Roy asked in Cars & TransportationAircraft · 2 months ago

How come helicopters were not used to evacuate people on 9/11?

Surely a helicopter could land on at least the south tower?

12 Answers

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    On the day, it was openly discussed on the news as there were people who were congregating on the roofs. Even before either tower fell, all the experts were saying that any such rescue attempt was impossible because of the amount of searing heat rising off the sides of the towers creating such a rush of turbulent air along the sides of the towers and upwards that it was impossible for a helicopter to be able to cross over and land safely. The outcome of such an attempt was most likely that the helicopter would be pushed violently upward, which might be manageable except that then trying to descend onto the the tower, it would at some unpredictable point above the tower hit a pocket of cool air (the result of each tower's roof being a heat shield that kept the people standing on them from not being burned by the rising super-heated air) not rushing upward, thus causing the helicopter, whose upward thrust had been dialed back significantly in order to allow it to descend in a strong updraft, to suddenly drop like a stone and crash into the top of the tower.

    Basically, the towers being on fire created flight conditions that made it so any attempt to land a helicopter on either one would almost certainly end in disaster, end in the helicopter losing control of its descent and crashing into the tower.

  • Anonymous
    3 weeks ago


  • 1 month ago

    That's a good question. Who knows they should have been

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    There was total chaos on that day. 

    Nobody was ready for that extreme of an emergency in that big of a city.  Trying to move lots of emergency equipment quickly through a large, congested city, when nobody is coordinated is almost impossible. 

    And such huge buildings totally collapsed!  When did you ever see that before? 

    As soon as the federal government understood what was happening, all aviation was grounded, so there was severe conflict.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • Joseph
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    That option was only available at Two Word Trade Center where there was a helipad on the roof.   There was a TV tower on top of the One Word Trade Center, so no helicopters could land there.  

    The NYC Office of Emergency Management was located at 7 World Trade Center, across the street from the North Tower.  It was evacuated when the debris from the carsh started numerous fires in the building.  With the OEM down, the FDNY and NYPD couldn't communicate with each other effectively.  While the commanders on the scene may have been aware that there were people on the upper floors of the South Tower, they didn't know how many and that the stairways were cut.  If the buildings stood a little longer, perhaps some sort of effort could have been arranged, but with communication issues it would have been difficult at the time.

    An NYPD helicopter can carry at most 6 to 10 passengers.  NYPD Aviation Unit never had more than half a dozen helicopters, and at least one is in maintenance at any given time so it's ability to airlift survivors was limited.  The New York Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing at Suffolk County Airport flies larger HH-60 Pave Hawks but, as far as I know, no call for them was made in time to make any rescues.  The 106th is a National Guard unit so not all personnel were on duty, even if it got a call, it couldn't launch more than 1 or 2 helicopters.  

    All civilian air traffic in the New York area, including news and sightseeing helicopters, was grounded following the crash into the 2 World Trade Center, so no civilian pilots,  attempted landing on the 2WTC helipad on their own initiative.  Wouldn't have done much good anyway because access to the helipad was locked. 

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    9/11 was a mossad operation which was caused by jews and blamed on arabs. Anyone who still doesn't realize that is stupid. Those planes were drones, and there were explosives planted in all 3 buildings, including WTC7. There was a news reporter named Mark Burnback and many other eyewitnesses who got a close-up view of the 2nd plane and said it had no windows and a blue logo on the front. The plane was a windowless drone. They were both drones.

  • Zack
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    1. The heat and smoke was too dangerous for a helicopter to land.

    2. Even if it was safe for a helicopter to land, most of the people at the top of the towers would have either already jumped out of the tower to their deaths, died in the tower (from the plane, fire, or smoke inhalation), or descended to lower levels.

    3. Imagine the panic of people rushing to get in a helicopter. So many people would be fighting, pushing, jumping in, trying to overcrowd the helicopter, etc.

  • CB
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    It was about 17 minutes between the two impacts - not enough time to get a rescue helo in the air and to the location even it approval had been immediate (I am sure there were or would have been many phone calls before approval was given). Then when the south tower was struck it was only 56 minutes before collapse and about 30 minutes later the north tower collapsed.  NO chance even if it was possible to try a rescue attempt with two burning building and 40-50 thousand gallons of jet fuel burning from each building.

  • 2 months ago

    If they could have landed, and I'm not sure it would have been possible, my guess is that everyone would have tried to get on and it would never have been able to lift off again.  Just my guess as when people panic, and are fighting for their live all reason is lost.

  • Fred
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    My guess is if it were possible it would have been done.  Fierce fires cause strong winds and may have made it impossible to fly into land on the buildings.  The other problem is in the panic many people will in their panic cling on the helicopter overloading it and causing it to crash.

      I had a friend who used to fly fire firefighting planes dumping fire retardant and water on bush land fires.  He said it was frightening sometimes as you flew over the fire as the fire consumed much of the oxygen above the fire and the engines on the plane start to struggle to give any power.  He said you just had to hope you could glide into fresh air before you lose too much altitude.  Maybe it was the same close to the twin towers and it was too risky to attempt a rescue.

      I am sure if the authorities could have done a helicopter rescue it would have been tried.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.