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Flight Crew Claims Their Plane Was Intended to Be Fifth Plane Hijacked on 9/11

Charles Rex Arbogast

A new TV special detailing a six-month investigation by TMZ features claims from flight attendants and a pilot aboard a United Airlines plane on the morning of September 11, 2001, that their aircraft was the fifth plane set to be used by terrorists in the attacks that killed 2,977 innocent people and the 19 hijackers who used four commercial jets as weapons. 


United Airlines flight 23 was being operated by a Boeing 767 from New York's JFK airport to Los Angeles International Airport on the morning of September 11, but it never took off for its scheduled 9:00 a.m. departure because flights out of JFK were grounded following the attack on the World Trade Center that began at 8:46 a.m. when American Airlines flight 11 from Boston to LAX was flown into the North Tower by terrorist hijackers.

Now, more than two decades since that morning, some of the crew aboard United 23 are going public about their experiences and suspicions about who was on their flight.

According to TMZ, a handful of "passengers aroused the suspicion of flight attendants for various reasons" while seated in the first class cabin, including one they were convinced "was a man disguised as a woman," in addition to a man in businesses class who they say was sweating profusely. 

Meanwhile, TMZ claims that box cutters were "found in the first-class seat pockets on a 767 parked next to United 23," leading the pilot of the plane set to depart at 9:00 a.m. to believe "those box cutters were meant for his plane, and someone on the ground just confused the two planes."


TMZ's investigation also recounts how, 20 minutes after being returned to the gate, deplaned, and locked, ground crews allegedly "saw two uniformed people running in the passenger cabin" of the 767 that was set to depart for LAX. When authorities arrived to investigate the report, they "found the hatch leading from the belly to the cabin was open."

In addition to the flight attendants and pilot, TMZ says its new investigatory special — which airs Monday evening at 9:00 p.m. ET on Fox — "includes interviews with the United dispatcher, a member of the 9/11 Commission and others."

United 23 is not mentioned in the 9/11 Commission's 600-plus page report on the attacks, and The New York Post reported on Monday that it had reached out to the FBI and United Airlines for comment on the documentary but hadn't received any response. 

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