Brooklyn Heights Photograph - "The Cheque Bounced"

For the CNN Brooklyn Heights photograph the specular highlights effect has been authenticated by Flight Simulator which has correctly reproduced the highlights from both engine nacelles. This does not mean that the reason for pipe is due to specular highlights, it's just one possibility that could be used to explain the phenomenon. It may be the case that there is a large silver pipe running down the side of the fuselage and that that is responsible for reflecting the sunlight. How can we be sure which scenario is correct? The pipe on the aft section of the fuselage has an abrupt and rounded rear end to it while the front of the pipe on the forward section of the fuselage ends in a sharp point. Neither one of these features was reproduced by Flight Simulator which showed slow fading out of the reflections at both ends of the fuselage and a much longer pipe on the forward section of the fuselage.

The CG model used here was 'locked' onto the original photograph from the trailing edge of the starboard tail fin to the tip of the starboard wing and down to the starboard engine nacelle. A bank angle of 41 degrees to port and a near horizontal pitch were derived from the CG model based on this photograph. There are plenty of airframe discrepancies as revealed in the sequence of 3 images shown below:

You can see that the port wing is swept back a little too much for a Boeing 767-200. I call this the 'Port Wing Anomaly'. We can also see two oversized and overly prominent blade antenna on the underside of the aircraft. The aft blade antenna is correctly placed when compared to the CG model, but the forward blade antenna is out of place. Many of these points could be attributed to aberrations introduced into the image by effect of its reproduction, but this cannot apply to the 'Port Wing Anomaly' that stands out in other UA175 images as well. The tell-tale 'port wing anomaly' runs consistently through UA175 photographs. The trusty consistence of this same anomaly in many photographs would tend to support that the photos are authentic documents of a given reality that was present in the air before South Tower on 911.

Another problem with this photograph is the shadow detail.

In order to generate the Brooklyn Heights CG Shadow Simulation Image below I used the schematics of a Boeing 767-200, accurate sun positioning data courtesy of the NASA/JPL ephemeral generator and my best possible measurement of the pitch, bank and yaw of the UA175 aircraft using the Brooklyn Heights photograph itself and other UA175 images taken at roughly the same time.

As Flight Simulator will not render shadows cast by the airframe on to itself I have had to use an alternative methodology to calculate where the shadows would be falling on the fuselage. I've used Photoshop to add these shadows to the virtual Boeing 767-200 model with a United Airlines livery in the exact attitude as shown in the Brooklyn Heights photograph.

According to my calculations the shadow from the starboard engine nacelle is just covering the specular highlight on the starboard wing fairing, but it doesn't cover the area of fairing where the gear bay doors were located and there was ample illumination on the remainder of the underside of the fuselage, including the underside reflective strip. The shape of the shadow cast by the starboard engine nacelle and its pylon on the original photograph differs from the respective interpolated shadow on the CG model.

There is also a lack of specular highlights from the parts of the starboard wing fairing that were being exposed directly to sunlight, bogus illumination and shadowing of the port wing and a shadow cast by the starboard wing on the fuselage that should be longer than it appears.

The photograph is suggesting that the sun angle is higher than it actually was on the morning of September 11th 2001 at approximately 9:02am local time at the World Trade Centre. Not only does the shadowing conflict with the interpolated shadowing on the CG model it also conflicts with the shadowing seen on other UA175 aircraft images discussed in this article, especially in the Der Spiegel image.

Further more, look very closely at the starboard tail fin section. It has a distinctly artificial look to it. The fin has a sharp and smooth appearance when compared to the rest of the airframe. There is a black line down the trailing edge of the surface which is too prominent compared to the rest of the pasty looking image.

How can this be? It's as if someone had worked out what a real Boeing 767-200 should have looked like, then generated a technically correct image of the tail section and pasted it back into the original. Why would someone do this? What was wrong with the tail fin in the original picture?

I believe that both of the blade antenna, the starboard tail fin and quite possibly the starboard wing have been added to the picture in post production. These antenna are much too large and are orientated at the wrong angle to be reflecting sunlight directly at the camera as is seen in this photograph by the blade antenna apparently "gleaming" when they should have been relatively darker in appearance.

My research on the blade antenna positioning is inconclusive. The only way to be sure would be to study the technical logs and maintenance schedules of N612UA in order to find out where these radio/navigation antenna were located on the aeroplane.

The blade antenna on the UA175 aircraft should not be mistaken for fuel dumping from the underside of the fuselage. The image below shows what fuel really looks like when it is jettisoned from an aircraft in flight:

Next - Der Spiegel Image - "Produce of Popular Mechanics"