As far as I can tell, cruising through the internet looking for articles about the attacks of 9/11, there’s no coordinating the consequences of speed on airplane passengers. I don’t know why.
All three planes hitting the buildings did so at rates of speed way above what is “VNE”, the Never Exceed Speed. Even though a plane can cruise at 40,000 at 530 mph, the air pressure is so dense at ground level, that planes start suffering structural damage. I read one article that explains it as the difference between running down the street and running in a swimming pool.
It would seem to me that if a person sits in a plane more than twice the VNE, that the flight itself feels as if the plane is being torn apart. It would not be a very comfortable feeling and that the turbulence might take precedence over hijacking concerns. Moreover, at that rate of speed, operating phones might be difficult if not impossible. Finally, if someone stands in the aisle with box cutters, they might not be quite so steady on their feet.
These phone calls are important why. The only way we know what transpired on the planes comes from the witnesses. Stewardess Betty Ong reported a business class passenger being stabbed on flight 11, and then the use of mace. Brian Sweeney left a message for his wife that flight 175 had been hijacked. Barbara Olson called from flight 77, informing her husband, the solicitor general of the United States at the time, that the hijackers had herded passengers and pilots to the back of the plane.
What’s missing from all the calls is the physical reaction to an airplane in structural duress. I would think that at these incredible speeds, overhead luggage compartments would fall open, stuff parked under chairs would roll down the aisles, probably there would be all kinds of noises coming from all parts of the plane. Seasoned flyers know what sounds normal and what doesn’t.
There are numerous speculations about the phone calls which claim them to be false, mainly based on questions of cell phone capability. This is truly what I would call deep conspiracy theory since these calls were obviously place to someone from someone. However, taken together with the callers paying absolutely no attention to what probably felt like a roller coaster ride, perhaps these speculations are correct. And that just sends shivers down my spine.