On Nov. 12,·two months and one day after terrorist-commandeered commercial airplanes slammed into the World Trade Center, another American Airlines jet crashed into the Belle Harbor section of the Rockaways peninsula of Queens. Fronting directly on the Atlantic Ocean, running from west to east, the Rockaways a reinforced sandbar, less than one mile wide for most of its eleven miles. On the outskirts of the city, yet serviced by the subway, it is scarcely known to most New Yorkers, let alone the rest of the world. I’ve come to know the peninsula well in the course of planning to relocate there. The crash occurred around 129th St.,·.slightly more than three miles away from my property at 67th 51. In the Rockaways, as in Manhattan, there are 20 blocks to a mile.
One risk of living there, already familiar to me,r is that all the planes from JFK take off at various angles dir~ctly over the Rockaways. The French Concorde, recently returned to service, is particularly noisy and noisome. Between the sand- bar and JFK airport lie several miles of Jamaica Bay, which has islands vary in size, only one of which is populated.
What I cannot understand, as I write the day afterwards, is why the plane crashed into Belle Harbor, where the peninsula is only a few blocks wide, rather than into several miles of Jamaica Bay to the northeast or the infinite expanse of the Atlantic Ocean to the south. It would have been quite easy for a conscious pilot to hit water. That may have provided a better cushion for a falling plane and caused less damage. Hitting land is so unlikely that I’m not aware of any previous plane crashing into the Rockaways.
These considerations indicate to me that the pilot must have completely lost control before he could redirect his plane into water or even express alarm into the voice recorder. Then the question is, what could have prompted such a quick loss of control? So far commentators haven’t focused on this anomaly, though I suppose they will by the time this reflection appears.
My fear is that government authorities want to avoid considering, or at least having the public consider, the option of sabotage. By hiding the question they are suspiciously obscuring the most obvious conclusion.
Don’t be surprised if the motive has something to do with the fact that nearly all those who perished came from a single ethnic group.
My condolences go out to relatives of people on the plane and my Rockaways neighbors on the ground.