Get PolitiFact in your inbox.

Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke September 14, 2022

Yes, a plane crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001

If Your Time is short

  • A Boeing 757 crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11, despite online claims suggesting otherwise. 

The 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks inspired remembrances of the people who died that day and a resurgence of unfounded claims about what happened. 

Several recent social media posts suggested that a Boeing 757 didn’t crash into the Pentagon more than two decades ago. 

"For that Boeing 757 to hit the Pentagon, this is how low it would have had to approach the building," read one Sept. 11 post on Facebook that featured an image of a plane positioned on the ground outside the Defense Department headquarters.

"A Boeing 757 did not fly into the Pentagon," another Facebook post read. And a third post, on Instagram, said, ""Seriously doesn't make sense ... it looks like a missile."  

These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.) 

Plenty of evidence undercuts the claims. 

The 9/11 Commission Report explains in detail what happened before and after American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon that morning, killing all 64 people onboard and 125 people in the Pentagon. 

Passengers on the flight called family members and reported that the plane had been hijacked at 8:54 a.m., the report said. Air traffic controllers repeatedly tried and failed to contact the plane, which had deviated from its course. At 9:29 a.m., when the plane was at 7,000 feet and about 38 miles west of the Pentagon, its autopilot was disengaged, the report said.

Featured Fact-check

A few minutes later, according to the report, air traffic controllers at the Dulles Terminal Radar Approach Control in Washington "observed a primary radar target tracking eastbound at a high rate of speed." This was later determined to have been Flight 77. 

When the flight was 5 miles southwest of the Pentagon, it executed a 330-degree turn and started descending through 2,200 feet toward the building. 

"The hijacker pilot then advanced the throttles to maximum power and dove toward the Pentagon," the report said.

Around 9:38 a.m., the plane, then moving at about 530 miles per hour, crashed into the Pentagon. 

Corroborating the report from the 9/11 Commission and the Defense Department’s account of what happened that day, survivors have described what they witnessed that day. Sean Boger recalled being in a control tower for the Pentagon’s helipad when he saw the plane flying low, clipping a streetlamp and hitting the building about 10 seconds later. Sheila Moody, who was working her first day at the Pentagon, said the plane hitting the building ounded like "an explosion, like a bomb." 

We rate claims that a plane didn’t crash into the Pentagon on 9/11 Pants on Fire!

RELATED: 9/11 conspiracy theories misconstrue how World Trade Center buildings collapsed

RELATED: Plane debris was found at Pentagon after 9/11

Our Sources

Facebook post, Sept. 11, 2022

Facebook post, Sept. 11, 2022

Instagram post, Sept. 12, 2022

CBS News, Three witnesses to the September 11 attack at the Pentagon tell their stories, Sept. 11, 2021

Defense Department, Pentagon memorial, visited Sept. 13, 2022

The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Report)

CNN, Biden honors 9/11 victims at Pentagon ceremony, Sept. 11, 2022

Defense Department, National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial page, accessed Sept. 14, 2022


Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Ciara O'Rourke

Yes, a plane crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up