I have a hypothetical scenario and I was wondering if any experts might be able to speak to it. I will lay out the scenario, with a couple of specific questions, and maybe some honest answers will come if I leave out the dog whistle words :)

  • A plane is travelling at 322 Knots at 6800 feet and wants to simply point the nose down and hit the ground somewhere within a target of 34 acres.

  • A plane is traveling at 336 knots at 6800 feet and begins a spiral decent reducing speed over the next 2'40" completing a 270º turn, coming out of the turn at 2200 feet. The radius of the descending circle at about 2.75 miles.

  • From the altitude of 2200 feet, travelling at 312 knots, said plane increases speed over the next 40" finishing at the wall of a great invisible barrier going 488knots, just five feet of the ground. The descent rate increases exponentially beginning at 3200ft per minute until getting to 5800 feet per minute travelling from 418 to 488 knots from 1200 feet to 5 feet in 12 seconds.

How easy or difficult would any of these maneuvers be to undertake, say in a Boeing 757, for a pilot who

  • had just been hired by a major airline?
  • Has several 1000 hours of flying experience
  • Could fly a Cessna if someone sat next to her to watch in case things went south (literally).

A sincere thank you - while this post may seem to have some snark, it is asked with 100% intellectual sincerity.

  • Calvin
  • $\begingroup$ These are oddly specific numbers... why? The pentagon is 34 acres in size and this matches a lot of details from the aircraft that hit the Pentagon on 9/11... Conspiracy theory? $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Feb 3 at 0:42
  • $\begingroup$ Any pilot past their Commercial Pilot Certificate training (250 hours of flight time) should be able to hit a point on a runway roughly 10,000 square feet (100’ x 100’). Especially if they were not trying to make the landing as smooth as butter. If you are trying to discern whether a ragtag group of extremist could do it, the answer is yes. Could someone with absolutely no aviation experience do it? Maybe with coaching. Especially if they do not know or have any concerns with not damaging the aircraft during high G maneuvers. $\endgroup$
    – Dean F.
    Feb 3 at 1:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ But note that 34 acres could also be one inch wide and really long, in which case it's no longer possible to land any reasonable aircraft "inside" it. $\endgroup$ Feb 3 at 1:43
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I’m voting to close this question because this question appears to belong on terrorism stack exchange $\endgroup$ Feb 3 at 2:04
  • $\begingroup$ If this is truly out of intellectual sincerity, I recommend downloading the Airplane Flying Handbook from the FAA for free. Then, research: Commercial Standard Steep Turns up to but not including 60° of bank; Emergency Descents; Short Field Landings; Teardrop 270 Descent Entry into a Traffic a pattern. Etc. $\endgroup$
    – Dean F.
    Feb 3 at 2:32

A runway at a decent size commercial airport is ~200' wide and 10,000` long, which is about 2 million square feet or 45 acres, most of this is for roll out can pilots generally have no issue touching down in the first 1000 feet which covers an area just under 4.6 acres.

So its safe to say that a pilot can maneuver a plane from 6800 feet down to a landmass of 34 acres.

A turn of that as described could be achieved with a ~30 degree bank, that decent rate is fast but not unachievable.

Aggressive decent rates like this would likely not be possible in a 757 but low and fast is not out of the question for some planes

Any airline pilot (fresh in or about to retire) should be able to pull off the first two maneuvers with out an issue . A decent CFI would likely be able to coach someone threw these maneuvers if they were just starting out. As for the last maneuver, your gonna need a G Suit....

  • $\begingroup$ Great answer. But, you may not need a G-suit for the last maneuver. Suicide can be assumed in this scenario. A G-suit would be arbitrary since consciousness may not be necessary in the last 60 seconds. If suicide was not the goal and a G-suit was worn, the speed and altitude would be ill-advised. $\endgroup$
    – Dean F.
    Feb 3 at 1:08

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