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Jonathan Stern Quoted Extensively in The Washington Post

On September 17, 2021 by Schnader in News

Jonathan Stern was quoted extensively in The Washington Post in “What was Flight 93’s target on 9/11?” published on September 9, 2021. Mr. Stern used a flight simulator to replicate the weather conditions on September 11, and traced what would likely have been Flight 93’s trajectory had the plane not crashed in southern Pennsylvania. An excerpt of the article follows.

“In all probability, Stern said, [9/11 hijacker Ziad] Jarrah would have followed the Potomac River toward Washington. At 10:18, we passed by the office tower in Rosslyn, Va., … and the National Mall came into view on the left. Off to the right, Jarrah would have seen smoke billowing from the Pentagon.

Everything seemed to speed up. Stern spotted the West Front of the Capitol, with its iconic dome, at the far end of the Mall. “That’s such an easy shot,” he said. “It’s like a bowling alley lane to your target, which is very distinct.”

And the White House? “I can tell already: It is hard. At high speed, it would have been very hard to find. The White House is buried among those other office buildings. From above, there’s nothing all that distinctive about it, and it’s surrounded by buildings of similar size.”

Getting a clearer shot at the White House would have involved continuing down the river to DCA, performing a U-turn back north and avoiding the Washington Monument on the way over the South Lawn toward the Truman Balcony.

Stern’s bottom line: Striking the White House in a fast-moving 757 would be a difficult maneuver for any pilot, much less a nervous novice like Jarrah. “It would,” he said, “be very hard to target the White House and very easy to target the Capitol.”