Support 911Blogger

Confirmed: 9/11 Planes Were Tracked even With Transponders Turned Off

One of the most important parts of the official story is that the government couldn't track the location of the hijacked planes because the hijackers had turned the transponders off. The official version is that, with transponders turned off, only "primary radar" was available to civilian air traffic controllers. Primary radar can track location, but not altitude.

This makes no sense, because America's air defenses need to protect our nation against foreign fighter jets and other airplanes invading our country. Is our trillion-dollar defense system set up so that a Russian or Chinese pilot can invade undetected if he just turns off his transponder? Darn! Why didn't we think of that?!

Primary radar is a red herring.


Because the military possesses incredible sensitive radar. For example, "military radar can track space debris as small as 10 centimetres across" miles up in space.

AWACS Should Have Tracked Planes

Airplanes known as AWACS have incredibly sensitive doppler radar that can detect any moving object. As an Army website states:

"Although Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) airborne radar can detect practically any moving object, aircraft radar operators routinely screen out objects moving slower than 85 miles per hour to avoid tracking motor vehicles."

There was, in fact, at least one AWACS near Washington, D.C. on the morning of 9/11 participating in a war game exercise. The pilot learned of the attacks soon after the first hit on the World Trade Center. While, at first he thought it was part of the war game exercise, "it didn't take him long to realize it was real."

The military should have had the pilot track all planes moving in and around the White House-Pentagon corridor. That would have been standard military protocol: to protect the command and control structure of the U.S. government and military.

The Pentagon-White House Corridor Is Highly-Monitored

Even if AWACS pilots were not instructed to monitor the area, the Pentagon and White House are two of the most heavily-defended buildings in the world. They are only 2 miles apart, and the entire area is protected air space (because the area is home to the seat of power of the commander in chief and the military) and - because there have been numerous incidents of planes approaching the White House - it is entirely certain that the whole area is covered by very sophisticated military radar.

And keep in mind that installing military radar on the ground is much easier and less expensive than mounting it in a moving airplane.

Andrews Air Force Base is only 10 miles from the Pentagon, and has doppler radar even for public weather monitoring (if the base has doppler for something as mundane as weather monitoring, doesn't it make sense that the air force base closest to the Pentagon and White House would have sophisticated radar to protect the White House and Pentagon? Or do they just monitor the weather?)

The Pentagon itself also has access to the highly sophisticated PAVE PAWS radar which is capable of monitoring many planes or missiles simultaneously.

Indeed, this CBS news article implies that military radar actually was tracking Flight 77 as it approached the Pentagon. And Dick Cheney -- sitting in a military command bunker underneath the White House-- monitored flight 77 for many miles as it approached the Pentagon (confirmed here).

The Other Planes

While I have focused on Flight 77 and the area surrounding the Pentagon, this diagram shows that all of the hijacked planes flew over numerous military bases on 9/11 before crashing. Those military bases undoubtedly possess highly-sophisticated radar as well.

In addition, the is strong evidence that the planes were being tracked. For example, an ABC News article states:

"Controllers at the Boston Center knew American Airlines Flight 11, which departed at 7:59 a.m. ET from Boston for its flight to Los Angeles, was hijacked 30 minutes before it crashed. They tracked it to New York on their radar scopes. 'I watched the target of American 11 the whole way down,' said Boston controller Mark Hodgkins. "


All of the above-described information confirms the statement by a former air traffic controller, who knows the flight corridor which the two planes which hit the Twin Towers flew "like the back of my hand", and who handled two actual hijackings, that planes can be tracked on radar even when their transponders are turned off (also, listen to this interview).

Too bad that the government

cannot claim that the planes turned of their radar.
Maybe too many people would not accept THAT story...

FOIA Requests are in..

A fellow named John Farmer has FOIA requests in regarding all the radar data covering the WDC area, but there seems a stonewall.

Only AA77 was lost to positive radar contact on 9/11. AA11, UA175 and UA93 were observed and flight followed [by eyes and or computer "tracking programs"] all the way to their crash sites.

The primary target that "popped up" west of Dulles was NEVER positively re-radar identified s being the "actual" AA77.

And yes, there are quite a few radar antennae sites all around WDC, and in studying some of the RADES radar data made available, it seems that it is not accurate. I've looked at it dozens of times and cannot "find" a "target six miles east of the White House" when it is claimed there is one.

The AWACS radar data would also provide interesting information for sure. But then, "The 9/11 Attack Scenario War Game" which would have been just PART of the entire War games operating on 9/11 would start to become uncovered. And that would be bad for the military and the Commander in Chief...Cheney.

And what radar facility/antennae WAS observing the infamous target that Cheney was being updated about?

There should be some more information coming out soon about some interesting flights in and out of the WDC area AFTER the system was "shut down". For now, there certainly IS some additional traffic out and about WDC during and after the Pentagon hit?

Robin Hordon

It doesn't matter if the transponders were turned off!

It DOESN'T MATTER if the transponders were turned off. Airplanes are still tracked even on the standard, everyday, FAA radar with NO transponder information.
They knew EXACTLY(!) where the airplanes were. The only information that is lost by turning off the transponder is the ALTITUDE data. The airplanes still return a "target" on the radar. There should have been military fighters up immediately.

Even commercial airplanes nearby would have "seen" the targets on their own TCAS displays. TCAS stands for Traffic alert and Collision Avoidance System. They have been on all commercial airliners for 15 to 20 years. If another airplane is in the area a "blip" shows up on the cockpit display. If the airplane's (associated with the blip) transponder is not on, you simply don't get any altitude data. If a pilot sees a blip with no altitude information, he simply has to look in the direction of the blip and then scan up and down to locate the airplane. He knows EXACTLY where the blip is, e.g., 16 miles out at "two o'clock." The pilot simply looks at "two o'clock" and looks up and down to see the airplane. If any commercial airliner close by could have located the hijacked airplanes, Military fighters could have "locked on" to the hijacked airplanes in literally no time. The controllers would tell the fighter EXACTLY where the airplane is but not its altitude.

To use "transponders turned off" as an excuse is front and central to the disinformation campaign. People will believe anything: "We can put a missile down a house chimney from 30,000 feet but we can't 'find' a large hijacked airliner because the hijackers didn't play fair and turned the transponders off so we didn't know its exact altitude. Therefore we gave up and kept the fighters on the ground."

Actually, I think this is

Actually, I think this is not entirely accurate. I'm an airline pilot, and while I don't know everything there is to know about civilian aviation, parrticularly air traffic control capabilities, I'm pretty certain about this.

Basically there are three possibilities with civilian radar. 1) A "target" can be a primary target, which means the aircraft has no transponder, but is returning an "echo" to the ground-based radar. It appears as a small blip. 2) An aircraft can have a transponder without altitude encoding (sometimes referred to as "mode C"); that is, it will send a signal to the ground-based radar, but it does not have altitude-encoding capability. The radar scope will display an enhanced target with the basic flight information that is associated through computer with the specifically assigned 4 digit transponder code, but it will not display altitude. 3) There are altitude-encoding transponders which are required on all airliners. The ground-based radar scope will display a target with basic information about the flight, plus its current altitude.

I'm fairly certain that TCAS is independent of ground-based radar. It's an aircraft-based receiver that only displays aircraft that are transmitting a transponder signal. Thus, it will display 2 and 3 above, but not 1.

I will look further into this and if I'm wrong, I'll post a retraction and clarification. Thanks.

You may well be correct

You may well be correct regarding TCAS returns requiring transponders -- altitude reporting or otherwise TCAS are definitely independent of ground based radar. However, we agree that ground based radar would have shown targets even with the transponders turned off. It would have appeared as I described and the fighters could have been instructed that the hijacked airliner was at their "eleven o'clock -- 21 miles." Therefore, military interception would have been easy.

"They" (the government) destroyed the FAA controller audio tapes made afterwards describing what had occurred.

Yes, I believe this is true.

Yes, I believe this is true. They would have seen "primary" targets on their scopes.

to mr hordon

This is taken from farmer's blog:

pag 24 and 25:

"And I look at our radar scope--we have small radar up in the tower cap. It's call the D-bright. It's a tower display just to make sure that when the aircrafts reports like, 6 miles w of the airport, it's actually 6 miles.
So we have a small radar up in the tower cap, too. And I look at where the Pentagon area is, and I look, and there was an aircraft squawking 7700, meaning emergency. And it was circling--It was coming down and fast,and it was circling. So and there was another target with no markings or anything--It was just a target. [...] So and there was another aircraft coming in-- descenting rapidly and very fast. So it circled around-- They circled around and both tags they disappeared. But they stay in the air. This is after.This is after."

Have you ever seen a 7700 squawked in RADES datas? Have you ever seen other blips tha gopher06 circling Pentagon after crash in RADES datas?

Waiting with faith for Farmer's FAA FOIA..