The Math Question


The airplanes that hit the twin towers were traveling fast, really fast, far over the Maximum Operating Speed for sea level. It’s an important point as the velocity of the planes has been cited as a reason for why the buildings came down. For example, soon after the collapse, the National Security advisor for the Department of Health and Human Resources, Jerome Hauer, put forth this theory in a CBS television interview with Dan Rather:

No, I, uh, my sense is just the velocity of the plane and the fact that you have a plane filled with fuel hitting that building, uh, that burned, uh, the velocity of that plane, uh, certainly, uh, uh, had an impact on the structure itself, and then the fact that it burned and you had that intense heat, uh, probably weakened the structure as well, uh, and I think it, uh, was, uh, simply the, uh, the planes hitting the buildings… causing the collapse.

Other examples are the many youtube videos of pumpkins and other fruits and vegetables being shot through pickups, proving how fast moving objects can travel through steel.

The trouble with the velocity theory is that planes are impossible to control and lose their engines at the speeds ascribed to the hijacked planes of 9/11. I mean physically lose their engines. They break off. And the plane that hit the Pentagon has its very own set of problems that even a Sully Sullenberger couldn’t overcome should he have been the unfortunate pilot at the help of Flight 77.

All that being said, I’m not blogging today to make a point about how planes hit the towers, or argue for or against specific conspiracy theories and how they stack up against the debunkers on the other side. I’m blogging about a teacher in Newburyport who in 2017 made the decision to include mention of Flight 175 in a math problem about calculating flight velocity. After a hew and cry from parents, even the superintendent of schools was forced to apologize.

“This was an exercise of poor judgment by the educator who intended to use the historical event as a mechanics to engage students in a thoughtful discussion,” Superintendent Viccaro said in a statement.

I can tell you from personal experience, people do not want to know the details about the towers falling, the Pentagon, or the planes. As time goes on, I feel less of a conspiracy theorist and more of a heretic. Science and open discussion might have been the biggest victims of the events of September 11, 2001.