June 25, 2008
The Thirty-Four Minute Gap
"[If the Air Traffic Control Center sector] has no datablock or other information on it, the military will usually scramble an intercept flight. Essentially always they turn out to be private pilots… not talking to anybody, who stray too far outside the boundary, then get picked up on their way back in. But, procedures are procedures, and they will likely find two F-18s on their tail within 10 or so minutes." -- Air Traffic Control Center, ‘ATCC Controller’s Read Binder’, Xavier Software, August 1998.
On October 25, 1999 at 09:19 EDT a Learjet Model 35, registration N47BA, departed Orlando International Airport, Orlando, Florida bound for Dallas-Love Field, Dallas, Texas with four passengers on board, including U.S. Open golf champion Payne Stewart.1 After several radio exchanges with Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center (JARTCC), JARTCC at 09:33 EDT instructed N47BA to change radio frequencies and contact another JARTCC controller. There was no reply. Approximately four hours later the Learjet, off course, nose-dived into the open marshy fields of Edmunds, South Dakota, killing all on board.
Before the crash of the Learjet there ensued a curious four-hour chase conducted by the United States Air Force and units of the Air National Guard (ANG). After several intercepts and pullbacks by military interceptors, the lead pilot of a pair of Oklahoma ANG F-16s maneuvered along side Stewart’s Learjet for a close-up inspection. The pilot reported, "It's looking like the cockpit window is iced over".2 Payne Stewart’s Learjet, it seems, had lost pressurization, killing all on board.
Just as curious was the NTSB Aircraft Accident Brief3 on the tragedy that was adopted three weeks after George W. Bush’s election in 2000, and thirteen months after the crash. The timeline the NTSB provided of the Air Force response to the off course Learjet not only contradicted the initial media reports’ of the Air Force’s own timeline of the crash, but conspicuously omitted one critical entry on the Air Force’s response.
The NTSB timeline on the Air Force’s response begins at 09:52 CDT, one-hour and eighteen minutes after JARTCC lost contact with the craft:
"About 0952 CDT, a USAF F-16 test pilot from the 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Florida, was vectored to within 8 nm of N47BA. About 0954 CDT, at a range of 2,000 feet from the accident airplane and an altitude of about 46,400 feet, the test pilot made two radio calls to N47BA but did not receive a response. About 1000 CDT, the test pilot began a visual inspection of N47BA."4
The published media accounts of the Air Force’s timeline paints an altogether different sequence of events for the Air Force’s response, and takes note of another aspect of the Air Force’s response that for some reason the NTSB was reluctant to report on.
ABC News.com on October 25th reported:
"According to an Air Force summary, after contact was initially lost, two F-15s from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., were sent to track the Learjet. The F-15s pulled back and two F-16s in the air from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., moved in to track the aircraft."5
The Dallas Morning News on October 26th reported:
"Instead, according to an Air Force timeline, a series of military planes provided an emergency escort to the stricken Lear, beginning with a pair of F-16 Falcons from the Air National Guard at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., about 20 minutes after ground controllers lost contact. An F-16 and an A-10 Warthog attack plane from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., took up the chase a few minutes later and were trailing the Lear when it climbed abruptly from 39,000 to 44,000 feet at 9:52 a.m. CDT.
Fifteen minutes later, the F-16 intercepted the Lear, the pilot reporting no movement in the cockpit."6
Note the dissimilarities between the Air Force’s timeline and the NTSB’s timeline. The NTSB timeline altogether avoids mentioning an earlier request for assistance to a pair of F-15s from Tyndall Air Force Base, who we learn were actually escorting the Learjet twenty minutes after JARTCC lost contact with it. Now if we say it took five minutes to alert the Eglin fighters once the Tyndall fighters had intercepted the Learjet, and add those five minutes to the twenty minutes it took the Tyndall fighters to initially make contact with the Learjet, then add the remaining fifteen minutes it took the Eglin fighters to actually intercept the Learjet, that gives us an arrival/escort time of 09:18 CDT for the Eglin fighters, not 09:52 CDT as chronicled in the NTSB timeline. That is a thirty-four minute gap!
Is there any official account that would substantiate this thirty-four minute gap; that the Eglin fighters were escorting the Learjet thirty-four minutes earlier than the NTSB timeline admits to? As it happens there is. CNN.com on October 26th reported:
"An Air Force spokesman says two U.S. Air Force F-15s from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, intercepted the plane shortly after it lost contact with aircraft controllers, and followed it to Missouri."7
The Air Force spokesman said the Eglin fighters intercepted the Learjet shortly after contact was lost with the aircraft. Well, one-hour and eighteen minutes doesn’t register with me as meaning shortly after!
So according to the Air Force timeline we have two interceptions of Payne Stewart’s Learjet before the NTSB chronicled 09:52 CDT interception. The first interception was by a pair of F-15s from Tyndall Air Force Base at approximately 08:58 CDT, with a second interception by Eglin fighters no later than 09:18 CDT, not 09:52 CDT as claimed by the NTSB.
In order to facilitate the Bush administration’s 2001 false flag attacks,8 the bureaucracy within the NTSB purposefully doctored their timeline of the Air Force’s response to Payne Stewart’s Learjet. Longer intercept times were needed in the Payne Stewart incident if the tardy NORAD response times on 9/11 were to be accepted by the public as nothing unusual.
2. NTSB Aircraft Accident Brief (earlier an F-16 from Eglin Air Force Base did a close-up visual of the Learjet and reported that the cockpit windows were opaque, as if condensation or ice covered the inside).
5. ABC News.com
8. See: Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century (A Report of The Project for the New American Century, September 2000), whose signatories included four soon to be senior officers in the Bush administration. The key sentence in the report providing motive for the 9/11 attacks reads, "Further, the process of transformation [control of space and cyberspace; global missile defenses; the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf whether or not Saddam Hussein remains in power; precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests'; and for the US to 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars' as a 'core mission'], even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor." --
Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century, p. 51.