Shelton’s 2010 autobiography, coincidentally named “Without Hesitation,” confirms this timeline and adds a few more details.  On page 433, Shelton describes what happened after his initial order to return to the U.S., when he learned of the second WTC crash.  He wrote: “Ten minutes later they called back with confirmation that we had been officially cleared to fly through the shutdown airspace. One of our pilots stuck his head out of the cockpit and announced, ‘Sir, our flight path will take us right over Manhattan, if you’d like to come up here about ten minutes from now.’”

Furthermore, Shelton elaborated on the return journey in that he claims to have flown right over the WTC site just minutes after the buildings were destroyed.  “We flew directly over what had been the Twin Towers, just a few minutes after they collapsed,” he wrote.  And then, “We vectored directly back to Andrews.”

Shelton furthered described what happened when he arrived at Andrews.  He claims that an entourage of DC patrol cars met him there and he was escorted immediately to the Pentagon, “which was still ablaze and spewing plumes of thick gray smoke.” And (interestingly), “the smell of cordite was overwhelming.”

Suzanne Giesemann, an aide to Shelton who was on the Speckled Trout that morning, has confirmed Shelton’s account in her own book.  In this account, she reiterates that the plane was routed over the WTC site seemingly just minutes after the towers fell.  There is even a photograph of smoke rising from Ground Zero that is attributed to Shelton’s personal photographer, named Jones.[10]

Unfortunately, the September 2011 edition of Air Force Magazine, mentioned earlier, contradicts both of these accounts.[11]  Another article in this issue includes comments from Captain Rob Pedersen, who was the flight navigator for Shelton’s plane on 9/11.  This article states that after Shelton instructed his pilot to return to the U.S., the crew didn’t get clearance to return for several hours.  This article also claims that the plane did not have any destination and “so we went into a holding pattern near Greenland,” Pedersen said.  The new report says that it was Pederson’s job as the navigator to come up with a list of alternative landing sites, the possibilities for which included Thule AB, Greenland and NAS Keflavik, Iceland.

The new article suggests that Speckled Trout finally came back through Canada hours later, but was still being denied entry to US airspace, and therefore it was placed in another holding pattern.  Pederson states that, “It took a little bit of time, and I’m sure there were a lot of phone calls made, before they let us back in.”  The article does mention that the return flight from Canada took the plane over the WTC site and that Pederson took his own photograph out one of the small windows.  It is interesting that the route through Canada and the route back over the Atlantic would both go over the WTC site, but the new story concludes that, “By early afternoon, they had made their way to Andrews.

The flight tracking strip from Andrews AFB indicates that the Speckled Trout, call name “Trout 99,” took off at 7:09 am ET (11:09 Zulu time). The official time that Trout 99 landed back at Andrews is recorded as 4:40 pm.

Many obvious questions arise when considering these contradictory reports.

  • Why does Pederson now claim that it took hours to get clearance to return when Shelton said in his book that it took only ten minutes?
  • If the Speckled Trout had flown over the WTC just minutes after the buildings were destroyed, meaning before 11 am, how could it have taken nearly six hours to land at Andrews AFB?
  • If Shelton’s account was true and the plane landed much earlier, what was he doing for the next six hours, before arriving at the NMCC at 5:40 pm?
  • If he did not fly back until hours later after having been in a long holding pattern over Greenland and then another in Canada, why did he not mention any of this in his autobiography?  Did he not know what the plane was doing?
  • How could Shelton not know the difference between “just minutes” and a period of five or six hours?
  • If Shelton’s 2010 account was correct, why would Air Force Magazine make up a story in September 2011 about his plane having been delayed in Greenland for hours and not landing at Andrews until the afternoon?

These may or may not be the most critical questions to answer regarding the events of 9/11.  But the story of Gofer 06 has been used to provide evidence for the official accounts, and the question of why so many of the nation’s leaders were absent on that morning should be of great concern to anyone who is interested in the truth.  Getting to the truth will require that all such improbable scenarios and contradictions be investigated.


[1] Air Force Magazine, Airmen on 9/11, September 2011 edition,…/0911airmen.pdf

[2] Andrew Wackerfuss, The Air National Guard Responds on 9/11, New Patriot, July/August 2011.  In this article,  Lt. Col O’Brien gave details of this encounter — “By then, he [AA 77] had pretty much filled our windscreen. Then he made a pretty aggressive turn so he was moving right in front of us, a mile and a half, two miles away.”

[3] The 9/11 Commission Report

[4] See the videotaped testimony of Norman Mineta, given to the 9/11 Commission,

[5] Bill Catlin, Museum features Air Guard’s history and role in the war on terror, Minnesota Public Radio, May 31, 2004,

[6] Air Force Magazine

[7] Flight tracking strip from Andrews AFB for September 11, 2001, 911 Working Group of Bloomington

[8] Air Force Magazine

[9] History Commons 9/11 Timeline page for Hugh Shelton,

[10] Suzanne Giesemann, Living a Dream: A Journey from Aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Sull-Time Cruiser, Paradise Cay Publications, 2008, pp 26-27

[11] Air Force Magazine