9/11 helicopter rescue question?

Would it have been possible, and was it attempted to rescue individuals trapped above where the planes crashed into the Twin Towers using rescue helicopters?
The only helicopters I could discern in the footage were news helicopters and indeed some of the footage in the documentary came from their cameras.

We watched the documentary 102 Minute That Changed Americathe other day on television and my sister asked about it.

It would not have been possible. The air currents created by the enormous fires in the structures would have made a helicopter approach too dangerous.

Because we’vebeen there, done that.

I doubt there was any easy access to the roof, and I doubt there was any pilot willing to, or more likely a helicopter capable of, hovering over or safely landing above what were ultimately huge chimneys.

As an aside, I watched that 102 minutes doc a couple of days ago too. Woah. I though the Naudet brothers film was intense.

Assuming the winds and air currents would have made it possible to hold that hover, how would they get the people into the bird?

I’d assume chances are people would rush the helicopter.

I was flipping channels and caught about 30 seconds of that Rudy Guliani special that has been on the History channel recently. It just so happens that the 30 seconds I caught were Guliani saying (paraphrasing) “The fire chief turned to me and said ‘I can’t get my people above the fire.’ There was no way to land a helicopter on top of a burning building and even if they could, they’d certainly be dead in no time. As those words registered in my mind, I knew everyone above that fire was going to die.”

I remember being so horrified by the randomness of those who were on floors above where the plane went in and those who were on floors below. It was just so clear that nothing could be done for anyone still alive on the upper floors.

Have any kind of rescue plans for people on floors higher than a large building fire come into being since 2001?

Maybe this has already been answered, but what exactly was the plan? Were we just going to let the fire burn out? Were we waiting for Superman to blow on a lake and freeze it with his breathe and throw it at the fires, putting them out?

If no rescue is feasible, then your plans do not involve rescuing people. Perhaps they expected (or hoped) that the fire would burn down to a point where some kind of rescue became feasible.

If you follow the link postcards gave, you’ll see that the roof access had been permanently sealed off some time before the incident, because of concerns about suicides and stunts.

I don’t know what their plans were, but I assume they were attacking the fire and rescuing people from below. Think of it like a house. They can’t get on top so they get as close to the base of the fire as possible and fight it there. That’s the best place to put out a fire anyway. As far as rescue, there have been times where helicopters have been used on large buildings, but if the fire is huge, intense and possibly burning through the roof, landing on top of that is suicide.

The Guilani show was quite explicit. Guiliani said as soon as the chief said the words, he knew it was a death sentence for any people still above the fire.

I believe fire codes require (and have for a long time) sprinklers and fire hoses throughout the building. In the event of a simple fire, these measures can either put out a fire, or slow it down enough for people to escape via fully intact fire escape stairwells.

The WTC was equipped with all these features - sprinklers, hoses, and most important of all, fire escape stairwells - but those features were absolutely obliterated by the aircraft impacts, simultaneous to the ignition of massive fires by thousands of gallons of jet fuel. I don’t think any rescue plan did or will account for those kinds of conditions.

I saw someone point out once (shortly after 9/11) that no fire code in the world would allow a building a third of a mile long with exits only on one end, but turn it on its end and that’s exactly what a skyscraper is.

So what you’re all saying, is that even if the towers had not collapsed, there was no way to get help to anyone on the floors above the crash point where the fire was?

There are exits all the way along the building’s length, and a number of people used them on 9/11. Unfortunately, this resulted in them falling to their deaths.

On a horizontal building of that length, it’s relatively easy to have exits all around the perimeter, and that’s why they can be required to do so. On a vertical building of that length, it’s not practical - but you can make it relatively safe by implementing the fire safety measures I described.

Note that fire safety measures are (duh) designed to deal with fires, not impacts from commercial jetliners that destroy vast swaths of building structure (and associated fire safety measures). In the entire history of aviation this has been (and hopefully will continue to be) an extremely rare event, and so it’s not worth trying to figure out how to protect a building specifically against such attacks.

[sub]There have been a few deliberate attacks by small planes since 9/11, but this is far, far different from a high-speed jetliner.[/sub]

All this is true. But from what I’ve read, one thing they could change is the way elevators doors work. A lot of them in the WTC had latches on them that locked automatically if the elevators became stuck. During a routine elevator breakdown, this probably isn’t a bad idea, as it prevents people from risking injury trying to escape between floors instead of waiting for a repairman to show up. But in a case like the WTC they proved to be a death sentence to some, ironic since they were intended to be a safety feature.
I and a group of people got stuck in an elevator like that in college and while waiting for the repairman to come, wondered what would have happened if a fire or some other catastrophe had broken out.

If they had managed to get the fires out without the buildings collapsing. I’m sure they could have then gone and cherry picked people out of windows and off the roof with helicopters. They probably could have brought rescue personal and engineers inside to bridge the giant gaps with temporary bridges and ladders to extricate people that way as well. I’d guess that getting everyone out would have taken a few days though.

That’s not right. It is possible to get help. However, assuming the doors could get unsealed, it would be extremely time consuming – much more time consuming than having people walk down. In the 1993 bombings, they only evacuated about 130 people, in about 40 landings, in the time it took to get the entire rest of the building evacuated. Then-CO of the Aviation Unit Capt. William Wilkens called it "[one of the most challenging assignments in the history of police aviation](http://www.nycop.com/Stories/Dec_00/World_Trade_Center_Bombing/body_world_trade_center_bombing.html