And as Marcel Bernard pointed out, the hijackers wouldn't have required all the skills of a regular pilot:<quoted text>
I didn't claim to know the names of 20 pilots, I simply know flying a jet for the first time at top speed into target is extremely difficult, x3 is virtually impossible, and I've said that before.
"Despite Hanjour's poor reviews, he did have some ability as a pilot, said Bernard of Freeway Airport. "There's no doubt in my mind that once that [hijacked jet] got going, he could have pointed that plane at a building and hit it," he said"
People will still say that the Pentagon attack was too difficult for Hanjour to have pulled off (see here), however other debunking articles quote pilots saying that isnt the case (see here). Salon produced a recent example of the second type, written by an airline pilot (below):
As I've explained in at least one prior column, Hani Hanjour's flying was hardly the show-quality demonstration often described. It was exceptional only in its recklessness. If anything, his loops and turns and spirals above the nation's capital revealed him to be exactly the shitty pilot he by all accounts was. To hit the Pentagon squarely he needed only a bit of luck, and he got it, possibly with help from the 757's autopilot. Striking a stationary object -- even a large one like the Pentagon -- at high speed and from a steep angle is very difficult. To make the job easier, he came in obliquely, tearing down light poles as he roared across the Pentagon's lawn.
It's true there's only a vestigial similarity between the cockpit of a light trainer and the flight deck of a Boeing. To put it mildly, the attackers, as private pilots, were completely out of their league. However, they were not setting out to perform single-engine missed approaches or Category 3 instrument landings with a failed hydraulic system. For good measure, at least two of the terrorist pilots had rented simulator time in jet aircraft, but striking the Pentagon, or navigating along the Hudson River to Manhattan on a cloudless morning, with the sole intention of steering head-on into a building, did not require a mastery of airmanship. The perpetrators had purchased manuals and videos describing the flight management systems of the 757/767, and as any desktop simulator enthusiast will tell you, elementary operation of the planes' navigational units and autopilots is chiefly an exercise in data programming. You can learn it at home. You won't be good, but you'll be good enough.
"They'd done their homework and they had what they needed," says a United Airlines pilot (name withheld on request), who has flown every model of Boeing from the 737 up. "Rudimentary knowledge and fearlessness."
"As everyone saw, their flying was sloppy and aggressive," says Michael (last name withheld), a pilot with several thousand hours in 757s and 767s. "Their skills and experience, or lack thereof, just weren't relevant."
"The hijackers required only the shallow understanding of the aircraft," agrees Ken Hertz, an airline pilot rated on the 757/767. "In much the same way that a person needn't be an experienced physician in order to perform CPR or set a broken bone."
That sentiment is echoed by Joe d'Eon, airline pilot and host of the "Fly With Me" podcast series. "It's the difference between a doctor and a butcher," says d'Eon.