The 'Pod' Illusion De-bunked

To solve the 'pod' mystery I rigorously tested the CNN Best Angle Video, Pavel Hlava second hit video and the Evan Fairbanks video using the Boeing 767-200 model. For the purposes of this section I have assumed that the starboard engine nacelle was not casting a shadow over the starboard wing fairing and therefore if the camera was in the correct position it would be able to see this 'specular highlights' illusion.

The 'sun view' picture below demonstrates this point. Notice that from the suns point of view the starboard wing fairing is being exposed to sunlight:

On the CNN Best Angle video I found no trace of 'specular highlights' from the starboard wing fairing except for an insignificant reflection off the rear of the fairing which was well behind the wing and was so small it was questionable if the video camera would be able to detect it in the first place. The same applied to the Pavel Hlava video except this time the tiny reflection was directly beneath the trailing edge of the starboard wing. The Evan Fairbanks video did show some reflection from the front of the fairing and the nose tip but again they were very small and the fairing reflection was in front of the wing, not beneath it.

Even if the starboard wing fairing did reflect sunlight in accordance with the 'specular highlights' principle the 'pod' would only be the same size as the fairing itself and would not look like an engine strapped under the wing as does in the Hlava and Fairbanks video's.

The 'pod' can not be the reflection of the starboard engine nacelle in the section of fuselage beneath the starboard wing because due to the curvature of this piece of fuselage the reflection of the engine would be unnoticeably small. To demonstrate this try looking at the reflection of the same object at a fixed distance in a flat mirror and then in a curved surface, like a drinking glass for example. You will notice than the reflection of the object in the drinking glass appears relatively smaller than the reflection of the object in the flat mirror. The more curved the surface the proportionately smaller the reflection of any object will be. The reflection can't be larger than the reflective surface itself, so if the starboard wing fairing were reflecting light from the starboard engine nacelle then that reflection would only be as big as the fairing itself and not extending outward beyond the fairing as we see in CNN Best Angle video captures taken just prior to impact.

The other problem with this argument is that just like in the 'specular reflection' geometric analysis discussed in the CNN Best Angle section the camera would have to be in the right position to receive the light from the engine nacelle reflecting of the fuselage, so in this case the argument that the 'pod' is the reflection of the starboard engine nacelle in the area beneath the starboard wing or of the wing fairing itself, is false.

The 'pod' and 'pipe' illusions should occur together because the pod is elongated and in line with the surface of the fuselage section. In other words the 'pod' and 'pipe' illusion can only occur together because they are one and the same. Lighting conditions permitting, the 'pod' should be a join between the front and rear 'pipe' illusions.

'Pod' sceptics claim that the 'pod' can not be real because it would have obstructed the gear bay doors which implies that the aircraft would not have been able to take off from the ground. I think it's quite plausible that the perpetrators could have used an alternative method for launching the aircraft, perhaps using some kind of disposable bogey that could be jettisoned after take-off thus eliminating the necessity for a retractable undercarriage.

One final point, when we consider the 'pod' illusion we must only consider it in the visual context of the 'pod' images being analysed.

A lot of 'pod' sceptic sites are reproducing images of Boeing aircraft from varying angles that show the full relief of the wing fairing in advantageous lighting conditions or are simply using alternative lighting conditions that were different to that on the morning of 911 in an attempt to pass off the 'pod' a trick of the light (see above). This is both unrealistic and unscientific. A case in point - in the Carmen Taylor digital photograph shown previously the viewing angle does not allow us to see the starboard wing fairing in relief against the sky or against the starboard wing, it only allows us to see the fairing inside the profile of the airframe and therefore there is no reason for that fairing to be protruding as much as it appears to do so in the image.

The issues considered in this section raise serious questions over the Brooklyn Heights photograph shown previously. We already know that the airframe attitude in relation to the sun's position in the sky could facilitate 'specular highlights' from the wing fairing and fuselage as seen in the original photograph. Yet we do not see these 'specular highlights' from the wing fairing which suggests that the engine nacelle was shadowing that area of the fuselage and that the remainder of the 'specular reflection' from the fairing has mysteriously disappeared.

I must point out is that it is extremely difficult to know the precise bank angle of the UA175 aircraft immediately before impact. Fortunately we do know (courtesy of NASA/JPL and Fs2004) that the sun was 27 degrees above the horizon and approximately 21 degrees in front of the UA175 aircraft's starboard wing. Allowing for small errors in the bank angle it may be the case that the engine nacelle was partially shading the wing fairing which would result in partial 'specular highlights' or the engine nacelle had shadowed a significant area of the starboard wing fairing which would eliminate any 'specular reflections' from that area and would therefore eliminate the possibility of seeing any 'pod' illusion in the Fairbanks, Hlava and CNN Best Angle video's.

For the image above I've assumed that the shadow cast by the starboard engine nacelle was just covering the starboard wing fairing and as you can see there are partial 'specular highlights' as a result. Curiously the original photograph does not exhibit this important detail which implies that the sun's angle of incidence was not suitable to produce 'specular highlights' from the starboard wing fairing or the photograph has been subject to manipulation in that area.

As you can see the 'pod' illusion argument is flimsy because if the sun were higher or the bank angle lower the starboard engine nacelle would cast a shadow directly over the area where the 'pod' is seen and therefore making it impossible to produce 'specular reflections'. If the lighting conditions and airframe attitude were suitable then the camera would have to be in the correct position to pick up the 'specular reflection' from the wing fairing. The only good quality picture that does this is the Brooklyn Heights photograph but it doesn't show any reflection from the fairing at all. This suggests that the airframe attitude and lighting conditions were not suitable to facilitate 'specular reflections' (indirectly confirmed by the port wing and port tail fin being in shadow).

The airframe illumination seen in the Evan Fairbanks video is in direct contradiction to the airframe illumination displayed in this Brooklyn Heights photograph, the point of which raises yet more questions over UA175 image authenticity.

The two lighting scenario's discussed previously both result in no 'specular highlight' pod illusion for the Pavel Hlava second hit video, the Evan Fairbanks video and the CNN Best Angle Video - the 'pod' is no trick of the light.

It is unlikely to be an illusion created by compression artefacts, blooming, ringing or just low resolution as 'pod' sceptics will claim.

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