|Physical evidence for Flight 11 plane substitution
Update, September 2005
Marcus Icke has written a critique of my article "The WTC Impact: 767s or whatzits?" (Part 1, Part 2):
Logically one would have to question whether the perpetrators of 9/11 would risk flying a radically different plane over a highly populated city. One lucky high quality photograph would have exposed the fraudulent nature of the whole operation. Would they have risked this? Only if they were insane. But it certainly plausible that they could have substituted another 767. In my opinion, the burden of proof lies with squarely with the no-767 advocates to decisively prove that the plane couldn't have been a 767. If they can't, then pushing this avenue of inquiry will at best lead to a time-wasting exchange of conflicting opinions, and at worst an opportunity for the 9/11 investigors to be debunked as presumptuous or sloppy. Despite what Icke claims, there is no good physical evidence that flight 11 was not a 767. His arguments rely on meaurements and interpretations of a poor quality visual record that are clearly subject to debate and sometimes outright flawed. In addition, Icke adopts a tone that is unnecessarily combative and condescending, and resorts all too often to insults and ad hominem attacks.
He has this comment on the image I used to identify the components of the plane:
The camera was set to a fast shutter speed and therefore did not have much motion blurring. I chose one of the frames where the plane was over blue sky because I felt the shape of the plane was more visible there than in front of the building.
He says this about my identification of the components of the plane in the freeze frame I chose:
I was equivocal on the identification of the wings and engines in the image because video blurs small details, as I explained in my article. In the particular image of which we speak, I felt that the engine could have been responsible for a substantial part of what is visible to the left and right of the fuselage and that the visual information of the engine and wing could have blurred together because of the extremely small resolution. Therefore I said "wing or engine". The extent of the wings in the image I chose was obviously too short to be that of a 767 and I was not implying that the engines were mounted at the ends of the wings. How absurd it is for Icke to imply that. I made clear that the thin outer portions of the wings were not clearly visible in many of the frames the because of the nature of video to obscure thin horizontal shapes.
Unfortunately, in my initial analysis of the plane I didn't give enough thought to where the engines would appear when looking at the plane from this perspective. In my mind I was picturing them pretty much equidistant from the fuselage, until I took a look at one of Ickes' graphics taken from this page of Webfairy's.
In an email exchange, Leonard Spencer made this claim about the wings:
This is easily refuted by looking at the shadow the wings cast on the building. The wings are clearly swept back and not perpendicular to the fuselage.
The other common argument raised about the plane in the Naudet video is that the wings appear to be too far forward on the fuselage. However, the same optical illusion can be observed in the much clearer footage of the second impact. This is simply a matter of perspective. Part of the problem is that we don't see the full extent of the tapered nose which is lost to our view.
Icke find my measurement of the length of the 767 to be unsatisfactory and performs his own analysis, concluding that the plane in the video is exactly 14 feet too short to be a 767!
First of all, my intent was to make a "rough measurement" of the length of the plane to refute the no-planer's claims that it was much smaller than a 767. There's a good reason why I didn't attempt to give an exact measurement: the image is far too blurry to do that. I was simply being responsible with poor data. Icke's precise measurment is a joke. I may have overstated it in my summary when I said "the plane is the size of a 767" so I've changed it to read "roughly the size of a 767". Even if his 14 feet difference is accurate, it could be explained by the lack of visibility of the tapered nose of the plane, as I've explained above. Measuring the length of the fuselage is complicated by foreshortening due to perspective. The amount of foreshortening changes according to the alignment of the plane vis-a-vis the camera, and, as we'll see, Icke fails to accurately determine the precise alignment of the plane.
Icke displays ignorance of digital video with these following claims:
First of all, the Sorenson codec does not introduce ringing, and there is nothing close to ringing in the movie I created. Sorenson compression introduces blockiness and blurring of the images but would not create the shadow underneath the plane. The shadow of the plane is much too large to created by ringing anyway, and it's far too consistent and smooth in appearance to be created by artifacts.
Sorenson 3 is an appropriate codec for distribution over the web, and mpeg2 is not.
I had zoomed into the image to create that movie. The "mosaic effect" is due to the image being enlarged, making the individual rectangular pixels that constitute the image more obvious. And I purposefully did not process the images so that the most authentic version would be available to the public. Moreover, at no time do I conduct any analysis using the 'whatzits' he points out.
Here are the effects of Icke's "post-processing". Icke compares a graphic I used to his "miracle frame":
Icke next complains that the hole in the building does not match the wing dihedral (the upwards angle of the wing) and produces this graphic to show what the wing dihedral of the plane must have been:
Icke goes on to show a bunch of frames of mostly lesser quality than my original movie that indicate what he says are anomalies in the shadow and explosions:
First of all, regarding the "orphan" Icke talks about. Several frames after the flash, the right wingtip is the last piece of the wings to enter the building. It's still casting a shadow that is isolated because the rest of the wing has already entered the building. And all this stuff about the lack of symmetry in the explosion is pure speculation. He's naming numerous anomalies that he doesn't identify, simply offering his own subjective amateur opinion about what an the explosion should have looked like. This is no basis for concluding that something is amiss. There are lots of random things that can happen in a crash, and until Icke comes up with a scientific analysis instead of just an opinion, this argument is a waste of time. If combustion or explosives experts concluded that something was wrong with the explosion and this argument stood up to peer review, then it would be something worth considering.
Icke then makes some claims about smoke coming out of the top of the tower which he says might indicate bombs, and continues his unwarranted condescention:
The smoke at the top of the tower is emerging at a leisurely rate a second or two after the impact. It's probably the result of the fuel explosions getting into elevator shafts or ventilation ducts and coming out of vents at the top of the tower. Additionally, the thing he identifies in a red square on the south tower is stationary and maintaining is shape, so is clearly a part of that building and not a bit of smoke or debris. He's veering way off into Webfairy territory here with shoddy, easily debunked speculations.
Icke claims I was "way off the mark" in concluding that Holmgren and Webfairy's claim that the 767 was "dive bombing" the WTC was incorrect and that instead it was moving horizontally:
First of all, it's difficult to determine the pitch of the plane in the video given how blurry it is, so any measurement has a high degree of subjectivity. Second, the difference in the plane's alignment and the side of the building could be due to the plane approaching the building from slightly to the left. Looking at the shadow on the building, the right wingtip is the last part of the wings to enter the building, indicating that the plane was indeed approaching from the left. Third, my intention was simply to show that the plane was not dive bombing as Webfairy claimed. Icke is nitpicking. A 6 degree descent is not a dive. I personally wouldn't even describe a 21 degree descent as "dive bombing". For the first two reasons I mentioned above, neither Icke's nor Dewdney's measurements of the plane's pitch are reliable. It follows that Icke's superimposition of a CG plane next to the frame from the Naudet film is unreliable in it's alignment. Any speculation that the flight path indicates flight performance not befitting a 767 is also inherently unreliable.
Icke makes the oft repeated and unsubstantiated claim that the Naudet DVD has been edited since 9/11 because the flash doesn't appear when he watches it:
Several things can cause the flash to not appear: the movie in question is de-interlaced, removing the field that the flash appears on. If video is put in slow motion one of the fields is dropped. Or poor quality video capture equipment can fail to capture all the frames, possibly also leading to the lurching movement Icke mentions. There is no censoring going on, only a misunderstanding by Icke and others of video technology. Dave from 911blimp.net has a tape he made of the original broadcast. The flash is there and there is no lurching or missing frames. The only difference between Dave's version and the DVD is noise and artifacts introduced by the transmission over satellite and through the local cable system, and image degradation from recording onto ordinary vhs tape.
Icke complains about my claim that the plane flies over the Naudet film crew, causing them to look up:
In my original refutation of Webfairy and Holmgren's claim that the plane was divebombing (which would have placed the plane far away from the crew), I made the observation that the plane overflew the Naudet film crew, which in general is true, although it's probably a block or two to the west. You can see the firemen look up and slightly away from the camera. Plus the sound of the plane is quite loud relative to the other ambient sounds. I suppose I could have been more precise in describing what I meant by "overflew", but Icke is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. This doesn't contribute at all to determining whether the plane was a 767 or not, and Icke seems to be trying to score cheap points.
Icke is correct in criticizing my wording "the plane made the sound of a 767". More accurate would be "made the sound of a large jet airliner." He's also correct in assuming that investigations into the sound of the plane probably won't be productive, as there would most likely be ample means to explain away any anomalies through the microphone used or the nature of the acoustic space created by the buildings. It does seem to me that the pattern of frequency interference in the sound of the plane indicates multiple engines, which is an issue with substitute plane theories. An audio expert should be able to confirm or deny this.
Icke makes the following comments about the photo of fuselage wreckage taken on top of a nearby building:
767 windows are more squared off than some other jet airliner windows. In a private exchange with Icke I pressed him to make a scientific measurement of the windows if he thought they did not match 767 windows, because if they do match this can be accepted as supporting 767 impacts, if not conclusively. I'm not surprised he has evaded that challenge, and instead resorted to subjective opinions. And once again, we see accusations of forgery which are nothing more than personal opinions lacking in rigorous scientific analysis. And this is not relevant anyway as this wreckage had to have come from flight 175.
Icke's wrap up is appalling. He characterizes the lunar landing hoax theory as a successful conspiracy theory because it has penetrated into the mainstream. Sure it has, they even made a movie based loosely on it called Capricorn One. The problem is, most people don't believe the lunar landings were hoaxed, even if they're heard of the theory. I'm sure the perpetrators of 9/11 would enthusiastically join Icke in wishing us the same level of success. We need to convince the majority of people, not just a hardcore minority, that 9/11 was a fraud. And we need to do it now. We don't have 30 years like the impotent lunar hoax theories have had to circulate. Far from being a persuasive argument, it demonstrates a lack of political savvy. "Any publicity is good publicity" is a good motto for rock stars, but not for those trying to expose the truth about 9/11.
Icke continues with a second article that largely builds off the first.
One useful aspect of this second article is that we have a much more accurate version of George Sleigh's testimony due to Icke's correspondance with Sleigh. It turns out he did not report seeing the landing gear down or seeing people in the cockpit. However, he does say unequivocally that the plane did have wing mounted engines. Curiously, that information is missing from the version of the article at http://x11drone.0catch.com/.
Because of the unreliability Icke's calculation of the plane's alignment, his overlay of the 3D model is questionable, and it follows that the alleged discrepency in the length of the fuselage is questionable.
Icke reiterates his claims for evidence of pre-planted explosives, relying on his lay knowledge of combustion. Until we hear an explosives/combustion/crash expert say there's something anomalous with the WTC1 impact, this is just amateur speculation.
As far as the alleged discrepency in the time it took sound of the explosion to reach the Naudet crew, I find it odd that Icke once again comes up with an exacting measurement when he admits that he only "roughly" knows the distance of the camera crew from the tower. I'll wait for independent verification of this one.
Icke finds the path of the tire ejected from the impact to be suspicious, and labels it a "smart tyre". I find it totally unremarkable that a piece of debris could have been deflected just 15 degrees from the trajectory of impact. I also find it unremarkable that a tire would be ejected and the heavier engines would not, given the chaos of debris tumbling about inside the building.
Icke shows this diagram with the plane overlaid, and then proceeds to name several problems-the wing tips don't match up, the tail doesn't seem to have caused any damage:
Earlier I showed that the round blob near the base of the right wing is the right engine. Icke claims it's a fuel pod:
First of all, such a large object planted on only one side of the plane would make the plane aerodynamically unsound. I doubt if it could even fly. This anomaly is obviously a problem for the X-11 theory, so what does Icke do? He simply ignores it, leaving it out of his schematic:
His excuse for leaving it off is ridiculous. In the Naudet video the right engine is more visible than the right wing! That should be a clue as to its minimum dimensions. What we have here is totally unscientific cherry picking of evidence. It's almost outright fraud.
In the conclusion to his first article, Icke once again ignores the burden of proof:
The real question is, what good reason is there to suspect that the strike at WTC was not a 767? What good reason is there to risk looking like fools or getting trapped in an unresolvable, time wasting debate? It is up to the no-767 advocates to demonstrate that this aspect of the official story is false, and they haven't. Icke's analysis of the length of the plane is unreliable, his conclusion of the absence of engines from the wings is unreliable, his analysis of the flight path is unreliable, his interpretation of the video record is either subjective or erroneous, and the rest of his arguments are a series of personal opinions or speculations that don't contribute any conclusive evidence for the no-767 case. I don't have a problem with this line of research-the question of plane substitution is a valid one. It's not the questions but the conclusions that are the issue here, and the current state of the evidence doesn't justify the kind of conclusions Icke reaches, let alone the intolerant attacks on anyone who doesn't question this part of the official story.
Update, July 2005
In his recent article Icke has corrected many of the errors outlined earlier in this article. His new article contains a largely accurate description of the issues pertaining the the video quality of the Naudet footage, with the exception of the fact that the footage is out of focus (something I too overlooked initially). He incorrectly attributes fuzziness of image to quality of camcorder, which is incorrect.
Icke's use of a program called FocusMagic is also slightly deceptive. It is not possible to "correct" a blurry image in the sense of retrieving the original real-life data that the camera should have recorded. A program like FocusMagic uses sharpening algorithms to create a facsimile of what a focused image would have looked like. This introduces artifacts, seen on the unnaturally contrasty edges of the buildings below, and is very similar in result to Photoshop's built-in "unsharp mask" filter. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if FocusMagic is merely an repackaging of very common sharpening tools priced at a markup for the consumer:
The central problem with Icke's analysis is that is that Flight Simulator is not capable of creating photo-realistic images. First of all, it doesn't even render the shadows cast by objects, the most basic of all lighting phenomenon (let alone calculating the penumbra of the shadow). It does not calculate reflections of the environment off surfaces, like a mirror or the shiny metallic surface of an American Airlines plane would. Neither is it capable of calculating indirect illumination such as sunlight bouncing off the buildings below illuminating the bottom of the plane. This is called "radiosity." It cannot simulate different focal lengths of lenses, to my knowledge. And certainly does not simulate video artifacts like blooming.
All in all, a 3D rendering in Flight Simulator is worthless as a diagnostic tool. (It should be noted that Holmgren, in a recent interview with David West, named Flight Simulator as the software used to create the media overlays).
Icke's 3D model has a plastic look indicative of the lack of realistic lighting.
Here's how photo realistic lighting could change the appearance of the plane.
The shortness of the wings is one of Icke's arguments for a smaller plane. Reflectivity and radiosity calculations are essential to establishing the brightness of the wings. This is key, because if the tone of the wings is close to that of the background they will be harder to see. Only the thickest inner part of wings will be visible, making the wings appear shorter.
The metallic reflective fuselage should be reflecting the surroundings, including the sky and WTC towers and buildings below. The reflections of the environment could make the fuselage blend in with the background. This would reduce it's visibility, especially in a blurred image where areas of similar colors would become indistinguishable. The fuselage in Icke's model is a solid light grey and the shadow is probably too dark, thus it looks thicker than the fuselage in the Naudet video, which is reflecting it's environment.
Icke's modeling of the plane in the Naudet footage assumes the plane was approaching the face of the WTC in perfectly perpendicular alignment. There are two pieces of evidence that indicate that some of the misalignment is due to the plane approaching from the left and not exactly perpendicular.
The NIST report gives only an estimate of the yaw angle of the plane: .3±4º. It is simply not reasonable to assume the possibility an approach from the right when the right wingtip is the last section to enter the building, suggesting that NIST overlooked the shadow of the right wing tip in formulating their report. In addition, the NIST report places the descent angle at 10.6±3º, which conflicts with Icke's 15º descent angle.
A visual examination also provides evidence that Icke has misestimated the alignment of the plane, resulting in too high a value for the lateral and descent angle. This comparison can only be an estimate, due to the blurriness of the images, but it can be ascertained that the tail of Icke's 3D model is rotated to the right, away from the camera, compared to the plane in the Naudet video:
Thus the difference between the length of the fuselage in Icke's model and the Naudet video is simply explained: since the tail of his plane is rotated up and to the right away from the point of view of the camera, the fuselage is less foreshortened than in the video. Take a pen or pencil in your hand, holding it at the end farther from you, hold it in front of you and point it up and over your right shoulder. Without moving your hand, rotate the the nearer end to point towards your eyes. Notice how the apparent length of the pencil changes with just a small rotation. A small adjustment like this, along with photo realistic rendering, is all you would need to eliminate the discrepencies between Icke's rendering and the Naudet video.
Notice that the tail is roughly the same size in both images, an indication that we are dealing not with two different planes, but with a difference in foreshortening of the fuselage due to alignment.
I've been tempted to set up a 3D simulation which could model these lighting phenomenon, but the fact is is that while I could make a more realistic simulation than Icke's, it still would not be completely reliable as a forensic tool. Neither I, nor anyone else in the 9/11 movement that I know of, has the training in making photorealistic 3D simulations, especially Icke.
Plus, it really isn't worth the time, and here's why. We know the plane in the Naudet video has to have wing mounted engines. As I showed earlier, in a blurred image of the 767 approaching the WTC, the right engine turns into a diffuse blob shape and the left becomes indistinguishable from the fuselage (this analysis is repeated in a debunking Gerard Holmgren's argument that there's not even a plane in the Naudet video). This is a shape we see in the Naudet video, and it's darker and thicker than the left wing. As I pointed out earlier, Icke in his previous article simply tried to ignore this shape, stating that their wasn't enough evidence to speculate on its nature. In his recent article, he offers some throw away speculations that can be easily dismissed. At the angle the plane is viewed, the right wing is thinner than the left, so this shape cannot be the inner part of the right wing, as Icke argues. Icke speculates that it is a large mystery object on only the right wing. Sound like an engine to me. Not only does he fail to explain what the object is for, he doesn't consider that a large object mounted on only one wing would compromise the aerodynamics of the plane. I'm not sure such a plane could even be flown. Icke complains that the shape is too big to be an engine, because it appears smaller in his 3D simulation. Here's why: because the shadow is not calculated in Flight Simulator, the right engine, including the engine mount, is illuminated as if the sun were shining directly through the plane. In real life the engine mount and at least part of the engine would have been in shadow. In Icke's model, when blurring is applied the light areas cause more of the engine area to blend with the background. More shadow means a larger "blob", which is what we have in the Naudet video.
It should be obvious that Icke is irrationally fixated on disproving the presence of an airliner with wing mounted engines in the Naudet footage.
The arrangement of shapes on the plane in the Naudet video can only be realistically explained by the presence of wing mounted engines.
So we know definitively that the plane has wing mounted engines and the impact hole perfectly fits a 767. To argue for the substitution of a different plane at this point is totally illogical. Switching one type of airliner for another would gain the perpetrators nothing but the risk of exposure.
Illogical thinking has permeated these no-767 arguments from the beginning, and here's an example: Icke and many others seem to think that the perps of 9/11 arranged to have the Naudet crew there to capture the event. Why would they do this if they were flying something other than a 767 into WTC1? To help conspiracy theorists uncover their plot? I invite the reader to ponder this one for a minute.