Story Summary

Piece of plane that slammed into WTC found near Ground Zero, officials say

wtc-ground-zero-map-with-enAlmost 12 years after terrorists rammed jumbo jets into the Twin Towers, destroying the World Trade Center, authorities have discovered what they believe to be part of one of the planes that struck the towers on 9/11.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 10 updates

MANHATTAN, NY (PIX11) – It took a dozen officers two hours to hoist the five-foot-long, 250 pound plane part over a three story wall. The NYPD said they took great care to keep this part intact because they know It came from of one of the planes that hit the Twin Towers.

“It’s a pretty eerie feeling that we are here 11 years later, removing that part,” said  Deputy Chief William Aubry.

The part, which has been described as part of a wing that helps control the speed of takeoff and landing, was taken to the NYPD’s evidence lot at Erie Basin Auto Pound in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Officials have not said which plane the part came from but one 9/11 family member thinks he knows exactly which one.

Charles Wolf, 59, has had his private pilot’s license since he was 19 years old. His wife Katherine was on the 97th floor of the North Tower on September 11, 2001.

“They never found my wife’s remains,” said Wold adding, “if you believe the body has spirit, the spirit is not here anymore.”

Authorities have been combing through the area near 51 Park Place since the plane part was discovered.  The Medical Examiner’s Office concluded Wednesday that they did not find any human remains.

While officials have not said which plane this part came from, Wolf has an idea.  He’s had his private pilot’s license for forty years and studied the trajectory of both planes from the video of the attacks.

“In my strong opinion, it is not from American 11 that flew into Tower 1,” he said. “American 11 flew in this direction, right over my [Greenwich Village] apartment.  It was intact until it hit the building.  I don’t see how the piece would have gone backwards. [Referring to the area, two blocks south of the Towers where the piece was found.]

“If you look at the trajectory of Flight 175, which came around a different direction, that solid metal part, which didn’t disintegrate, would have carried through the building and then another two blocks and fallen.  That plane was going 500mph and that’s a lot of inertia to just carry it on through as the plane broke up.”

If his theory is true, that would mean the part is not from the plane that actually killed his wife. But Wold says it doesn’t matter.

“It’s all part and parcel the same.”

Eleven years later, seeing that piece of machinery, sends shivers up his spine.

“When you think of it, this is part of the murder weapon that killed so many people,” he said.

The NYPD says the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will want to look at it. Then, it may end up in the musuem.

The wing support structure that came from one of the two planes that terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11 has been removed from the narrow alley in which it was wedged, authorities said Wednesday.

No potential human remains have been found following an inspection by the medical examiner’s office at the site next to 51 Park Place, a few blocks north of where the new World Trade Center is rising.

“OCME has concluded the inspection at 51 Park Place.   All sifting operations have been completed.   No potential human remains (PHR) have been recovered,” said medical examiner’s officer spokeswoman Ellen Borakove in a statement.

The large piece, which supported the wing’s flaps, was found with a Boeing 767 identification number intact, but it was not clear which plane the part belonged to.


The city medical examiner’s office launched a search in Lower Manhattan Tuesday, to hunt for remains from the September 11ths terrorist attacks.

This comes after aircraft wreckage, believed to be from one of the hijacked jets that crashed into the Twin Towers was found on Park Place.

Investigators say it came from a wing and not landing gear. They initially believed it was landing gear because both pieces have similar looking hydraulics.

LOWER MANHATTAN, Manhattan (PIX11) – Mike Burke lost his firefighter brother, Captain Billy Burke with Engine 21 in the North Tower on 9/11.

It’s been a traumatic week hearing the news that wreckage believed to be from one the planes on 9/11 was found. It’s brought back all the pain from that day.

“We have no remains,” said Mike Burke, 9/11 family member.

Boeing confirming that thepart discovered at the rear of 51 Park place is a trailing edge flap actuation support structure from a Boeing 767, a wing part.

It had a Boeing identification number, but it’s still unclear what plane it belonged to.

Soon the process to find human remains will begin at the site of the wreckage.

Forensics experts say they will be looking for skeletal remains.

“After this length of time, there certainly will be no soft tissue and even documents are going to be degraded,”  said Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, a forensics professor at John Jay College.

“I think the likelihood of finding remains at this point is quite slim. I think the possibility that there will be some skeletal remains is quite slim,” added Kobilinsky.

As for how it got there, a rope found around the wreckage raised some questions last week. Now, the NYPD said it’s learned that when police officers first responded last week, one of the officers used that rope to wrap around the aircraft part in order to move it to look for its serial number or other identifiers.

While investigators continue to work at the scene, Burke says he’s not hoping for a phone call, it’s just too painful.

The search for human remains is expected to begin Tuesday morning.


The NYPD released a sketch explaining the original location of the 9/11 wreckage found near the World Trade Center last week.

The large portion of a jumbo jet found a few blocks north of the World Trade Center last week comes from a Boeing 767′s wing, the plane’s manufacturer told the NYPD.

The part, initially believed to be part of the landing gear, is actually a “trailing edge flap actuation  support structure,” which helps stabilize wing flaps and control the jet’s speed.

While officials believe the part came from one of the two planes that terrorists rammed into the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, they could not determine which plane the piece belonged to,  even though the piece had an identification code intact. The piece was found in an area where other large portions of the 9/11 jets were discovered after the attack.

The part was found last week wedged in a narrow alley between two buildings, one of which is a planned  mosque that elicited considerable controversy a few  years ago because of its proximity to the trade center.

City workers are poised to inspect that area for human remains. Once removed later this week, the plane part will be stored by the NYPD’s property until its future use is determined.

The NYPD said in a statement that a piece of landing gear found in that area after the attack ended up in the collection of the New York State Museum in Albany.

NEW YORK (PIX11) – The New York City Medical Examiner’s mobile command unit was set up at 51 Park Place Monday morning.

The hunt for human remains is expected to begin as early Monday after a piece of landing gear, likely from an airplane that hit the World Trade Center,  was found behind the building last Wednesday. The medical examiner’s office will sift the soil for human remains, said authorities.

It was discovered wedged behind 51 Park Place after surveyors, hired by the property’s owner, found what they thought was damaged machinery. It was soon determine to be part of landing gear, said the NYPD.

“The aircraft part will not be removed until the process is completed, at which point it will be secured by the NYPD Property Clerk,” said Paul J. Browne Deputy Commissioner of Public Information for the NYPD. “The part includes a clearly visible Boeing identification number.”


Authorities are trying to determine how the landing gear ending up behind the building. A piece of rope was found intertwined with it.

51 Park Place is the site of a proposed mosque and community center that has caused controversy. It is several blocks from the World Trade Center.

The discovery is both shocking for the amount of time that has passed by – and bothersome for the painful memories it has resurrected.

A five foot section of airplane landing gear from one of the jetliners that crashed into the Towers in 2001.

It was found Friday, lodged in between two buildings — one of them a Mosque — just a couple of blocks away from the World Trade Center Site.

“Then all of a sudden you get a phone call, and something else related to 9/11 has happened. That’s completely uncalled for. I mean, this should have been found a long time ago”, said retired FDNY Fire Chief Jim Riches.

Retired Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches lost his son – who was also a firefighter – on 9/11.

“They’re finding big pieces like that, there’s gotta be body parts all over lower Manhattan”, said Riches.

But is there a silver lining to finding this old piece of machinery? Riches says yes – particularly for 9/11 families still looking for closure.

“Yeah it opens up everybody’s eyes. Let’s get this going. I mean, there are mistakes being made. We’re not pointing fingers at anybody. We just feel we need a full comprehensive search of lower Manhattan. Give the medical examiner’s office and the other city agencies a hand in searching for the human remains, body parts and other parts, and let’s get this search done once and for all”, Riches said.

A prominent attorney for the man who operates the property where the landing gear was found says it was planted.

Attorney Adam Bailey has represented Sharif el-Gamall since 2010, during the Ground Zero mosque controversy.

He said, “it is impossible that landing gear showed up there today.  We would have found this.  It’s impossible.  It was absolutely planted and I’m happy to say so.”

In other words, he’s pointing to conspiracy.

But not long after bailey sent us that statement, Mr. el-Gamall told us, “Adam bailey has no authority to speak on behalf of Sharif el-Gamall, SoHo Properties or Park 51.”

A police officer stands guard while detectives walk in and out of 49 Park place. In the back of the neighboring building – an amazing discovery – police say what appears to be part of the landing gear from one of the commercial airliners that crashed into the Twin Towers September  11th.

“As you get closer you can see a series number and you see the word Boeing,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a presser Friday.

Now the question is, how exactly did it get there?

In protective gear, Commissioner Kelly got a look for himself.

“Could it have been lowered at some time? It’s possible, there’s a rope that’s on it. It would have had to fall down…difficult to see,” Kelly said.

It was found in between 51 Park Place and the rear of the building behind it – 50 Murray Street.

The space between the two buildings is about 18 inches. The part is five feet by  four  feet by 17 inches wide.

This all came about after surveyors hired by the property owner while inspecting the rear of 51 Park Place called 911 to report what they thought to be damaged machinery.

The building is the site for the proposed controversial “Ground Zero Mosque.”

People walking by the now crime scene  couldn’t believe a piece of the past could have been found so many years later.

Kelly says they are going keep this closed off until they can check for human remains, check if anything is toxic below and they will determine as to how to move the part.

As for how this could have been missed — he said the area was chaotic, very confined place, no cleanup went on in this 18 inch space.

If the address 51 Park Place sounds familiar, that’s because it is the site of the controversial mosque near Ground Zero that was never built.

A piece of landing gear from a plane that destroyed the World Trade Center was found in an alley behind the building Friday according officials.

The building’s owner planned to build a mosque and interfaith center, but the idea was met with much opposition from 9/11 survivors and victims’ families.

Sharif El-Gamal, president of SoHo Properties that owns the building, released a statement saying, “Soho Properties recently discovered a piece of the aircraft from the World Trade Center tragedy. We immediately alerted the city of NY and the NY Police Department, and they are currently removing the piece of evidence from the site. We are cooperating fully with the appropriate authorities to make sure this piece of evidence is removed with care as quickly and effectively as possible.”