New documentary delves into 9/11’s alleged ‘fifth plane’ as demands grow for FBI to release info

A new documentary called “TMZ Investigates 9/11: The Fifth Plane” interviewed a pilot and three crew members of United Flight 23 concerning the alleged aircraft’s part in that fateful day’s tragic events as demands are growing for the FBI to release information about it.

(Video Credit: FOX 2 Detroit)

The pilot and crew members believe that the plane was intended to be used in the attacks that occurred on 9/11 according to TMZ.

A burka-clad man was purportedly on that flight sitting in first class with three other Middle Eastern men. No one else was in that compartment. One of them became visibly upset when the takeoff of the plane was delayed, demanding the pilots get it in the air.

United Flight 23 was taxiing to the runway at JFK before it was due to take off for Los Angeles at 9 am that day. When the second plane hit the World Trade Center, all flights were grounded at the New York airport.

After passengers disembarked the plane and it was checked by a flight attendant, the FBI reportedly came aboard to investigate. Four hatches on the floor of the main cabin were found open. The hatches led down to a compartment for the plane’s electronics. They had been reportedly closed by the crew when the jet was being locked up. Following that development, box cutters were found on an adjacent plane that had a tail number identical to United Flight 23 except for one digit.

(Video Credit: Fox)

The FBI refused to tell the pilot, the crew, or the filmmakers whether any of the passengers who were on the plane that day had been traced after getting off. United Flight 23 was not part of the official report released by the 9/11 Commission. There were no confirmed arrests of anyone who was on the flight either and no one will comment on whether it was a fifth plane that was meant to be used during the attacks on 9/11.

Flight attendants Sandy Thorngren and Barbara Brockie Smaldino both claim that they saw a man dressed in a burka along with three other Middle Eastern men who were seated in first class. The man appeared to have a bodyguard according to the documentary. Another man wearing a suit was seated with a young boy who was about six or seven years old.

Thorngren told TMZ that the man in the burka caught her attention because it “was very tight and you could barely see his eyes.”

“I did explain to our purser (the lead flight attendant) that I thought that that wasn’t a woman, I thought that was a man. It was a man and you could tell by the size of his hands. He had hair on his hands. There was definitely a male underneath that burka,” Thorngren told the filmmakers.

(Video Credit: TMZ)

Smaldino agreed with Thorngren’s assessment and commented, “I was absolutely convinced it was a man, absolutely. There was no doubt in my mind.”

Thorngren also spotted a man in business class who was “sweating profusely” in a t-shirt.

“It was odd because it was eight o’clock in the morning and airplanes are cold anyway. But it was a cool morning. He wasn’t jittering or anything, but I could see his face sweating, his body, his t-shirt was wet under his arms,” she recounted.

The man with the child was overheard by Smaldino asking the purser if the boy could see the cockpit but was told that passengers were not allowed in the cockpit anymore. Thorngren told TMZ she went back to first class and found the man and child peering into the cockpit.

The passengers in first class kept saying they just wanted to take off and refused food as well, according to Thorngren.

After the hatches in the plane were found open, pilot Tom Mannello posited that somebody could have been trying to get out of the aircraft “without being noticed.” He speculated they could have been attempting to get aboard to remove evidence such as weapons.

“Whether it be box cutters in the seats, or knives or weapons, I’ve got no idea but somebody could have entered the aircraft through the electronics bay and into the cabin and removed whatever evidence they wanted to and then simply left the airplane,” he noted.

(Video Credit: TMZ)

Mannello said he learned that the FBI had found box cutters on an adjacent flight through a discussion with another pilot.

“If somebody was on the ground cooperating with them they just simply made a mistake and put the box cutters on the wrong airplane,” he asserted. “I believe that those box cutters were meant for my airplane, not the one next to me. It’s the one thing that makes me think that there’s a good chance that somebody was plotting to use our airplane as a weapon of mass destruction.”

The crew was reportedly interviewed the next day in their hotel rooms by the FBI. Then they were taken to view a lineup at the Port Authority but none of them were able to identify any of the people who were presented.

According to Mannello, the feds claimed they had seven people on their radar.

The FBI referred to the four people in first class as “Arabs,” according to the pilot.

“I think he suggested they were going to be questioned,” Mannello recalled.

The pilot is puzzled why the FBI never explained what they found in connection to United Flight 23 that day.

Mannello told TMZ, “Nobody was forthcoming with what I think is a simple statement: ‘No these were innocent people on the flight, forget about it.’ I don’t know why that information can’t be released.”

“If they were involved then I could understand why that information isn’t being released,” he added. “I now believe it was more likely than not that we were the fifth plane.”


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