The Flying Wedge
Funny things did happen at the Pentagon that morning, but in my estimation the missile theory doesn't rise above the folkloric. There is simply too much to counter the fantastic claim for the 9/11 truth movement to be squandering its integrity on such speculation. Here, and from what the general public would call "conspiracy" sites, is a compilation of evidence for Flight 77 striking the Pentagon, here are photos of the plane's wreckage, and here's a refutation of the missile theory by respected Washington-based researcher John Judge.
Something to consider: when an anomalous event occurs, like a jet striking the Pentagon, we ought to make allowance for anomalous evidence. Yes, the hole looks too small, but with what do we have to compare the event? The walls of the structure - particularly the virtually empty side the plane went 270 degrees out of its way to hit, which had been hardened against attack - are much stronger than those of the WTC. So what's it supposed to look like?
For me, here's what knocks down the missile theory: did the conspirators need a missile to produce the desired result? No, they didn't. And that's not to say Hani Hanjour was at the helm. He couldn't fly a Cessna the month before. Hanjour didn't perform those high speed aerobatic maneuvers that had a flight controller believe she was tracking a fighter jet, and hit the ground floor without scraping the Pentagon's lawn. He was such a poor pilot, a flight school manager who'd tried to instruct him in January 2001 said "I couldn't believe he had a commercial license of any kind with the skills that he had," and reported him to the FAA to have his license revoked. (How he got the license in the first place, the FBI isn't telling.) In August 2001, just three weeks before the attack, the flight school instructor who refused the hapless Hanjour rental of a Cessna tried to talk him out of ever becoming a pilot. Yet regarding Flight 77, "aviation sources said the plane was flown with extraordinary skill, making it highly likely that a trained pilot was at the helm."
Unconvinced that Flight 77 was beyond Hani Hanjour? Some visual aids, then.
Here's the cockpit of a Cessna, with which Hanjour couldn't cope in August.
And here's the cockpit of a 757, which Hani Hanjour first entered on September 11, and we're told mastered on the fly to control the huge jet's 500 mph, 270-degree spiralling descent to a level entry of the ground floor of the one side of the Pentagon which had been hardened against attack, and was virtually empty owing to construction.
So no, it wasn't Hanjour flying that thing. So what was?
There was no guided missile, but I believe control of the aircraft was taken from Hanjour in flight so Flight 77 would behave as a guided missile. We're not talking science fiction. The technology exists, and at the heart of the Pentagon. For instance, a month before the attacks, weapons' giant Raytheon had remote-flown a FedEx 727 to a safe landing on a New Mexico air force base in August 2001, without a pilot. (It may be worth noting that Raytheon employees were on at least three of the four flights, and on Flight 77 was Stanley Hall, director of program management for Raytheon's Electronics Warfare Division. A colleague called him "our dean of electronic warfare.") The incredible story that none of the flight data recorders were said to be recoverable, when any one of which failures would have been a first for the system - black boxes are mounted in the tail sections - deserves more attention. As does Dov Zakheim: then-Pentagon Comptroller and PNACer, whose System Planning Corporation "designs, manufactures and distributes highly sophisticated technology that enables an operator to fly by remote control as many as eight different airborne vehicles at the same time from one position either on the ground or airborne."
Substituting the flight with a missile, disposing of the plane and its people, risking detection in broad daylight before witnesses who could have been taking pictures - none of that needed to be chanced.
As John Judge writes in "Not All Conspiracies Are Created Equal":
Until we know, we cannot act. And if we act on rumor and impulse then we are no less a slave than those who live in the denial that the propaganda machines promote. So, be cynical and question things, but be analytical and scientific so you can approach the truth when you speak. Three truths don't make a fourth just by mentioning them. All lies, in fact, depend on having elements of the truth in them for verismilitude as its called. Read, don't repeat what you last heard. And if you are going to be more than a theorist, then give conspiracy the respect it deserves, and prove it.
There's much more deserving of our time, reputations and resources than perpetuating the urban myth of the missile theory. Just because the "official story" - which is itself a conspiracy theory - is intellectually lazy, is no excuse why our competing narratives ought to be.