9/11 Aircraft Parts and Contents Recovered in NYC

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"I'm on West Street, right out of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. And I was driving in, and I heard an enormous explosion. Then I heard another enormous explosion, and it scared me. I looked out the window, and an enormous tire, what appeared to be a tire, smashed down on the street in front of me. And I looked out, and there was an enormous amount of debris, and we were two or three or four blocks down from the World Trade Center. This is the northern building in the World Trade Center. I yelled to the gentleman in the car, 'Let me out.' I ran back, and a gentleman next to me had been hit by debris." George Shea, live on the telephone with NY1 news

Scroll to bottom of page for many more eyewitness accounts

Engine and landing gear parts leave smoke trails after United flight 175 struck the south tower. The engine portion came to rest at Church and Murray Streets; the landing gear on the roof of 45 Park Place.

The World Trade Center site was a NYPD and FBI crime scene, as was the Fresh Kills sorting area.


Below: Engine part after being removed to Fresh Kills

Wing spar, engine parts, and other aircraft parts at Fresh Kills

The flight data and cockpit voice recorders from the WTC planes were not recovered. Workers were advised to be on the lookout for them. At the Pentagon, both recorders from flight 77 were recovered but only the FDR had usable data. At Shanksville, both recorders were recovered and had usable data.


Below: aircraft parts embedded in back of car



Nearby rooftops were covered with small aircraft parts.


This number tag is for a part of the LE slat control system of a 767 200-300. See diagram here.

Some fragile aircraft contents survived: papers, seat cushions, life vests, and of course body parts

Above and below: seat cushions

FDNY EMT Briam Smith: "So we went up to the 10-10 house...I remember there was life jackets everywhere, the yellow in-flight life jackets, and that the contrast of the yellow against all the gray, you know. It stood out."
Below: aircraft parts on display at museums

Below three photos: in front of 130 Liberty Street after both impacts. Footbridge leads from 130 Liberty (Deutsche Bank) to WTC 2 (south tower).



Personal Effects and Documents from Flights 11 and 175 Recovered

(Hijacker Satam M. A. al-Suqami's) passport was recovered by NYPD Detective Yuk H. Chin from a male passerby in a business suit, about 30 years old. The passerby left before being identified, while debris was falling from WTC 2. The tower collapsed shortly afterwards. The detective then gave the passport to the FBI on 9/11. Source (pdf)


On the street, standing in a shower of office paper and the siding from the building, he found a piece of paper. It was an airliner's itinerary, listing information about a flight from Boston to Los Angeles. Source


"...I noticed in the courtyard that there were valises, suitcases, strewn about the courtyard. There were wallets everywhere, broken glass, and then I noticed that there were airplane tickets." FDNY firefighter John Moribito


Along with the letter was a note: ''To whom it may concern. This was found floating around the street in downtown New York. I am sorry if you suffered any loss in this tragedy. Sincerely, a friend in New York!''
...Since then, Mrs. Snyder, a customer service representative at a grocery store, has discovered that she has one of only two pieces of mail known to have been recovered from the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. At least one auction house has contacted her, saying she could sell the letter for tens of thousands of dollars. Source


Lisa Anne Frost was 22 and had just graduated from Boston University in May 2001 with two degrees and multiple academic and service honors. She had worked all summer in Boston before coming home, finally, to California to start her new life. The Rancho Santa Margarita woman was on United Flight 175 on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when it became the second plane to slam into the World Trade Center.
...In February, the day of the Columbia tragedy, we got word they'd found her United Airlines Mileage Plus card. It was found very near where they'd found a piece of her right hip. We imagine that she used the card early on the morning of Sept. 11 to get on the plane and just stuck it in her back pocket, probably her right back pocket, instead of in her purse. Source


The discovery of a foot and leg and a cockpit seat led to speculation that one of the pilots had been found, Goldberg said. Source


DNA extractions were done on every one of the 19,906 remains, and 4,735 of those have been identified. As many as 200 remains have been linked to a single person.

The 1,401 people identified include 45 of those aboard the hijacked planes - 33 from Flight 11, which struck the north tower, and 12 from Flight 175, which hit the south tower. Source


Related: things with "give" survive a huge IED explosion beneath a Humvee in Mosul, Iraq:
The smell of fuel and wreckage had a chokehold on the debris field. The damage was jaggedly inconsistent: while rigid items had shattered into bits, those items with “give” distorted but remained amazingly intact. A case of water bottles had blown apart and the bottles were scattered all around, but I didn’t see any that were split open. They were in perfect condition. Radios were shattered, but paper items merely scattered about. Night-vision devices blown to pieces, but MREs (packaged meals) tossed around but otherwise completely unharmed, unburned, and not even scorched.Source



More witness accounts of aircraft debris FDNY accounts are from here.

Church and Vesey. We were coming across and we walked down. We had to go down to the command center. We carried all our tools, the bottles, everything, and as we're walking down, part of the plane engine was sitting right in the street, still burning. I said, look, this is the plane. FDNY firefighter Paul Hyland


Once we started taking off, I guess 30 feet in front of us, there was a lady on the ground by the curb and she was just waving her arms. That's all she could wave. Her legs were crushed. Apparently she got hit by part of the landing gear, one of the tires of the airplane. There was a large tire next to her. FDNY EMT Orlando Martinez


...we started making our way to NYU Downtown Hospital, Beekman, to drop off our first set of patients when we got flagged down for another lady who got hit by the landing gear of the first plane. FDNY EMT Frank Puma


We just passed a compact car where the engine was running and the door was open, which looked to me like the driver had escaped, but from the back seat to the trunk was crushed by a jet engine. We started going up West Street. I believe that's when Smitty ran over the part of the plane, but he did that to avoid the bodies because there were obviously bodies in the street. FDNY firefighter Michael Hazel


There was a car that we drove by that the driver's door and the passenger door were open, and there was a plane motor on the back half of the car. Two inches more, and both these guys would have been dead too. That was their ticket. It was amazing. The car was actually cut right in half with this motor, right there back of the front seat. I sat there in amazement. FDNY firefighter Richard Saulle


"A section of the landing gear proved to me that this was a commercial airliner." PAPD Det. Sgt. Raymond Dilena Source


A tremendous fireball, flaming debris, pieces of the airplane, fuselage, landing gear, pieces of the building. ...We started running down one of the little side streets, Courtlandt or Dey. There were people dead in the street that obviously you couldn't help them. There was flaming debris coming down all over. It was just a matter of who got hit with the debris. FDNY Captain Michael Donovan


Right behind us on the southeast corner of West and Rector was a landing gear assembly from an aircraft lying against the curb and some scaffolding. PAPD Det. Edward Rapp Source


As we approached West Broadway, a NYPD lieutenant told us we could not proceed due to aircraft parts blocking the road. PAPD Det. Robert Fuchs Source


People coming out of the buildings half burned, the fuel must have spewed down and hit some people. A lot of burns literally down through the skin to the bone. I had two patients on my ambulance, vehicle 111. FBI Agents were telling us to move our vehicle from the corner of Vessey and West, cause there was debris from the airplane which they needed for evidence. I guess it was NTSB, they wanted the area secured. There was nowhere for us to move the vehicle, cause there was debris everywhere. FDNY EMT Alwish Monchery


After that, an FBI agent came down the block. He identified some landing gear that was in front of our rig, asked me to make sure no pedestrians came down the block to interfere with any type of metals and debris that were there, because they were trying to identify to put the pieces back together for the plane. FDNY firefighter Sidney Parris


Vesey and Church, Vesey and Church right there. We stepped off the rig, and there were plane engine parts and people yelling and screaming. FDNY firefighter Bertram Springstead


Walking around, we came out to Rector Street. We saw one of the landing gears from the airplane. FDNY EMT Benjamin Badillo


Various pieces of the plane were falling on the street. As we went down the street you could see parts of aircraft with stencil numbers on it and things like that. There was a wheel, or like a wheel housing or something else there in the street. FDNY Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fitzpatrick


I continued down Liberty, just west of 10 and 10. As I got down a little farther, there was what looked to be a piece of the cabin of the airplane, I guess. It looked like a piece of it about maybe six foot long. It looked like the windows. FDNY Battalion Chief Brian Dixon


I parked the rig on Church right at Fulton, directly in front of the World Trade north plaza. My officer told us we're going to go into the north tower lobby. We proceeded down to Vesey. Walking down Vesey, we noticed large pieces of what looked like possibly the fuselage from the

plane. There was a caravan of motorcycle police coming up. We stopped them and we cleared the path of big O rings and pieces of fuselage of the plane. We threw it to the side, and we told the guys to go on. Fire Patrolman Paul Curran


...it was Dey or Cortlandt Street. We walked down that block. It was littered with airplane parts.... FDNY Chief Ray Goldbach


Captain Nahmod and I were running down Vesey Street stepping over airplane pieces, several bodies and whatnot. There was what looked like the front wheel assembly of an airplane. Unknown the size of the plane that had hit, it just looked like it was one pair of wheels on an assembly, pieces of metal with rivets in them, a few body parts scattered around. FDNY EMT Richard Zarillo


Michael Sheehan, a broker working on the 55th floor of 2 World Trade Center, moved to the stairwell when he realized a plane had crashed into 1 World Trade Center. By the time he reached the 25th floor, he could smell the fumes of fuel that had begun to filter through the ventilation systems of the two buildings.


Like I remember walking by with the chief, and I remember seeing the airplane engine. FDNY EMT Robert Kimball


We came up, tried to find our way into the courtyard area and we hugged the side of the buildings and it was an overhang that we stayed under. We noticed metal that looked like it came from the plane, in retrospect. FDNY Assistant Commissioner Thomas McDonald


So we ran back to the car and laying right in back of my car was a large object which I thought was probably part of one of the aircraft turbines. FDNY Chief of Safety Albert Turi.


We did see part of -- I didn't see it, but Jeff Johnson told me later on he did see part of the landing gear actually fell right through the roof and it was in one of the Jacuzzis in another room. FDNY firefighter John Breen, in the Marriott Vista hotel (WTC 3)


By the time I started to pass by in front of (firehouse) 10 and 10. As I got down a little farther, there was what looked to be a piece of the cabin of the airplane, I guess. It looked like a piece of it about maybe six foot long. It looked like the windows. FDNY firefighter Brian Dixon


The other thing that was actually evident, though, is what appeared to be some plane parts, like some circular pieces of a plane, the walk down Vesey Street. FDNY EMS Dr. Michael Guttenberg


We were driving out of the tunnel up West Street and we're seeing body parts in the street, torsos, chunks of flesh, parts of the airplane landing gear, car fires everywhere. It was like a war zone. FDNY firefighter Steve Piccerill


I passed over some pieces of what appeared to be aircraft wreckage, fuselage, whatever, some body parts and bodies in various states, either people from the building or the airplanes. You couldn't tell. They weren't intact. FDNY EMS Division Chief John Peruggia


Then actually when I found my car, I found my car like later, later on in the day, but I left it there, because it was not able to be moved because it was covered. There was an airplane tire about 10 feet away from it. FDNY EMS Captain Frank D'Amato, at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel & West Street


The landing gear of the aircraft was in that parking lot there. It was right near us. FDNY firefighter Dean Coutsouros


There were a number of airplane parts throughout the street, littering the streets. FDNY firefighter Robert Norris

I remember at one point seeing what looked like piece of an airplane. That piece looked like it crushed half that car. FDNY firefighter Kevin McCabe

...our initial response was seeing body parts and airplane parts all over the west side. FDNY EMT Stephen Hess


You heard the explosion and everything, but I saw the big fire ball. The stuff was coming down across the street. It looked like a meteor came flying across the street. They said it was the engine. FDNY firefighter Peter Fallucca


As we were riding in, we must have ran over some debris from the plane. We saw debris all over the floor. We saw a wheel. There was cars that were flattened. It was obvious that heavy things had fallen on them. FDNY firefighter Joseph Sullivan


That was before we got to the south pedestrian bridge, before Liberty Street . You could see airplane parts just littered across the street, across the highway. FDNY firefighter Craig Monahan


You could see airplane parts on the ground and although I didn't realize it at the time, I later realized there were body parts, both on the concourse and on the street. (some of these might have been jumpers) I now made a left on Vesey and walked down the street on the 7 World Trade Center side, where I could see more airplane debris. FDNY Assistant Commissioner James Drury


There was jumpers everywhere, there was bodies everywhere, pieces of plane everywhere. FDNY firefighter Kevin Murray


We walked down Vesey Street, and it was like total silence, nothing. It was eerie. There were police cars all parked on angles, metal going through their hoods. There was a tire of a plane on top of one. FDNY firefighter Arthur Riccio


It's interesting because, as we were there, there was a police car, I guess, on Vesey, on the corner there, and some debris comes down from whatever this explosion was, at the time we really didn't know, and it just crushes it, I mean, crushes the top front of the police car, which really scared me at that point.

Q.Could you tell if it was airplane parts?

A. It looked like an airplane part afterward, yes, it did. It looked like part of an engine. It was pretty big. It was probably the size of the hood because it kind of hit it, bounced, and then rolled off. FDNY paramedic Manuel Delgado


Well, we had problems securing some tie- back cables to the setback roof and I had to go to the upper roof to see if we could run the cables up there. I had my camera and headed for the upper roof and I couldn't believe what I saw. There was a large piece of a landing gear and pieces of airplane parts all over the roof. I took many pictures and quickly left he roof. Louis, aka "Scaffoldrider" Took photos of aircraft parts on Federal Building Source


In my zeal to get close, I had not noticed the falling bodies. Then I nearly stepped into a puddle of blood that was congealing beside what looked like the titanium gear of a pulverized airliner. Andrew Jacobs


One security officer reported that while the engine of the first plane had landed in the [Marriot] swimming pool, everyone in the health club was fine, and all were being brought to the lobby. Another officer radioed that the room-by-room evacuation was proceeding and that all guests were being brought down to the first floor. Source