Airplanes Have Been Flown By Remote Control Since 1917

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Washington’s Blog
Sunday, September 11, 2011

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
– Scientist and writer Arthur C. Clarke

Airplanes have been flown by remote-control since 1917. As Wikipedia notes:

In 1917, Archibald Low as head of the RFC [Britain’s Royal Flying Corps] Experimental Works, was the first person to use radio control successfully on an aircraft.


There were also [during the 1930s] remotely controlled cutters and experimental remotely controlled planes in the Red Army. In the 1930s Britain developed the radio controlled Queen Bee, a remotely controlled unmanned Tiger Moth aircraft for a fleet’s gunnery firing practice. The Queen Bee was superseded by the similarly named Queen Wasp, a later, purpose built, target aircraft of higher performance.

As the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum notes, President John F. Kennedy’s older brother flew a secret mission involving the remote-control flying of a bomb-laden airplane to attack Nazi targets inside France:

On the 31st July 1944 a U.S.N. special air unit, codenamed Project Anvil, moved to Fersfield from Dunkeswell in Devon. The mission was to involve the use of explosive-laden PB4Y-1 Liberator bombers under radio control. The crew of two, Lt Joe Kennedy (pilot), and Lt. Wilford John Willy (radio control technician/co-pilot), were to take off with 21,150 lbs of Torpex in 347 boxes and establish radio control of the Liberator by a Ventura mother-ship. Once full control was established and tested, at a pre-determined point the crew would parachute from the aircraft through the nose wheel bay emergency exit and the bomber would continue the rest of its mission under radio control, finally crashing onto the target.

In addition, Norad has been able to fly planes remotely for many decades:

NORAD (the North American Air Defense Command) had at its disposal a number of U.S. Air Force General Dynamics F-106 Delta Dart fighter aircraft configured to be remotely flown into combat as early as 1959 under the auspices of a program know as SAGE. These aircraft could be started, taxied, taken off, flown into combat, fight, and return to a landing entirely by remote control, with the only human intervention needed being to fuel and re-arm them.

As Wikipedia explains:

The Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) was an automated control system for tracking and intercepting enemy bomber aircraft used by NORAD from the late 1950s into the 1980s. In later versions, the system could automatically direct aircraft to an interception by sending instructions directly to the aircraft’s autopilot.


In normal operation, communications between the SAGE centers and the interceptor aircraft was relayed via radio equipment at the radar sites, which were more widely spread out than the SAGE centers themselves. A properly equipped aircraft, like the F-106 Delta Dart, could feed the SAGE directions into the autopilot and fly “hands off” to the interception.

NASA and the FAA flew a plane by remote control in 1984:

In 1984 NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) teamed-up in a unique flight experiment called the Controlled Impact Demonstration (CID), to test the impact of a Boeing 720 aircraft using standard fuel with an additive designed to suppress fire.


On the morning of December 1, 1984, a remotely controlled Boeing 720 transport took off from Edwards Air Force Base (Edwards, California), made a left-hand departure and climbed to an altitude of 2300 feet. It then began a descent-to-landing to a specially prepared runway on the east side of Rogers Dry Lake. Final approach was along the roughly 3.8-degree glide slope.

Indeed, prior to 9/11, remote-controlled planes could fly up to 8,600 miles (from the April 24, 2001 edition of Britain’s International Television News).

One day after 9/11, an article appeared in a top science and technology news service stating “hijackings could be halted in progress with existing technologies, say aviation researchers”. The article quoted a transportation expert as saying:

“Most modern aircraft have some form of autopilot that could be re-programmed to ignore commands from a hijacker and instead take direction from the ground . . . .”

See also this article, in which the former head of British Airways “suggested . . . that aircraft could be commandeered from the ground and controlled remotely in the event of a hijack.”

Some have speculated that remote control played a part in 9/11:

And some allege that the use of remote control could explain some of the strange behavior by the 9/11 planes.

Indeed, more than 40 years ago, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested shooting down a military drone airplane, pretending it was a real airplane, and then blaming the attack on the Cubans as a way to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news report; the official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

And coincidentally, Fox TV aired a fictional drama 6 months before 9/11, in which the U.S. government intended to fly a plane into the World Trade Center via remote control and blame it on terrorists.

Note: While some claim that remote control played a part in 9/11, a separate – but interesting – question, is whether remote control could and should have been used to safely land the hijacked airplanes. Given that Al Qaeda flying planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon was wholly foreseeable, and hijackings could be stopped using existing equipment, why wasn’t the equipment used to stop this type of attack? In other words, why didn’t ground control have the ability to override the hijacked airlines to safely land them and take control of the aircraft?

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29 Responses to “Airplanes Have Been Flown By Remote Control Since 1917”

  1. what is this???
    FREE Lobotomy hour…

    Sgt. Fury Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 9:17 am

    I offer hamster whispering courses on a “one to one” basis or in groups.

    Please call on 212-HAM-LUBE for prices and dates.

    Kwai Chang Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 9:43 am

    blew water…
    white death…
    (do hamsters purr???)

    Quantummonkeybutt Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Sgt. Fury???

    Sounds Like Sgt. ‘WEIRDO’ To Me…

    Maybe You Should Try Doing Something More Constructive Than Shoving Hamsters Up Your A$$…

    I Doubt You’ve Got The Balls For It, But Try This On For Size, Monkey Boy…

    YouTube: watch?v=1Yx9NRX37SM


    Mr. Thrillkill Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Yeah K.C., his “logic” is “riddled” with holes insn’t it ?

    Sgt. Fury Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 11:45 am


    Sgt. Fury reporting, SIR!

    Sgt. Fury sexualates with quantummonkeybutt!

    Bravo……molto bene grazie!

    Kwai Chang Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    the best I’ve seen on a wedding limo:
    “seven days make a hole weak”

    0321recon Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 9:57 am

    So sad you clowns disgrace this day and the victims in this fashion….

    I hope someday you wake up and realize what you are doing…

    Kwai Chang Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 10:26 am

    follow the clowns if you must…
    no one’s asleep…

    0321recon Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 11:32 am

    That doesnt even make sense…

    Kwai chang- I bet i know more about your theories then YOU do….

    They are all lies and all have been debunked..

    Have fun in make believe world.

    Kwai Chang Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I’m a nobody that seek to find only myself…
    on that path…there is much to learn…
    that’s why I’m here…
    Congratulations…you’re ahead of me…
    I am really only talking to myself anyway…right?
    Do you care what I think???
    how enlightened is that???
    Thanks anyway…
    and drop the hate…
    it doesn’t become you.
    Peace…Happy 10th

    Odysseus Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I prefer magic over remote control. If you can figure out magic, they think you either know god or are actually god. The living have no idea how the dead do the dirty work of this world. They think that they are immortal because they are trapped in this world. At the end of times they always knew somebody would come who would figure out everything of this world.

    That has not stopped the invisible powers that be from continuing to destroy the earth. The dead enjoy playing god through the lives of the living. There is a far greater tragedy that has been manifesting itself around the world since 2005.

    History has a way of repeating itself for one basic reason. Those who have made the rules continue living life through those who are alive. They do not like somebody coming into their world and telling them they never did anything right. The powers that be do not like to be told that organized religion and war are terrible concepts.

    Life is truly a joke. Those with the magic and invisible powers are completely unworthy. They want to be worshiped and admired. For what, they have done nothing good for this world. In the end, those who have given nothing to this world will get nothing in the end. They decided to end the game of life with the god experience. Even the dead cannot escape their fate. The book of life cannot be cheated, it has the final say in the end game.

  2. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

    IT was like that when the dinasaurs were here along with the cave men and 2011 nothing has realy changed??? people are still un evolved too fooled to even see the truth that was in there faces in 9/11. The shock was such no one dared to ask the real questions.It was not patriotic.

  3. Did you see the picture of the C130 cargo aircraft in the video? These C130s were used in Vietnam to control drone jet planes for reconocense to take pictures over enemy territory. They have two pylons under the wings that the drones were mounted on and launched in mid flight. They are equipped with large TV screens and joysticks to control the drones. There was a sighting of a C130 aircraft flying around the NY city area at the same time as the attacks. I think it was even captured on video.

    AandO Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Yep 19th.

    I was in Operations Intelligence in The Navy (70′s).

    Specif Billet as an AIC “Air Intercept Controller”. My job had me on ground, at Sea and in AWAC’s “Airborne Early warning and control” See Hawkeye, I called it the Flying Sardine Can. Was cramped and always smelled like fish.

    The system we used was capable of remotely controlling F14′s to Intercept incoming threats. In actual use the controller merely watched as the Computers did their work.

    The Aviators at all times had the ability to over ride this system, sadly, the pilots on 911 could not.

    So yeah, it is no technical marvel.

  4. Excellent article. However, to clarify, Joseph P. Kennedy’s plane on his last mission was a modified 4 engine B-24 Liberator bomber. It was designated as a “PB4Y”. “PB” stood for “Patrol Bomber”, and the “Y” stood for “Consolidated”, the manufacturer. However, this designation is not to be confused with the 2 engine “PBY” Catalina flying boat, also made by Consolidated. Kennedy, earlier in his military career had flown flying boats on antisubmarine missions, but those were twin engine “PBM Mariner’s” made by Martin. On the other hand, to add further to the confusion, there is a nice article about Joseph P. Kennedy (whom they refer to as “JPK”) on alternatehistory dot com. They claim that Kennedy’s plane exploded over its target a minute after he and his copilot successfully bailed out, and that after the war he served in the House from 1947 -53, the Senate 1953 – 1960, and as President from 1961 to ’63, being succeeded by his Vice President, Lyndon Johnson.

  5. Good Point-Technollogy is good but not in the hands of the primitive canibals

    So we f;;;ck up our brains to develop hi tech devices for what?

    1-Television to brainwash the sheeple-people and to tell them bulshit instead of news
    2-Aircraft to transport passengers into… centers by remote control
    3-Demolition explosives to demolish……..buildings full of people
    4-Chemicals to produce ……fake food to poison the sheeple
    5-Vaccines to distroy the immune system?????
    6-Security to protect people from…..being free

    It looks like someone is waging a covert war hidden in plain sight against humanity
    All those trillions of stolen money used for black projects are being put at work now;;;;;;;

    Whats next? A teleported nuke into the White House?

  6. Makes one really think about it!

  7. On a flight to New York to visit friends, our jet was forced to go around in circles prior to landing for what seemed quite a long time, but what I noticed was that the aircraft was being mechanically flown, for no pilot on earth could fly the plane with such precision and at such a perfect altitude as the way we were flown when circling New York prior to landing on that late evening flight. Do I believe in remote control of an aircraft, you better believe I do, after living through that late night experience. It felt like being on a ferris wheel circling over the night lights of New York, an amazing experience and one I’ll never forget.

  8. In 1917, Archibald Low as head of the RFC [Britain’s Royal Flying Corps] Experimental Works, was the first person to use radio control successfully on an aircraft.

    Wait a minute, if the above mentioned is historical fact, then I was
    fed misinfo, in senior high school ( indoctrination center ) , unless I have misunderstood what I read, in the above paragraph.

    My high school textbood told me that the radio was invented by an
    Italian by the name of Marconi, in 1922. But what I’m thinking is that it was invented before that time, but wasn’t available to the public until 1922. It.s now beginning to add up, that the Anglo
    American World Empire ( the Nazis ) had used the one, or two way
    transmission audio device, namely, the radio.

    I forgot what the acronym stood for … any volunteers ?
    If not, I’ll just to to wikipedia.

    P.S. Another reason why I don’t “grope fly,” yeah that’s what I call it now. Could be a hellbound mission. Might be carcinogenic too.

    Inquiring Mind Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    You must have misremembered the dates. 1922 marks the first commercial broadcast station in the U.S., KDKA in Pittsburg. Radio had been around in various forms for quite a while before that. The 2009 movie “Sherlock Holmes” movie credits the invention of radio control in 1890 to a red haired midget named Luke Reardon. More seriously, electromagnetic waves were being produced and detected by Heinrich Hertz (you know, as in “Megahertz”) in 1888. Nikola Tesla demonstrated a radio control boat to the U.S. Navy that same year. Then, of course, the Titanic sent out a Morse code radio distress call in 1912. Two years before that “wireless” had played a role in the apprehension of the wife murderer Dr. Crippen who was trying to cross the Atlantic with his mistress. Finally, in 1920, Marconi succeeded in transmitting a radio signal across the Atlantic, but in so doing, Tesla claimed he had violated no fewer than 17 of his patents. I believe the first television picture was also transmitted about the same time. If so, the picture quality must have been really crappy.

    Greyfox Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    take it easy with 1917 and first radio because its not true
    The first experiments about radio waves were made by Heinrich Hertz in 1888,then Marconi tried to apply the radio transmission for long distance in 1899,and somehow the americans credited Tesla with the discovery of the radio waves
    Then lots of applications of the radio waves had been found,including RADAR (radio-location) wireless radio trasnmission of sounds,and remote controlling of different devices including aircraft
    But the fly-by-wire software was introduced into the BOEING comercial aircraft much later,although it was largelly used by the military much before
    Some other airlines were pissed off to find out that the Boeing aircraft was fitted by the manufacturer with the “fly-by-wire” system and removed it;they were not happy that someone else could control the aircraft from outside

  9. Even Air Force One/Vacation One can fly on remote….they wouldn’t let dead pilots

    stop the First family from a vacation destination?

  10. Everybody needs to watch “The Lone Gunman”

    nuff said.

    kenn Reply:
    September 11th, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Lone Gunman Pilot show…

  11. Iwas in the Air Force from 1979-1986. I was stationed at clark air base in the philippines my whole time in service. A friend who was also a pilot of the C5 galaxy air plane told me that this airplane could taxi, take off fly around the world and land on it’s own without pilot intervention. It could even fly with only one of it’s four massive engines

  12. These large aircraft can be pre programed to fly anywhere with out having to be remote controlled. This is fact and it’s not new technology. Ask anyone that is or was a pilot in the military. You do not have to prove remote control because you do not need it.

  13. preprogramed flight plans makes more sense. Hell you do not even need a pilot at all.

  14. I just talked to an old WWII vet and he said that the drones and remote technology was already in use back then ! The CIA was careful in not deliberating this invention or technology more openly to the public through the news media, and since then we’re realizing it now with open minds and eyes.

    Ya just don’t know what EVIL is going to do next ? You can only bet on one thing, it’s about money and tons of it too !

    ….”man, somebody go behind the curtain and pull that man’s drawers down !”

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