What Hit WTC1?
A Dimensional Analysis Of The “Flight 11” Aircraft Seen In The “Fireman’s Video”
In this article we will analyse captured
frames from the famous “Fireman’s Video” in conjunction with
computer simulations of the “Flight 11” aircraft’s approach to
WTC1 in order to ascertain the basic dimensions and shape of the aircraft.
Some of the images shown on this site have been enhanced to
bring out as much detail from them as possible. While doing
so I have been careful not to add or remove anything from them.
Throughout the analysis and presentation I have tried to remain
as objective as possible. Most of the visual exercises were
carried out more than once and often used varying methodology
in their conception and execution. I have assumed that this
“Fireman’s Video” was recorded by Jules Naudet (below left)
and that it has been transferred to DVD format from the original tape.
Picture Quality Issues
Many sceptics have criticised the “Flight 11” aircraft for being
too “blurry” and have claimed that there is something wrong with
the aircraft and / or there is something wrong with the video recording itself.
It is true that the “Flight 11” aircraft is blurry, but having
watched the 911 DVD from start to finish I have come to the
conclusion that everything in the video is “blurry”, not just
the “Flight 11” aircraft. In essence, the quality of the video
is satisfactory, but not brilliant and it “blurs” everything
it records to the same degree.
When people talk of “blurriness” or use some other abstract criticism of the video what they are really referring to is image resolution, motion blur, native blur, compression artefacts, digital noise, digital artefacts , post-production scan-interpolation, etc and other effects that degrade the quality of the picture. Coincidentally, the camera that was used for this film-footage would not be considered suitable for any type of serious documentary work:
An overview of the relevant video quality issues are discussed below using visual examples from the “Fireman’s Video”.
The size of the “Flight 11” aircraft as seen in the “Fireman’s Video” is
contained on average in a grid of approximately 20 pixels by 20 pixels.
In an area of 400 square pixels there is not sufficient visual information
to positively identify the object that is being represented by those 400
square pixels, especially when you consider other video effects that degrade
the quality of the image.
In the picture below I’ve paired together two proportionately sized images of the WTC1 tower from the “Fireman’s Video”. The wide angle low resolution image is on top and a fully zoomed in high resolution equivalent image is on the bottom:
In the high resolution image there is a box like structure perched
on the northern tip of the WTC1 tower which I’ve marked in a white
circle. Other higher resolution images taken from different angles
with different video cameras confirm the presence of this structure
on the WTC1 tower top that was probably some kind of radio communication
In our low resolution image the box shaped structure has been
reduced to what looks like a large, white, low contrast cloud
hanging over the corner of the tower. This effect is a kind
of optical illusion because there is insufficient visual
information to positively identify the structure.
To make matters worse over-exposure of the frame has
caused “blooming” of the highlighted areas (areas of the
image where objects in the field of view are reflecting
excessive amounts of sunlight directly at the camera.
Blooming will be discussed later) which not only removes
even more visual information from those areas, it makes
the reflecting surface look larger than it actually was
Blur Part 1 - Radial Blur
The “Fireman’s Video” seems to have a native blur that is
equivalent to a radius of about 1 and a half pixels.
This means that in theory if we were to focus the
image with a blur radius of 1 and a half pixels using
image enhancement software then we could sharpen the
image to effectively remove that native blur.
An ingenious software program called “FocusMagic”
that can do just this.
The picture below shows two identical captured frames from the “Fireman’s Video” extracted from the original DVD at their native resolution. The entire image on the top has been focused using “FocusMagic” with a blur radius set at of 1 and a half pixels while the image below remains unprocessed:
The enhanced image looks much sharper, not only across
the shape of the “Flight 11” aircraft, but across the
entire field of view, especially over the brown building
on the right of the frame. By definition this proves
that the “Flight 11” aircraft was no more “blurry” than
its surrounds. It also shows us that there is a sufficient
amount of detail in the video for effective visual enhancement.
Blur Part 2 - Motion Blur
As Jules Naudet swung his camera to the left to capture
the last moments of the “Flight 11” aircraft everything
the video camera recorded was subject to motion blur.
This is not the same as ordinary “blur” which is normally
the result of the subject being out of focus or any “blur”
produced by the video recording process.
In the picture below the right hand frame shows a capture taken when the video camera was at rest, and on the left is a frame captured when the video camera was in the process of turning sharply to the left. Notice that in the left hand image the WTC1 mast, the illuminated side of the WTC1 tower and the “Flight 11” aircraft itself all appear to be horizontally “stretched” and lacking in contrast. By comparison the stationary image on the right is clear and sharp. These are the effects of motion blur, in this case horizontal motion blur:
As most of the appearance of the “Flight 11” aircraft was
recorded when the camera was in motion you can see why the
image quality is not as good as it could have been.
Not only is it suffering from the native blur induced by
the video camera itself, it now has additional motion blur
added on top of that. Both of these effects are in a sense
obscuring detail in the image, but a great deal of that
detail can be recovered with image enhancement software.
Incidentally, the motion blur began as soon as the camera started turning to the left and long before the “Flight 11” aircraft even appeared in the camera’s field of view. Below left is an image of a street lamp-post and its respective shadow cast on the background building which was captured when the video camera was in motion. On the right we have the same structure and its shadow recorded just before the camera began turning to the left:
Just as in the previous example the image that was recorded
when the camera was in motion has weaker contrast and suffers
from horizontal motion blur.
To end this blur sub-section I’ve enhanced an entire frame from the “Fireman’s Video”. You may recognise it because it’s the same frame I used for the introduction picture at the top of this article. In this example the image on top has been heavily processed over the entire frame to remove radial blur and motion blur using “FocusMagic” and I’ve lightened the darker areas to make it look much closer to what an observer would have seen had he or she been watching the event from the same place as the cameraman:
Blooming is caused by localised over-exposure of the video
frame and it removes visual information from the picture
that can not be recovered. In the background of the image
below I’ve marked out a parked car and it’s surrounds in a
red rectangle. The camera is in shadow and most of the
shot was filmed in a shadowy area.
The video camera’s aperture control would have been set
to automatic and therefore it would have been adjusting
itself to correctly expose the image based on the average
amount of light coming into the camera’s lens. As most
of the shot has been recorded in shadow, the sun lit
background has been over-exposed resulting in the blooming
of these over-exposed areas, which in this case is the
car and its surrounds. Consequently we can make out very
little detail in this part of the image:
Compression artefacts are the visual side effects of using
compression technology to reduce the file size of a video recording.
They typically manifest as block-like echoes over boundaries of
high contrast and become increasingly more noticeable as the
amount of compression is increased. In the case of the “Fireman’s Video”
additional artefacts would have been introduced into the
video during conversion to the MPG2 format for DVD release.
The image below has been enhanced to highlight these compression artefacts around areas of sharp contrast. Notice vertical ripples to the right of the WTC1 mast and a “chequered” effect on the WTC1 tower, the brown building to the right and on the impact event on the north face of the tower:
Compression engines introduce other visual aberrations into
video recordings. In our next comparison image the CG Boeing
767-200 on the right has been deliberately compressed to
show the visual side effects of compression. You can just
make out a faint cloud of artefacts around the airframe and
that some of the darker areas have become bloated and accentuated,
but what stands out the most is that a lot of colour
detail has been removed from the image of the airframe.
It seems that a blue cast has covered the lighter areas,
almost as if the background had bled into the silhouette
of the airframe washing out the colour, distorting its
outline and leaving it a darkened monochromatic blue
that looks different from the original image:
In the “Fireman’s Video” you can see a lot of what looks
like noise in the sky. I’ve marked the densest patch with
red arrows but the whole image is affected to a greater extent:
Conclusion To Picture Quality Issues
When we consider the effects of blooming, compression artefacts,
noise, blur, image resolution etc, it is technically correct
to state that the “Flight 11” aircraft is “blurry” because this
is exactly how we would expect a camera of this quality
(Jules Naudet’s camera is shown below) to render any such
object in the frame.
All of these video effects will change the way the “Flight 11”
aircraft appears to the viewer in the video, but they don’t make
it any less real than it actually was (assuming the video is genuine).
It is possible with careful visual enhancement to bring out
more detail from any given image. Under the circumstances
the “Flight 11” aircraft is sufficiently sharp to perform
an analysis of it without enhancement, especially when the
WTC1 tower is directly behind the “Flight 11” aircraft:
Computer Simulation Of An American Airlines Boeing 767-200 Strike At WTC1
In order to analyse the “Flight 11” aircraft we need something
to gauge its dimensions by. The official story tells us that
WTC1 was hit by a hijacked American Airlines Boeing 767-200.
If we were to use an identical camera used by Jules Naudet
and could position a Boeing 767-200 at precisely the same bearing,
distance, aircraft attitude and in the same meteorological
conditions as the “Flight 11” aircraft seen in the “Fireman’s Video”
then it would be possible to do a direct comparison between
the re-created CG video and the authentic video.
As I do not have the time or resources to re-create this event in real life using Jules Naudet’s video camera and a real Boeing 767-200 I have chosen to simulate the scenario in Microsoft's “Flight Simulator 2004 - A Century Of Flight” using a high quality iFDG 767-200 freeware add-on and a custom made patch that restores the former World Trade Centre Complex to the native flight simulator scenery.
I checked the WTC patch with the iFDG 767-200 to real world dimensions. The simulated scenery and aircraft add-ons were strikingly accurate.
Next I had to position the virtual camera precisely at
precisely the point where Jules Naudet was filming when
the aircraft struck. I achieved this with a street map
of lower Manhattan and knowing that the Jules Naudet
was in Canal Street I positioned the virtual camera
respectively and made fine adjustments to the position
so that zoomed in shots of the tower just after it had
been hit by the “Flight 11” aircraft matched as closely
as possible to what could be seen from the simulated
view point at the same zoom setting.
During the creation of this article I did my own work and some research in to the “Flight 11” aircraft’s flight path, attitude and the viewing angle of the camera Jules Naudet used to record the WTC1 impact.
Flight Path and Attitude datums:
Flight path - Descent path approximately 15 degrees
calculated by Professor A. K. Dewdney and confirmed by the author…
…then backed up by the 911 Omission:
Aircraft pitch - Negative at approximately 15 degrees.
Deduced by the author from the “Fireman’s Video”:
Aircraft assumed to be heading directly at WTC1 hitting
at a perpendicular angle to the North face of the tower.
This information is sourced from FEMA, NIST and MIT (see below):
Camera Viewing Angles:
If positioned at the WTC1 gash looking straight out,
the camera position from the observer would be:
Declination angle of approximately 19 degrees.
Relative bearing from WTC1 North face of approximately 14 degrees positive from perpendicular:
CG Boeing 767-200 Attitude Datums:
Pitch – 15 degrees negative approximately:
Yaw - 0 degrees (facing WTC1 tower head on as in MIT graphic shown previously)
Roll - 24 degrees port approximately – deduced from WTC1 gash photographs:
Altitude - Visually matched to the respective “Flight 11”
aircraft extracted from the Naudet footage.
With the camera positioned as accurately as possible and the aircraft position / attitude adjusted to match the “Flight 11” aircraft as seen in the “Fireman’s Video” using “Flight Simulator 2004 - A Century Of Flight” we can re-create an image of what Jules Naudet’s camera should have recorded on 911 if the WTC1 tower had been hit by a Boeing 767-200.
But before we do this we’ll take a look at a frame of the “Flight 11” aircraft on its own and see what we can learn from the image without the aid of comparative CG analysis.
The “Flight 11” Aircraft – A Basic Analysis
What we have here, recorded in the “Fireman’s Video”,
is most definitely an aircraft in the way most people
would know an aircraft. You can clearly see the white
tail fin, the white port side of the fuselage,
the underside of the port wing, the underside of the
port elevator and the nose tip. If you look more
closely the port wing root is just visible.
The annotated airframe of the “Flight 11” aircraft shown below has been rotated 45 degrees to the right to put the airframe in an attitude that should make it easier for the reader to perceive:
The starboard side of the airframe is something of a mystery.
The starboard wing is obscured by the fuselage, but where the
end half of where the starboard wing should be, there is a
large dark “blob” which looks like it is almost as wide as
the fuselage itself. This eliminates any possibility of
the “blob” being the starboard engine nacelle, it can’t
be because it’s much too large, in the wrong place and
the wrong colour. The object in question could be a
visual blend of elements of the outer half of the
starboard wing with some other kind of device attached
to that wing, or mounted on the relatively darker
starboard side of the fuselage.
In the next section we’ll look at different frames of the “Flight 11” aircraft from the “Fireman’s Video” and see how they size up next to our CG Boeing 767-200 and the CG WTC1 tower. This will allow us to build up a basic picture of the “Flight 11” aircraft using comparative CG analysis. All of my CG images have been matched to the original “Fireman’s Video” footage in terms of environmental conditions, blur, compression artefacts and other video aberrations native to the video camera so as to allow for as an effective visual analysis as is possible.
Approximation Of The “Flight 11” Aircraft’s Fuselage Length
The image below shows the CG Boeing 767-200 as close
to the CG WTC1 tower as possible (right) with the
same attitude as the “Flight 11” aircraft (left):
Straight away we can see that the “Flight 11” aircraft is significantly shorter than a Boeing 767-200, in fact by a factor of about 25%. This visual analysis gives the “Flight 11” aircraft’s fuselage length at approximately 36 meters compared to the Boeing 767-200’s fuselage length of precisely 48.51 meters.
Out of all the frames that were captured and analysed
for this article I never found anything that looked
remotely like engine nacelles on the “Flight 11” aircrafts
wings despite the suns position at approximately 24
degrees above the horizon and approximately 15 degrees
to the left and behind of aircraft’s lateral axis that
would have provided ample illumination for both engines,
assuming the aircraft was indeed a Boeing 767-200:
We should note that the engines and airframe of this
Boeing 767-200 aircraft were finished with a
reflective white and metallic material respectively
and that these finishes should have been more than
adequate to reflect a sufficient quantity of light
to have been registered by Jules Naudet’s video camera:
Wing Sweep-back Angle
The “Flight 11” aircraft has a different wing sweep back
angle to a Boeing 767-200. The wings on the “Flight 11”
aircraft almost perpendicular to the airframe by comparison.
The sweep back angle on the Boeing 767-200 is 31.50
degrees as can be seen in the CG Boeing 767-200 in the
image pair below. In this particular pair I’ve pasted
the CG Boeing 767-200 back into the original frame
from the “Fireman’s Video”:
With this wing sweep back problem in mind we can
eliminate most commercial aircraft including all
of the Boeing and Airbus types in service at the
time of the 911 attacks.
Not only is the wing sweep-back angle less than
it should be on the “Flight 11” aircraft, the
wing span appears to be significantly shorter
than that of a Boeing 767-200 (below), though
this point is speculative as the wing sweep-back
angle and wing dihedral angle could produce the
illusion of a bigger or smaller wing-span
compared to the CG Boeing 767-200.
This “Flight 11” aircraft could easily be a Boeing 737-NG
or similarly proportioned aircraft if it weren’t for the
incorrect wing sweep back angle. The relatively small
size of the “Flight 11” aircraft might go some way to
explain why we don’t see any engines on the wings.
Being sized in proportion to the rest of the airframe
they would have been too small to show up on the video.
To conclude this section we can say with certainty that the “Flight 11” aircraft’s airframe is significantly smaller that that of a Boeing 767-200 in practically every respect. It has a shorter fuselage, a smaller wing span and a slimmer fuselage. There is some evidence to suggest that the wings of the “Flight11” aircraft were mounted to the top of the fuselage and not on the bottom. Most modern commercial passenger jets like the Boeing and Airbus types have the wings attached to the bottom of the fuselage, not on the top.
The Question Of Video Authenticity
Sceptics have argued that:
“The object seen in the Fireman’s Video is a shapeless
blob and therefore it can’t be an aeroplane of any sort.”
This is untrue as demonstrated by the previous
”The Flight 11 Aircraft – A Basic Analysis”
section which identifies key airframe elements.
“The aircraft seen in the Fireman’s video does not conform
to the Laws of Perspective and therefore the Flight 11
aircraft can not be an aeroplane of any sort or the video
is not genuine.”
Typically people that make this kind of sweeping statement
can’t define perspective and probably have never objectively
studied the WTC1 strike from the “Fireman’s Video” in its entirety.
Thus this comment is a speculative one that can easily be
disproven as is graphically demonstrated below using
points 1 and 2 as simple definitions of perspective
that were synthesised from the “Oxford Illustrated Dictionary”
for the purpose of this analysis.
1 - “Increased distance from the viewer or camera produces an apparent decrease in the objects size.”
When the “Flight 11” aircraft disappeared inside the WTC1 tower it was far smaller than when it first appeared in the camera’s field of view. Despite reducing in size the Flight 11” aircraft held its shape throughout the WTC1 strike sequence:
2 - “Apparent compacting of linear spaced objects with increased viewing
As the “Flight 11” aircraft flies away from the camera toward the WTC1 tower the apparent distance between each consecutive captured image of the aircraft taken at linear time intervals appears to decrease the further and further away it flies away from the camera (see below).
This scenario is analogous an observer watching cars driving down a freeway.
As the cars get further and further away from the observer they appear to
get relatively smaller and smaller and the apparent distance each car gets
smaller and smaller, but each individual car maintains its apparent shape
as it travels away from the camera.
So in terms of perspective the “Flight 11” aircraft as it appears in the “Fireman’s Video” conforms to the Laws of Perspective just like any other moving object in an environment. This could be considered a sign of authenticity or just a sign that the video is a well made fake. If this video is fake then why didn’t the fakers use the image of a Boeing 767-200 instead of some other type of aircraft that is visibly smaller than a Boeing 767-200?
The matter of authenticity is hotly disputed, but having studied the DVD version of this video I can see no obvious signs of forgery or manipulation. This does not prove that the video has not been forged or manipulated. If the video is fake, then it is a very well made fake, and in many respects. In the authors view it is up to the reader to make up their own minds over the question of authenticity.
The “Fireman’s Video” does not provide any video evidence
for a Boeing 767-200 strike at Tower 1 of the former World
Trade Centre Complex in New York on the morning of
September 11th 2001.
As demonstrated herein images of a simulated Boeing 767-200 strike at the WTC1 tower compared to images of the “Flight 11” aircraft strike at WTC1 as seen in the “Fireman’s Video” shows little or no similarity between the “Flight 11” aircraft and the simulated Boeing 767-200.
If the “Flight 11” aircraft had been a Boeing 767-200 then it should have appeared as just that in the “Fireman’s Video”.
Frequently Asked Questions
"Why Can’t We See The Nose Section Of The “Flight 11” Aircraft?"
Well actually you can see the nose of the “Flight 11” aircraft
as illustrated in the graphic below:
The viewer sees proportionally less the nose section because of
the camera viewing angle and the attitude of the “Flight 11”
aircraft that gives the viewer the illusion that the nose
section of the airframe is small or absent
(compare distance B to distance A in the graphic below):
Here’s a greatly exaggerated example of this optical illusion
using an Airbus A340. Notice how the front half of the
fuselage (A) seems to be disproportionately longer than the
rear half of the fuselage (B), yet in the plan view (inset)
the distances A and B are practically identical:
Poor quality versions of the video that eliminate the smaller
details will add to this optical illusion but in the high
quality region 1 NTSC DVD version the nose section is largely
self-evident throughout the entire sequence although it
appears to be very small or altogether absent.
The relative size and appearance of the nose section is
dependant on other factors like the compression artefacts,
changes in viewing angle and any other aberrations in the
video recording process like blooming or noise as previously
Here’s another way to prove that there was a significant amount of fuselage ahead of the wings. Consider frames 1 and 2 below which show the shadow cast by the fuselage of the “Flight 11” aircraft as its passes through the towers facade:
Fuselage contact occurs just before frame 1 and a
significant amount of the fuselage has penetrated
the façade by frame 2, yet in both frames we can
clearly see the port wing. This proves that there
was a significant portion of fuselage ahead of
the wings. The wings vanish during the flash
frame (right of frame 2) never to re-appear.
It would seem that the wings on the “Flight 11” aircraft are in roughly in the place we would expect them to be for a normal aeroplane. Below is an enlargement of frame 1, except this time I’ve marked the point where the fuselage contacts the façade with a red line, thereby allowing us to obtain a rough visual estimate of the relative position of the wings on the fuselage:
"Why Can’t We See Any Engines On The “Flight 11” Aircraft?"
The reason we can’t see any engines on the “Flight 11”
aircraft is because it probably didn’t have any,
or because they were so much smaller than the Boeing
767-200 engines that they weren’t recorded by Jules
Naudet’s video camera.
In the earlier sections of the video that had favourable camera viewing angles we should have been able to identify something that looked like, or inferred, the presence of wing mounted engines on the airframe that would be consistent in size and positioning with the engines on the Boeing 767-200, but we didn’t:
"The “Flight 11” Aircraft Looks Like A “Blob” And Therefore It’s Not An Aeroplane!"
It has been said that the “Flight 11” aircraft recorded by
Jules Naudet’s video camera is nothing more than a “blob”
and therefore it can not be an aircraft of any kind,
but this is precisely how Jules Naudet’s mediocre quality
video camera would record an object such as the “Flight 11”
aircraft given the meteorological conditions on 911,
the camera viewing angle and the attitude of
the “Flight 11” aircraft.
The “Flight 11” aircraft is only rendered by a small amount of pixels and is further subject to native blur, compression artefacts, digital noise and other degrading effects of the video recording process.
To illustrate this point consider the following image pair. On the left is the picture of an American Airlines Boeing 767-200 taken from a documentary about the 911 atrocities and on the right is the identical picture with the resolution dropped to the same level as the “Fireman’s Video” with the correct amount of native blur and compression artefacts added:
In the image on the right all of the aircrafts aerofoils
have apparently vanished as have both its engines.
It bears practically no resemblance to the original
image leaving the viewer guessing or using their
imagination to work out what the “blob” actually
was had it been recorded at a higher resolution.
This simulated example above of the degrading effects of the video recording process are directly applicable to the “Flight 11” aircraft seen in the “Fireman’s video” and therefore the argument that because the “Flight 11” aircraft appears to be nothing more than a “blob” in the “Fireman’s Video” it can not be an aircraft of any kind is technically incorrect.
Focus magic has been demonstrated here for cosmetic purposes only.
It has been used to enhance the images in “Blur Part 1 - Radial Blur”, “Blur Part 2 - Motion Blur”, “Compression Artefacts”, “The 'Flight 11' Aircraft – A Basic Analysis”, “Noise”, “The Question Of Video Authenticity”, “Conclusion To Picture Quality Issues” and on the image used at the beginning of this article and in the “Conclusion” section.
Focus Magic was not used to process images that were used for the comparative visual analysis that determined fuselage length, wing span, wing sweep-back angle or any other airframe properties.
The methodology employed herein involved degrading a high quality computer generated image of a B767-200 to match a relatively low quality video source. This process is undoubtedly more effective that attempting to enhance the Naudet source material to an acceptable level for comparative analysis.
Version 1.4 - (September 2009) Under Construction