Thanks Rob I posted your reply over there.
I have a favor to ask can you guys help me put togther a response to Clingers post which I've provide below? Being I'm just a humble guitar maker with little knowladge of cell phone communications in airplanes perhaps someone can point me in the right direct?
OK Clinger you've now succeeded in convincing me I'm delusional. But
in the fact department your zero for three. Lets hear some facts!
You stated Mr Griffin is wrong please explain his mistakes......
I can clear it up for most readers of this newsgroup.
For you, no.
The FBI has *never* denied that Ted Olson received a call
from Barbara Olson while she was aboard Flight 77. That
is a conclusion that Griffin and Balsamo reached with
the help of several leaps of illogic, about which I will
say more below.
The fact that Griffin and Balsamo are attempting to give
the impression that the FBI has denied these calls is one
of their misleading distortions. You fell for it.
As for Ted Olson's interview with Larry King, he didn't
appear to have a clue what kind of phone his wife had
used to call him. That's perfectly understandable, but
Olson dug himself into a hole by pretending to knowledge
he didn't have, in an apparent attempt to come up with a
story that would be consistent with the unverified things
that callers were saying to him. I think that's to be
expected also, considering Olson's occupation, clients,
and the kinds of arguments he has made before the
Supreme Court. The bottom line, however, is that Olson
didn't really know what kind of phone was used.
Before we consider Griffin and Balsamo's misrepresentations
of what the FBI has said about those calls, I want to look
at the central technical claim of their article, which is:
Cell phone calls from an airliner were, as DRG
has argued extensively elsewhere, generally
possible only if it was flying slowly and low,
but Barbara Olson's first call, according to the
9/11 Commission, occurred "[a]t some point between
9:16 and 9:26," when the plane was flying too fast
and too high for cell phone calls to have been
Note that the source for this technical claim is David
Ray Griffin himself. Griffin is a retired theologian,
with no more technical expertise than RMCG's very own
Jackson or Dicerous. As we shall see later, he seems
to have arrived at his conclusion by misinterpreting
and/or misrepresenting various press releases and
airline's warnings against using cell phones in flight.
Yet he repeats his own bogus claim as though it were
fact. His credulous fellow travelers have repeated
the claim so often that a Google search would give the
impression it *is* an accepted fact.
To anyone with a basic understanding of physics or
familiarity with avionics, however, Griffin's claim
should be a real head-scratcher. Airplanes routinely
use radio to communicate with ground stations, and
those communications are unhindered by speed or altitude.
Altitude, in fact, usually improves the range of radio
communications. That's why the cell phone companies
try to put their towers on high ground, and that's why
they use towers in the first place.
The antennas on cell towers are directional, and are
not designed to transmit upwards, but they do so
anyway. Each directional antenna of a cell tower has
to cover a fairly broad horizontal sweep, typically
90 to 120 degrees. Even if these antennas are more
directional in the vertical than in the horizontal,
as they may well be, there is unlikely to be much
attenuation at 30 degrees to the vertical, which means
the directionality of the cell tower's antenna makes
little if any difference to an airliner ten miles away
and flying at 25,000 feet. That is well within the
range of rural cell towers, which can cover a radius
of 30 to 50 miles. (To reduce interference, suburban
and urban cell towers are designed to have more limited
That 30-to-50-mile range is at ground level, where
obstructions and interference are common. The range
to an airborne cell phone would be greater.
In light of those facts, consider Griffin and Balsamo's
claim that cell phone communications would have been
impossible under these conditions:
According to the Flight Data Recorder information
released by the National Transportation Safety Board,
the plane at 9:16 would have been over 25,000 feet,
which is far too high (as well as too fast: 281 knots
[324 mph]), while at 9:26 the plane would have been
flying at 324 knots (370 mph), which is much too fast
(as well as still too high: almost 14,000 feet).
Nonsense. At 360 mph, it would take ten minutes to
pass through the 60-mile diameter covered by a rural
Handoffs between cell towers would be somewhat less
reliable at speed, but it would be possible to complete
calls of several minutes before a handoff would become
necessary. Not particularly reliable, but possible.
Cell phone communications are degraded when you're
inside an aluminum tube, but that doesn't stop airline
passengers from using their cell phones when the plane
is standing still on the ground. Reliability would
improve once the plane gets off the ground and away
from ground clutter.
On the other hand, cell phone communications are often
unreliable, especially in rural areas. Microwave radiation
is absorbed by moisture (that's how microwave ovens heat
food), so clouds and humidity interfere with airborne
cell phones. On the morning of 11 September 2001, the
skies were clear and dry.
A Google search will turn up some experiments in which
Griffin and Balsamo's fellow travellers report that
their cell phones didn't work aboard airliners at
altitude. These sites tend to report results for
just one flight, and do not report whether clouds
were visible. The fact that a cell phone didn't work
on one particular flight does not prove that cell phones
could not have worked on others.
Indeed, the article referenced by Griffin and Balsamo's
footnote 25, which they cited only to bolster their
contention that Flight 77 had no seatback phones, says
Even before Thursday it was widely known that cell
phones will sometimes work on jetliners. Some travelers
use them surreptitiously. On Sept. 11, 2001, several
passengers aboard hijacked airliners called loved ones.
However, the FAA and the airlines ban them because
they fear that the signals could interfere with
navigational equipment. The FCC bans their use from
planes because the signals reach many cell-phone towers
and have been shown to disrupt cellular networks.
Why do Griffin and Balsamo trust this article on the
relatively unimportant detail they care about, while
ignoring the much more relevant content of those two
paragraphs above? The obvious answer is that Griffin
and Balsamo are misrepresenting the articles they cite.
By the way, the article referenced by footnote 25 isn't
much more than a press release, but the same can be said
for nearly all of the very few technical sources that
Griffin and Balsamo cite. See for example footnotes
14, 17, and 39.
The bottom line is that there is no "extremely strong
evidence that her reported calls could not have been
made on a cell phone, given the cell phone technology
in 2001." Griffin basically just made that up, citing
airline's warnings against using cell phones in flight
as though they were technical statements about the
feasibility of using cell phones in flight. Having
made it up, he is now citing himself as the authority
for that nonsense.
Once you understand that high-altitude cell phone calls
were possible (though not reliable), all of Griffin and
Balsamo's arguments about whether seatback phones were
installed on Flight 77 become irrelevant, and their whole
article basically falls apart.
I promised an analysis of the article's illogic. It
contains too much illogic for me to bother with all
of it, but I will address the illogic from which Michael
Thames erroneously concluded that "the FBI has now stated
[Olson] never received a call from [his wife] while she
I think Michael got that from Griffin and Balsamo's
false and/or misleading statement that "the US government
has now said, implicitly, that Ted Olson's claim about
receiving two calls from his wife that morning is untrue."
Note the word "implicitly". That means the government
didn't actually say what Griffin and Balsamo want you
to think it said. What the FBI did say is that there
were four "connected calls to unknown numbers".
According to the 9/11 Commission, "the FBI and DOJ
believe that all four represent communications between
Barbara Olson and her husband's office." Note that
this is at best a second-hand statement of belief.
For the Moussaoui trial, the FBI remained cautious,
saying the callers were unknown. From this caution
Griffin and Balsamo conclude that "unless its former
solicitor general was the victim of two faked phone
calls, he was lying."
That is a spectacular leap of illogic. It is certainly
a misleading distortion, and I really cannot find fault
with those who would characterize Griffin and Balsamo's
allegation as an outright lie.
I could go through the article and spotlight its illogic
line-by-line. Is that really necessary?
 David Ray Griffin and Rob Balsamo. Could Barbara
Olson Have Made Those Calls?. Online at http://pilotsfor911truth.org/amrarticle.html