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I just came across this accidentally and don't remember her name ever being mentioned....

In remembrance of 9/11 -- through a window -- an unforgettable scene

In remberance of eight years ago, I thought I would share with all of you a piece that I wrote about what happened on that fateful day when I worked in the editorial department of USA TODAY. I wrote a piece and submitted it to the letters to the editor department of the Indianapolis Star which reprinted it. It is the only public commentary I have ever made about that day. And, even though it has been eight years, it is still a time of apprehension, contemplation and sadness for me. The text is below:

On Sept. 11, 2001, I went to work earlier than usual because my husband and I were scheduled to fly to Minneapolis the next day to visit my parents. The day started quietly, like many days at USA Today. I remember looking out the window at the sky, which was clear, crisp and beautiful. It was one of those days when there was no haze, and you could see for miles. My office window looked out on the Washington monument and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. To the right was the Pentagon, just a few miles away.

The only people who came in that early were the photo librarians, one reference librarian, our fee-based services manager and our indexing staff. The library, like the newspaper, was just starting to gear up for the day. Most of the newsrooms were still empty. My boss, the executive editor, was driving over to the Pentagon for a meeting.

The quiet was quickly broken at 8:45 a.m. when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. As we watched events unfold on live TV, I directed the reference desk to open earlier than normal and alert the editor. We focused the initial research on t he premise that this was a commuter plane accident. I also called my husband to alert him that it was going to be a busy news day.

Then at 9:05 a.m., the second plane hit the World Trade Center. At this point, we knew it was not an accident, but terrorism.

About 30 minutes later, several members of my staff watched another airplane fly right by the windows of USA Today, the tallest building for miles, and plummet into the Pentagon. The plane came so close to us that some people could see inside it. The explosion was so powerful that our building shook. We found out later that its foundation had been cracked.

Because we did not know how many more airplanes were coming, or if USA Today was a target, we evacuated to the street until we could learn more.

The scene on the street looked like a Bruce Willis movie. Ambulances roared by with sirens wailing, and people ran through the street screaming and crying. I managed to call my husband on my cell phone to tell him what had happened and let him know I was OK. He said later that he could not make out my words because the city's phone system was collapsing. All he could hear was a level of fear in my voice that he had never heard before. That was the last time he heard from me for several hours, because all phones in the city stopped functioning due to the increased load.

As we waited on the street, we kept trying to call the newspaper but couldn't get through. Eventually, several members of my staff decided to head home because they were afraid of what was coming. It took them over four hours to get home because of traffic.

Working at a media company, I knew that I had to get back to work and help the newsroom, so about 30 minutes later; I walked back into the building with a sports reporter. Neither of us knew if we would ever walk out alive again. But we knew the newspaper had to publish, and we had to be there. It was the right thing to do.

When I walked through sections of the building, it looked like a ghost town. As I was heading up to the newsroom, several members of my staff met me at the door ready to work. I went up to the main newsroom to locate my boss and the editor. I informed them that we had a skeleton crew at work along with several others who would be telecommuting. I finally managed to get through to my husband and arranged to call him every hour until I was able to come home. I did not return to the house until very late that night.

Our indexing supervisor helped on the reference desk while he waited to hear if his wife was alive. She worked in the Pentagon. He had to wait several hours for news that she was OK.

As we continued to answer reporters' reference questions, we watched military helicopters loaded with missiles circling outside. We could also hear F-15s flying over us, which offered some comfort. The parking garages underneath USA Today were loc ked down, and security guards were put in new places. The only way to enter the building was by showing a drivers license and company i.d.

Later in the afternoon, the editor came to our department to let us know about the increased security in the skies and our building, and to inform us that we were free to leave if we were afraid. No one left, even though the police had evacuated our building except for the newsrooms and was clearing out most of Arlington because of security concerns.

The staff who had arrived in the morning stayed until the night crew arrived. I stayed until late that night because I wanted to be sure everyone was going to be all right. We had worked on difficult stories before, but nothing of t his magnitude. This was the hardest story I had ever worked on during my entire career in journalism.

The next day, we all came to work and continued to work on the story, as we did for many weeks afterward. I have seen many levels of integrity and courage in my career, but I have never been as proud of a group of people as I was of my staff during that event. They worked through tears and fear because it was the right thing to do. And the newspaper had a responsibility to find the truth and explain what happened and why. The Sept. 12, 2001, issue of the newspaper is evidence of that.
rob balsamo
About 30 minutes later, several members of my staff watched another airplane fly right by the windows of USA Today, the tallest building for miles, and plummet into the Pentagon. The plane came so close to us that some people could see inside it. The explosion was so powerful that our building shook. We found out later that its foundation had been cracked.

Isnt the USA Today building north of the pentagon along the river?

If so, Chalk up another witness to the DRA approach.
QUOTE (JFK @ Sep 18 2009, 01:12 PM) *
I just came across this accidentally and don't remember her name ever being mentioned....

The foundation cracked? 2 miles away? Hmmmm... i find that strange. That would be some shock wave.
QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Sep 18 2009, 01:48 PM) *
Isnt the USA Today building north of the pentagon along the river?

If so, Chalk up another witness to the DRA approach.

I am a bit confused about that...

Weren't they in the process of moving on 9/11/2001 ?

Anyways it is located here today -;t=k&z=19
USA Today building is located at 1100 Wilson Blvd directly north of the pentagon. More from History Commons.
Hi everyone!

Well, this Barbara Maxwell statement is interesting. I'm not sure what weight to give to it or whether it is worth taking a harder look at. Here's my considerations:

1. From the location of the USA Today building, ". . . fly right by the windows of USA Today . . . " and ". . . some people could see inside it . . ." it seems we have a whole new "approach" flight path from the North and over Arlington Cemetery that could then link up with and follow the "final" NOC Flight path described by CIT's witnesses.

( a ) This distinguishes between "approach" and "final" paths. We have the CIT "approach" path taking the plane across Washington? Blvd. and over or North of the Annex followed by the "final" NOC path described by their witnesses. Then we have the purported "South Path" with the "approach" taking the plane the plane along the north edge of the expressway and the "final" path through the poles. It seems that this "Maxwell approach" could seamlessly join the NOC "final" path and be consistent with it.

( b ) This seems to be the same path taken by the north landing planes I saw when I was in Roslyn.

( c ) What's the "DRA" approach? That's a new term. Does it mean "down range approach"?

( d ) Here's the important thing. While playing around with the Airport radar data a few months back, I noticed that there were returns that might be consistent with what Maxwell says. I ignored them because they didn't seem to fit any other evidence. And Rob, recall the BWI returns that were outliers to the others and seemed to direct the plane toward Roslyn and over the Cemetery?

2. On the other hand, the Maxwell account has indicia of unreliability and maybe it is not worth exploring.

(a) She says "several members of my staff watched" and "some people could see". It appears that she is not relating what she saw but what others told her they saw. The import of her statement is as evidence to prove what those others say they saw - the plane flew right by the building so close you could see inside and then "plummeted into the Pentagon". This meets the legal definition of unreliable and inadmissible hearsay evidence.

( b ) She lards her account with statements that seemed intentionally designed to have emotional impact or strengthen it. As to strengthening - " . . . (T)he tallest building for miles. . . " " . . . (S)o powerful that our building shook." ". . . (I)ts foundation had been cracked.. I won't bother listing the emotional ones because they are numerous and obvious.

( c ) I sense a motive to get some attention and be part of things. Under those circumstances, we know that accuracy and whether it fits or contradicts the OCT are not important. For her statement to merit any attention at all, she has to get the plane up there "right by the windows".

3. So here's my question. DO you all think it would be worthwhile for me to take another look at those stray returns over the Cemetery, or is this something best left alone?
i think there is another thing that needs to be given some thought. if the plane committed the official loop:

(the above is hotlinked from rense, BUT i think that path/graphic was officially released thru the moussaui trial)

RADES version of the official loop plotted
(credit: JFK)

if the plane flew in either of the above paths, then there is very little chance people inside the USAtoday building would have been able to keep sight of it, especially so far west:

(i've approximated the rades' returns as close as possible to their proper locations on the googlemap)

furthermore, if the plane really went as far west as its claimed to by the official fdr/rades data, why would ms.maxwell's co-workers even bother watching it after it passed by them at the usatoday building? what was so unusual about this plane that initially drew but then KEPT their attention? were they watching ALL the air traffic looking for "unusual" flight activity? if so, what was so "unusual" about this particular plane or its approach path? this is her exact description of events:

QUOTE (ms.maxwell)
About 30 minutes later, several members of my staff watched another airplane fly right by the windows of USA Today, the tallest building for miles, and plummet into the Pentagon. The plane came so close to us that some people could see inside it.

planes using the DRA (down river approach) always pass extremely close to the USAtoday building (and rosslyn), so there's is absolutely nothing unsual about that. in fact the planes commonly pass by close enough for people in the rosslyn buildings, especially the usatoday building which practically sits at the edge of the river, to (practically if not literally) see "inside" them as they pass by. so what drew maxwell and/or her co-workers' attention to this specific plane?

but regardless of why they were eyeing this particular plane, if that plane performed the much smaller loop, the one fitting with the witnesses (chaconas and middleton), then the occupants of the higher floors of the USAtoday building could very well have watched the plane continuously from DRA approach to loop to "impact".

in cit's map/graphic of the loop, and they have the plane coming in from the west, but im guessing that the very start of that loop is based on logical deduction derived from actual witness recollections - which im not sure - but hopefully craig/aldo can clarify.

i dont think we have yet found a witness for the plane who was located that far north (far = usatoday building) and such a witness would be hard to find. why? because that far north/west, its hard for any plane witness to know exactly which plane they've seen, since every minute or so one passes by - especially if flying in low for a landing - but even if taking off, since all planes use that same general initial heading. yes - they tend to be much higher in the sky than planes on approach for landing, but the point is planes repeatedly pass by rosslyn all day long.

either way, its unclear exactly where the decoy77 arrived from, so perhaps one of ms.maxwell's co-workers may actually be one of the witnesses to that approach. maybe we could find/contact her and enquire about wether or not she (or one of her co-workers) was able to watch the plane commit the ENTIRE loop. if so, then she/they indeed saw the decoy77 AND she/they can substantiate which direction it arrived from.

some pics for referrence (note the 2 similar silver towers, the one labled GANNETT is what i've been refering to as the USA Today building):

full-sized version of the above:

(the above was taken from arlington cemetery)


one last note: if people in the usatoday building did indeed see the decoy77 and they did indeed witness the smaller (contradictory-to-the-official) loop, it presents a seperate issue/dilemma: they probably could have also seen the plane after the flyover, especially if it headed back up the river on its exit. but of course - maxwell makes no mention of that. so maybe someone there is a flyover witness, but for obvious reasons that person or persons are keeping quiet about it...
HI Paranoia!

Thanks for your Post No. 7. Rather than quote it, I'll just pick up on its themes.

1. Maxwell's Account obviously conflicts with the Official Loop as well as the so called final South Path, which I say is a Myth Not All Its Cracked Up To Be.

2. In the balance she also conflicts with the Chaconas Loop. The USA TOday Building has windows that face south and west. For an observer to watch the plane down to the Pentagon they would have to be looking out those windows. From the plot in your Post, it looks like the plane would pass to the North of the Building and not be visible from the those south/west windows when it went past. Furthermore, at that point, the plane would only be at the start of the loop so it's doubtful that it would be so low at that point to pass right by those windows, if you make the highly warranted assumption that its a descending loop.

On the other hand, I don't think the plot of the Chaconas Loop is intended to be perfectly accurate at this early point, so it's possible the plane could have flown south or west of the building. The difference in position is not that great.

3. You make a keen point about why they would keep watching that plane given that they should be used to the DRA1. The only likely answer is because it was different from the DRA and that made it noteworthy.

When I watched planes on the DRA outside the Rosslyn Holiday Inn on 19th and Moore, they flew low enough and appeared to be on a course that would take them past the west and near the south windows. There would be nothing markedly different from the DRA. The only things I can think of that might still make it noteworthy are: (1) they were aware of the ground stop and thought this was at odds with it; or (2) they thought this approach varied from the south landing pattern in use that day (it looks like they could clearly see and discern the operation pattern if they cared to watch the airport beforehand but it's hard to see any reason why they would do this).

On the other hand, the Chaconas Loop would differ from what they were used to, giving them a reason to keep watching if the plane was heading eastward as it went right by the south/west windows of their Building. It looks like over the next 3 or so minutes they could watch the entire Chaconas Loop and have good reason for doing so. But again, this is totally at odds with and destroys the Official Loop.

4. Both the DRA and the Chaconas Loop are consistent with a North Of Citgo Path in the final seconds before the plane reached the Pentagon. The NOC final path tacks on to the end of a DRA in practically a straight line. Obviously the Chaconas Loop is consistent because it's the how CIT says it approached the final North Of Citgo path.

5. I've never seen any GL trumpet the Maxwell Account and I guess its hopeless conflict with the Official Loop and the GL South Path is the obvious reason for that. The Maxwell Account is totally useless to them. That's too bad for them, because as you note, she relates that witnesses were perfectly positioned to see a fly by/over, so it would help GL's argue that the failure to mention it suggests that it didn't happen.

6. However, the Maxwell Account could be very useful to us. First, as you note, they would also be able to see a fly by/over. Second, they would further support a final NOC path, either on the end of the DRA if the plane flew by from the north to south, or on the end of the Chaconas Loop if the plane flew by west to east.

7. DRA into NOC and Chaconas Loop into NOC are mutually exclusive for one plane so you have to pick one or the other. Let's assume these witnesses can say (a) the plane's direction as it flew past them; and they either: (i) saw a fly by/over; or (ii) saw things that indirectly support a fly by/over. If they say the direction was north to south, you have critical fly by/over support and additional but not critical NOC support but the Chaconas Loop must be tossed. If they say west-east, you get the same two benefits as well as critical support for the Chaconas Loop.

8. Ultimately, it looks like you favor looking giving this a good look instead of discarding it as some kind of over-dramatized attention getting ploy. One rather weak thing that might favor the DRA is some piss poor attempt to make it "look normal" to distant observers with panoramic views, so they wouldn't follow the plane intently through the fly by/over.

1. I asked what DRA means but now I feel pretty stupid because it means Down River Approach, which is something that I knew about but failed to retrieve from memory.
I know many or most are to say the least circumspect about the government airport radar data. But assuming it to be reliable for this purpose only, I found nothing in it that would be consistent with this woman's story.

There would have to be 2, 3, or 4 returns in the 38.87 to 38.89 latitude, -77.06 to -77.08 longitude box sometime between 9:37:50 and 9:37:25. They aren't there. The returns I thought I remembered seeing are actually north of both the Cemetery and that box and are in Roslyn. Many of them repeat so they seem to be from things on the ground like the tall buildings there, while others are too early.
(please read thread from the beginning). the bone of contention here is that dubunkers claim the decoy jet aka "flight 77" never flew east of the river and did not approach "down river". here for example is boonedoggled attempting to "explain" it:
QUOTE (Thread: Boone's excuse for Mineta's DRA flight path; selective reading is fundamental)
aldo: Unless you want to show me where Flight 93 was between the USA Today building and Reagan National.

boone: It was never there, Aldo. Belger was watching its projected path on the TSD.

now, if you've read this thread, you understand that real people actually saw the decoy jet and it did not fly the loop that is supposedly seen on the fdr and rades84 data. barbara maxwell and her coworkers at one of the 2 usatoday buildings in rosslyn, were some of those people. and recently i found further corroboration of maxwell's recollection, hence the bumping of this thread...

Assistant Fire Chief James H. Schwartz was Assistant Chief of Operations for
the Arlington County Fire Department. He was interviewed at the Arlington
County Fire Department in Arlington, Virginia, by Stephen Lofgren of
the U.S. Army Center of Military History, Sfc. Dennis Lapic of the 305th
Military History Detachment, and Randy Papadopoulos and Senior Chief
Kathy Wright of the Naval Historical Center on 17 April 2002.

... on the telephone and asked if I was watching the events that were on the television. And I said that I was. And he said, ďOkay, Iím going to check a couple of things and Iíll be back to you.Ē And it was shortly after I hung up the phone with him that the second airplane went into the building. Well, by that time, he was receiving calls in the 911 center from people in the USA Today building. USA Today was headquartered here in Arlington on September 11th. . . . If youíve ever come into National Airport on an airplane down along the river, you know that sometimes, at least pre-September 11, the airplanes are actually below the height of the building. And people that are in the building are looking out or are looking down on the airplanes. So we were receiving 911 calls from people in the USA Today building with a lot of concern about stray aircraft, which was all they knew at the time. Steve and I had a conversation just briefly about what was going on, in a second phone call, including the possibility that clearly this appeared to be now an attack (in nyc), and did we have a vulnerability here, given our proximity to the District, as well as the many government facilities that we have here.

keep in mind the groundstop* had already been issued and executed, so there shouldnt have been any stray (commercial) aircraft in the area. only one plane could have been making that down river approach and passing near the usatoday building around 9:35am - and it was the decoy jet aka "flight 77":

QUOTE (*groundstop fact)
9:21 AM The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) halts all flights at U.S. airports. It is the first
time in history that air traffic has been halted nationwide. (link defunct)

What if there were multiple decoys?
Man, the East of Potomac flightpath would take more than a few "missing seconds" to explain away...

Keep referencing this image of the "official "loop" when reading and listening to these testimonies

Steve Chaconas

William Middleton

Q: Wait, let me ask you for that. You said you saw it circling. Like, where was it circling?

A: Right about here. Right over...

Q: Like halfway up?

A: Right here. It wasn't that high up.[/b]

Q: Ok.

A: And it was going around.

Q: Going around.

A: Right. Like it was coming around through the pattering, to go over to National Airport.

Q: How long, how long did you see it circling for? Like, estimate.

A: Um, 'bout five minutes. It took about five minutes for it to go around.

Q: Oh, so it was a few minutes. You saw it--- Oh, ok.


"I was scanning the air" as he was sitting in his car. "There wasn't anything in the air, except for one airplane, and it looked like it was loitering over Georgetown, in a high, left-hand bank," he said. "That may have been the plane. I have never seen one on that (flight) pattern." Georgetown is a sector of the District of Columbia jammed with shops and restaurants - it is one of the city's most vital tourist draws. Commercial aircraft that are either approaching or departing from nearby Ronald Reagan National Airport do not fly over Georgetown, and rather trace their flight route over the nearby Potomac River, which separates the district from South Arlington, Virginia, location of the Pentagon.

Georgetown (the Pentagon is bottom right of the following image):

Don Scott, a Prince William County school bus driver living in Woodbridge, was driving eastward past the Pentagon on his way to an appointment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center: "I had just passed the Pentagon and was near the Macy's store in Crystal City when I noticed a plane making a sharp turn from north of the Pentagon. I had to look back at the road and then back to the plane as it sort of leveled off.†
Washington Post, 9/16/01(Lexis Nexis)†

Macy's, Pentagon City:

At what point, from this vantage point, would Don Scott have seen the aircraft anywhere to the north of the Pentagon let alone in a "sharp bank"? Remember that he was driving away from the building towards Washington.

And the official "loop" is entirely to the southwest:

Steve Anderson
USA Today building

From my office on the 19th floor of the USA TODAY building in Arlington, Va., I have a view of Arlington Cemetery, Crystal City, the Pentagon, National Airport and the Potomac River. ... Shortly after watching the second tragedy, I heard jet engines pass our building, which, being so close to the airport is very common. But I thought the airport was closed. I figured it was a plane coming in for landing. A few moments later, as I was looking down at my desk, the plane caught my eye. It didn't register at first. I thought to myself that I couldn't believe the pilot was flying so low.†

Joseph Candelario

...a first year student in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program watched from the River by Fort McNair.

†"I noticed a large aircraft flying low towards the White House. This aircraft then made a sharp turn and flew towards the Pentagon and seconds later crashed into it."

Second hand testimonies:

Scott Cook

"Later, [we were told that] it was a 757 out of Dulles, which had come up the river in back of our building, turned sharply over the Capitol, ran past the White House and the Washington Monument, up the river to Rosslyn, then dropped to treetop level and ran down Washington Boulevard to the Pentagon"

Tom Hovis

"The plane had been seen making a lazy pattern in the no fly zone over the White House and US Cap. Why the plane did not hit incoming traffic coming down the river from the north to Reagan Nat'l. is beyond me . Strangely, no one at the Reagan Tower noticed the aircraft. Andrews AFB radar should have also picked up the aircraft I would think."

Bob Hunt (second hand trstimony)

"I talked to a number of average people in route who said they saw the plane hovering over the Washington Mall Area at an altitude lower that the height of the Washington Monument" Hunt stated.
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