Pentagon FAQs

  1. Why was the Pentagon a terrorist target?
  2. What was the time of the September 11 attack at the Pentagon?
  3. How many people were on American Airlines Flight 77?
  4. What is the number of victims?
  5. What was the number of hijackers aboard the plane?
  6. What was the flight number?
  7. Was flight number 77 retired?
  8. What was the American Airlines Flight 77 departure and destination?
  9. What was the direction of the plane’s approach?
  10. Where did the hijacked plane impact the Pentagon?
  11. What was the significance of the Pentagon’s renovation project on the area that the plane hit?
  12. Why was the impact of the Pentagon so devastating?
  13. How long did it take before the building collapsed?
  14. How did the structure of the Pentagon play a role on September 11?
  15. When was the Pentagon Constructed? How long did it take to build?
  16. What is the Pentagon?
  17. How big is the Pentagon?
  18. How many people work at the Pentagon?
  19. How long did it take to rebuild the damaged area?

  1. Why was the Pentagon a terrorist target?
    Since World War II the Pentagon has stood as a symbol of American power and influence to the nation and the world. By 11 September 2001 it had been the command center of the Nation’s military establishment for more than a half century. In retrospect it seems obvious that in some regions of the world, particularly in the Middle East, a U.S. military presence and perceived ascendancy should have made the Pentagon an object of fear and hatred and a likely target of attack by terrorist enemies (Pentagon 9/11).
     
  2. What was the time of the September 11 attack at the Pentagon?
    9:37 A.M. (EST)
     
  3. How many people were on American Airlines Flight 77?
    When the plane lifted off at 8:20 a.m. it had 64 people on board-a crew of 6 plus 58 passengers, including the 5 hijackers with their weapons, probably small knives and box cutters (Pentagon 9/11).
     
  4. What is the number of victims?
    184 total (125 in the Pentagon and 59 on American Airlines Flight 77). This number does not include the hijackers on the plane.
     
  5. What was the number of hijackers aboard the plane?
    Five
     
  6. What was the flight number?
    American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757
     
  7. Was flight number 77 retired?
    Yes. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the flight numbers of the jetliners that crashed in New York, Washington, D.C. and rural Pennsylvania were retired.
     
  8. What was the American Airlines Flight 77 departure and destination?
    Flight 77 was a scheduled flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport. In a speculative reconstruction of what took place in the plane, it seems likely that over eastern Kentucky the hijackers made their move, probably between 8:51 and 8:54, and took over Flight 77.
     
  9. What was the direction of the plane’s approach?
    The final minute of the airliner’s flight took it along an east-northeast course above an Arlington County, Virginia, roadway, Columbia Pike (Pentagon 9/11).
     
  10. Where did the hijacked plane impact the Pentagon?
    American Airlines Flight 77 struck the west side of the Pentagon at the 1st Floor level just inside Wedge 1 near the 4th Corridor and proceeded diagonally at an approximate 420 angle toward the 5th Corridor in the mostly vacant and unrenovated Wedge 2 (Pentagon 9/11).
     
  11. What was the significance of the Pentagon’s renovation project on the area that the plane hit?
    In 1990 Congress authorized a complete overhaul of the Pentagon. Upgrading security stood high on the list for the reconstruction and renovation of the building, which began in 1998 with clearance of Wedge 1. By September 2001, Wedge 1 had been largely reoccupied and work was under way on adjacent Wedge 2, which had been cleared of all but about 700 occupants. On 11 September the offices in or near the impact point were not completely occupied, either awaiting new tenants in Wedge 1 or mostly vacated in preparation for renovation in Wedge 2. Had the aircraft hit fully-occupied unrenovated Wedge 5, several hundred yards to the right, the toll of dead and injured, as well as structural damage, would have been much greater.
     
  12. Why was the impact of the Pentagon so devastating?
    Flight 77 had taken off with a total weight of over 90 tons, roughly 25 percent of it in fuel. Allowing for the hour-and-a-quarter flight from Dulles Airport to Kentucky and back, Flight 77 still had most of its original 7,256 gallons of fuel on board, the greater part of it in the wings, when it hit the Pentagon. Traveling at 530 m.p.h., the aircraft, and the subsequent fuel explosion, delivered enormous destructive power. The destruction and, more importantly, the loss of life, would have been worse without the reinforcement of the exterior wall of Wedge 1 and installation of the blast-resistant windows and fire suppression systems made during the recent renovations (Pentagon 9/11).
     
  13. How long did it take before the building collapsed?
    Approximately 30 minutes. The report of the American Society of Civil Engineers concluded that "the direct impact of the aircraft destroyed the load capacity of about 30 first-floor columns and significantly impaired that of 20 others.” Moreover, "this impact may have also destroyed the load capacity of about six second-floor columns adjacent to the exterior wall.” Shattering the many columns essentially doubled the span between columns, thereby imposing severe stress on the stability on the affected building section and causing collapse of the four floors in the E Ring above the impact point at 10:15 a.m. (Pentagon 9/11).
     
  14. How did the structure of the Pentagon play a role on September 11?
    Although never designed to offer the protection of a bunker, the building’s steel-reinforced concrete and brick construction protected most employees in Wedges 1 and 2 from fires and explosions and saved their lives. Moreover, the rigidity of the Pentagon’s facade caused some of the fuel in the wings to detonate on impact, diminishing the inside destruction. The lighter structure and largely glass facade of the World Trade Center buildings presented much less impact resistance (Pentagon 9/11).
     
  15. When was the Pentagon Constructed? How long did it take to build?
    Construction began on September 11, 1941 and was completed in the remarkably short time of 16 months on Jan. 15, 1943. The Pentagon has 41,492 columns holding it up. No steel framing was used because steel was needed for the war effort.
     
  16. What is the Pentagon?
    Headquarters of the Department of Defense, the Pentagon is the world’s largest low-rise office building.
     
  17. How big is the Pentagon?
    The Pentagon is a five–sided, five–story (plus two basements) building containing a large central courtyard and five concentric rings of offices. It is twice the size of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, and has three times the floor space of the Empire State Building in New York. The National Capitol could fit into any one of the five wedge-shaped sections. Despite 17.5 miles of corridors, it takes only seven minutes to walk between any two points in the building.
     
  18. How many people work at the Pentagon?
    There are approximately 26,000 employees, both military and civilian.
     
  19. How long did it take to rebuild the damaged area?
    The Pentagon Renovation and Construction Program Office (PENREN) began the Phoenix Project on October 18, 2001, so named because of its representation of the hopeful image of the mythical bird rising from the ashes. Reducing the schedule of the original Wedge 1 renovation, the impacted portions of the Pentagon were demolished, rebuilt, and occupied in less than one year. The offices directly above the point of impact were occupied on August 15, 2002, 28 days ahead of schedule.

Works Cited
Goldberg, Alfred. Pentagon 9/11. Washington, D.C.: Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 2007. Print.