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Background Attack Aftermath Evidence Misinformation Analysis Memorial

Flight 93 Crash Site

Rural Pennsylvania Crash Site of the Fourth Jet Commandeered on September 11th

This aerial photograph shows Flight 93's impact crater in filled land at the edge of an reclaimed strip mine. These photographs show the crash site in more detail.

Flight 93 crashed at the edge of a strip-mining quarry in rural Pennsylvania, about two miles due north of Shanksville, PA, in Stony Creek township.

Flight 93's high-speed, nose-down plunge into the loose fill of the reclaimed strip mine produced a broad deep crater with narrow tapering ends corresponding to the jetliner's wings.

We located the site of Flight 93's crash on a satellite map, using an photograph released as an exhibit as part of the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui. The impact crater borders a portion of Skyline Road -- a dirt road on the edge of the strip mine. We then estimated the position of the crater on a USGS quad map, which provides only a vague representation of Skyline Road.

According to our analysis, the location of the crater, plus or minus a few seconds, is:
4003'03" N latitude
7854'17" W longitude

The red dot shows the approximate location of Flight 93's crash on a USGS quad map.

In addition to the primary crash site, there were at least two other debris fields separated by miles, and some large debris was hundreds of yards from the impact crater. The following reports were published within three days of the attack.

"A second debris field was around Indian Lake about 3 miles from the crash scene. Some debris was in the lake and some was adjacent to the lake. "More debris from the plane was found in New Baltimore, some 8 miles away from the crash. "State police and the FBI initially said they didn't want to speculate whether the debris was from the crash, or if the plane could have broken up in midair." 1

Additionally, Flight 93's debris field covered anywhere from three to six miles and, as CNN reported, pieces of the plane were found six to eight miles from the main impact area: "Authorities also said another debris site had been cordoned off six to eight miles away from the original crash debris site." 2

State police Maj. Lyle Szupinka said investigators also will be searching a pond behind the crash site looking for the other recorder and other debris. If necessary, divers may be brought in to assist search teams, or the pond may be drained, he said.

Szupinka said searchers found one of the large engines from the aircraft "at a considerable distance from the crash site."

"It appears to be the whole engine," he added.

Szupinka said most of the remaining debris, scattered over a perimeter that stretches for several miles, are in pieces no bigger than a "briefcase." 3

An article in the Independent from a year after the crash describes the debris fields.

A sector of one engine weighing one ton was found 2,000 yards away. This was the single heaviest piece recovered from the crash, and the biggest, apart from a piece of fuselage the size of a dining-room table. The rest of the plane, consistent with an impact calculated to have occurred at 500mph, disintegrated into pieces no bigger than two inches long. Other remains of the plane were found two miles away near a town called Indian Lake. All of these facts, widely disseminated, were confirmed by the coroner Wally Miller. 4

The following map summarizes the location of the most well-documented debris fields:

  • The primary crash site, centered at the impact crater
  • The location of an engine: ~ 2000 feet away
  • The Indian Lake marina, ~ 3 miles away
  • The New Baltimore, ~ 8 miles away

This analysis of the debris distribution suggests not only that the Flight 93 was shot down, but that it might have been flying west at the time it was shot down.


1. 'Black box' from Pennsylvania crash found, CNN.com, 9/13/01 [cached]
2. FBI: Early probe results show 18 hijackers took part, CNN.com, 9/13/01 [cached]
3. Authorities deny Flight 93 was shot down by F-16, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/14/01 [cached]
4. Unanswered questions: The mystery of Flight 93, Independent.co.uk, 11/13/02 [cached]

page last modified: 2008-03-27