Prelude 9/11 morning Flight 11 hijacked Flight 175 hijacked WTC 1 hit Flight 77 hijacked WTC 2 hit Flight 93 hijacked Pentagon hit WTC 2 collapses Flight 93 crashes WTC 1 collapses WTC 7 collapses Epilogue

Claim

“United Airways pilot Buck Rogers lies, when he at 13:00 claims that “Before 9/11 they flew with the cockpit doors open””0.

Background

The claim is made on 911facts.dk’s Facebook debate page0 by Thomas Nørgaard, high school teacher at Ørestad Gymnasium, Copenhagen1, when he critiqued a BBC documentary about a group of members from the Truth Movement. The group meets with and asks questions to key persons with hands-on knowledge about the terror attack on September 11, 20012.

The claim is used to support the claim that the terror attack was a so-called inside job, where top level members of the Federal Aviation Administration and the American Air Force were involved in the conspiracy or, at least, covered for those who were behind.

To support his claim, Thomas Nørgaard quotes the 9/11 Commission Report:

“Here from the 9/11 Commission Report: ‘We do not know exactly how the hijackers gained access to the cockpit; FAA rules required that the doors remain closed and locked during flight.'”5

 

Facts

Buck Rogers is a pilot employed at United Airways with many years of experience2.

The claim is based on quote fudging and a misunderstanding of what Rogers is talking about.

In full, the conversation goes like this, from 12:20:

Buck Rogers: “I can tell you, before 9/11 a lot of airports were such like this. There, there were no metal detectors in some airports, and people could just walk through. In fact, way before 9/11, some people were able to just not even go through a metal detector and just walk to the gate to meet their arriving passengers. That’s at the airport. Let’s go into the flying world. Before 9/11, they flew with the cockpit doors open. So, as a passenger, you could actually go into the cockpit while the airplane was in flight. We experienced very little hijackings. I mean, there was an occasional hijacking in India, there might have been one down in South America or Mexico.”

Charlotte Scott-Hayes: “So in America, there really wasn’t anyone attempting to hijack planes?”

Buck Rogers: “We hadn’t experienced that.”

Charlotte Scott-Hayes: “Right.”2

The quote from the 911 Commission Report that Thomas Nørgaard refers to, is this:

“We do not know exactly how the hijackers gained access to the cockpit; FAA rules required that the doors remain closed and locked during flight. Ong speculated that they had “jammed their way” in. Perhaps the terrorists stabbed the flight attendants to get a cockpit key, to force one of them to open the cockpit door, or to lure the captain or first officer out of the cockpit. Or the flight attendants may just have been in their way.”3

Thomas Nørgaard has deliberately left out the Commission’s explanation on how the hijackers possibly gained access to the cockpits: They could have opened the doors with the keys that the cabin crew could have had, forced the pilotes to open the doors, or tricked the captain and/or the co-pilot out of the cockpit.

Before the terror attack on September 11, 2001, hijackings were typically politically motivated. The passengers were taken hostage, and, once the plane had landed, the hijackers would start negotiating with the authorities. It is therefore plausible that the hijackers forced their way to the cockpits, perhaps by threatening to kill passengers and the crew.

Rogers does not say that prior to September 11, the cockpit doors were never closed while the plane was airborne. His statement is so open to interpretation that it could easily mean that it was not unusual to have the cockpit doors open, even if the regulations stated that they must be closed.

Regulations are regulations, but they are not always adhered to. Both the editors of this site have prior to September 11, 2001, observed that the cockpit door has been open during flight. Claus Larsen has even observed an open cockpit door during an American domestic flight in 2008, seven years after the terror attack, where the door should have been closed and locked.

That cockpit doors occasionally were kept open before 2001 is also corroborated by Stefan G. Rasmussen, the pilot on board SAS SK751, which made an emergency landing in Sweden in 19914. Stefan G. Rasmussen writes in his book, how he himself insisted on having the cockpit door open:

“I had briefed Eva (the stewardess, ed.) about the weather, the flight time to Copenhagen, and made my views known to the crew about how the work should be done and on the passengers. Also, I told her that I would like to have the cockpit door open, so we all could get a feeling on what goes on. I consider the passengers to be mine as well as the purser’s. Happy passengers and colleagues makes me happy. Perhaps a bit egoistical, but I can live with that.”

“Jeg fik briefet Eva (stewardesse, red.) om vind og vejr, flyvetiden til København og tilkendegav mine holdninger til samarbejde i besætningen og mit syn på passagererne. Ligeledes fortalte jeg hende, at jeg gerne vil have cockpitdøren stående åben, så vi gensidigt kan følge med i, hvad der foregår. Jeg anser passagererne for at være lige så meget mine som purserens. Glade passagerer og kolleger gør mig glad. Måske lidt egoistisk, men det kan jeg leve med.”5

Following the terror attack on September 11, 2001, the aviation authorities in Europe and the United States implemented regulations, stating that the cockpit door must be lockable6. Unfortunately, this meant that Andreas Lubitz, a German co-pilot, in 2015 could lock out the captain from the cockpit and crash the plane into a mountain7.

Logic

Roger’s full statement corresponds with the truth, meaning that he does not lie.

One could summarize it thus: If regulations were always obeyed, there would never be accidents due to human error.

If Rogers is lying about whether the cockpit doors could be open prior to the terror attack on September 11, 2001, it follows that Thomas Nørgaard must mean that the cockpit doors on the four planes at the very least were closed. The question is then: Were the doors locked?

If the doors were not locked, Rogers’ statement is of no importance, since the hijackers could merely open the doors. The success of the hijackers did not depend on Rogers making his statement ten years after the attack.

If the doors were locked, it would not be necessary to implement future regulations that cockpit doors must be locked, because all cockpit doors would as a starting point already be locked. There are no pilot associations or airline companies around the world who have expressed surprise that the hijackers could access the cockpits, which they would, if the regulations said that the doors should be locked without the possibility of opening them. Likewise, pilot associations and airline companies have not expressed surprise that hijackings prior to 2001 could be carried out.

An accusation of lying presupposes that the person being accused of lying also is aware that what he is saying is not true. A person can say something that is not true without lying, if that person is not aware that what he says isn’t true. If the claim that Rogers is lying is true, it requires that evidence is presented to support the notion that Rogers is aware that what he says is not true. At no time does Thomas Nørgaard do that8.

The claim contradicts another claim, also made by Thomas Nørgaard, that the National Operations Manager in the Federal Aviation Administration is lying about the preparedness of the air defense, a claim that necessitates that there were no hijackers.

Conclusion

The claim is therefore:

  • False
  • Manipulating
  • Self-contradicting
  • Contradicts other related claims

Sources

  1. 911facts.dk Facebook
  2. Lærerstab, Ørestad Gymnasium
  3. 9/11: Conspiracy Road Trip, BBC (DailyMotion)
  4. 9/11 Commission Report, side 5
  5. Stefan G. Rasmussen og SK751, Wikipedia
  6. “Det er mit liv”, Stefan G. Rasmussen, side 78.
  7. Airline cockpit doors locked since 9/11 attacks, Yahoo News
  8. Germanwings Flight 9525, Wikipedia
  9. Conspiracy Road Trip 9/11

Q & A