Robert Wagner's answer to Why do 9/11 conspiracy theorists disbelieve the official story?

For the same reason the other side believes the official story -- they first decide whom to believe, then accept facts that support their belief and ignore facts that refute it.

This is an original, evidence-based explanation of how cell phone calls were made from planes flying too high (>5K feet) and/or fast for cell phone calls to be made. Calls originated from cell phones, but were transported through on-board air-to-ground systems rather than cellular systems. That's why cellular carriers have no record of the calls. First, the evidence.

Following is a record from the Claircom system on American Airlines flight 77, the plane that hit the Pentagon, showing one of two calls from Barbara Olson to her husband, Ted Olson. This is a record of what actually happened, not speculation about what could have happened.

Ground Station 98 is Arlington VA. Handset ID ffff (-1) means the call did not originate from a seatback handset. Originating #: 904 is the area code for Jacksonville FL, where the Claircom box was programmed, 555 means not a real phone number (commonly used in movies), 0004 means it came through port 4 on the Claircom box. Terminating # 0 means the caller entered "0" for Operator. The call was routed to an AT&T live operator (OSPS). From there it could have been made collect, charged to a credit card, or, in case of emergency, put through without payment. Duration is 0 because billing had been handed off to AT&T.

According to the FBI, "Mercy Lorenzo, an operator with AT&T, received a call from a female passenger on flight 77 requesting to be transferred to telephone number 202-514-2201. The female passenger advised the plane was being hi-jacked. Hi-jackers were ordering passengers to move to the back of the plane and were armed with guns and knives. Lorenzo indicated the pilot might not yet be aware of the take over of the plane." She put the call through without charge, so it must have been the second of two calls to Ted Olson's office. The first call was collect.

Another FBI report said,
"Keyton [Ted Olson's secretary] then received a collect call from a live operator. The operator advised that there was an emergency collect call from Barbara Olsen for Ted Olsen. Keyton advised that she would accept the call. Barbara Olsen was put through and sounded hysterical. Barbara Olsen said, "Can you tell Ted.." Keyton cut her off and said, "I'll put him on the line."

There was a second telephone call a few to five (5) minutes later. This time Barbara Olsen was on the line when she answered. She called direct. It was not a collect call. Barbara Olsen said, "It's Barbara." Keyton said, "he's on the phone with the command center, I'll put you through.""

Team7-Box13-Flight-Call-Notes-and-302s.pdf (page 736)

American Airlines 757s were equipped with a system branded Air One that had two boxes: a front-end that handed seatback phones (collected card swipes) and a back-end that handled the air-to-ground link run by Claircom, which used terrestrial stations, not satellites. United Airlines had Verizon's similar Airphone system with seatback ph0nes functional. American had turned off the front-end boxes in late 2000 because they were phasing out seatback phones. Since seatback handsets were non-functional, why do we see calls coming through the system? The back-end box had multiple interface jacks for future expansion with things like WiFi. This call came through a box plugged into port 4. This is not speculation, the evidence above says so. That box could only have been a cellular base station called a picocell (aka microcell).

This detail is significant because it proves someone other than the hijackers was involved. That party was either spying on or assisting hijackers. The Claircom box and corresponding Verizon boxes were not accessible from passenger compartments. Someone installed picocells in four planes ahead of time.

Most magic tricks rely on the audience's assumptions. When someone asks you to pick a card, you assume the deck has 52 different cards. It does not occur to you that they might all be five of diamonds. When you see someone talking on a cell phone, you assume the call is going through the cell phone network.


On the afternoon of 9/11, AA head of security Larry Wansley had a phone conversation with reservations supervisor Lydia Gonzalez, who had talked to Betty Ong on AA 11. At the end, he asked:

Did I assume she was on a cell phone, is that correct?

Unlike the general public, Wansley knew cell phones did not work at 30K feet. By asking this question, Wansley revealed he knew there was a picocall plugged into the Claircom box. Picocells had been installed through official channels, not clandestinely.

United Airlines planes had Virizon's Airphone system. Their seatback phones were turned on and operational, whereas AA's seatback phones were turned off. As I said above, both airlines were phasing out seatback phones. Here is a report of calls that went through the Airphone system. Note two cell phone calls at the bottom. This shows United also knew there was a picocell plugged into its air-to-ground system.

This report is incomplete, it is missing cell phone calls. We can tell because Thomas Burnett's wife received four calls. Three showed Thomas' cell phone number on her Caller ID. The call that did not is shown above as originating from a seatback phone. The three that originated from Thomas' cell phone and went through the Airphone system, the only way they could have gotten to the ground, are missing from the report.

Speculation: the four picocells may have been installed by another party spying on the hijackers. There may have been an unlisted call (like Burnett's) acting as a streaming cockpit voice recorder. Enabling passengers to make cell phone calls was just an excuse to get airlines' permission to install picocells, not their real mission.

You won't find this explanation anywhere else.