately replicate the way one actually speaks. Eliminated are the robotic intonations.

The irony is that after Papcun finished his speech cloning research, there were no takers in the military. Luckily for him, Hollywood is interested: The promise of creating a virtual Clark Gable is mightier than the sword.

Video and photo manipulation has already raised profound questions of authenticity for the journalistic world. With audio joining the mix, it is not only journalists but also privacy advocates and the conspiracy-minded who will no doubt ponder the worrisome mischief that lurks in the not too distant future.

“We already know that seeing isn’t necessarily believing,” says Dan Kuehl, “now I guess hearing isn’t either.”

William M. Arkin, author of “The U.S. Military Online,” is a leading expert on national security and the Internet. He lectures and writes on nuclear weapons, military matters and information warfare. An Army intelligence analyst from 1974-1978, Arkin currently consults for Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, MSNBC and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Arkin can be reached for comment at william_arkin@washingtonpost.com.

 

Ted Olson’s Report of Phone Calls from Barbara Olson on 9/11

Ted Olson’s Report of Phone Calls from Barbara Olson on 9/11: Three Official Denials 1

by David Ray Griffin

          Late in theday on 9/11, CNN put out a story that began: “Barbara Olson, a conservativecommentator and attorney, alerted her husband, Solicitor General Ted Olson,that the plane she was on was being hijacked Tuesday morning, Ted Olson toldCNN.” According to this story, Olson reported that his wife had “called himtwice on a cell phone from American Airlines Flight 77,” saying that “allpassengers and flight personnel, including the pilots, were herded to the backof the plane by armed hijackers. The only weapons she mentioned were knives andcardboard cutters.”2 

          Ted Olson’sreport was very important. It provided the only evidence that American 77,which was said to have struck the Pentagon, had still been aloft after it haddisappeared from FAA radar around 9:00 AM (there had been reports, after thisdisappearance, that an airliner had crashed on the Ohio-Kentucky border). Also,Barbara Olson had been a very well-known commentator on CNN. The report thatshe died in a plane that had been hijacked by Arab Muslims was an importantfactor in getting the nation’s support for the Bush administration’s “war onterror.” Ted Olson’s report was important in still another way, being the sole sourceof the widely accepted idea that the hijackers had box cutters.3

          However,although Ted Olson’s report of phone calls from his wife has been a centralpillar of the official account of 9/11, this report has been completely undermined.

    Olson’s Self-Contradictions

          Olson beganthis process of undermining by means of self-contradictions. He first told CNN,as we have seen, that his wife had “called him twice on a cell phone.” But hecontradicted this claim on September 14, telling Hannity and Colmes that shehad reached him by calling the Department of Justice collect. Therefore, shemust have been using the “airplane phone,” he surmised, because “she somehowdidn’t have access to her credit cards.”4 However, this version of Olson’sstory, besides contradicting his first version, was even self-contradictory,because a credit card is needed to activate a passenger-seat phone.

          Later thatsame day, moreover, Olson told Larry King Live that the second call from hiswife suddenly went dead because “the signals from cell phones coming fromairplanes don’t work that well.”5 After that return to his first version, hefinally settled on the second version, saying that his wife had called collectand hence must have used “the phone in the passengers’ seats” because she didnot have her purse.6

          By finallysettling on this story, Olson avoided a technological pitfall. Given the cellphone system employed in 2001, high-altitude cell phone calls from airlinerswere impossible, or at least virtually so (Olson’s statement that “the signalsfrom cell phones coming from airplanes don’t work that well” was a considerableunderstatement.) The technology to enable cell phone calls from high-altitudeairline flights was not created until 2004.7

    American Airlines Contradicts Olson’s SecondVersion

         However,Olson’s second story, besides being self-contradictory, was contradicted byAmerican Airlines.

          A 9/11researcher, knowing that AA Flight 77 was a Boeing 757, noticed that AA’swebsite indicated that its 757s do not have passenger-seat phones. After he wroteto ask if that had been the case on September 11, 2001, an AA customer servicerepresentative replied: “That is correct; we do not have phones on our Boeing757. The passengers on flight 77 used their own personal cellular phones tomake out calls during the terrorist attack.”8

          In responseto this revelation, defenders of the official story might reply that Ted Olsonwas evidently right the first time: she had used her cell phone. However,besides the fact that this scenario is rendered unlikely by the cell phonetechnology employed in 2001, it has also been contradicted by the FBI.

    Olson’s Story Contradicted by the FBI

          The mostserious official contradiction of Ted Olson’s story came in 2006 at the trialof Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker. The evidence presented tothis trial by the FBI included a report on phone calls from all four 9/11flights. In its report on American Flight 77, the FBI report attributed onlyone call to Barbara Olson and it was an “unconnected call,” which (of course)lasted “0 seconds.”9 According to the FBI, therefore, Ted Olson did not receivea single call from his wife using either a cell phone or an onboard phone.

          Back on9/11, the FBI itself had interviewed Olson. A report of that interviewindicates that Olson told the FBI agents that his wife had called him twicefrom Flight 77.10 And yet the FBI’s report on calls from Flight 77, presentedin 2006, indicated that no such calls occurred.

          This was anamazing development: The FBI is part of the Department of Justice, and yet itsreport undermined the well-publicized claim of the DOJ’s former solicitorgeneral that he had received two calls from his wife on 9/11.

    Olson’s Story Also Rejected by PentagonHistorians

          Ted Olson’sstory has also been quietly rejected by the historians who wrote Pentagon 9/11,a treatment of the Pentagon attack put out by the Department of Defense.11

          According toOlson, his wife had said that “all passengers and flight personnel, includingthe pilots, were herded to the back of the plane by armed hijackers.”12 This isan inherently implausible scenario. We are supposed to believe that 60-somepeople, including the two pilots, were held at bay by three or four men (one ortwo of the hijackers would have been in the cockpit) with knives andboxcutters. This scenario becomes even more absurd when we realize that thealleged hijackers were all small, unathletic men (the 9/11 Commission pointedout that even “[t]he so-called muscle hijackers actually were not physically imposing,as the majority of them were between 5’5” and 5’7” in height and slender inbuild”13), and that the pilot, Charles “Chic” Burlingame, was a weightlifterand a boxer, who was described as “really tough” by one of his erstwhileopponents.14 Also, the idea that Burlingame would have turned over the plane tohijackers was rejected by his brother, who said: “I don’t know what happened inthat cockpit, but I’m sure that they would have had to incapacitate him or killhim because he would have done anything to prevent the kind of tragedy thatbefell that airplane.”15

          The Pentagonhistorians, in any case, did not accept the Olson story, according to whichBurlingame and his co-pilot did give up their plane and were in the back withthe passengers and other crew members. They instead wrote that “the attackerseither incapacitated or murdered the two pilots.”16

    Conclusion

          Thisrejection of Ted Olson’s story by American Airlines, the Pentagon, andespecially the FBI is a development of utmost importance. Without the allegedcalls from Barbara Olson, there is no evidence that Flight 77 returned toWashington. Also, if Ted Olson’s claim was false, then there are only twopossibilities: Either he lied or he was duped by someone using voice-morphingtechnology to pretend to be his wife.17 In either case, the official storyabout the calls from Barbara Olson was based on deception. And if that part ofthe official account of 9/11 was based on deception, should we not suspect thatother parts were as well?

          The factthat Ted Olson’s report has been contradicted by other defenders of theofficial story about 9/11 provides grounds for demanding a new investigation of9/11. This internal contradiction is, moreover, only one of 25 suchcontradictions discussed in my most recent book, 9/11 Contradictions: An OpenLetter to Congress and the Press.

    Footnotes

 

    1 This essay is based on Chapter 8 (“Did TedOlson Receive Calls from Barbara Olson?”) of David Ray Griffin, 9/11Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press (Northampton: OliveBranch, 2008).

 

    2 Tim O’Brien, “Wife of Solicitor General AlertedHim of Hijacking from Plane,” CNN, September 11, 2001(http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/11/pentagon.olson).

 

    3 This was pointed out in The 9/11 CommissionReport, 8.

 

    4 Hannity & Colmes, Fox News, September 14,2001 (http://s3.amazonaws.com/911timeline/2001/foxnews091401.html).

 

    5 “America’s New War: Recovering from Tragedy,”Larry King Live, CNN, September 14, 2001(http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0109/14/lkl.00.html).

 

    6 In his “Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture,”delivered November 16, 2001

   (http://www.fed-soc.org/resources/id.63/default.asp),

    Olson said that she “somehow managed . . . touse a telephone in the airplane to call.” He laid out this version of his storymore fully in an interview reported in Toby Harnden, “She Asked Me How to Stopthe Plane,” Daily Telegraph, March 5, 2002(http://s3.amazonaws.com/911timeline/2002/telegraph030502.html).

 

    7 I discussed the technical difficulties ofmaking cell phone calls from airliners in 2001 in Debunking 9/11 Debunking: AnAnswer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official ConspiracyTheory (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2007), 87-88, 292-97.

 

    8 See the submission of 17 February 2006 by “theParadroid” on the Politik Forum (http://forum.politik.de/forum/archive/index.php/t-133356-p-24.html).It is quoted in David Ray Griffin, 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter toCongress and the Press (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2008), 75.

 

    9 United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui, ExhibitNumber P200054 (http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/notablecases/moussaoui/exhibits/prosecution/flights/P200054.html).These documents can be more easily viewed in “Detailed Account of Phone Callsfrom September 11th Flights”

   (http://911research.wtc7.net/planes/evidence/calldetail.html).

 

    10 FBI, “Interview with Theodore Olsen [sic],”“9/11 Commission, FBI Source Documents, Chronological, September 11,”2001Intelfiles.com, March 14, 2008,

   (http://intelfiles.egoplex.com:80/2008/03/911-commission-fbi-source-documents.html).

 

    11 Alfred Goldberg et al., Pentagon 9/11(Washington DC: Office of the Secretary of Defense, 2007).

 

    12 O’Brien, “Wife of Solicitor General AlertedHim of Hijacking from Plane.”

 

    13 9/11 Commission Staff Statement 16

    (http://www.9-11commission.gov/staff_statements/staff_statement_16.pdf).

 

    14 Shoestring, “The Flight 77 Murder Mystery:Who Really Killed Charles Burlingame?” Shoestring911, February 2, 2008(http://shoestring911.blogspot.com/2008/02/flight-77-murder-mystery-who-really.html).

 

    15 “In Memoriam: Charles ‘Chic’ Burlingame,1949-2001,” USS Saratoga Museum foundation (available athttp://911research.wtc7.net/cache/planes/analysis/chic_remembered.html).

 

    16 Alfred Goldberg et al., Pentagon 9/11(Washington DC: Office of the Secretary of Defense, 2007), 12.

 

    17 Of these two possibilities, the idea that TedOlson was duped should be seriously entertained only if there are recordsproving that the Department of Justice received two collect calls, ostensiblyfrom Barbara Olson, that morning. Evidently no such records have been produced.

 

    © Copyright David Ray Griffin, Global Research,2008

 

More Holes in the Official Story: The 9/11 Cell Phone Calls

www.globalresearch.ca
Centre for Research on Globalisation
Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation

 

The 9/11 Commission Report:

More Holes in the Official Story:

The 9/11 Cell Phone Calls

by Michel Chossudovsky

www.globalresearch.ca 10 August 2004

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO408B.html


"We Have Some Planes"

The 9/11 Commission's Report provides an almost visual description of the Arab hijackers. It depicts in minute detail events occurring inside the cabin of the four hijacked planes.

In the absence of surviving passengers, this "corroborating evidence", was based on passengers' cell and air phone conversations with their loved ones. According to the Report, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was only recovered in the case of one of the flights (UAL 93).

Focusing on the personal drama of the passengers, the Commission has built much of its narrative around the phone conversations. The Arabs are portrayed with their knives and box cutters, scheming in the name of Allah, to bring down the planes and turn them "into large guided missiles" (Report, Chapter 1, http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report_Ch1.pdf ).

The Technology of Wireless Transmission

The Report conveys the impression that cell phone ground-to-air communication from high altitude was of reasonably good quality, and that there was no major impediment or obstruction in wireless transmission.

Some of the conversations were with onboard air phones, which contrary to the cell phones provide for good quality transmission. The report does not draw a clear demarcation between the two types of calls.

More significantly, what this carefully drafted script fails to mention is that, given the prevailing technology in September 2001, it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to place a wireless cell call from an aircraft traveling at high speed above 8000 feet:

"Wireless communications networks weren't designed for ground-to-air communication. Cellular experts privately admit that they're surprised the calls were able to be placed from the hijacked planes, and that they lasted as long as they did. They speculate that the only reason that the calls went through in the first place is that the aircraft were flying so close to the ground ( http://www.elliott.org/technology/2001/cellpermit.htm

Expert opinion within the wireless telecom industry casts serious doubt on "the findings" of the 9/11 Commission.

The Cellphone and Airfone Calls from Flight UA93

If the hijackings of September 11 were staged, the organization responsible would also be sure to add other elements to the basic plan, not only developing lists of hijackers, but sending fake cellphone calls from some of the passengers. The following analysis focuses on Flight 93, from which more alleged cellphone calls were made than from the other three flights combined.
The Cellphone and Airfone Calls from Flight UA93

A. K. Dewdney

 

Acknowledgment: I wish to thank Brad Mayeaux for assistance in preparing this article

 

Introduction

 

If the hijackings of September 11 were staged, the organization responsible would also be sure to add other elements to the basic plan, not only developing lists of hijackers, but sending fake cellphone calls from some of the passengers. The following analysis focuses on Flight 93, from which more alleged cellphone calls were made than from the other three flights combined. It could be called the "Cellphone Flight." Like the staged attacks themselves, the calling operation would be complex, involving the a) deployment of voice mimicry techniques, b) gathering personal intelligence on at least some of the passengers, c) coordination of calls with the operation’s timeline.

 

1. Background

 

Any analysis of the cellphone and "airfone" calls from Flight 93 must begin with some basic, high-altitude cellphone facts. According to AT&T spokesperson Alexa Graf, cellphones are not designed for calls from the high altitudes at which most airliners normally operate. It was, in her opinion, a "fluke" that so many calls reached their destinations. (Harter 2001) In the opinion of a colleague of mine who has worked in the cellphone industry, it was a "miracle" that any of the calls got through from altitude. (See the recent proposal to install equipment to make cellphone calls possible from aircraft.) An aircraft, having a metal skin and fuselage, acts like a Faraday cage, tending to block or attenuate electromagnetic radiation. One can make a cellphone call from inside an aircraft while on the ground because the weakened signal is still close enough to the nearest cellsite (relay tower) to get picked up. Once above 10,000 feet, however, calls rarely get through, if ever.

 

Here is the statement of an experienced airline pilot: "The idea of being able to use a cellphone while flying is completely impractical. Once through about 10,000 feet, the thing is useless, since you are too high and moving too fast (and thus changing cells too rapidly) for the phone to provide a signal." (AVWeb, 1999)

 

People boarding aircraft for the last decade or so have all heard the warnings to turn off their cellphones for the duration of the flight. The reasons for this regulation are somewhat mysterious, since the usual explanation, that delicate aircraft electronics might be affected by cellphone signals, is cast somewhat in doubt by the fact that all avionics are shielded from stray electromagnetic radiation. (Spitzer 1987) On the other hand, the FCC had apparently requested that airlines make this rule, owing to the tendency for cell phone calls made from aircraft at lower altitudes to create "cascades" that may lead to breakdown of cellsite operations. (Fraizer 2002)

 

The cascade problem is more likely at altitudes of 10,000 feet or lower, where reaching a cellsite, although still a touch-and-go matter, is more easily accomplished. However, because of its superior position, the cellphone may reach several cellsites at once. This can create problems, as software that determines which site is to handle the call makes its judgment based on the relative strength of calls. If the call is made from an overhead position, it may well not be able to distinguish relative strength at different cellsites. When this happens it is designed to close off the calling channel, selecting another channel in its place. But the same problem of deciding which cellsite should handle the call also occurs on the new channel, so the new channel is closed, and so on. One by one, in a rapid cascade that would last only seconds, all the channels would be closed, leading to a network-wide breakdown.

 

As I have pointed out elsewhere, cellphone calls from commercial aircraft much over 8000 feet are essentially impossible, while those below 8000 feet are highly unlikely down to about 2000, where they become merely unlikely. (Dewdney 2003) Moreover, even at the latter altitude (and below), the handoff problem appears. Any airliner at or below this altitude, flying at the normal speed of approximately 500 mph, would encounter the handoff problem (Dewdney 2003). An aircraft traveling at this speed would not be over the cellsite long enough to complete the electronic "handshake" (which takes several seconds to complete) before arriving over the next cellsite, when the call has to be handed off from the first cellsite to the next one. This also takes a few seconds, the result being, in the optimal case, a series of broken transmissions that must end, sooner or later, in failure.

 

It must also be remarked that the alleged hijackers of the Cellphone Flight were remarkably lenient with their passengers, allowing some 13 calls. However, it would seem highly unlikely that hijackers would allow any phone calls for the simple reason that passengers could relay valuable positional and other information useful to authorities on the ground, thus putting the whole mission in jeopardy.

 

2. The calls made from United Airlines Flight 93

 

The following analysis of the actual calls is based on text assembled by four reporters of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (Roddy et al. 2001) The calls were mostly rather brief and it must be borne in mind that, with the exception of two recorded messages, the persons called would not necessarily recollect the exact words which either they or the caller used.

 

Following a delay in its scheduled departure time of 8:01 am, Flight 93 reached its cruising altitude of approximately 30,000 feet about 40 minutes into the flight. At about this time the takedown would have been initiated. And at about this time, the aircraft was "hijacked," according to several cellphone calls. (Note that at this altitude the calls were flat-out impossible.)

 

CALL A1: A man claiming to be Tom Burnett called his wife Deena in San Ramon, CA around 9:20 to Deena’s best recollection:

 

Deena: "Are you alright?"

 

Caller: "No. I’m on United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. The plane was hijacked. We are in the air. They’ve already knifed a guy. There is a bomb on board. Call the FBI."

 

CALL B: Just before 9:30 am, a man claiming to be Jeremy Glick called Lyz Glick, who was visiting in-laws in the Catskills of New York state. The phone was answered by Glick’s mother-in-law, JoAnne Makely:

 

JoAnne: "Jeremy. Thank God. We’re so worried."

 

Caller: "It’s bad news. Is Liz there?"

 

The caller went on to describe Arabic-looking hijackers wearing red headbands and carrying knives. One had told the passengers he had a bomb. The caller asked if it was true that planes had been crashed into the World Trade Center. She confirmed this. The caller mentioned that another passenger had heard the news on his/her cell phone.

 

CALL A2: The man claiming to be Tom Burnett called Deena Burnett again around 9:30 am. As Deena later described his call, "He didn’t sound frightened, but he was speaking faster than he normally would." He told her there were hijackers in the cockpit.

 

Deena: "A lot of planes have been hijacked, but they don’t know how many."

 

Caller: "You’ve got to be kidding."

 

Deena: "No."

 

Caller: "Were they commercial planes or airliners?"

 

Deena: "I don’t know."

 

Caller: "Okay. I’ve got to go."

 

CALL C: A man claiming to be Mark Brigham called Brigham’s sister-in-law, Cathy Hoglan, who was being visited by Brigham’s mother, Alice. Cathy took the call and handed the phone to Alice with the remark, "Alice, talk to Mark. He’s been hijacked."

 

Caller: "Mom? This is Mark Brigham."

 

Caller: "I want you to know that I love you. I’m on a flight from Newark to San Francisco and there are three guys who have taken over the plane and they say they have a bomb."

 

Alice: "Who are these guys?

 

Caller: (after a pause) "You believe me, don’t you?

 

Caller: "Yes, Mark. I believe you. But who are these guys?

 

(After another pause the line went dead.)

 

CALL D: A man claiming to be Todd Beamer on a United Airlines airfone had some trouble getting through to anyone but the Verizon customer service center, where the operator relayed the call to Verizon supervisor, Lisa Jefferson at 9:45 am. (Verizon is a large communications company that has the contract for airfones on United airlines equipment.) The man told Jefferson that the plane had been hijacked, that he could see three hijackers armed with knives, one of them claiming to have a bomb. He described how the passengers had been herded to the rear of the aircraft, guarded by the one with the bomb. He asked the supervisor to call the Beamer family on his behalf.

 

Caller: "Oh! We’re going down. (pause) No. We’re okay. I think we’re turning around." (It was approximately around this time that the flight, then passing near Cleveland, made a hard left toward Washington, DC.)

 

CALL A3: The man claiming to be Tom Burnett called Deena Burnett again.

 

Deena: "They’re taking airplanes and hitting landmarks all up and down the east coast."

 

Caller: "Okay. We’re going to do something. I’ll call you back."

 

CALL F1: At 9:47, the answering machine of Lorne Lyles recorded a call that he thought was from his wife, CeeCee. The woman could be heard praying for herself, her family, and even for the souls of the hijackers.

 

CALL B (cont’d.) State police, talking to Jeremy Glick’s mother-in-law, asked her to relay a question to Jeremy. Did he know where his plane was? He didn’t know, but said they had changed direction.

 

Caller: "I need you to be happy and I will respect any decisions that you make."

 

He told Ms Lyles that the passengers were about to take a vote on whether to take back the aircraft. Should they try?

 

Lyz: "Honey, you need to do it." They spoke of weapons. The caller joked.

 

Caller: "I have my butter knife from breakfast."

 

CALL G: About this time, Phil Bradshaw, husband of flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw, received a phone call from a woman who identified herself as his wife.

 

Caller: "Have you heard what’s going on? My flight has been hijacked. My flight has been hijacked by three guys with knives.

 

Phil asked her who was flying the plane.

 

Caller: "I don’t know who’s flying the plane or where we are. I see a river."

 

Bradshaw: "Be safe and come home soon."

 

The caller then explained that she had to go. She planned to prepare boiling water in the galley — to pour on the hijackers.

 

CALL H: Sometime after 9:30, Fred Fiumano received a call from someone claiming to be his friend, Marion Britton. The caller was crying, stating that the plane had been hijacked and that two passengers had already been killed. Fiumano tried to console his friend, stating that the hijackers were probably going to take her for a ride. "You’ll be alright."

 

CALL I: Jack Grandcolas in San Rafael, CA, received a call from a woman claiming to be Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, his wife. The message, as recorded on his answering machine, was short:

 

Caller: "Sweetie, pick up the phone if you can hear me. (pause) Okay, I love you. There’s a little problem with the plane. I’m fine and comfortable for now…"

 

She asked Jack to pass along her love for everyone, then passed the airfone to her seat-mate.

 

Caller: "Now you call your people."

 

CALL J: Esther Heymann received a call from a woman claiming to be her stepdaughter, Honor Elizabeth Wainio, also Grandcolas’ seat-mate.

 

Caller: "Mom, we’re being hijacked. I just called to say good bye."

 

Heymann: "Elizabeth, we don’t know how this is going to turn out. I’ve got my arms around you."

 

Wainio said she could feel them.

 

Heymann: "Let’s look out at that beautiful blue sky. Let’s be here in the moment. Let’s do some deep breathing together." (pause)

 

Caller: "It hurts me that it’s going to be so much harder for you than it is for me."

 

CALL A4: Once again, just before 10:00 am, Deena Burnett received a fourth phone call.

 

Caller: "A group of us are going to do something."

 

Deena: "No, Tom. Just sit down and don’t draw attention to yourself."

 

Caller: "Deena, if they’re going to crash the plane into the ground, we have to do something. We can’t wait for the authorities. We have to do something now."

 

Caller: "Pray. Just pray, Deena. We’re going to do something."

 

CALL D (cont’d): The caller who had identified himself as Todd Beamer appears to have remained connected with Lisa Jefferson, the Verizon supervisor, almost to the end of the flight. At this point the caller was reciting the 23rd Psalm from the Bible

 

CALL F2: The caller identifying herself as CeeCee Lyles finally got through to Lorne Lyles.

 

Caller: "Babe, my plane’s been hijacked."

 

Lyles: "Huh? Stop joking.

 

Caller: "No Babe, I wouldn’t joke like that. I love you. Tell the boys I love them."

 

As the couple prayed together, Lorne heard sounds that he would later interpret as passengers preparing a counterattack.

 

Caller: They’re going to force their way into the cockpit."

 

CALL D (cont’d): Having finished his prayer session with Lisa Jefferson, the caller claiming to be Todd Beamer left the phone connected. Jefferson recalls hearing the now famous rallying cry.

 

Caller: "Are you guys ready? Let’s roll."

 

CALL J (cont’d): Esther Heymann, who believed herself to be talking with her step daughter, heard her last words.

 

Caller: I need to go. They’re getting ready to break into the cockpit. I love you. Goodbye."

 

CALL G (cont’d): Phil Bradshaw heard his caller’s last words to him.

 

Caller: "Everyone’s running to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye."

 

CALL F2 (cont’d): Lorne Lyles recalls hearing the last moments of Flight 93.

 

Caller: (screams) "They’re doing it! They’re doing it! They’re doing it!

 

The caller screamed again, said something he couldn’t hear, then the line went dead.

 

3. Operational details

 

How on Earth could any organization fake the calls I have just described? In the middle of writing this very sentence, I was interrupted by someone calling through the back door of our porch: "Is anybody home?" It was my son who was visiting us from out of town. He had been out with some old friends. I went out to the back porch to greet him.

 

It wasn’t my son at all, but the neighbor next door wanting to borrow our ladder. I marveled that I could have mistaken his voice for that of my son. It has a different timbre and tone, yet the context of expectation overrode my ability to discriminate sounds. One could say that my neighbor faked my son’s return without even trying to.

 

This example proves nothing, of course, but it illustrates a fact that has been used by spiritualists and mediums to beguile clients for hundreds of years. Anxious people, hoping to contact a deceased loved one, would typically report satisfaction with a seance. "I swear, it was my son. There was no mistaking that sweet little voice." The context leads the recipient of such a message actually to hear the loved one. Of course, the tone of voice must be approximately correct. In the case at hand, persons faking phone calls have the further advantage of electronic fuzzing, the tendency for audio lines with very low bandwidth to transmit the human voice somewhat imperfectly. In addition, extreme emotional stress alters the human voice even more markedly, causing the person addressed to make unconscious allowances.

 

Telephone calls all have low bandwidth which simply means that many of the characteristics of the human voice are simply lost, like an out-of-focus photograph; if you know that the picture taken at the lake last summer was of your sister, you will have no trouble "recognizing her. Yet if someone who somewhat resembles your sister, wearing the same clothes had stood in for your her, you would still "know" that it was your sister.

 

There are three ways to fake the telephonic voice of any person whatever. First, voices can be mimicked. With a little practice, you or I can sound like a great many people. Second, voices can be synthesized in near real time if one has a recording of the voice being recorded. Software that was already well developed before September 11, 2001, was able to produce a very convincing quote from General Colin Powell of the Joint Chiefs: "I am being treated well by my captors." (Arkin 1999) Moreover, the mimicry is convincing even when played over a high bandwidth device such as a tape recorder.

 

The third way involves a device called a voice transformer or a voice changer, such devices having been under development for at least a decade. (Ex. Pro 2004) (Spook 2004) (SeeStorm 2004) One speaks into a microphone, the sound pattern is digitized and, in real time the computer within the device produces a signal that is reconstituted as sound, a voice that can be entirely different from your own. Everything you say will be spoken by the synthesized voice and with the same inflections, pauses and emphases. You can transform your voice into that of an old man or a young girl. You can alter the sound of the voice so produced by changing the settings of controls that govern pitch and voice formants, the overtones that make up what might be called the specific "sound" of a particular person’s voice.

 

Of the three methods of faking a particular voice over the telephone, method number three is obviously preferable.

 

However, it was the content of the alleged cellphone calls that caught the attention of the American public as confirming that the calls had been made as alleged. The caller seemed to know at least a few "personal details" about the person being called. As far as we can determine, these details involved the pet name for one’s partner, as well as other commonplace items such as references to "the kids," and so on.

 

The question therefor arises how the caller could have known these details. There are at least two ways. First, several passengers aboard Flight 77 were undoubtedly frequent flyers. Agents taking the flight on several occasions prior to September 11 would have an ample opportunity to engage numerous fellow passengers in chitchat, meanwhile recording their voices.

 

"Take this flight often?"

 

The recordings would contain information about timbre, pitch and other voice characteristics, as well as a wealth of "personal information." the second way is to listen in on phone conversations. In this connection it must be mentioned that the vast majority of telephone calls made every day in the United States pass through the AMDOCS Company billing system, a telephone facility headquartered in Israel which has long been suspected as providing a golden opportunity for anyone with real time access to the calls passing through the AMDOCS system to eavesdrop on conversations. (Curtiss 2003) (WRH 2004)

 

"Sweetie, would you drop by the store on your way home and pick up ice cream for Jenny and Bobby?"

 

Of course, the organization involved would have obtained copies of the flight manifests well before the flight or it could have simply eavesdropped on the phone reservation systems for American and United Airlines.

 

On the fateful day the calling operation would take place in an operations center, basically a sound studio that is equipped with communication lines and several telephones. An operations director displays a scripted sequence of events on a screen so that the voice operators know what stage the "hijacking" is supposed to be at. All calls are orchestrated to follow the script. For example, shortly after the takedown of Flight 77, (See Dewdney 2003b) the first bogus calls from Flight 77 are made.

 

Other pseudo-events in the script include the first appearance of the hijackers, their announcement, scuffles with passengers, the back-of-the-plane strategy session, and the final rush to the cockpit. It would also include real events such as the aircraft’s turn mentioned in Call D.

 

To supplement the calls with real sound effects, an audio engineer would have several tapes ready to play. The tapes, which portray mumbled conferences among passengers or muffled struggles, replete with shouts and curses, can be played over any of the phone lines, as determined by the script, or simply fed as ambient sound into the control room. Trained operators with headsets make the actual calls, talking into voice changers that have been adjusted to reproduce the timbre of voice for every passenger designated to make cellphone calls.

 

Each operator has studied tapes for several of the individuals, as recorded on prior occasions of Flight 93, as well as profiles of the individuals, including many items of personal information, obtained by he methods previously explained.

The introductory sentence would carry the hook: "Honey, we’ve been hijacked!" Thereafter, with the belief framework installed, the operator can react to questions, literally playing the situation by ear, but being sure to include pertinent details such as "Arab-looking guys," "boxcutters," and all the rest. If the contact has been made successfully in the operator’s opinion, with the essential information conveyed, it is always possible to terminate the call more or less gracefully, depending on what portion of the script is under execution. "Okay. We’re going to do something. I’ll call you back." Click.

 

Operators would have received general instructions about what do to in the course of a call. Although each has been supplied with at least some "intimate" details of the target’s life, there would be techniques in place for temporizing or for avoiding long conversations where basic lack of knowledge might threaten to become suddenly obvious, and so on. Three such techniques are praying (from text, if necessary) (Calls D, F1, and J), crying (as in call H), or discussing the other attacks (as in call A2 and B).

 

In the case at hand, Flight 93, various calls may now be examined as a consistency check. First, it must be noted that the longest call was made by the person who identified himself as Todd Beamer (Call D) to someone whom the real Todd Beamer did not know at all, Lisa Jefferson, a Verizon supervisor. Among the shorter conversations were Calls B, A2 and D.

 

Early in Call B (Glick), the caller indicates that it is general knowledge among the passengers that other aircraft have been hijacked that morning. Near the end of this conversation, when the caller discusses possible actions against the hijackers, he makes a joking remark:

 

Caller: "I have my butter knife from breakfast."

 

This is strange because it implies that the caller had already finished breakfast, whereas meals are not normally served until the aircraft reaches cruising altitude, about the time that the alleged hijacking began.

 

In Call A2 (Burnett), Deena Burnett describes the other hijackings.

 

A2 Deena: "A lot of planes have been hijacked, but they don’t know how many."

 

Caller: "You’ve got to be kidding."

 

Deena: "No."

 

Caller: "Were they commercial planes or airliners?"

 

Here, the caller seems to be temporizing. Not only are hijackings of commercial (i. e., cargo) aircraft extremely rare events, the caller’s apparent surprise contradicts the implication of Call B (made earlier) that the other attacks were already general knowledge among the passengers of Flight 93.

 

Call C, also short, may point to a possible fumble. Was one of the callers asleep at the switch?

 

Caller: "Mom? This is Mark Brigham."

 

Caller: "I want you to know that I love you. I’m on a flight from Newark to San Francisco and there are three guys who have taken over the plane and they say they have a bomb."

 

Alice: "Who are these guys?

 

Caller: (after a pause) "You believe me, don’t you?

 

Caller: "Yes, Mark. I believe you. But who are these guys?

 

Alice Brigham attributed the strange introductory sentence to her son being flustered. But if Mark chose his mother to call, over all other people in the world, would he be likely to make such a mistake? Would thoughts of his mother not be uppermost in his mind, no matter what happened in the passenger compartment? A caller can only make such a mistake if he or she is thinking of something entirely unrelated to the reason for the call or the person being called and that can hardly have been the case in the alleged circumstances.

 

Instead of answering the mother’s question, the caller seems uncertain. Mrs. Brigham has just asked "Who are these guys?" and the caller answers with another question. Does she believe his previous sentence? The caller, who may have lost confidence in the call, terminates the conversation (possibly pounding his forehead in silent frustration).

 

Caller C never called back. Of the 13 phone calls allegedly made from the plane, four were from one caller (A: Burnett), two were from another (F: Lyles), and the remaining seven calls were not repeated. Non-repeated calls would thus represent final exits with either flubbed results or a smooth performance. The repeated calls give continuity to the script, as well as opportunities for myth-building. Here’s Todd Beamer, known to friends (and observers) as a kind of go-ahead, take-charge guy. Perfect. He will be the "reason," decided well in advance of September 11, why the plane crashes well short of the White House.

 

Caller D, the one alleged to be Todd Beamer, apparently had difficulty using his airfone. This could be explained if the telephone used by the caller was not part of the Verizon system. However, the caller could easily access the Verizon supervisory office over an ordinary telephone, explaining that he had been trying to reach someone. Strangely enough, caller D preferred to talk to Lisa Jefferson (asking her to call his loved ones for him), even though he was about to die.

 

One other cellphone call bears mention. Barbara Olson, a well-known Washington lawyer and, more recently, television political pundit, died aboard American Airlines Flight 77, the aircraft which reportedly struck the Pentagon building. News reports (San Diego, 2001), (BBC, 2001), (Telegraph, 2001) described two calls which Ms Olson made to her husband, Ted Olson, Solicitor General of the United States. The caller said she had locked herself in the lavatory and attempted to place the call to Mr. Olson ten times before the charges were accepted. The first conversation, in which the caller said, "Can you believe this, we are being hijacked," was cut short, for some reason. In a second attempt, the caller described men with boxcutters overpowering the flight crew, then asked, "What do I tell the pilot to do?"

 

The Olson call is neither less nor more mysterious than the calls previously analysed. In this case it might be asked what advice Ted Olson could possibly have for the pilot (who was allegedly at the back of the plane with the passengers).

 

The foregoing analyses certainly do not prove that the cellphone operation actually took place. But they clearly demonstrate that all the conversations are consistent with such an operation, along with a sprinkling of tantalizing clues that are more consistent with the operation than actual in-flight calls. That is all one can hope for from such an analysis, even if the alternate scenario is correct or approximately correct.

 

Under the weight of evidence that the cellphone (not airfone) calls were essentially impossible as described by the Bush White House and the major media on the day in question, we have no alternative but to give serious consideration to the operational possibilities, as outlined here.

References

 

(Arkin 1999) Arkin W. H. When Seeing and Hearing Isn’t Believing. WashingtonPost.Com. Mon. Feb. 1/99. Retrieved June 10/04 from <public-action.com/911/voice-simulation>

 

(AVWeb, 1999) Dahler C. 1999. AVWeb letters. Retrieved November 20, 2002 from <http://www.avweb.com/other/avma9910.html>

 

(BBC, 2001) British Broadcasting Corporation, 2001. Final calls from doomed flights, Retrieved November 3, 2002, from <http://news.bbc.co,
uk/1/hi/world/americas/1539193.stm>

 

(Curtiss 2003) Curtiss H. Despite Coverup, Israel Caught Spying in Washington Again. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. June 2000. Retrieved June 10/04 from <www.wrmea.com/backissues/062000/ 0006006.html

 

(Dewdney 2003a) Dewdney A. K. 2003. Project Achilles: parts I, II, III. Physics 911. Retrieved June 10, 2004 from <physics911.org/net/modules/ news/article.php?storyid=6>

 

(Dewdney 2003b) Op Pearl

 

(Ex Pro 2004) Voice Transformer. Executive Pro. 2004. Retrieved June 10/04 from <http://www.pimall.com/nais/provoice.html

 

(Fraizer, 2002) Fraizer J. How do I log on while in flight? North American Network Operators. (June 27 2002)<www.irbs.net.internet/ nanog/0206/ 0907.html>. Retrieved Sept. 3, 2002.

 

(Harter, 2001) Harter B. Final Contact. Wireless Review (November 1, 2001) <www.wirelessreview.com/ar/wireless_final_contact_2/>. Retrieved Sept. 3, 2002.

 

(Roddy et al., 2001) Roddy DB, Lash C, Levin S, and Silver JD. Flight 93: Forty lives, one destiny. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Oct 28, 2001. See also <www.post-gazette.com/headlines/ 20011028flt93mainstoryp7.asp>, Retrieved August 24, 2002.

 

(Rudolph 2003) Rudolph G. June 2003. Cellphone experiments in Airliners. Physics 911. Retrieved June 10 from <physics911.org/net/ modules/news/article.php?storyid=6>

 

(San Diego, 2001) San Diego Union-Tribune. 2001. Author calls spouse from doomed plane. Retrieved November 8, 2002, from <http://www. signonsandiego.com/news/nation/terror/firstweek/20010912-9999_ 1n12olson.html>

 

(SeeStorm 2004) VoiceDisguise. SeeStorm. 2004. Rerieved June 10/04 from <http://www.seestorm.com/products/vd.jsp>

 

(Spitzer, 1987) Spitzer CL. 1987. Digital Avionics Systems, New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

 

(Spook 2004) Voice Changer. Spook Tech. 2004. Retrieved June 10 from http://www.spooktech.com/teledev/provoicechng.shtml>

 

(Telegraph, 2001) Harrison, D. 2001. Revealed: the men with stolen identities. The Telegraph. London. September 23, 2001. Retrieved September 29, 2002, from <www.portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml “xml=/news/2001/09/23/widen23.xml>

 

(WRH 2004) Is Israel Blackmailing America? What Really Happened. Retrieved June 10/04 from <www.whatreallyhappened.com/blackmail.
html>

Families hear heroism on 9/11 calls from planes

Families hear heroism on 9/11 calls from planes
‘Overwhelmed by the unbelievable courage’

From Phil Hirschkorn
CNN
Friday, June 4, 2004 Posted: 8:19 PM EDT (0019 GMT)
 

PRINCETON, New Jersey (CNN) — Relatives of passengers and crew aboard the four airliners hijacked on September 11, 2001, heard tapes Friday of calls from the doomed planes and said later that they were moved by heroic efforts on all the flights.

"I was overwhelmed by the unbelievable courage of the passengers and crews of all four of these flights," Deborah Burlingame, sister of one of the hijacked pilots.

She spoke after a confidential Justice Department briefing for the families held at a hotel.

"I sat there wistfully wishing that this country could be as united … and as brave in fighting the terrorists as they were in the fierce few moments of September 11. I was very proud of them," said Burlingame.

Her brother Charles was pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.

Some family members talked with reporters after the briefing, but none would elaborate on the session specifically.

Because the government hopes to introduce the calls as evidence at the trial of alleged September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, those who attended the briefing were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits them from discussing the contents of the tapes or the briefings. They were not allowed to make recordings or take notes during the session.

"The one thing that the [Justice Department] made irrefutably clear to us was that to the extent we disclose any information, we are only aiding the terrorists," said Hamilton Peterson, whose father and stepmother were on United Flight 93.

But one relative, Alice Hoaglan — whose son Mark Bingham called her from one of the flights — recounted for reporters her final call from her son.

"’Mom, this is Mark Bingham. I just want to tell you that I love you. I am on a flight from Newark to San Francisco. There are three guys on board who have taken over the plane and they say they have a bomb. You believe me don’t you, Mom? I’m calling you from the air phone.’ And then we were disconnected," Hoaglan said, her voice breaking.

She quickly added, "That’s not information I got today. That’s information I got at 6:44 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time [on September 11, 2001] from the lips of Mark Bingham."

There were 256 victims on the four jets hijacked by 19 terrorists who were later found to be acting on behalf of al Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist organization led by Saudi exile Osama bin Laden.

American Airlines Flight 11, a Boston-to-Los Angeles flight with 81 passengers and 11 crew on board, struck the World Trade Center north tower.

United Airlines Flight 175, a Boston-to-Los Angeles flight with 56 passengers and nine crew onboard, struck the Trade Center’s south tower.

A second American plane, Flight 77, from Washington’s Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles with 53 passengers and six crew onboard, crashed into the Pentagon.

A second United plane, Flight 93, from Newark to San Francisco with 33 passengers and seven crew onboard, crashed in rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Nearly 150 people attended the session Friday.

CNN learned that calls from just two people — flight attendants Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney, both on American Airlines Flight 11 — were played during the three-hour briefing.

Other calls were summarized verbally by Justice Department prosecutors, and nearly an hour was devoted to questions from relatives and responses from prosecutors.

Peterson described the session Friday as "a wonderful although detailed and grisly presentation" that provided family members with more information about the final moments of the flights.

Earlier reports and investigations have indicated that passengers on Flight 93, after they learned of the three prior hijackings, fought the hijackers and prevented them from reaching a target in Washington — believed to be the U.S. Capitol.

Two years ago, families of Flight 93 passengers heard a 30-minute cockpit voice recording played in a government briefing and said then that it generally confirmed that many passengers acted heroically.

After Friday’s session, Peterson said heroism was not limited to that one plane.

The briefing "shows that it was not just [Flight] 93 with respect to heroism and commitment with respect to passengers and crew. There is no question there were many heroes on the flights," he said.

Sandy Dahl, widow of the pilot of Flight 93, described the mood in the briefing room as "very hard. It was a difficult time for all of us.

"We all held each other," she said. "We all learned a lot of things we didn’t know. But that will be for the Moussaoui trial. We wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that."

Another session for family members is scheduled next month in Boston, with video hookups available for families in Washington and Los Angeles.

The briefings are being conducted by federal prosecutors and FBI agents handling the case of Moussaoui, whose trial has been delayed indefinitely by a dispute over whether Moussaoui may obtain testimony from high-level al Qaeda operatives in U.S. military custody overseas. (Full storyexternal link)

"Many family members who lost loved ones on one of the flights on September 11, 2001, have contacted us requesting to know what occurred in the flights before they were intentionally crashed by the hijackers," U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty wrote in an April 13 letter that invited the families to the briefing.

"Due to the extended delays in the prosecution of the Moussaoui case, we feel it is important to provide flight families with this information now, rather than wait until the case goes to trial," he wrote. "The sole purpose of this briefing is to describe for you the evidence gathered during the investigation of this case."

Burlingame said the briefing Friday "filled in more of details for us."

She said the session affected her deeply "not so much for the bare facts — which I had steeled myself for — but for my incredible pride at the horror of what they faced and how they went forward very, very bravely.

"Those voices will be instrumental hopefully in bringing justice to Zacarias Moussaoui," she said.

Some family members said they were passing on the opportunity to hear the tapes. Stephen Push, whose wife was killed aboard the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, said, "It’s not something I need to relive."
 

9/11 families to hear more calls from flights

9/11 families to hear more calls from flights

From Phil Hirschkorn
CNN
Wednesday, 28 May 2004

NEW YORK (CNN) — Family members of the 246 victims onboard the four planes hijacked September 11, 2001, have been invited to hear recordings of the final telephone calls of the passengers and crew.

The Justice Department will host a two-hour meeting in Princeton, New Jersey on June 4 to play the recordings, family members and officials said.

Two years ago relatives of those killed on United Airlines Flight 93, the plane that crashed in rural southwest Pennsylvania, heard the 30-minute cockpit voice recording that, families said, confirmed their loved ones resisted the hijackers.

The Justice Department sent invitations to the closed-door meeting as early as March. The government has scheduled a second briefing for July 14 in Boston, Massachusetts, with closed-circuit transmission to locations in Washington and Los Angeles, California.

Part of the families’ registration form for the event was a non-disclosure agreement. Those who attend will be asked not to discuss the contents of the tapes.

One reason for the gag order is the pending trial of alleged September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, where the tapes could be introduced as evidence.

Prosecutor intent aside, it is unclear that any of the tapes could be played at the indefinitely delayed Moussaoui trial.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema in late 2002 barred the Flight 93 recording, saying it had "marginal evidentiary value" in the Moussaoui case and agreed with defense lawyers that it would be prejudicial toward the defendant.

The government would not disclose and did not reveal in its letters to families what recordings will be played.

But the independent September 11 commission in a January staff statement highlighted 11 — not a complete list — calls from the planes to people on the ground:

# On American Airlines Flight 11, the plane that crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center with 81 passengers and 11 crew onboard, flight attendants Betty "Bee" Ong and Madeline "Amy" Sweeney made calls.

# On United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center with 56 passengers and nine crew onboard, flight attendant Robert Fangman and passengers Peter Hanson and Brian Sweeney made calls.

# On American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon with 58 passengers and six crew onboard, flight attendant Rene May and passenger Barbara Olson, wife of Solicitor General Ted Olson, made calls.

# On United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Shanskville, Pennsylvania, with 37 passengers and seven crew onboard, flight attendants Ceecee Lyles and Sandy Bradshaw, and passengers Todd Beamer and Jeremy Glick made calls.

The commission played an excerpt of one of these calls — from Ong’s taped 23-minute call to an airline reservation center — but it was unclear whether the four other flight attendant calls, or any passenger calls, were preserved on recordings.

Two years ago, in April 2002, the government invited relatives of the 40 Flight 93 victims to hear a 30-minute cockpit voice recording.

Adhering to a government admonition not to divulge the details, the families said at the time the recording confirmed that passengers fought the hijackers who had commandeered the flight scheduled between Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, California.

Flights 11 and 175 had left from Boston for Los Angeles. Flight 77 left Washington-Dulles for Los Angeles.

Along with the 246 victims on the four planes, the 19 hijackers who commandeered the airliners died in the crashes.

CNN’s Terry Frieden and Abighail Brigham contributed to this report.

Short note on the cell phone calls

Short note on the cell phone calls

Elias Davidsson

The use of mobile phones makes it easy to locate within 500 meters the caller and the receiver.

It would have been easy for the FBI to establish beyond doubt the exact trajectory of UA93 by simply analyzing the coordinates of the alleged mobile phone calls made from the aircraft prior to its alleged crash.  Yet, nothing of this kind was ever publicized.   No evidence has been released that would prove that such telephone calls were made from the aircraft.  This omission must be regarded in conjunction with the refusal to disclose the contents of the “black boxes” which would reveal the path of the aircraft and their respective altitudes during flight.

The publication of such data would establish conclusively that the aircraft which crashed on 9/11 were the same aircraft which left with passengers on the same day.

The refusal to release such information can also be assessed in the light of the fact that it is almost impossible to make cellphone calls from aircraft flying above 8000 feet.  

Cell phones do not come through, new story

Passenger jet makes emergency landing in L.A.
Associated Press
Thu. Sep. 22 2005 7:48 AM ET

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1127347551149_5/?hub=TopStories

LOS ANGELES ? A JetBlue airliner with faulty landing gear touched down safely Wednesday at Los Angeles International Airport after circling the region for three hours with its front wheels turned sideways, unable to be retracted into the plane.

[…]

Zachary Mascoon said it was surreal to watch the emergency unfold on news coverage on a television inside the plane. At one point, he said, he tried to call his family but his cell phone call wouldn’t go through.

"I wanted to call my dad to tell him I’m alive so far," the 27-year-old musician said.

He praised the flight crew’s professionalism and how calmly they handled the emergency.

[…]

Cellphone calls from aircraft? No Way, says engineer

I am a senior design RF cell phone engineer ( cellular/CDMA engineer)  and have designed systems for Sprint, Verizon and Alltel. I have 2 FCC licenses and have worked in the industry for 13 yrs. That out of the way…
OK all of the new handsets are .6 to 1 watt max.
From what i read several calls were made on flight 93 some were reported to last as long as 20 minuits. NO WAY ! We design these systems to work on the ground, ususally providing "downtilt" to the antenna, so the signal gets pointed downward.
There are calculations to do this. The range for a call site is 5 to 20 miles max, but that is on the ground. The handshaking is now refered to in digital as soft handoff, or hard handoff if you are going between systems, or in an analog mode. most phones today are now digital, though some can do both. for a handoff to occur( going from one cell to another) the system needs to have a neighbor list setup, telling the phone which cell is next on the list( i have made around 100 of these). at 500mph, the phone would have passed several sites and it would try to handoff to a site already passed. The phone can be in handoff with up to 3 sites at one time, but generally this can make things worse as it will degrade the signal.
Also inside of a metal plane, the signal degrades
( it does in a car, or building by 3 to 6 db or more)
I have done in building testing for years. each 3 db means 1/2 power. inside a metal plane i would guess it would be about the same, if you stick the antenna next to a window, MAYBE only 1 to 2 bd loss, but still a loss. i havent tested it, but i have a lot of experience in this area. Note there is a lot of messaging between the phone and the site, and at that height the signal would be quite low and the phone would get confused as to which site it is on.

I dont know the height the plane was at at that time, but the higher it is, the more signals come in, which degrades the quality and confuses the phone more, not to mention lowering the signal level.
One more thing, in remote areas, where these calls were made i believe, these companies do not build many sites. The sites cost 1/2 million a peice or so.
Just try driving from 1 city to another through a very rural area and see if your phone works, we point the antennas down the highways to get the most out of each site. Planes do not fly along highways.

when i first heard this, it didnt add up in my head.

http://feralnews.com/issues/911/dewdney/index.html

airplane testing
http://feralnews.com/issues/911/dewdney/media_release_030304.html

results
http://feralnews.com/issues/911/dewdney/project_achilles_report_2_030225.html

Brad Mayeux
cdmaman@engineer.com
my engineering page
http://www.geocities.com/RF_man_CDMA/

Theodore Olson: Government entitled to lie

High court hears case accusing government of lying

Analysis

By Tony Mauro
 Special to freedomforum.org

03.19.02

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WASHINGTON ? Routine communication between government officials and the press and public would be chilled forever if those officials can be sued for lying, the Supreme Court was told yesterday.

Lawyers for government officials also pleaded with the court not to "constitutionalize" the Freedom of Information Act by turning access to truthful government information into a constitutional right.

"There are lots of different situations when the government has legitimate reasons to give out false information," Solicitor General Theodore Olson told the court.

The comments came during oral arguments in an unusual case brought by Texas lawyer Jennifer Harbury as a way of holding U.S. officials responsible for the disappearance, torture and death of her husband in Guatemala 10 years ago.

"My day in court, when I could have saved my husband’s life, was extinguished," Harbury told the justices. It is extremely rare for a party in a Supreme Court case to argue on her own behalf, but Harbury did so as the next step in a 10 year crusade on her husband’s behalf.

The case before the court is Christopher v. Harbury.

Harbury’s husband, Efrain Bamaca-Velasquez, a Guatemalan rebel leader, disappeared in 1992. Harbury says that when she asked for U.S. help, government officials deceived her by saying they would investigate

Cell Phone Experiments in Airliners (2003)

Cell Phone Experiments in Airliners

By Germar Rudolf   – July 2003

Since the topic discussed above seems to be of utmost importance, I decided to make my own experiments while traveling from Chicago, IL, to Burlington, VT, to a family anniversary of a friend.

Phones

  • Audiovox CDM 9000 with Verizon Wireless network.
  • Nokia 8260 with Cingular Wireless network.

Travel Data

1. Trip: Aircraft: Airbus A320. United Airlines Flight 568. Take off from Chicago O’Hare on Friday, July 18, 2003, nominal take off at 18:05 central summer time. Weather conditions: sunny, only a few clouds at both start and arrival in Burlington, VT, at 20:54 eastern summer time.

2. Trip: Aircraft: Airbus A319. United Airlines Flight 397. Take off from Burlington, VT, on Sunday, July 20, 2003, 17:40 eastern summer time. Weather conditions: sunny, only a few clouds at both start and arrival. Arrival at Chicago O’Hare at 19:00 central summer time.


Experiments

While starting, only the Audiovox phone was used. While the plane was still accelerating on the runway, I dialed into my voice message box and received a clear and immediate connection just when the plane took off. I hung up right away and dialed again. As the plane ascended quickly, I received another immediate and clear connection, but this time I entered my PIN number waiting for the message service to grant me access to my messages. However, the connection was lost, and any attempt to reestablish a connection failed. After another minute, the phone complained with a loud alarm tone that no service was available. According to a later inquiry with the pilots, the plane reached an altitude above ground of 15,000 ft (4,575 m) within five minutes.

During this high altitude flight at 37,000 ft, no service was ever available. As soon as the plane started to descend toward Burlington, both cell phones were switched back on in an attempt to get any service. As soon as the phones gave up on searching service, they were turned off and turned on again so that the phones would again search for service. Several minutes before the pilot put out the landing gear at 20:49 EST, both phones indicated that they had found service, but any attempt to get any connection to the voice message boxes with either of the phones failed. On 20:51, two minutes after the landing gear was pulled out, a clear and stable connection to the voice message system could be established by both phones. This connection could be reestablished at will until the plane touched down at 20:54. Asked for his assistance, the pilot explained that he had put out the landing gear at an altitude above ground of 2,000 ft (610 m) at a speed of 200 knots (230 mph/371 km/h).

Since no information could be gained about the exact altitude above ground for the exact time when a cell phone connection gets interrupted during take off-not even this point in time is exactly known-no experiments were done at take off from Burlington.

When descending toward Chicago, the Nokia/Cingular Wireless phone could not establish any service at any time until after the aircraft had landed. The Audiovox/Verizon cell phone managed to get service just as we flew in over Lake Michigan from the east at an estimated altitude above ground of around 6,000 feet. However, none of the uninterruptedly made attempts to get a connection was successful. This cell phone signal was lost again as we flew out toward the center of the lake, and was reestablished as we approach the west coast of Lake Michigan. Uninterrupted attempts to establish a connection to the mailbox continued to fail until one minute after the pilot had pulled out the landing gear some 6 to 8 miles west of the coast of Lake Michigan at 18:56. The first successful connection appeared at 18:57. The second one established right thereafter was immediate and clear until the plane touched down at 19:00. According to the pilot, the landing gear must be pulled out when flying at an altitude of 1,500 ft at the latest (457.5 m). He could not remember exactly at which height he actually pulled the gear, but stated that it was well above that mark, probably at some 2,200 to 2,500 ft (671-762.5 m) at a speed of some 200 knots (230 mph/371 km/h).

Whereas the Nokia phone user was seated one seat away from the window in both descends, the Audiovox user was seated two seats away from the window during the first descent toward Burlington, but right at a window during the descent to Chicago. As a matter of fact, this cell phone was held only 10 cm away from a window to ensure best reception.

Conclusion

Burlington, VT, lies within a more rural area, whereas Chicago is the third largest city of the U.S. with one of the best developed cellular networks. In spite of this, the results were similar in both cases for the Verizon Wireless network, which prides itself on being the best developed in the U.S. The reason why the second phone failed to establish any service in the Chicago area until after landing is unknown.

Cell phones traveling in airliners can get a service signal at heights up to some 6,000 ft, but it is not possible to make a connection, at least not while traveling at the usual cruising speed of a normal airliner (500-550 mph). Since in all cases (if at all) connections could only be established well after the pilots have pulled out the landing gear at some 2,000 ft and at a cruising speed of 230 mph or less, it seems safe to conclude that in summer of 2003, no connection could be made with a cell phone from an airliner flying in the U.S. when above an altitude above ground of 2,000 ft (610 m) and when traveling with a speed over 230 mph. Considering the fast descent of the planes and the fact that they kept slowing down as they approached the runway, the height at which a connection could be established might actually be as low as 1,500 ft (457.5 m), and the speed around 200 mph.

The reason why a connection could only be established at some 1,500 ft above ground despite the fact that a signal was present already at some 6,000 ft may be that the speed of the traveling aircraft was too high at higher altitudes. It seems safe to say that the speed must be under 230 mph in order to establish a stable connection, a speed which an airliner can reach only during landing, with landing gear, air brakes and flaps all the way out.

It is generally agreed upon that all the airliners that crashed on September 11, 2001, flew at a high cruising speed of 500 mph and more until they crashed. Thus, it seems safe to say that no cell phone of any type could have established any stable connection to any cell site at that speed, no matter which height the planes flew at. This is particularly true for United Airlines flight 93, which did not only fly at high speed but also at a relatively high altitude during the time when the alleged cell phone calls were placed.

Appeal to All Readers

Anybody who is willing to provide his own input on this problem by testing his cell phone’s capability to make connections from aircrafts during descent is more than welcome. We will publish such data either with the name of the experimenter or anonymously if indicated. Please provide the following data:

  • type of phone, network used;
  • plane flown, airline, flight no., date and time of take off (nominal) and landing (actual);
  • weather conditions prevailing when landing;
  • exact times when you did what or when you succeeded to establish a connection, and since pulling out the gear is a nice reference point, make a note of this as well and ask the pilot while deplaning at what height he pulled the gear.

Pressing question that could end all conspiracy theories

Pressing question that could end all conspiracy theories (or prove them)

Cell phone calls

There were several calls that day reportedly from cell phones and seat back phones. It is possible from these calls to determine the EXACT place each plane was at any given time. This could end several discrepancies as to what time flight 77 hit the Pentagon (the time varies depending on what source you read). It could give the EXACT path of all flights, as the transpoder codes were turned off, this has been somewhat of a grey area, especially for flights 93 and 77. Most phones toiday are of the technology CDMA. In this technology the cell phone may "talk" to several gound stations (cell sites) at one time. Using triangulation, these calls can be pinpointed. With several calls happening at different times, this could provide very useful info. It must be noted here, that the calls themselves are not recorded, but the time stamp, date, phone #, and electronic serial number (or ESN) of the phone is (for billing and other purposes). This applies to CDMA phones (the most common in the US), but also applies to many other types. I do not know if the same applies to the seatback phones or not, but I would imagine that something similar is in place. The calls information (for cell phones) are required by the FCC to be backed up, or reside in the "switch" at a local office for 3-5 years. (I forget the exact time, i believe the FCC may have changed it lately).

This could be a major breaking point in finding out what happened. It would end discrepancies and theories such as plane swapping, remote control and the idea that some of the calls were faked or did not happen.

Barbara Olson’s conversation reported indirectly

Author calls spouse from doomed plane


By Joe Cantlupe
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE

September 12, 2001

WASHINGTON — "What should I tell the pilot to do? We’ve been hijacked," Barbara Olson, a former Southern California prosecutor, said matter-of-factly into her cell phone as she sat huddled with other passengers forced by knife-wielding assailants to the back of the jetliner.

On the other end of the line was her husband, Ted Olson, sitting in his Washington office, where he serves as solicitor general of the United States. Ted Olson, a former Los Angeles lawyer who argues President Bush’s cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, had no immediate answers for his wife, said a close friend of the couple.

But Ted Olson told her something grim that she didn’t know: Two airliners already had crashed into New York City’s World Trade Center that morning.

It was then they realized she probably was doomed.

Moments later, Barbara Olson died with 63 others when American Airlines Flight 77 screamed in a flat, low arc across the clear sky into the Pentagon.

Ted Olson declined to discuss the tragedy with a reporter. But he’d given details to Bob McConnell, a close friend of the couple, and McConnell shared some of those details in a telephone interview.

Since the Bush administration came into power, Ted and Barbara Olson have been the consummate Washington power couple.

Barbara Olson most recently was a commentator and author. Her books, "Final Days" and "Hell To Pay," were critical accounts of the Clinton years.

She once served as chief investigative counsel to the U.S. House’s Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, where she led several investigations of the Clinton administration, including its travel office firings.

According to McConnell’s account, Olson called her husband twice from the plane, with both conversations cut short by bad connections.

After she described being hijacked, she mentioned that the people who took over the plane carried "knives and cardboard cutters."

In the conversations with her husband, Barbara Olson did not describe the hijackers, but simply referred to them as "they," McConnell said.

Earlier that morning, while Ted Olson went to work in Washington, Barbara Olson drove to Dulles Airport, where she boarded the American Airlines flight destined for Los Angeles. She had business meetings scheduled there.

Shortly after takeoff, the hijackers ordered passengers to the back of the plane, according to the account Barbara Olson gave her husband.

When she called, Ted Olson was "watching the news about New York in his office. She did not know about that. The World Trade Center crashes. He knew," McConnell said.

Their first conversation was cut short and she called again.

"She showed no fear at all," McConnell said, referring to Ted Olson’s account. "She was trying to figure out what to do and how to do it."

"Do they know you’re on the phone?" Ted Olson asked his wife.

"Of course not," she said.

"He told her what happened in New York," McConnell said. "He doesn’t remember everything — the last part of their conversation was very personal."

That last phone conversation also was "cut off," McConnell said, but Ted Olson’s TV was still on.

Moments later, the solicitor general watched the screen and heard a newscaster speculate that a bomb had exploded at the Pentagon.

"He knew immediately that a bomb didn’t go off," McConnell said. "He knew it was the plane."

 

Barbara Olson’s call from Flight 77 never happened


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Barbara Olson’s call from Flight 77 never happened

The contortions of all involved not to leave a paper trail in the form of phone bills proves it.

by: rowland morgan on: 2nd Dec, 04

Most of the 25 male passengers on Flight 77 were well-connected military-industrialists. Three of them were with Boeing aerospace. It seems likely that these individuals would have possessed mobile phones in their pockets, if not the others. Although mobile calls are illegal during flights, passengers would certainly have tried to make a connection in such an emergency, as they are supposed to have on Flight 175 and Flight 93. Canadian tests have shown that over 8,000 ft altitude, the likelihood of making a connection is remote. Moreover, American Airlines (which operated Flight 77), announced an experimental innovation in 2004 that would enable in-flight mobile calls. Alternatively, the passengers might have used an in-flight satellite telephone, if the 757 was so equipped. But, after knife- and boxcutter- wielding hijackers supposedly herded passengers to the rear of the “plane, only one passenger is supposed to have made a call. She was Barbara Olson, a notoriously hawkish right-winger and CNN TV pundit, third wife of an even more hawkish right-winger, Ted Olson, whom the President had appointed Solicitor-General after Olson persuaded the Supreme Court to appoint his election-losing client to the Presidency by a margin of one vote.

 

The Olson phone call story is a central load-bearing beam in the whole 9/11 official construction. It was crucial in establishing the existence of marauders on a civilian flight and their possession of dangerous weapons. Later, the identity of the plane that hit the Pentagon hinged on it, too. This vital, founding element of the narrative originated in the Department of Justice and was carried by CNN, part of $38 billion-a-year AOL-Time-Warner (as it was then). It was issued on 12th September at 2:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time—just 16 hours after Olson’s bereavement. It went as follows:

 

Barbara Olson, a conservative commentator and attorney, alerted her husband, Solicitor General Ted Olson, that the plane she was on was being hijacked Tuesday morning, Ted Olson told CNN. Shortly afterwards Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon (sic)? Ted Olson told CNN that his wife said all passengers and flight personnel, including the pilots, were herded to the back of the plane by armed hijackers. The only weapons she mentioned were knives and cardboard cutters. She felt nobody was in charge and asked her husband to tell the pilot what to do.

 

This was the first eye-witness account of hijackers to reach the public. A TV celebrity had seen them, and filed the story with CNN by means of her second husband making an unsubstantiated verbal report. They were men brandishing knives and cardboard cutters who herded passengers to the rear of the plane. No hint of their appearance or origin, but living, breathing hijackers. The story at no point quotes Ted Olson directly and nor does it say by what method his lawyer wife telephoned. All subsequent mass-media reports of the Olson call were derived from this original, freely citing it as a mobile phone call.

 

It is the only ostensible passenger story coming from all the rogue aircraft that establishes the use of ?cardboard cutters? or box-cutters, the permitted weapons that would get American Airlines off the hook and not implicate the FAA—and it emanates from the Department of Justice (seat of the FBI), issuing at 2:00 AM next morning. It makes that inscrutable reference to Mrs Olson feeling that “nobody was in charge”. And she is supposed to have asked her husband “to tell the pilot what to do”, as if Capt. Burlingame were not lying on the cockpit floor with his throat cut, but had allowed himself to be “herded? to the back of the plane with everyone else and could still make a move. Perhaps the man at the controls had thrown up his hands, bewildered that the controls no longer worked. Burlingame was a decorated war veteran and long-time Pentagon liaison officer. What advice could Ted Olson possibly offer him? What did his wife think Ted Olson might know about a hijacking? That is, if she ever called at all.

 

The Kean Commission, perhaps aware of the swell of scepticism around it, addresses the question of this notorious call, introducing a new evasion. Apparently all calls from Flight 11 were all made to an unknown number! Their footnote states:

 

The records available for the phone calls from American 77 do not allow for a determination of which of four “connected calls to unknown number? represent the two between Barbara and Ted Olson, although the FBI and DOJ (dept. of justice) believe that all four represent communications between Barbara Olson and her husband’s office (all family members of the Flight 77 passengers and crew were canvassed to see if they had received any phone calls from the hijacked flight, and only [flight attendant] Renee Max’s parents and Ted Olson indicated that they had received such calls). The four calls were at 9:15:34 for 1 minute, 42 seconds; 9:20:15 for 4 minutes, 34 seconds; 9:25:48 for 2 minutes, 34 seconds, and 9:30:34 for 4 minutes, 20 seconds. FBI report, “American Airlines Telephone Usage,” Sept. 20, 2001; FBI report of investigation, interview of Theodore Olson, Sept. 11, 2001; FBI report of investigation, interview of Helen Voss, Sept. 14, 2001; AAL response to the Commission’s supplemental document request, Jan. 20, 2004.

(Kean Commission report Note 57.)

 

So, we are left with a situation that is hazy, perplexing and confusing.

 

1 Hazy, because the Commission does not come out and say the calls were made on Flight 77?s fitted airphones, and if they were there is a selection of calls, all of them “to unknown number?—so that there can be no billing record. Nor are the providers of the in-flight phone service cited, only the airline.

2 Perplexing, because the Commission says that flight attendant Renee May called her parents on a mobile phone at about 9:15, when Flight 77 was lost. But I am not convinced that successful mobile phone connections can be made from an airliner at cruising altitude. Professor Dewdnex’s experiments in Canada persuasively showed that mobile handsets? efficacy diminished with altitude until at over 8,000 feet they were extremely unreliable. Why would American Airlines pay for an experimental system to try enabling them in 2004, if they already worked? Also, Flight 77 at 9:15 was supposed to be over the Alleghenies, an under-populated area only sparsely served by mobile networks. The only evidence the Commission seems to have for this call is an FBI file. Renee Max’s authenticated Verizon bill would be more convincing, and easily enough obtained and reproduced in the report.

3 Confusing, because the Commission seems to be relying for the Olson call on an FBI investigation of, and interview with, Ted Olson that was conducted on the day of the call, when America was believed to be under attack.

 

The FBI interviewed Helen Voss, who was Ted Olson’s P.A., on September 14th, three days before Tony Mauro of American Lawyer Media, published an account of the call that supposedly arrived in the middle of total chaos at the Department of Justice:

 

It was just as the World Trade Center attacks were unfolding that someone in the solicitor general’s office took a phone call from Barbara Olson. Ted Olson’s longtime assistant, Helen Voss, raced into the SG’s (solicitor-general’s) office to tell him that Barbara was on the line, sounding panicked. He picked up the phone and exclaimed, “What, you’ve been hijacked”? She was calling on her cell phone from aboard the jet, which had just left Dulles Airport. Voss says, “My heart sank.” The call ended abruptly, but then Barbara called again, reportedly asking her husband, “What should I tell the pilot”? It was a comment that friends have taken as a sign that she was characteristically trying to find a solution to the crisis. The pilot, along with passengers, had apparently been herded into the back of the plane. 

Olson reported the conversation to the Justice Department’s command center. After the second call ended, Olson and Voss turned on a television set in his office, unsure what else could be done.

(Emphasis added)

 

This contemporary story, probably gathered from the DOJ press office and a phone-call to Voss, fails to name the person who took the original call and does not imply that Helen Voss handled the call, except to say that Olson’s third wife “sounded panicked”, which the “someone? who took the call might plausibly have told her, to make her hurry. So Helen Voss is in the clear, and an unidentified person took the call (although we learn later that Olson’s office is “tight-knit?). No witness there, anyway. The account also differs on key points from the official story. Mrs Olson “called on her cell phone from aboard the jet”. So, what of American’s phone records? And what of Olson’s garbled account six months later, when he told the Daily Telegraph that Mrs Olson had wasted a lot of time trying to call collect because she had no credit card to use on the Airfone? The only obvious explanation for this confusion would be if Mr Olson were striving to evade the telephone records that might exist for a normal call, either cellphone or Airfone. But since he is the USA?s chief law officer in the Supreme Court, this is obviously unthinkable. Instead, we hear three years later, all calls from Flight 77 (that were not mobile calls) went to “unknown number”.

 

The American Lawyer Media story says the third Mrs Olson called back, whereas according to Olson’s later account, she struggled to get through the first time. Nor does this story refer to any lengthy call lasting until just microseconds before the crash, as the American Airlines data implies. It seems Olson had time to report the call to the Dept. of Justice command centre. (But that would leave a call record, so there is another divergence, since the Kean report said he tried to call his boss, John Ashcroft, but was “unsuccessful”. So, no call record there, either.) Olson then switched on his TV and started watching the crisis coverage as the department was hurriedly evacuated. Who, then, was making a call from Flight 77 until microseconds before it crashed into the Pentagon? American Airlines? records make no sense, and anyway, why don’t they come from the telecoms company that supplied the airphones?

 

American Lawyer Media says that among those who gathered at Olson’s house later to commiserate with the widower were CNN correspondent Tim O’Brien and his wife, Petie, who were longtime friends. “There was no choice. You just go, even though there is nothing you can really say. Your presence is what counts,” said O’Brien. Did O”Brien plant the phone-call story with CNN?

 

The report was real enough, and its effect was enormous, but the contortions officialdom went through to avoid a phone-call record seem to prove that the Olson telephone call never happened. In his Daily Telegraph interview six months later, (apparently unpublished in the USA), Olson claimed his wife reversed the charges on a call to his office at the department of Justice, using an in-flight satellite phone located on the back of a seat at the rear of the jetliner. Her mobile was in her handbag stowed away, and she did not have her credit card available, Olson said. So his wife, (who was “panicky”, remember) reversed the charges, which understandably caused a big hold-up at Justice’s switchboard. However, a credit card was at the time required for any outgoing call on such a phone, so we presume she is supposed to have borrowed one and reversed the charges to save the cardholder the $10 per minute call charges. Under the circumstances, such a concern seems absurd, and with the big delay, why was no one else demanding to make a call on her phone? Or even using another in-flight phone to make a call to a loved one? Yet all other passengers are silent. The Kean Report says that Olson’s phone-call to Ashcroft was “unsuccessful”. Ashcroft, like his President, was visiting a primary school at the time, apparently beyond the limits for an urgent call from his number two back at the Department. So that’s another untraceable call, leaving no records.

 

Ted Olson could give his adherents closure, and shut his critics up, by simply producing the Department of Justice’s telephone accounts, showing a couple of hefty reverse-charges entries charged from Flight 77?s Airfone number at around about 9:20 AM on 11th September, 2001. It is probably impossible, because American Airlines Boeing 757s do not appear to be equipped with in-flight satellite phones at all. Perhaps in error, perhaps not, American’s official website currently states:

 

Inflight Satellite Phones

Turn flight time into quality time by arranging meetings, calling your broker or calling home. Worldwide satellite communications are available on American Airlines’ Boeing 777 and Boeing 767 aircraft almost anytime while flying over North America and worldwide.

 

Link: https://www.aa.com/content/travelInformation/duringFlight/onboardTechnology.jhtml

 

Furthermore, even if there were in-flight phones on board this particular 757, why would half-crazed “box-cutter wielding? hijackers on a suicide mission possibly allow them to be used—particularly by only one of the 56 passengers and six crew?

 

If Mrs Olson instead used her mobile phone to call her husband, as numerous mass media reports assumed from the single, very brief, very early, very unsubstantiated CNN report, possibly to call twice, then why did no passenger on the aircraft call—just the once?

 

Everything in the 9/11 narrative traces back to this one report from Ted Olson, and his “investigation, interview” by the FBI on the very same day, a day when America thought it was being invaded and at least 13,500 were believed to have perished. In the small hours of the night after the attacks, CNN launched the legend of the terrorist hijackers threatening innocent Americans with blades and driving them out of their paid-for seats to cower in the back of the plane. The corporate networks megaphoned it world-wide. Barbara Olson’s tragic glamour and TV cred gave it extra pep. Even if he did throw his grief aside that night, Ted Olson had to evade or expedite the restrictive provisions of the National Security Agency. If he did leak the call to CNN?s Tim O”Brien in the midst of his grief that day, Ted Olson’s word is already compromised out of his own mouth. Addressing the Supreme Court of the United States of America while defending the government in a widow’s suit to sue CIA death-squad leaders, the US Solicitor General said: “It is easy to imagine an infinite number of situations . . . where government officials might quite legitimately have reasons to give false information out. It’s an unfortunate reality that the issuance of incomplete information and even misinformation by government may sometimes be perceived as necessary to protect vital interests.”

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/020323/79/1ao0k.html

(Columbia Journalism Review May/June 2003)

  

Most of the 25 male passengers on Flight 77 were well-connected military-industrialists. Three of them were with Boeing aerospace. It seems likely that these individuals would have possessed mobile phones in their pockets, if not the others. Although mobile calls are illegal during flights, passengers would certainly have tried to make a connection in such an emergency, as they are supposed to have on Flight 175 and Flight 93. Canadian tests have shown that over 8,000 ft altitude, the likelihood of making a connection is remote. Moreover, American Airlines (which operated Flight 77), announced an experimental innovation in 2004 that would enable in-flight mobile calls. Alternatively, the passengers might have used an in-flight satellite telephone, if the 757 was so equipped. But, after knife- and boxcutter- wielding hijackers supposedly herded passengers to the rear of the “plane, only one passenger is supposed to have made a call. She was Barbara Olson, a notoriously hawkish right-winger and CNN TV pundit, third wife of an even more hawkish right-winger, Ted Olson, whom the President had appointed Solicitor-General after Olson persuaded the Supreme Court to appoint his election-losing client to the Presidency by a margin of one vote.

 

The Olson phone call story is a central load-bearing beam in the whole 9/11 official construction. It was crucial in establishing the existence of marauders on a civilian flight and their possession of dangerous weapons. Later, the identity of the plane that hit the Pentagon hinged on it, too. This vital, founding element of the narrative originated in the Department of Justice and was carried by CNN, part of $38 billion-a-year AOL-Time-Warner (as it was then). It was issued on 12th September at 2:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time—just 16 hours after Olson’s bereavement. It went as follows:

 

Barbara Olson, a conservative commentator and attorney, alerted her husband, Solicitor General Ted Olson, that the plane she was on was being hijacked Tuesday morning, Ted Olson told CNN. Shortly afterwards Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon (sic)? Ted Olson told CNN that his wife said all passengers and flight personnel, including the pilots, were herded to the back of the plane by armed hijackers. The only weapons she mentioned were knives and cardboard cutters. She felt nobody was in charge and asked her husband to tell the pilot what to do.

 

This was the first eye-witness account of hijackers to reach the public. A TV celebrity had seen them, and filed the story with CNN by means of her second husband making an unsubstantiated verbal report. They were men brandishing knives and cardboard cutters who herded passengers to the rear of the plane. No hint of their appearance or origin, but living, breathing hijackers. The story at no point quotes Ted Olson directly and nor does it say by what method his lawyer wife telephoned. All subsequent mass-media reports of the Olson call were derived from this original, freely citing it as a mobile phone call.

 

It is the only ostensible passenger story coming from all the rogue aircraft that establishes the use of ?cardboard cutters? or box-cutters, the permitted weapons that would get American Airlines off the hook and not implicate the FAA—and it emanates from the Department of Justice (seat of the FBI), issuing at 2:00 AM next morning. It makes that inscrutable reference to Mrs Olson feeling that “nobody was in charge”. And she is supposed to have asked her husband “to tell the pilot what to do”, as if Capt. Burlingame were not lying on the cockpit floor with his throat cut, but had allowed himself to be “herded? to the back of the plane with everyone else and could still make a move. Perhaps the man at the controls had thrown up his hands, bewildered that the controls no longer worked. Burlingame was a decorated war veteran and long-time Pentagon liaison officer. What advice could Ted Olson possibly offer him? What did his wife think Ted Olson might know about a hijacking? That is, if she ever called at all.

 

The Kean Commission, perhaps aware of the swell of scepticism around it, addresses the question of this notorious call, introducing a new evasion. Apparently all calls from Flight 11 were all made to an unknown number! Their footnote states:

 

The records available for the phone calls from American 77 do not allow for a determination of which of four “connected calls to unknown number? represent the two between Barbara and Ted Olson, although the FBI and DOJ (dept. of justice) believe that all four represent communications between Barbara Olson and her husband’s office (all family members of the Flight 77 passengers and crew were canvassed to see if they had received any phone calls from the hijacked flight, and only [flight attendant] Renee Max’s parents and Ted Olson indicated that they had received such calls). The four calls were at 9:15:34 for 1 minute, 42 seconds; 9:20:15 for 4 minutes, 34 seconds; 9:25:48 for 2 minutes, 34 seconds, and 9:30:34 for 4 minutes, 20 seconds. FBI report, “American Airlines Telephone Usage,” Sept. 20, 2001; FBI report of investigation, interview of Theodore Olson, Sept. 11, 2001; FBI report of investigation, interview of Helen Voss, Sept. 14, 2001; AAL response to the Commission’s supplemental document request, Jan. 20, 2004.

(Kean Commission report Note 57.)

 

So, we are left with a situation that is hazy, perplexing and confusing.

 

1 Hazy, because the Commission does not come out and say the calls were made on Flight 77?s fitted airphones, and if they were there is a selection of calls, all of them “to unknown number?—so that there can be no billing record. Nor are the providers of the in-flight phone service cited, only the airline.

2 Perplexing, because the Commission says that flight attendant Renee May called her parents on a mobile phone at about 9:15, when Flight 77 was lost. But we are not convinced that successful mobile phone connections can be made from an airliner at cruising altitude. Professor Dewdnex’s experiments in Canada persuasively showed that mobile handsets? efficacy diminished with altitude until at over 8,000 feet they were extremely unreliable. Why would American Airlines pay for an experimental system to try enabling them in 2004, if they already worked? Also, Flight 77 at 9:15 was supposed to be over the Alleghenies, an under-populated area only sparsely served by mobile networks. The only evidence the Commission seems to have for this call is an FBI file. Renee Max’s authenticated Verizon bill would be more convincing, and easily enough obtained and reproduced in the report.

3 Confusing, because the Commission seems to be relying for the Olson call on an FBI investigation of, and interview with, Ted Olson that was conducted on the day of the call, when America was believed to be under attack.

 

The FBI interviewed Helen Voss, who was Ted Olson’s P.A., on September 14th, three days before Tony Mauro of American Lawyer Media, published an account of the call that supposedly arrived in the middle of total chaos at the Department of Justice:

 

It was just as the World Trade Center attacks were unfolding that someone in the solicitor general’s office took a phone call from Barbara Olson. Ted Olson’s longtime assistant, Helen Voss, raced into the SG’s (solicitor-general’s) office to tell him that Barbara was on the line, sounding panicked. He picked up the phone and exclaimed, “What, you’ve been hijacked”? She was calling on her cell phone from aboard the jet, which had just left Dulles Airport. Voss says, “My heart sank.” The call ended abruptly, but then Barbara called again, reportedly asking her husband, “What should I tell the pilot”? It was a comment that friends have taken as a sign that she was characteristically trying to find a solution to the crisis. The pilot, along with passengers, had apparently been herded into the back of the plane. 

Olson reported the conversation to the Justice Department’s command center. After the second call ended, Olson and Voss turned on a television set in his office, unsure what else could be done.

(Emphasis added)

 

This contemporary story, probably gathered from the DOJ press office and a phone-call to Voss, fails to name the person who took the original call and does not imply that Helen Voss handled the call, except to say that Olson’s third wife “sounded panicked”, which the “someone? who took the call might plausibly have told her, to make her hurry. So Helen Voss is in the clear, and an unidentified person took the call (although we learn later that Olson’s office is “tight-knit?). No witness there, anyway. The account also differs on key points from the official story. Mrs Olson “called on her cell phone from aboard the jet”. So, what of American’s phone records? And what of Olson’s garbled account six months later, when he told the Daily Telegraph that Mrs Olson had wasted a lot of time trying to call collect because she had no credit card to use on the Airfone? The only obvious explanation for this confusion would be if Mr Olson were striving to evade the telephone records that might exist for a normal call, either cellphone or Airfone. But since he is the USA?s chief law officer in the Supreme Court, this is obviously unthinkable. Instead, we hear three years later, all calls from Flight 77 (that were not mobile calls) went to “unknown number”.

 

The American Lawyer Media story says the third Mrs Olson called back, whereas according to Olson’s later account, she struggled to get through the first time. Nor does this story refer to any lengthy call lasting until just microseconds before the crash, as the American Airlines data implies. It seems Olson had time to report the call to the Dept. of Justice command centre. (But that would leave a call record, so there is another divergence, since the Kean report said he tried to call his boss, John Ashcroft, but was “unsuccessful”. So, no call record there, either.) Olson then switched on his TV and started watching the crisis coverage as the department was hurriedly evacuated. Who, then, was making a call from Flight 77 until microseconds before it crashed into the Pentagon? American Airlines? records make no sense, and anyway, why don’t they come from the telecoms company that supplied the airphones?

 

American Lawyer Media says that among those who gathered at Olson’s house later to commiserate with the widower were CNN correspondent Tim O’Brien and his wife, Petie, who were longtime friends. “There was no choice. You just go, even though there is nothing you can really say. Your presence is what counts,” said O’Brien. Did O”Brien plant the phone-call story with CNN?

 

The report was real enough, and its effect was enormous, but the contortions officialdom went through to avoid a phone-call record seem to prove that the Olson telephone call never happened. In his Daily Telegraph interview six months later, (apparently unpublished in the USA), Olson claimed his wife reversed the charges on a call to his office at the department of Justice, using an in-flight satellite phone located on the back of a seat at the rear of the jetliner. Her mobile was in her handbag stowed away, and she did not have her credit card available, Olson said. So his wife, (who was “panicky”, remember) reversed the charges, which understandably caused a big hold-up at Justice’s switchboard. However, a credit card was at the time required for any outgoing call on such a phone, so we presume she is supposed to have borrowed one and reversed the charges to save the cardholder the $10 per minute call charges. Under the circumstances, such a concern seems absurd, and with the big delay, why was no one else demanding to make a call on her phone? Or even using another in-flight phone to make a call to a loved one? Yet all other passengers are silent. The Kean Report says that Olson’s phone-call to Ashcroft was “unsuccessful”. Ashcroft, like his President, was visiting a primary school at the time, apparently beyond the limits for an urgent call from his number two back at the Department. So that’s another untraceable call, leaving no records.

 

Ted Olson could give his adherents closure, and shut his critics up, by simply producing the Department of Justice’s telephone accounts, showing a couple of hefty reverse-charges entries charged from Flight 77?s Airfone number at around about 9:20 AM on 11th September, 2001. It is probably impossible, because American Airlines Boeing 757s do not appear to be equipped with in-flight satellite phones at all. Perhaps in error, perhaps not, American’s official website currently states:

 

Inflight Satellite Phones

Turn flight time into quality time by arranging meetings, calling your broker or calling home. Worldwide satellite communications are available on American Airlines’ Boeing 777 and Boeing 767 aircraft almost anytime while flying over North America and worldwide.

 

Link: https://www.aa.com/content/travelInformation/duringFlight/onboardTechnology.jhtml

 

Furthermore, if there were in-flight phones on board this particular 757, why would half-crazed “box-cutter wielding? hijackers on a suicide mission possibly allow them to be used—particularly by only one of the 56 passengers and six crew?

 

If Mrs Olson instead used her mobile phone to call her husband, as numerous mass media reports assumed from the single, very brief, very early, very unsubstantiated CNN report, possibly to call twice, then why did no passenger on the aircraft call—just the once?

 

Everything in the 9/11 narrative traces back to this one report from Ted Olson, and his “investigation, interview” by the FBI on the very same day, a day when America thought it was being invaded and at least 13,500 were believed to have perished. In the small hours of the night after the attacks, CNN launched the legend of the terrorist hijackers threatening innocent Americans with blades and driving them out of their paid-for seats to cower in the back of the plane. The corporate networks megaphoned it world-wide. Barbara Olson’s tragic glamour and TV cred gave it extra pep. Even if he did throw his grief aside that night, he had to evade or expedite the restrictive provisions of the National Security Agency. If he did leak the call to CNN?s Tim O”Brien in the midst of his grief that day, Ted Olson’s word is already compromised out of his own mouth. Addressing the Supreme Court of the United States of America while defending the government in a widow’s suit to sue CIA death-squad leaders, the US Solicitor General said: “It is easy to imagine an infinite number of situations . . . where government officials might quite legitimately have reasons to give false information out. It’s an unfortunate reality that the issuance of incomplete information and even misinformation by government may sometimes be perceived as necessary to protect vital interests.”

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/020323/79/1ao0k.html

(Columbia Journalism Review May/June 2003)

 

Barbara Olson’s “Phone Call” From Flight 77

 Mother of All Lies About 9/11
Barbara Olson’s "Phone Call" From Flight 77

Copyright Joe Vialls, 27 March 2002

 This is a story about a little white lie that bred dozens of other little white lies, then hundreds of bigger white lies and so on, to the point where the first little white lie must be credited as the “Mother of All Lies? about events on 11 September 2001.  For this was the little white lie that first activated the American psyche, generated mass loathing, and enabled media manipulation of the global population.
          Without this little white lie there would have been no Arab Hijackers, no Osama Bin Laden directing operations from afar, and no “War on Terror? in Afghanistan and occupied Palestine. Clearly the lie was so clever and diabolical in nature, it must have been generated by the “Power Elite? in one of its more earthly manifestations. Perhaps it was the work of the Council on Foreign Relations, or the Trilateral Commission?  
          No, it was not. Though at the time the little white lie was flagged with a powerful political name, there was and remains no evidence to support the connection. Just like the corrupt and premature Lee Harvey Oswald story in 1963, there are verifiable fatal errors which ultimately prove the little white lie was solely the work of members of the media. Only they had access, and only they had the methods and means.
          The little white lie was about Barbara Olson, a conservative commentator for CNN and wife of US Solicitor General Ted Olson.  Now deceased, Mrs Olson is alleged to have twice called her husband from an American Airlines Flight 77 seat-telephone, before the aircraft slammed into the Pentagon. This unsubstantiated claim, reported by CNN remarkably quickly at 2.06 am EDT [0606 GMT] on September 12, was the solitary foundation on which the spurious “Hijacker? story was built.
          Without the “eminent? Barbara Olson and her alleged emotional telephone calls, there would never be any proof that humans played a role in the hijack and destruction of the four aircraft that day.  Lookalike claims surfaced several days later on September 16 about passenger Todd Beamer and others, but it is critically important to remember here that the Barbara Olson story was the only one on September 11 and. 12. It was beyond question the artificial “seed” that started the media snowball rolling down the hill.
          And once the snowball started rolling down the hill, it artfully picked up Osama Bin Laden and a host of other “terrorists” that the way. By noon on September 12, every paid glassy-eyed media commentator in America was either spilling his guts about those “Terrible Muslim hijackers”, or liberating hitherto classified information about Osama Bin Laden. “Oh sure, it was Bin Laden,” they said blithely, oblivious to anything apart from their television appearance fees.
          The deliberate little white lie was essential. Ask yourself: What would most Americans have been thinking about on September 12, if CNN had not provided this timely fiction? Would anyone anywhere have really believed the insane government story about failed Cessna pilots with box cutters taking over heavy jets, then hurling them expertly around the sky like polished Top Guns from the film of the same name?  Of course not! As previously stated there would have been no Osama Bin Laden, and no “War on Terror? in Afghanistan and occupied Palestine.
          This report is designed to examine the sequence of the Olson events and lay them bare for public examination. Dates and times are of crucial importance here, so if this report seems tedious try to bear with me. Before moving on to discuss the impossibility of the alleged calls, we first need to examine how CNN managed to “find out? about them, reported here in the September 12 CNN story at 2.06 am EDT:
          “Barbara Olson, a conservative commentator and attorney, alerted her husband, Solicitor General Ted Olson, that the plane she was on was being hijacked Tuesday morning, Ted Olson told CNN.  Shortly afterwards Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon? ? “Ted Olson told CNN that his wife said all passengers and flight personnel, including the pilots, were herded to the back of the plane by armed hijackers. The only weapons she mentioned were knives and cardboard cutters. She felt nobody was in charge and asked her husband to tell the pilot what to do.”
          At no point in the above report does CNN quote Ted Olson directly.  If the report was authentic and 100% attributable, it would have been phrased quite differently. Instead of  “Ted Olson told CNN that his wife said all passengers and flight personnel?”,  the passage would read approximately:-  Mr Olson told CNN, “My wife said all passengers and flight personnel”?  Whoever wrote this story was certainly not in direct contact with  US Solicitor General Ted Olson.
          Think about it, people! If you knew or suspected your spouse’s aircraft  had just fireballed inside the Pentagon building, how would you spend the rest of the day? Initially you would certainly be in deep shock and unwilling to believe the reports. Then you would start to gather your wits together, a slow process in itself. After that and depending on  individual personality, you might drive over to the Pentagon on the off chance your spouse survived the horrific crash, or you might go home and wait for emergency services to bring you the inevitable bad news. As a matter of record, Ted Olson did not return to work until six days later.
          About the last thing on your mind [especially if you happened to be the US Solicitor General], would be to pick up a telephone and call the CNN Atlanta news desk in order to give them a “scoop”. As a seasoned politician you would already know that
all matters involving national security must first be vetted by the National Security Council. Under the extraordinary circumstances and security overkill existing on September 11, this vetting process would have taken a minimum of two days, and more likely three.
          The timing of the CNN news release about Barbara Olson, is therefore as impossible as the New Zealand press release back in 1963 about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As reported independently by Colonel Fletcher Prouty USAF (Retired), whoever set Kennedy up, accidentally launched a  full international newswire biography on obscure “killer? Lee Harvey Oswald, without first taking the trouble to check his world clock.
          It was still “yesterday? in New Zealand on the other side of the International Date Line when the biography was wired  from New York, enabling the  Christchurch Star newspaper was able to print a story about Oswald as the prime suspect in its morning edition, several hours before he was first accused of the crime by Dallas police.
          If the CNN story about Ted Olson had been correct, and he really had called them about Barbara on September 11, then he would most surely have followed the telephone call up a few days later with a tasteful “one-on-one? television interview, telling the hushed and respectful interviewer about how badly he missed his wife, and about the sheer horror of it all.
          There is no record of any such interview in the CNN or other archives. Indeed, if you key “Barbara Olson? into the CNN search engine, it returns only two related articles. The first is the creative invention on September 12 at 2.06 am EDT [0606 GMT], and the second is on December 12, about President Bush, who led a  White House memorial that began at 8:46 a.m. EST, the moment the first hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center three months before. CNN includes this comment about Ted Olson:
          “In a poignant remembrance at the Justice Department, U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson referred to "the sufferings we have all experienced." He made no direct reference to the death of his wife, Barbara Olson, who was a passenger aboard the American Airlines flight that crashed into the Pentagon”?
          Regarding the same event, Fox News reports that, extraordinarily,  Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson then said Barbara Olson’s call, made "in the midst of terrible danger and turmoil swirling around her," was a "clarion call that awakened our nation’s leaders to the true nature of the events of Sept. 11." 
          So Ted Olson avoided making any direct personal reference to the death of his wife. Clearly this was not good enough for someone somewhere. By the sixth month anniversary of the attack, Ted Olson was allegedly interviewed by London Telegraph reporter Toby Harnden, with his exclusive story ?
She Asked Me How To Stop The Plane? appearing in that London newspaper on March 5,  thereafter renamed and syndicated around dozens of western countries as ?Revenge Of The Spitfire“,  finally appearing in the West Australian newspaper on Saturday March 23, 2002.
          I have diligently tried to find a copy of this story in an American newspaper but have so far failed.  The reasons for this rather perverse “external? publication of Ted Olson’s story are not yet clear, but it seems fair to observe that if he is ever challenged by a Senate Select Committee about the veracity of his claims, the story could not be used against him because it was published outside American sovereign territory.
          Regardless of the real reason or reasons for its publication, the story seems to have matured a lot since the first decoy news release by CNN early on September 12, 2001. Here we have considerably more detail, some of which is frankly impossible. In the alleged words of US Solicitor General Theodore Olson:
          “She [Barbara] had trouble getting through, because she wasn’t using her cell phone ? she was using the phone in the passengers? seats,”  said Mr Olson. “I guess she didn’t have her purse, because she was calling collect, and she was trying to get through to the Department of Justice, which is never very easy.” ? “She wanted to know “What can I tell the pilot? What can I do? How can I stop this”? ?
          "What Can I tell the pilot?" Yes indeed! The forged Barbara Olson telephone call claims that the flight deck crew were with her at the back of the aircraft, presumably politely ushered down there by the box cutter-wielding Muslim maniacs, who for some bizarre reason decided not to cut their throats on the flight deck. Have you ever heard anything quite so ridiculous?
          But it is at this juncture that we finally have the terminal error. Though the American Airlines Boeing 757 is fitted with individual telephones at each seat position, they are not of the variety where you can simply pick up the handset and ask for an operator. On many aircraft you can talk from one seat to another in the aircraft free of charge, but if you wish to access the outside world you must first swipe your credit card through the telephone. By Ted Olson’s own admission, Barbara did not have a credit card with her.
          It gets worse. On American Airlines there is a telephone "setup" charge of US$2.50 which can only be paid by credit card, then a US$2.50 (sometimes US$5.00) charge per minute of speech thereafter. The setup charge is the crucial element. Without paying it in advance by swiping your credit card you cannot access the external telephone network. Under these circumstances the passengers? seat phone on a Boeing 757 is a much use as a plastic toy.
          Perhaps Ted Olson made a mistake and Barbara managed to borrow a credit card from a fellow passenger? Not a chance. If Barbara had done so, once swiped through the phone, the credit card would have enabled her to call whoever she wanted to for as long as she liked, negating any requirement to call collect.
        Sadly perhaps, the Olson telephone call claim is proved untrue. Any American official wishing to challenge this has only to subpoena the telephone company and Justice Department records. There will be no charge originating from American Airlines 77 to the US Solicitor General. 
          Even without this hard proof, the chances of meaningfully using a seat-telephone on Flight 77 were  nil. We know from the intermittent glimpses of the aircraft the air traffic controllers had on the radar scopes, that Flight 77 was travelling at extreme speed at very low level, pulling high “G? turns in the process.
          Under these circumstances it would be difficult even reaching a phone, much less using it. Finally, the phones on the Boeing 757 rely on either ground cell phone towers or satellite bounce in order to maintain a stable connection. At very low altitude and extreme speed, the violent changes in aircraft attitude would render the normal telephone links completely unusable. 
          Exactly the same applies with United Airlines Flight 93  that crashed before reaching any targets. The aircraft was all over the place at extreme speed on radar, but as with Flight 77 we are asked to believe that the “hijackers? allowed a passenger called Todd Beamer to place a thirteen minute telephone call. Very considerate of them. The Pittsburg Channel put it this way in a story first posted at 1.38 pm EDT on September 16, 2001:
          “Todd Beamer placed a call on one of the Boeing 757’s on-board telephones and spoke for 13 minutes with GTE operator Lisa D. Jefferson, Beamer’s wife said. He provided detailed information about the hijacking and — after the operator told him about the morning’s World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks – said he and others on the plane were planning to act against the terrorists aboard.”  Note here that Mrs Lisa Beamer did not receive a telephone call from Todd personally, but was later “told? by an operator that her husband had allegedly called. Just another unfortunate media con job for the trash can.
          As previously stated it is the Barbara Olson story that really counts, a view reinforced by the recent antics of the London print media. The photo at the top of this page is a copy of that printed in the West Australian newspaper. You only have to study it closely for a second to realize its full subliminal potential.
          Here is a studious and obviously very honest man. The US Solicitor General sits in front of a wall lined with leather-bound volumes of Supreme Court Arguments, with a photo of his dead wife displayed prominently in front of him.  Does anyone out there seriously believe that this man, a bastion of US law, would tell even a minor lie on a matter as grave as national security?
          Theodore Olson’s own words indicate that he would be prepared to do rather more than that  On March 21, 2002 on its page A35, the Washington Post newspaper printed an article titled ?
The Limits of Lying? by Jim Hoagland, who writes that a statement by Solicitor General Theodore Olson in the Supreme Court has the ring of perverse honesty.
          Addressing the Supreme Court of the United States of America,  US Solicitor General Theodore Olson said it is "easy to imagine an infinite number of situations . . . where government officials might quite legitimately have reasons to give false information out."

Barbara Olson’s phone calls (AA77)

Below is an excerpt from a CNN story detailing an interview between Larry King and Theodore Olson regarding Barbara’s phone call.

Olson was one of the passengers on American Airlines Flight 77, which was hijacked by terrorists and crashed into the Pentagon on September 11. But before she died inside the doomed airplane, Olson kept her cool and made two telephone calls to her husband. "She wasn’t crying, she didn’t even sound frightened. She told me her plane was hijacked and that they didn’t know she was making a phone call," Ted Olson told CNN’s Larry King. Barbara Olson’s last words to her husband, he said, were "What do I tell the pilot to do?" (cnn)

Below is excerpted from a detailed timeline developed at cooperativeresearch.org; this section details the communications.

(9:25 a.m.) A passenger on Flight 77, Barbara Olson, calls her husband, Theodore (Ted) Olson, who is Solicitor General at the Justice Department. Ted Olson is in his Justice Department office watching WTC news on television when his wife calls. A few days later, he says, "She told me that she had been herded to the back of the plane. She mentioned that they had used knives and box cutters to hijack the plane. She mentioned that the pilot had announced that the plane had been hijacked." [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] He tells her that two planes have hit the WTC. [Telegraph, 3/5/02] She feels nobody is taking charge. [CNN, 9/12/01] He doesn’t know if she was near the pilots, but at one point she asks, "What shall I tell the pilot? What can I tell the pilot to do?" [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] Then she gets cut off without warning. [Newsweek, 9/29/01] Ted Olson’ recollection of the call’s timing is extremely vague, saying it "must have been 9:15 or 9:30. Someone would have to reconstruct the time for me." [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] Other accounts place it around 9:25. [About 9:25, Miami Herald, 9/14/01, about 9:25, New York Times, 9/15/01 (C), "by 9:25," Washington Post, 9/21/01] The call is said to have lasted about a minute. [Washington Post, 9/12/01 (B)] By some accounts, his warning of that planes have hit the WTC comes later in a second phone call (see (After 9:30 a.m.)). [Washington Post, 9/21/01] In one account, Barbara Olson calls from inside a bathroom. [Evening Standard, 9/12/01] In another account, she is near a pilot, and in yet another she is near two pilots. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Ted Olson’s account of how the call is made is also strange and conflicting. Three days after 9/11, he says, "I found out later that she was having, for some reason, to call collect and was having trouble getting through. You know how it is to get through to a government institution when you’re calling collect." He says he doesn’t know what kind of phone she used, but he has "assumed that it must have been on the airplane phone, and that she somehow didn’t have access to her credit cards. Otherwise, she would have used her cell phone and called me." [Fox News, 9/14/01] But in another interview on the same day, he says that she used a cell phone and that she may have gotten cut off "because the signals from cell phones coming from airplanes don’t work that well." [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] Six months later, he claims she called collect "using the phone in the passengers’ seats." [Telegraph, 3/5/02] But it isn’t possible to call on seatback phones without a credit card, which would render making a collect call moot. Many other details are conflicting, and Olson faults his memory and says that he "tends to mix the two [calls] up because of the emotion of the events." [CNN, 9/14/01 (C)] The couple liked to joke that they were at the heart of what Hillary Clinton famously called a "vast, right-wing conspiracy." Ted Olson was a controversial choice as Solicitor General, since he argued on behalf of Bush before the Supreme Court in the 2000 presidential election controversy before being chosen. Barbara Olson was known for her extremely partisan attacks on President Clinton. For instance, a few weeks before 9/11 she had called Clinton’s mother a "barfly" who let herself be used by men. [Telegraph, 3/5/02] Some have questioned if Ted Olson can be trusted in his account of the call, since he has stated that lying to the public is justifiable. [Sydney Morning Herald, 3/20/02] Between his memory and his approval of lying for partisan ends, can Ted Olson’s account be trusted? This is the only call from Flight 77, and the only call to mention box cutters. (cooperative research)

Barbara Olson’s call from Flight 77 never happened

Barbara Olson’s call from Flight 77 never happened


The contortions of all involved not to leave a paper trail in the form of phone bills proves it.

by: Rowland Morgan on: 2nd Dec, 2004
http://globalecho.org/view_article.php?aid=2434

Most of the 25 male passengers on Flight 77 were well-connected military-industrialists. Three of them were with Boeing aerospace. It seems likely that these individuals would have possessed mobile phones in their pockets, if not the others. Although mobile calls are illegal during flights, passengers would certainly have tried to make a connection in such an emergency, as they are supposed to have on Flight 175 and Flight 93. Canadian tests have shown that over 8,000 ft altitude, the likelihood of making a connection is remote. Moreover, American Airlines (which operated Flight 77), announced an experimental innovation in 2004 that would enable in-flight mobile calls. Alternatively, the passengers might have used an in-flight satellite telephone, if the 757 was so equipped. But, after knife- and boxcutter- wielding hijackers supposedly herded passengers to the rear of the “plane, only one passenger is supposed to have made a call. She was Barbara Olson, a notoriously hawkish right-winger and CNN TV pundit, third wife of an even more hawkish right-winger, Ted Olson, whom the President had appointed Solicitor-General after Olson persuaded the Supreme Court to appoint his election-losing client to the Presidency by a margin of one vote.

The Olson phone call story is a central load-bearing beam in the whole 9/11 official construction. It was crucial in establishing the existence of marauders on a civilian flight and their possession of dangerous weapons. Later, the identity of the plane that hit the Pentagon hinged on it, too. This vital, founding element of the narrative originated in the Department of Justice and was carried by CNN, part of $38 billion-a-year AOL-Time-Warner (as it was then). It was issued on 12th September at 2:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time—just 16 hours after Olson’s bereavement. It went as follows:

Barbara Olson, a conservative commentator and attorney, alerted her husband, Solicitor General Ted Olson, that the plane she was on was being hijacked Tuesday morning, Ted Olson told CNN.  Shortly afterwards Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon (sic)? Ted Olson told CNN that his wife said all passengers and flight personnel, including the pilots, were herded to the back of the plane by armed hijackers. The only weapons she mentioned were knives and cardboard cutters. She felt nobody was in charge and asked her husband to tell the pilot what to do.


This was the first eye-witness account of hijackers to reach the public. A TV celebrity had seen them, and filed the story with CNN by means of her second husband making an unsubstantiated verbal report. They were men brandishing knives and cardboard cutters who herded passengers to the rear of the plane. No hint of their appearance or origin, but living, breathing hijackers. The story at no point quotes Ted Olson directly and nor does it say by what method his lawyer wife telephoned. All subsequent mass-media reports of the Olson call were derived from this original, freely citing it as a mobile phone call.

It is the only ostensible passenger story coming from all the rogue aircraft that establishes the use of  “cardboard cutters? or box-cutters, the permitted weapons that would get American Airlines off the hook and not implicate the FAA—and it emanates from the Department of Justice (seat of the FBI), issuing at 2:00 AM next morning. It makes that inscrutable reference to Mrs Olson feeling that “nobody was in charge”. And she is supposed to have asked her husband “to tell the pilot what to do”, as if Capt. Burlingame were not lying on the cockpit floor with his throat cut, but had allowed himself to be “herded? to the back of the plane with everyone else and could still make a move. Perhaps the man at the controls had thrown up his hands, bewildered that the controls no longer worked. Burlingame was a decorated war veteran and long-time Pentagon liaison officer. What advice could Ted Olson possibly offer him? What did his wife think Ted Olson might know about a hijacking? That is, if she ever called at all.

The Kean Commission, perhaps aware of the swell of scepticism around it, addresses the question of this notorious call, introducing a new evasion. Apparently all calls from Flight 11 were all made to an unknown number! Their footnote states:

The records available for the phone calls from American 77 do not allow for a determination of which of four “connected calls to unknown number? represent the two between Barbara and Ted Olson, although the FBI and DOJ (dept. of justice) believe that all four represent communications between Barbara Olson and her husband’s office (all family members of the Flight 77 passengers and crew were canvassed to see if they had received any phone calls from the hijacked flight, and only [flight attendant] Renee Max’s parents and Ted Olson indicated that they had received such calls). The four calls were at 9:15:34 for 1 minute, 42 seconds; 9:20:15 for 4 minutes, 34 seconds; 9:25:48 for 2 minutes, 34 seconds, and 9:30:34 for 4 minutes, 20 seconds. FBI report, “American Airlines Telephone Usage,” Sept. 20, 2001; FBI report of investigation, interview of Theodore Olson, Sept. 11, 2001; FBI report of investigation, interview of Helen Voss, Sept. 14, 2001; AAL response to the Commission’s supplemental document request, Jan. 20, 2004.

(Kean Commission report Note 57.)

So, we are left with a situation that is hazy, perplexing and confusing.

1        Hazy, because the Commission does not come out and say the calls were made on Flight 77?s fitted airphones, and if they were there is a selection of calls, all of them “to unknown number?—so that there can be no billing record. Nor are the providers of the in-flight phone service cited, only the airline.

2        Perplexing, because the Commission says that flight attendant Renee May called her parents on a mobile phone at about 9:15, when Flight 77 was lost. But I am not convinced that successful mobile phone connections can be made from an airliner at cruising altitude. Professor Dewdnex’s experiments in Canada persuasively showed that mobile handsets? efficacy diminished with altitude until at over 8,000 feet they were extremely unreliable. Why would American Airlines pay for an experimental system to try enabling them in 2004, if they already worked? Also, Flight 77 at 9:15 was supposed to be over the Alleghenies, an under-populated area only sparsely served by mobile networks. The only evidence the Commission seems to have for this call is an FBI file. Renee Max’s authenticated Verizon bill would be more convincing, and easily enough obtained and reproduced in the report.

3        Confusing, because the Commission seems to be relying for the Olson call on an FBI investigation of, and interview with, Ted Olson that was conducted on the day of the call, when America was believed to be under attack.


The FBI interviewed Helen Voss, who was Ted Olson’s P.A., on September 14th, three days before Tony Mauro of American Lawyer Media, published an account of the call that supposedly arrived in the middle of total chaos at the Department of Justice:

It was just as the World Trade Center attacks were unfolding that someone in the solicitor general’s office took a phone call from Barbara Olson. Ted Olson’s longtime assistant, Helen Voss, raced into the SG’s (solicitor-general’s) office to tell him that Barbara was on the line, sounding panicked. He picked up the phone and exclaimed, “What, you’ve been hijacked”? She was calling on her cell phone from aboard the jet, which had just left Dulles Airport. Voss says, “My heart sank.” The call ended abruptly, but then Barbara called again, reportedly asking her husband, “What should I tell the pilot”? It was a comment that friends have taken as a sign that she was characteristically trying to find a solution to the crisis. The pilot, along with passengers, had apparently been herded into the back of the plane. Olson reported the conversation to the Justice Department’s command center. After the second call ended, Olson and Voss turned on a television set in his office, unsure what else could be done. (Emphasis added)


This contemporary story, probably gathered from the DOJ press office and a phone-call to Voss, fails to name the person who took the original call and does not imply that Helen Voss handled the call, except to say that Olson’s third wife “sounded panicked”, which the “someone? who took the call might plausibly have told her, to make her hurry. So Helen Voss is in the clear, and an unidentified person took the call (although we learn later that Olson’s office is “tight-knit?). No witness there, anyway. The account also differs on key points from the official story. Mrs Olson “called on her cell phone from aboard the jet”. So, what of American’s phone records? And what of Olson’s garbled account six months later, when he told the Daily Telegraph that Mrs Olson had wasted a lot of time trying to call collect because she had no credit card to use on the Airfone? The only obvious explanation for this confusion would be if Mr Olson were striving to evade the telephone records that might exist for a normal call, either cellphone or Airfone. But since he is the USA?s chief law officer in the Supreme Court, this is obviously unthinkable. Instead, we hear three years later, all calls from Flight 77 (that were not mobile calls) went to “unknown number”.

The American Lawyer Media story says the third Mrs Olson called back, whereas according to Olson’s later account, she struggled to get through the first time. Nor does this story refer to any lengthy call lasting until just microseconds before the crash, as the American Airlines data implies. It seems Olson had time to report the call to the Dept. of Justice command centre. (But that would leave a call record, so there is another divergence, since the Kean report said he tried to call his boss, John Ashcroft, but was “unsuccessful”. So, no call record there, either.) Olson then switched on his TV and started watching the crisis coverage as the department was hurriedly evacuated. Who, then, was making a call from Flight 77 until microseconds before it crashed into the Pentagon? American Airlines? records make no sense, and anyway, why don’t they come from the telecoms company that supplied the airphones?

American Lawyer Media says that among those who gathered at Olson’s house later to commiserate with the widower were CNN correspondent Tim O’Brien and his wife, Petie, who were longtime friends. “There was no choice. You just go, even though there is nothing you can really say. Your presence is what counts,” said O’Brien. Did O”Brien plant the phone-call story with CNN?

The report was real enough, and its effect was enormous, but the contortions officialdom went through to avoid a phone-call record seem to prove that the Olson telephone call never happened. In his Daily Telegraph interview six months later, (apparently unpublished in the USA), Olson claimed his wife reversed the charges on a call to his office at the department of Justice, using an in-flight satellite phone located on the back of a seat at the rear of the jetliner. Her mobile was in her handbag stowed away, and she did not have her credit card available, Olson said. So his wife, (who was “panicky”, remember) reversed the charges, which understandably caused a big hold-up at Justice’s switchboard. However, a credit card was at the time required for any outgoing call on such a phone, so we presume she is supposed to have borrowed one and reversed the charges to save the cardholder the $10 per minute call charges. Under the circumstances, such a concern seems absurd, and with the big delay, why was no one else demanding to make a call on her phone? Or even using another in-flight phone to make a call to a loved one? Yet all other passengers are silent. The Kean Report says that Olson’s phone-call to Ashcroft was “unsuccessful”. Ashcroft, like his President, was visiting a primary school at the time, apparently beyond the limits for an urgent call from his number two back at the Department. So that’s another untraceable call, leaving no records.

Ted Olson could give his adherents closure, and shut his critics up, by simply producing the Department of Justice’s telephone accounts, showing a couple of hefty reverse-charges entries charged from Flight 77?s Airfone number at around about 9:20 AM on 11th September, 2001. It is probably impossible, because American Airlines Boeing 757s do not appear to be equipped with in-flight satellite phones at all. Perhaps in error, perhaps not, American’s official website currently states:

Inflight Satellite Phones
Turn flight time into quality time by arranging meetings, calling your broker or calling home. Worldwide satellite communications are available on American Airlines’ Boeing 777 and Boeing 767 aircraft almost anytime while flying over North America and worldwide.

Link: https://www.aa.com/content/travelInformation/duringFlight/onboardTechnology.jhtml

Furthermore, even if there were in-flight phones on board this particular 757, why would half-crazed “box-cutter wielding? hijackers on a suicide mission possibly allow them to be used—particularly by only one of the 56 passengers and six crew?

If Mrs Olson instead used her mobile phone to call her husband, as numerous mass media reports assumed from the single, very brief, very early, very unsubstantiated CNN report, possibly to call twice, then why did no passenger on the aircraft call—just the once?

Everything in the 9/11 narrative traces back to this one report from Ted Olson, and his “investigation, interview” by the FBI on the very same day, a day when America thought it was being invaded and at least 13,500 were believed to have perished. In the small hours of the night after the attacks, CNN launched the legend of the terrorist hijackers threatening innocent Americans with blades and driving them out of their paid-for seats to cower in the back of the plane. The corporate networks megaphoned it world-wide. Barbara Olson’s tragic glamour and TV cred gave it extra pep.  Even if he did throw his grief aside that night, Ted Olson had to evade or expedite the restrictive provisions of the National Security Agency. If he did leak the call to CNN?s Tim O”Brien in the midst of his grief that day, Ted Olson’s word is already compromised out of his own mouth. Addressing the Supreme Court of the United States of America while defending the government in a widow’s suit to sue CIA death-squad leaders, the US Solicitor General said: “It is easy to imagine an infinite number of situations . . . where government officials might quite legitimately have reasons to give false information out. It’s an unfortunate reality that the issuance of incomplete information and even misinformation by government may sometimes be perceived as necessary to protect vital interests.”
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/020323/79/1ao0k.html
(Columbia Journalism Review May/June 2003)

A 40-minute phonecall from a hijacked plane ?

A crucial element in this news report is that Vanessa Minter reportedly  talked with Betty Ong on Flight AA11 for 40 minutes, starting "minutes after 8 am", that is only minutes after the plane took off, according to the article at 7:59 am.  This account is contradicted by official accounts, such as the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry.  

One should note that Jennifer Julin, the journalist, does not indicate whether she personally interviewed or met Vanessa Minter, nor where the interview took place.  Yet such information is regularly given when an interview is conducted by the journalist.

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http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/news/print_091002_NW_LastCall.html

One of The Last Calls

Vanessa Minter knew before we knew that somehow our world would change. Vanessa wanted to be first on the phones September 11, 2001. It was her one-year anniversary at American’s Cary Reservation Center.

Vanessa never knew what the next call would bring. It could be a couple making plans for their honeymoon – a loved one trying to get home for a funeral, or a crew member just wanting to check his schedule. Vanessa loved those brief connections. But September 11th, for nearly 40 minutes, she was a lifeline.

"The first words I heard from the young lady on the phone were I think we’re being hijacked. I asked her, can you repeat yourself and she does. I realize this isn’t funny."

It’s minutes after 8 am. The caller is Betty Ong – a flight attendant with 14 years experience. "She’s calm, she tells us what flight she’s on."

Betty’s calling from American Airlines Flight 11. The 767 took off from Logan Airport at 7:59. It was a light load – 81 passengers, a captain, first officer and nine flight attendants.

They were bound for LA, but Betty Ong doesn’t think they’ll land there. "She begins to give us information, she tells us their number one has been stabbed. She’s down. They’re in the cockpit. They have not gotten any word from the cockpit."

Betty calls from the coach section of the plane. Vanessa can hear other flight attendants going back and forth relaying information.

"She lets us know they’ve sprayed something in the cabin there. They can’t get up there." Betty says the hijackers were seated in first class, and she gives the seat numbers. "There are two of them seated side by side."

"They" were Abdulaziz Alomari and Mohammed Atta – the ringleader of September 11th’s activities. "She does make a point to let us know the passengers in coach have no idea what’s going on." Vanessa goes on to explain the awkward silences during that time. "Betty said, ‘Are you still there?’ I tell her I’m here with you. She says ‘o-k I’m here too and waits."

Betty Ong, like other American employees, are trained to cooperate with hijackers. Get safely on the ground, then negotiate.

"Betty seems to think they’re descending. In her voice it made it made it sound like they were going to descend and land and pretty soon we’re gonna get a message. They’re going to start making demands. They don’t do that. They level off."

Betty fears the hijackers are taking a different course. "The tone of her voice changes a little bit. She never loses her cool, but she asks us to pray for them. Not I, not me, not us."

At 8:46, Vanessa unplugs her headset. The folks in Dallas want a supervisor to ask the questions, but there are no more answers – the line is dead. "They wanted me to write a statement so it would be fresh on my mind."

As she walked to American’s operations’ center, Vanessa still didn’t know what happened to Betty’s plane, and she couldn’t understand why her co-workers were huddled around a TV.

Vanessa couldn’t remember Betty’s flight number. "It wasn’t important that I remember it was Flight 11. The thing I remembered, is I spoke with Betty Ong and who she was."

Betty Ong was just doing her job September 11th. So was Vanessa Minter. "I didn’t do anything. I was just on the phone with someone who needed someone to listen to what she had to say."

Vanessa tried to work through her grief and guilt by talking to her husband and close friends. She says the healing began when Betty Ong’s family contacted her.

Extended Family

Vanessa stayed on the phone with Betty Ong in the last minutes leading up to the attacks on the World Trade Center towers. About 15 minutes into the call, the plane changes direction. Betty Ong suspects the hijackers are playing by new rules.

At 8:47, America sees what Vanessa and Betty feared, but Vanessa was still on the clock. "They immediately directed me to the operation’s office. They wanted me to write a statement so it would be fresh on my mind. After I completed my statement, I sat down in that room and wrote a letter to her family. I felt I owed them that. I told them exactly what happened and what a fantastic individual Betty was and the hero she was."

American Airlines and the FBI gave Vanessa another assignment. "They didn’t want me to talk about it." So she did what came naturally. "I went back on the phone, plugged back in, and waited for the first call to come and it did."

This time Vanessa couldn’t help. Air traffic was at a standstill. The next few days, she filed papers, answered questions from investigators and waited for the planes to get back in the air. "I could do things, I could get people where they were going."

Not many people were going anywhere. Corporations were feeling the pinch. American Airlines was one of the hardest hit. September 27th, American Airlines announced massive layoffs. "I no longer had a position. It just didn’t make good corporate sense. As long as I worked there, unwritten, silent or not, when you let me go, I no longer had a loyalty to you."

Vanessa still had a connection with Betty Ong and some of her last words. "I heard her voice in my sleep. I heard ‘pray for us’. It would wake me up at night. I felt guilty I didn’t know her. I didn’t have anything to reach to make her feel better, personal experiences."

Remember, the letter Vanessa wrote September 11th? An American employee gave it to Betty Ong’s brother in San Francisco. "Harry contacted me. He was very nervous when he called."

Vanessa listened and for the first time she talked about the call. "I was one of the last people to speak to Betty. They deserve to know. They need to know."

Vanessa was finally getting to know Betty Ong. "They helped me get over it. They helped me understand I did all I could do." This was the beginning of a phone friendship with a woman Vanessa would never meet and her surviving family. "She had a spark for life that was unquenchable."

The cross-country calls became a welcome ritual. "Harry called me one night and said Betty’s coming home." Not long after, they met in person in New York – where Betty died. "The event will be in the history books for a long time to come. My part in it was very minor."

Not to Betty Ong’s family. They call Betty the first soldier in this war. To the end, she was a professional looking out for her passengers. The Ong’s listened to a portion of the September 11th call. Only the first four minutes were recorded. They couldn’t believe the calm in Betty’s voice, the professionalism in Vanessa’s, and the connections between two strangers. "It’s a big club I did not ask to be a member of, but I am not sorry that I am."

American Airlines wouldn’t comment specifically on Vanessa’s layoff. They do tell me it was based on her lack of seniority in the company. American did offer a job when business picked up. She turned them down.

Vanessa has no plans to watch coverage of the one-year anniversary of the attacks. She plans to go to her new job, but she’ll be thinking about Betty Ong.


Last Updated: Sep 11, 2002

‘Project Achilles’ Report Part I

‘Project Achilles’ Report

A. K. Dewdney

Part One – January 23rd 2003

Preliminary low-altitude cellphone experiment

January 23 2003; 4:35 – 5:40 pm
Civic Airport, London, Ontario, Canada

Equipment:

aircraft: Diamond DA20/C1 Katana two-seater
engine: 125 hp
fiberglass/carbon fiber composite body & airframe
weight fully loaded: 1630 lbs

cellphones: one Motorola model "120 CDMA" cellphone (A)
two Motorola "i1000 plus" cellphones (B)
(both fully charged at flight time)

The flight plan consisted of four "laps," elongated circuits (shaped like a paperclip) over London, Ontario airspace. Each lap was about seven to eight miles long and two to three miles wide. Three calls were made on each of two straight legs in each lap. Calls alternated between cellphone A and cellphone B. A second i1000, intended for use at higher altitudes, slipped to the cockpit floor and could not be retrieved in those cramped quarters. A check of battery levels of the first i1000, however, showed that there had been no significant power drain on the unit.

* * * A * * * * * B * * * * A * * * * end
*
* W —– E
*
*
* * * B * * * * * A * * * * B * * * * begin

Note: "altitude" means aboveground altitude, not height above sea level, as recorded by the altimeter.

Results:

Lap 1 @ 1,100 feet altitude
1st leg: A to business number no connection?
  B to business number 1 min. complete
  A to business number 1 min. complete
2nd leg B to home number no connection?
  A to home number (broken) complete
  B to home number complete
Lap 2 @ 2,100 feet altitude
1st leg: A to home number no connection?
  B to home number no voice, just a "beep"
  A to home number no connection?
2nd leg B to home number 1 min. complete
  A to home number no voice
  B to home number no voice
Lap 3 @ 3,100 feet altitude
1st leg: A to home number missed making the call
  B to home number "system busy"
  A to home number incomplete
2nd leg B to home number "please wait: CLEARNET"
  A to home number incomplete
  B to home number call made late, incomplete  
Lap 3 @ 3,500 feet altitude
A to home number incomplete  
B to home number   complete, but breaking up    


After the third call, I decided that the cockpit was too noisy to hear the message system, so I changed my plan and called home (my wife), instead.

Calls to the business number were recorded by the message system. Two calls made it through. Of the 17 calls to the home number, only about ten calls got through. In three of these, we had a conversation (of sorts) and the rest were just white noise. (no record of which)

Summary:

In the preliminary test, only five of the 16 (attempted) calls resulted in any meaningful voice contact. In at least two of those calls, no connection whatever could be established with cellsites below. The composition of the Diamond Katana (manufactured right here in London, Ontario) makes it almost transparent to EM radiation at radio wavelengths and the results of this experiment are therefore optimal. Aircraft with metal skins will undoubtedly fare rather worse in the percentage of calls making it through.

 Altitude Range   Range in Feet   Call Success Rate   Percentage Success Rate 
low altitude 1100′ – 2100′ 4/12 33%
mid altitude 3100′ – 3500′ 1/7 14%

Conclusion:

The purpose of this experiment was to probe the effect of altitude on cellphone service and to iron out wrinkles in experimental procedure. In the first instance, it looks as though there might well be a decline in service with increasing altitude. The phenomenon must now be mapped more carefully.

As far as operating procedures is concerned, it is probably best to make calls to a number you know well, to be familiar with the various status messages on each cellphone display screen, and to have someone at the other end who can log the time of the call, as well as to summarize the content. (The cockpit in most light aircraft is so noisy that one cannot always hear a voice at the other end, although I did hear my wife talking somewhat clearly on two occasions.) Also, it is important to be very organized, having a special carrier case for cellphones, writing/recording materials, etc. The airspeed of the Katana was just a little fast for me to comfortably make the calls and stay organized at the same time. Two of the calls were made rather late in the current lap, even as we began to climb out to the next one. It would be better to have a separate person operating the cellphones. We also need a meaningful call classification system to fill the gaps between complete failure and an audible conversation.

All calls were handled by the Bell Mobility Network, which has some 25 cellsites operating in the London area. I have now located all the cellsites in London, Ontario, thanks to a very helpful set of maps provided by a local cell phone aficionado: <www.arcx.com/sites/>

Plans are now under way for Part Two. This will involve a Cessna four-seater (with an aluminum skin), five or six cellphones of various types, an expert to operate them on my queue, and a flight plan that will explore the effect up to 10,000 feet beyond which, according to one airline pilot, there is absolutely no hope of getting through.

A. K. Dewdney
(with thanks to Corey Barrington, pilot with empire Aviation)

‘Project Achilles’ Report

Part Two – February 25th 2003

Equipment:

  • Diamond Katana four-seater (Empire Aviation)
  • cellphones: C1, C2, C3, C4 (See appendix for descriptions.)

Personnel:

  • Corey Barrington (pilot)
  • Darren Spicknell (operator – technician for Wireless Concepts, Inc)
  • Kee Dewdney (director)
  • Pat Dewdney (ground recorder)

Weather: unlimited ceiling, light scattered cloud at 3,000 and 25,000 feet, visibility 15 miles, wind 5 knots from NW, air temperature -12 C.

For this experiment, we flew a circular route, instead of the elongated oval. The circle centred on the downtown core and took us over most of the city suburbs. All locations below are referred to the city centre and are always about three miles distant from it.

Protocol:

At times specified by the director, the operator made a call to a specified number, stating the code number of the cellphone (1 to 4) and the altitude. The receiver recorded whatever was heard and the time the call was received. At the first three altitudes of 2000, 4000, and 6000 feet abga each cellphone was used once. At 8000 feet abga, only C2 and C3 were tried, C1 and C4 now being hors de combat.

Results with timeline:

Time (pm) Call No. C# Loc. Operator Recorder
5:05       started taxi to runway
5:12       takeoff
5:14       at 2000 feet (above-ground altitude)
5:15 Call #1 C1 N success not very clear
5:17 Call #2 C2 W success not very clear
5:19 Call #3 C3 SW failure
5:21 Call #4 C4 S success not clear/ breaking up
5:24       climbed to 4000 feet abga
5:25 Call #5 C1 NE failure
5:26 Call #6 C2 N success clear
5:27 Call #7 C3 NW failure
5:29 Call #8 C4 W failure
5:33       climbed to 6000 feet abga
5:34 Call #9 C1 SE failure
5:36 Call #10 C2 E failure
5:37 Call #11 C3 NE failure
5:38 Call #12 C4 N failure
5:39 Call #13 C1 NW failure
5:40 Call #14 C2 SW success clear
5:42 Call #15 C3 S failure
5:43 Call #16 C4 SE failure
5:44 Call #17 C1 E failure
5:45 Call #18 C2 NE failure
5:45 Call #19 C3 NE success breaking up
5:46 Call #20 C4 N failure
5:49       begin climb to 8000 feet abga (cellphones 2 and 3 only)
5:50 Call #21 C2 W failure
5:50 Call #22 C3 SW failure
5:51 Call #23 C2 S success buzzy
5:53       completed climb to 8000 feet abga
5:58 Call #24 C3 SE failure
5:58 Call #25 C2 E failure
5:58 Call #26 C3 E failure
5:59 Call #27 C2 NE failure
6:00 Call #28 C3 N failure
6:01 Call #29 C1 N failure
6:01 Call #30 C2 NW failure
6:02 Call #31 C3 NW failure
6:02 Call #32   C4 NW  
6:15       landed at airport

Conclusions:

To the extent that the cellphones used in this experiment represent types in general use, it may be concluded that from this particular type of aircraft, cellphones become useless very quickly with increasing altitude. In particular, two of the cellphone types, the Mike and the Nokia, became useless above 2000 feet. Of the remaining two, the Audiovox worked intermittently up to 6000 feet but failed thereafter, while the BM analog cellphone worked once just over 7000 feet but failed consistently thereafter. We therefore conclude that ordinary cellphones, digital or analog, will fail to get through at or above 8000 feet abga.

It should be noted that several of the calls rated here as "successes" were difficult for the Recorder to hear, witness description such as "breaking up" or "buzzy."

Summary table

Altitude (in feet) Calls Tried Calls Successful Percent Success
2000 4 3 75%
4000 4 1 25%
6000 12 2 17%
8000 12* 1 8%

* includes three calls made while climbing; last successful call was made from just over 7000 feet.

The four cellphones operated via four different cellular networks (cellsites). Because calls were made from a variety of positions for each network, it cannot be said that failures were the fault of cellsite placement. the London, Ontario, region is richly supplied with cellsites belonging to five separate networks.

It may be noted in passing that this experiment was also conducted in a radio-transparent aircraft with carbon-fibre composite construction. Failure to make a call from such an aircraft with any particular brand of cellphone spells automatic failure for the same cellphone from a metal-clad aircraft flying at the same altitude. A metal skin attenuates all cellphone signals to a significant degree. It may safely be concluded that the operational ceiling for cellphones in aluminum skin aircraft (most passenger liners, for example) would be significantly lower than the ones reported here.

It may therefore safely be concluded that cellphone calls from passenger aircraft are physically impossible above 8000 feet abga and statistically unlikely below it.

A. K. Dewdney
February 25/03

Appendix – Cellphone types, networks (courtesy of Darren Spicknell)

C1 Motorola i95cl – Telus Mike Network – 800 Mhz IDEN
C2 Motorola StarTac – Bell Mobility – 800 Mhz Analog
C3 Audiovox 8300 – Telus PCS Network – 1.9 Ghz CDMA / 800 MHz
C4 Nokia 6310i – Rogers AT&T – 1.9 Ghz GHz GSM. (Tri-Band – Has an
1.8 GHz and 900 Mhz GSM these are European frequencies)

IDEN – Integrated Digital Enhanced Network
CDMA – Code Division Multiple Access
GSM – Global Systems for Mobile Communications

Power Levels

Power output of these handsets. The Nokia 6310i and Audiovox 8300 when in digital mode will output 0.2 Watts.

When the Analog Motorola StarTac is operating it is at 0.6 Watts optimal.

When and IF the Audiovox 8300 is in analog mode it will operate at 0.6 Watts (However, this is not normally the case – you will see wattage levels around 0.52 – 0.45 approximately)

Frequency

Both the Telus Mike (C1) and Motorola StarTac (C2) operate in the 800 MHz range. This will allow the signal to travel at a great distance. However, the IDEN (Mike) network has fewer site locations and is a newer Digital network. Most digital technologies operate on a "all or none" basis. When it has signal it will work well. As the signal fades, one hears no static, but some digital distortion just before the call drops.

Networks

Mike Network: Newer, all-digital network with modern antenna design, and fewer cellsites

Bell Mobility Analog: Older, analog network with less focused antenna design but many cellsites

Telus PCS: Newer, digital network with multiple frequencies, modern antenna design, and many cellsites

Rogers GSM: Our newest digital network with modern antenna design and many cellsites

A. K. Dewdney,
February 25th 2003