by Lisa Guliani
On May 1, 2006, after a 24-hour respite following our participation in New York Citx’s huge April 29th anti-war rally, WING TV returned to the road once again with three destinations in mind: Shanksville, New Baltimore, and Indian Lake, Pennsylvania. Victor Thorn and I wanted to spend a couple of days in these locations and re-tread some of the area covered in our book, Phantom Flight 93: The Shanksville Flight 93 Hoax.
New Baltimore is a scenic wilderness, accessed via one long narrow road that stretches for miles, descending deeper with every twist and bend while fringed by dense woods, fishing holes and wide swaths of forested mountain landscape. Eventually the winding country road brought us to a small street dotted with a few houses. We saw a man in his yard and pulled into the driveway to ask him a few questions about 9-11.
The man’s name was Dave and he works as a prison guard. After giving him a brief overview of why we were there, he invited us into his home for coffee. We spent the better part of an hour asking him about 9-11, and Dave openly expressed his doubts as to the official government version of events. He told us not to expect to see much of anything at the temporary memorial site for Flight 93 in Shanksville, because there isn’t much of anything to see. Dave was very intrigued by all we related to him regarding the anomalous nature of the official story and equally perplexed by the lack of wreckage and debris shown in the photos on the cover of our book. We could see the wheels turning in his head. He said he would ask around and try to learn more information and get back with us. Dave directed us to speak with a woman who works at the post office just down the road from his home who could point us in the right direction for information.
The post office was nothing more than a pint-sized white shack; and the worker there told us we needed to head over to St. John’s Church and speak with a woman named Melanie. This would be Melanie Hankinson, to whom we refer in Phantom Flight 93. We found Melanie inside the lovely church and she related to us her story of 9-11. Melanie says the lawn maintenance man from Beauty Lawn heard a loud “bang” and subsequently informed Melanie that there were papers blowing all over the churchyard. Upon inspection, she found not only papers littering the property, but also small pieces of metal. Melanie also told us that the FBI had set up a trailer in New Baltimore after Flight 93 purportedly crashed in the field at Shanksville, and locals were advised to bring all recovered debris to this trailer and hand it over to the Feds. Subsequently, she and other residents of the community dutifully delivered bags of debris to the FBI as directed. Along with papers and checks, Melanie also found small pieces of metal in the churchyard, which she said the FBI identified as pieces of the plane’s underbelly. Keep in mind that New Baltimore is roughly 6-8 miles away from Shanksville and the wind speed on the morning of September 11th in that area was only 9-10 mph.
Prior to leaving New Baltimore, we spoke with a woman named Mrs. Oster, whose husband Charlie saw two additional airplanes in the near vicinity of Flight 93 (or something purporting to be Flight 93) on the morning of September 11th. After asking a few questions, she very undeniably said that she, as well as her husband, felt that this airliner had been shot from the sky. Victor then spoke with Mr. Oster via telephone, and he confirmed the sightings of other small white planes flanking Flight 93.
Indian Lake resembles a picture postcard. It’s sprinkled with nice looking homes, a marina, and a couple of sprawling golf courses. We spoke with several folks at both the marina and the private golf course. Please keep in mind that Indian lake is 1-2 miles from Shanksville.
Stephanie Childers works in the Pro Shop at a private golf course. She told us that she saw Flight 93 intact and in the air on the morning of 9-11 from Hoffman’s Nursery, approximately 3-4 miles away. She drew us a diagram to illustrate the plane’s approach and described how she saw it descending as it flew, and then how it abruptly went into a vertical nosedive and subsequently crashed. She claims to have seen the windows of Flight 93. Stephanie said that at the time it impacted, she thought there was a bomb on the plane.
Standing next to Stephanie Childers was a man named Bob Pile, who had been listening to our discussion. Bob recalled “what seemed like buckets of gravel? hitting the roof of his house on the morning of 9-11 around the time of Flight 93?s reported impact. Bob says his home is one mile away from the crash site. He thinks it is very odd that gravel would reach his home over that distance, and had no explanation as to how this might have happened. We asked him how an airplane as large as Flight 93 could fit into a hole of such significantly smaller dimensions and showed him a representative diagram of the plane and crater dimensions, and he shook his head, unable to reconcile the disparity in dimensions.
Another local named Charles McCauley chimed in at this point. McCauley described the debris he’d recovered from his property ? black seat backings that the FBI identified as coming from Flight 93. Charles had no idea how these pieces of plane seats could have made their way the few miles to his house. McCauley, like many others, turned this debris over to the FBI. Both Pile and McCauley described lots of paper, parts of magazines, some solid matter (pieces of seats and metal) and checks carried by the wind in the days following 9-11, all of which was determined by the FBI to be from Flight 93.
After touching base with some more folks at Indian lake, we then proceeded to Shanksville. The people at Indian Lake had advised us to contact local realtor Valencia (Val) McClatchey, who took the infamous photo of a red barn with the mushroom cloud behind it, which appears on the cover of our book and has made its way through the vast spectrum of mainstream and alternative media venues since the events of 9-11.
We spoke with lots of people while in Shanksville, none of whom recalled smelling the unmistakable odor of burning human flesh on 9-11-01. We did call Val McClatchey and met with her at her real estate office. She was initially pleasant and businesslike, but as soon as we showed her our Flight 93 book, McClatchey became very surly, hostile, and defensive. During the first few minutes in her office, she described being at her home on the morning of 9-11 and hearing the purported plane crash. She said she ran and grabbed her camera, which ? conveniently enough ? was sitting right by the front door, and snapped her famous photo at a distance of one mile from the crash site. When questioned by us, she abruptly poo-pooed the possibility that Flight 93 might have been shot down or brought down by some other means on the morning of 9-11, and became irate when we again produced our diagram, asking how such a massive plane could fit entirely into a crater of such small proportions. We explained how scientifically and physically impossible it would be for this to happen. At this point, McClatchex’s eyes began shooting daggers at us, and she became positively livid when we pointed out that the mushroom cloud in her photo is more reminiscent of an ordnance blast than a jet fuel column. She seemed more inclined to discuss the supposed lawsuit she has brought forth against the Associated Press over her 9-11 photo, apparently in an attempt to intimidate us. McClatchey has previously threatened to sue at least one other 9-11 researcher known as “Killtown? regarding this same photograph, a threat which has thus far not amounted to anything.
She then stated that she “didn’t want to be around any people who question the government.” Incidentally, her photo is prominently displayed throughout the city of Shanksville, in Somerset County, and is being sold at Id Restaurant for $20.00. Val funnels $18 from every photo sale to the Todd Beamer Foundation. But I digress. Approximately 10-15 minutes into our interview, McClatchey suddenly and unexpectedly jumped from her seat and rudely threw us out of her office, mocking and labeling us “conspiracy theorists”. We point out that this realtor had no intelligent or coherent responses to the valid questions we raised, nor was she able to explain the anomalous nature of the purported plane crash. In fact, she simply dismissed the discrepancies regarding the plane and crater. Why muddy the water with facts, right Val?
We were quite intrigued by this woman’s responses and her absolute unwillingness to consider basic inconsistencies with the official story. Our visit with McClatchey has served to fuel our interest even further as to just what is going on in Shanksville. In its wake, 9-11 has provided some interesting “opportunities? for at least some Shanksville locals, and the recent release of Hollywood’s United 93 movie promises a potentially lucrative future for the previously unknown (pre-9/11) community. Val McClatchey made it unmistakably clear to us that she intends to milk her 9-11 claim to fame for all it’s worth, truth be damned.
Ironically, we tried to use a cell phone several times while in Shanksville and the surrounding areas. We couldn’t get a signal at all, no matter where we were, from the ground. This in itself is pretty interesting wouldn’t you say, considering all the supposed phone calls made at 35,000 feet on the morning of 9-11?
Also, every person we spoke to told us a different rate of speed regarding Flight 93?s final moments prior to impact ? the speeds ranging from 330 mph to 700 mph. We couldn’t get the same story twice. The more people we spoke to, the more it appeared that hardly anyone actually saw anything firsthand other than multiple sightings of Flight 93 in mid-air on the morning of 9-11. We have located no one to date who actually witnessed the plane crash-landing. Instead, we listened to many accounts from locals who appeared to be repeating what they had been told.
MORE COMMENTS FROM SHANKSVILLE LOCALS
Firefighter Rick King, owner of Id Restaurant
Rick couldn’t explain how such a huge airplane could fit into such a small sized crater either, but quickly added that he doesn’t see anything “unusual or out of the ordinary? about the official story. When asked if accident reports were filed by the NTSB for Flight 93, he stated in the affirmative. We told him the accident report, if any was filed, has not publicly emerged. He had no comment. When asked, he denied noticing any stench of burning human flesh on 9-11. However, he was able to parrot the now all-too familiar unsubstantiated tale of how debris, wreckage and human remains were found at the crash site. Naturally, he had no qualifier for this tale, and no plausible explanation as to why such a seeming wealth of wreckage, remains, and debris is mysteriously absent in publicly available photos of the Flight 93 crash site. We asked how we could locate the Mayor of Shanksville, Ernie Stull, and were advised that the Mayor was in poor health, suffering from congestive heart failure. We decided not to try to question him because of this information. Another interesting observation about Rick King: The entire time we spoke with him, he kept looking nervously from side to side and peering behind him, as if concerned about who might be watching/listening to him talk with us. Less than 15 minutes after coming out to speak with us on the sidewalk, he abruptly ended the interview and ran back into Id Restaurant.
Bob Schmucker, “Ambassador of Flight 93 temporary memorial?
Bob told us that the entire fuselage of Flight 93 had been pulled from the crater, describing it as “looking crumpled-up like aluminum foil when they took it out.” He told us three local excavating companies were used to dig out whatever was allegedly in the smoking hole, and the excavators had gone as deep as 50 feet. He could not or would not name them. Schmucker stated that we had valid, serious questions and directed us to speak to Somerset coroner and funeral director, Wally Miller, who appears to us to be the point man in this whole mess. Schmucker also stated that a mound on the property allegedly contains both human remains from Flight 93 and ground tree limbs. He cited Wally Miller as the source of this information. This mound is located within the fenced-in area adjacent to the temporary memorial, behind the spot where the crater used to be. The crater is now completely filled in and inaccessible to the public. In fact, they don’t even want you walking up to the fence line.
Vicky Rock, correspondent for The Daily American (Somerset County)
Vicky told us that not all of the people allegedly aboard Flight 93 had been identified in the analysis of human remains after the crash. She related to us that a DMORT team had assisted the FBI and the coroner Wally Miller in making positive identifications. DMORT is an acronym for “Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team”. DMORT?s own website states that all of the people onboard Flight 93 were ultimately identified. However, this local correspondent firmly stated otherwise to us. She suggested we speak with Wally Miller for further clarification, which we did later.
I spoke again with Vicky Rock on May 10, 2006, and once again she refuted Miller’s statement regarding the Flight 93 identifications. This time, she cited a recent comment made by a victim family member, Betty Kemmerer, who was related to Flight 93 passenger Hilda Marcin of Mt. Olive, NJ. At a meeting, Kemmerer wanted still unidentified human remains to be entombed at the memorial site. According to Vicky Rock, Kemmerer was told by officials that “they would take care of it”.
Curiously, we could not purchase a copy of the September 12th issue of The Daily American from the newspaper’s circulation department. We were told these issues are inaccessible and in storage, and were not allowed to photocopy the framed article from that specific date which hung on the wall of the newsroom. So, we had to make a trip to their local library, where we photocopied all of the librarian’s collected news clippings pertaining to the days immediately following 9-11. Ms. Rock expressed little ? if any ? interest when we informed her that several of the purported passengers of Flight 93 have yet to appear on the Social Security Death Index listed as deceased, despite Miller’s issuance of presumptive death certificates shortly after 9-11. She did not give us the impression that she was curious about this strange phenomenon, and during my telephone conversation with her on May 10th, she stated that neither she nor the newspaper intends to investigate the passenger list oddities, saying, “We don’t think there is any story there”. No story there? People issued death certificates who were purportedly killed during a “terrorist” attack in her own community, yet not showing up on official sources as deceased years later ” and this is not worthy of a second look or minimal investigation on the part of the local newspaper? Seems to me the flags at the memorial aren’t the only things flapping in the wind. Speaking of furious flapping?
Wally Miller, Somerset Coroner and Funeral Director
This was the man we’d been itching to meet, since Miller was the point man who should have been able to tell us all we needed to know about Flight 93 wreckage, remains, and debris. You would think so, right? We thought Val McClatchex’s behavior was suspect, but let me stress to you that it was nothing compared to what we’ve encountered with Wally Miller. Wally was easy enough to find, but we weren’t exactly given the hometown welcome, or a civil greeting for that matter. We distinctly got the impression that he had been tipped off that we were coming to talk to him, and he grew increasingly agitated during the 3-4 minutes we were graced with his presence while standing at the side doorway of his funeral home. We had just finished walking through Wallx’s funeral home looking for and calling out to him, with no response. The whole place appeared shut-down and by all appearances, nothing was going on there that day in the way of viewings, etc. All the lights were off, no chapels were set-up for wakes, no flowers delivered or set-out in chapel rooms; nothing one would typically expect to see preceding such funerary-type events. When he finally answered the side door, Wally was dressed in jeans, not the somber attire of a busy funeral director. Still, Miller stressed to us how busy he was, how he had a lot going on that day, and how he had no time to talk to us. He made it sound like there were viewings scheduled and families arriving (May 2nd), yet there were zero signs of any of this during our previous walk-through of the funeral home. Plus, our car was the only one in his parking lot.
Wally immediately said he did not want to answer any questions about the movie (which we hadn’t intended to ask him about anyway) and followed that up with, “I don’t want to answer any questions about the remains or the wreckage.” Odd, no? Who else should we ask about the remains and the wreckage if not the man who was one of the first to arrive upon the crime scene and who had jurisdiction over it? He spent the first two and a half minutes of our attempt to speak to him trying to convince us how extremely unavailable he would be that day. We tried to schedule him for later on in the afternoon to no avail. I then asked Miller if he would be open to talking to me on the phone, and he agreed to this. During our final thirty seconds at Wallx’s side door, I did manage ask him if all the people aboard Flight 93 had been identified, and he agitatedly said “yes”.
I then repeated the contradictory comment made to us by correspondent Vicky Rock, whose statements refuted Miller’s. Remember, Rock told us on that same day (May 2, 2006) that the Flight 93 identifications were incomplete and not everyone had been positively identified. Miller became even more flustered when I questioned him about this contradiction, barking out, “Yes, yes, everyone was identified.” Since Miller was supposedly in charge of the Shanksville crime scene, in our view, he is a man with some answers. Strangely enough, many people had told us to go see Wally and they said he would be happy to talk to us. He has been described as a solid rock of the community and “Mr. Unflappable”. Yet clearly Wally was not happy to see or talk to us. From his demeanor, we might as well have been trying to sell him encyclopedias. Miller is cited in several 9-11 reports as having jurisdiction over this crash site, at least until the FBI descended upon the scene and claimed authority over the investigation.
I have spoken with Wally Miller via phone twice since May 2, 2006. On May 10th, during the first call attempt, Miller pretended not to remember his agreement to talk to me by phone from just a few days ago ” and when I refreshed his memory, he promptly snarled, “Nahh, nahh, I?ve got nothing to say to you people.” He then hung up on me. This took place within the span of about 33 seconds. I waited a while and then made a second call to Wally, and this time I managed to keep him on the phone a bit longer. However, Wally “Unflappable? Miller was fit to be tied during this second call. He raised his voice, “What questions? What questions”? And instead of allowing me the time he had previously agreed upon days ago and allowing me to ask my questions, he interrupted repeatedly with, “What is your theory”? I tried to explain that all I wanted to do was ask him some basic questions that really need answers, but he kept yelling instead of answering. In response to the above bellowing, I calmly stated that I didn’t think the government has been entirely truthful about the events of 9-11. He responded with, “That’s a bunch of hooey!!? He used words like “half-truths? in reference to the comments made to us about the fuselage by Bob Schmucker at the memorial site.
Due to his apparent and unconcealed agitation, it was very difficult talking with Miller, or even asking any of the questions I?d compiled. I brought up the matter of how several people from Flight 93, for whom he had issued presumptive death certificates shortly after 9-11, have not appeared listed as deceased on the Social Security Death Index. He became irate, and his answer was, “I don’t work for the Social Security Administration.” It’s kind of hard for me to believe that Mr. Unflappable has conducted himself in this same fashion during countless hours of interviews he’d given in the past to scores of media correspondents. So WHY would Wally Miller flip out like this with me before I even had an opportunity to ask more than one or two of the 22 questions I?d compiled? In fact, he has acted in this manner from the very first second he saw us at his door. The question is, why?
Considering his strange responses, I asked him if he was under a gag order and unable to talk to me about the wreckage/remains. He quickly denied this, stating that he’d given many interviews before; and then in the same breath he proceeded to hurl a name at me in between the yelling. He told me to contact Bill Crowley from the FBI and ask him my questions. Bill Crowley, eh? So, Miller isn’t under a gag order, but he immediately referred me to the FBI for information. This is very interesting, especially since Miller has remained accessible for so many previous mainstream interviews and has spoken at length with journalists over the last 4