NEW YORK (AP) — Another tape capturing the first doomed jetliner that crashed into the World Trade Center has surfaced on the eve of the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
The footage, obtained by The New York Times, was taken by a Czech immigrant construction worker whose son at one point came close to accidentally erasing the rare, chilling footage, the newspaper reported. The only other known footage of the first plane’s impact came from a French film crew making a documentary about a probationary firefighter.
Federal officials investigating the trade center collapse are trying to obtain a copy of the hourlong tape, which could cast light on the cause of the north tower’s collapse by helping to determine factors including the exact speed at which the first plane traveled, the Times said.
Pavel Hlava, an immigrant construction worker from the Czech Republic, shot footage of the first plane hitting the north tower as a sport utility vehicle he was riding in entered the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel en route to lower Manhattan.
Mr. Hlava told the Times he did not see the first plane as he focused on the towers. But the tape shows a whitish object hitting the tower, followed by dust spurting from the tower’s side and a silvery, expanding cloud.
Passing through the tunnel, Mr. Hlava, his brother and his boss heard a radio report that a small private plane had hit the World Trade Center, straight ahead outside the tunnel.
As Mr. Hlava continued filming, the second jet shrieked behind him. He caught the plane as it shot into the south tower, exploding into an orange fireball and sending papers flying in every direction.
Mr. Hlava and his brother, Josef, unsuccessfully tried to sell the tape in New York and in the Czech Republic, the newspaper said. Mr. Hlava said through a Czech-language translator that language difficulties hindered his ability to sell or release the tape to the media.
The tape was scheduled to be shown this morning on the ABC program “This Week.”