October 24th, 2000
The Pentagon conducts the first of two training exercises called MASCAL, which simulates a Boeing 757 crashing into the building.
Charles Burlingame, an ex-Navy F4 pilot who worked in the Pentagon, participates in this exercise before retiring to take a job at American Airlines, where, less than a year later, his Boeing 757 allegedly crashes into the building.
This would indeed be a big coincidence, if it was true. But is it? You can’t actually tell from the Loose Change quote, because they provide no references, but a quick check with Google brings up this.
The pilot of Flight 77, which allegedly hit the Pentagon on 9/11, was involved in an exercise planned a year earlier
The Washington Post reported on 16 September 2001 that the pilot of Flight 77 was former F-4 fighter pilot Charles Burlingame III, who in his last Navy job, developed anti-terror strategies for the Navy before retiring to fly for American Airlines. He drafted the Pentagon’s emergency response plan in case it was hit by a civilian airliner. Flight 77 allegedly struck the Pentagon. It is not clear which MASCAL Charles Burlingame III authored.
So the source is the Washington Post, then? Checking their site does indeed reveal a story where Burlingame is mentioned, on September 16th, but it only confirms the first part of the claim:
...Capt. Charles Burlingame, who had been a Navy F-4 pilot and once worked on anti-terrorism strategies in the Pentagon...
No support here for him drafting any emergency response plans. In fact it seems most unlikely, because the October 2000 and May 2001 exercises were about responses to accidental crashes, not terrorist acts (see here).
Still, let's see if we can find out more. When did he work at the Pentagon?
He remained active in the reserve, working until 1996 as a liaison in the Pentagon.
A senior pilot at American Airlines, he began his airline career in 1979 after graduating from the Naval Academy in 1971. Chic served as a naval aviator flying F4 Phantoms and stayed in the reserves and rose to the rank of Captain. He earned the “Defense Superior Service Medal” and retired in 1996 after twenty-five years of distinguished service.
Charles Burlingame... joined the American Airlines team in 1979.
So the Washington Post article provides no connection between Burlingame and the exercises, and he left the Naval reserves years before they took place anyway. Further, Loose Change claimed that he joined American Airlines “less than a year” before 9/11, when actually it was more than 20 years. No support for the original claim here at all: with no corroborating evidence whatsoever, it seems most unlikely to be true.