The captain of a United Airlines flight scheduled to take off from New York’s JFK airport on the morning of September 11 said he believes his plane was meant to be a fifth plane in the terror plot.
Tom Mannello was sitting on the runway in the cockpit of United Flight 23 at 9 a.m., waiting to take off, when air traffic control ordered all flights back to their gates.
Mannello later learned that box cutters were found on a plane parked next door, and believes that a ground crew that assisted the terrorists took the wrong plane, thwarting any attempted attack.
“There’s a good chance someone was plotting to try to use our plane as a weapon of mass destruction,” he said. TMZin a new documentary that will air on March 20.
United 23 did not appear in the official 9/11 Commission report, and there were never any confirmed arrests of the people on board. US officials have not commented on years of speculation about the flight as a possible fifth plane planned for the attack.
Tom Mannello was the captain aboard United Flight 23, which was on the runway at JFK awaiting takeoff when the second plane crashed into the Twin Towers. All aircraft were then ordered to return to their gates.
The World Trade Center towers are seen filled with smoke on September 11, 2001, after the second plane crashed at 9:03 a.m.
September 11, 2001 remains the deadliest terrorist attack in United States history and saw 2,977 people die in four separate attacks.
The five planes of 9/11?
American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Boston, bound for Los Angeles, with five hijackers on board.
At 8:46 a.m., it crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Boston, also bound for Los Angeles, with five hijackers on board.
At 9:03 am, it crashes into the South Tower of the WTC.
American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Dulles, outside Washington, DC, bound for Los Angeles, with five hijackers on board.
At 9:37 a.m., it crashes into the Pentagon.
united flight 93 takes off from Newark, New Jersey after a delay due to routine traffic. She was headed to San Francisco and has four hijackers on board.
At 10:02 a.m., it crashes into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers rioted and shot it down. The intended target of him is believed to be the White House or the Capitol.
united flight 23 I was on the tarmac at JFK, waiting in line to take off for Los Angeles.
At 9:08 a.m., New York air traffic control announced that there would be no takeoffs from the airport, so Flight 23 returned to the gate.
Four planes crashed that morning.
American Airlines Flight 11 took off from Boston bound for Los Angeles and crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m.
United Airlines Flight 175 also took off from Boston, 15 minutes after the AA flight, headed for Los Angeles: it crashed into the South Tower of the WTC at 9:03 am.
At this point United 23 were on the track and told to return to the gate.
At 9:37 am, American Airlines Flight 77, which had taken off from Washington DC, crashed into the Pentagon.
And finally, at 10:02 a.m., United Flight 93, which had taken off from Newark bound for San Francisco, was shot down in a field in Pennsylvania. Analysts now believe the hijackers were targeting the White House or the Capitol.
United 23 flight attendant Sandy Thorngren told TMZ filmmakers: “I definitely think Flight 23 was the fifth plane.”
Thorngren said that after returning to the gate, the passengers disembarked and the FBI interviewed the crew.
“They wanted to take us to show us a line of people at the Port Authority,” he said, in a preview clip of the documentary obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com.
They put us all in a van, a van with no windows. I felt like we were being smuggled into this van. And he drove to the Port Authority offices where everyone, I mean, the doors were closed and guarded by armored soldiers who had machine guns, or whatever rifle they were using.
‘We were escorted into this room with those double windows where you could see in but not out.
“And they asked us if we could identify any of the people who were behind that window.”
The makers of the documentary claim that four passengers traveling in first class were reported to have behaved suspiciously, but no one was arrested.
Mannello said he later learned box cutters were found on the plane parked next to his, and he suspects a hijacking team had help on the ground, but they got the wrong plane.
“The chief pilot informed me that they found two box cutters in the pockets of the first class seats on the next plane, which had an off-center tail number,” Mannello told the TMZ team.
Sandy Thorngren, a flight attendant on the plane, said she was convinced the plane was meant to be hijacked on 9/11.
John McCain is seen holding a copy of the 9/11 Commission Report. The report does not mention United 23
‘If someone was on the ground cooperating with them, they just made a mistake and put the box cutters on the wrong plane.
‘You have people who clean the plane, people who load food on the plane, who have access to the plane.
‘If someone had cooperated with the group, they could have put it there.
It wouldn’t be the hardest thing in the world to get on such a plane.
“It’s the only thing that makes me think there’s a good chance someone was conspiring to try to use our plane as a weapon of mass destruction.”
Nineteen hijackers were on board the four planes and were killed in the attacks.
People flee as the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapses on 9/11
Smoke rises from the Pentagon after one of four planes crashed into it on September 11.
Firefighters and emergency workers investigate the crash site of United Flight 93 after the plane was hijacked during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and shot down by passengers near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Two months after the attacks, law enforcement authorities had detained, at least for questioning, more than 1,200 people.
The Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba was converted into a prison to house those arrested in what became George W. Bush’s ‘War on Terror’: at its height, the camp housed 780 men, but now he is only 32.
They include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the attacks, whose trial has been scheduled to begin decades ago.
Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden said he was behind the attacks, and on May 2, 2011, on the orders of Barack Obama, a special operations unit raided the Pakistani compound where he lived and killed him. .
The attacks led George W. Bush to bomb Afghanistan in October 2001, where the Taliban regime supported al-Qaeda.
The Taliban were overthrown within a month and bin Laden fled.
Bush then went on to send US troops to Iraq in March 2003, ostensibly to destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and end Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial rule.
There was little to no sign of a connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq, and no weapons of mass destruction were ever found.
TMZ INVESTIGATES: 9/11: THE FIFTH PLANE airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox