TMZ’s ‘9/11: The Fifth Plane’ investigates the possibility of a fifth plane being involved in the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks. On September 11, 2001, the US was hit by four coordinated attacks orchestrated by the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. While two of the planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, the third aircraft struck the walls of the Pentagon, and the fourth one crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania.
TMZ’s documentary looks into Flight 23, which was supposed to take off from the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, and explores if it was a target for the highjackers. The show even interviews the plane’s pilot, Tom Mannello, who provides his own theories about the incident. Well, let’s look at Tom’s life and find out where he is nowadays, shall we?
Who is Tom Mannello?
Tom Mannello completed his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1972 before pursuing a Master’s degree in Project Management from the University of Southern California. In 1979, he joined United Airlines as a pilot and earned quite a reputation in his field. Tom did not take long to climb the ladder, and soon his supervisors noticed his tenacity and passion for the job.
On September 11, 2001, Tom was assigned to fly the commercial aircraft United Airlines Flight 23, which was supposed to take off from the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City. He and his co-pilot, Carol Timmons, were sitting in their cockpit, with the plane waiting on the tarmac, when they got orders to return to the gate. At that time, Tom had no idea that the twin towers of the World Trade Center were under attack, which led to authorities canceling all flights out of New York. Reports state that once the plane returned to the boarding area, three Arab passengers were seen hurrying out of the aircraft. Shortly after, they vanished into the stream of passengers and were never seen again.
However, when FBI officials entered the plane to conduct a security check, they were surprised to find the hatch to the control room in the plane’s belly pried open. Besides, authorities found box cutters and Al-Qaeda documents in the hand luggage of the suspicious passengers. Initially, Tom was astonished at how fate intervened to save his life and was apprehensive about believing the theory, which claimed his plane was one of the targets for the terrorists. Nevertheless, the FBI thoroughly questioned the entire flight crew, and soon new evidence came to light.
Some of the cabin crew mentioned that four passengers in first class began acting suspiciously the moment they boarded the plane. While one of the passengers appeared to be a man wearing the disguise of a woman, the cabin crew knew that none of them consumed meat. Although, when crew members tried to make them feel comfortable by offering them fruit bowls, they appeared highly impatient and kept asking for the plane to take off. Yet, with the airport shut down, the flight returned to the boarding area, and the passengers were never seen again.
Where is Tom Mannello Now?
Tom mentioned that in the days following the 9/11 attack, several of his colleagues quit their jobs. They were petrified by the brutality and suddenness of the attack, which made them unwilling to continue working as pilots. However, Tom refused to quit and returned to his job as a Commercial Airline Pilot for United Airlines. He worked for the company till 2008 before deciding to switch careers to that of a Winemaking Consultant.
Subsequently, Tom began working as a Freelancer in 2008 before being employed by Chamard Vineyards as a Winemaker in 2010. Although he left Chamard Vineyards after a 5-year stint, he continued his work as a Freelance Consultant under the banner of his company, Mannello’s Original Designs. At present, he also designs and sells high-quality and long-lasting wood furniture and cabinets. Besides, readers will be interested to know that Tom currently resides in Plantsville, Connecticut. We want to wish him the best for the years to come.
Read More: Who Was Carol Timmons? How Did She Die?