One of the most controversial 9/11 conspiracy theories is the No-Planes Theory – the contention that CGI planes were inserted into all the footage we have of the World Trade Center attacks. Sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? But could there be any truth to it?
By being so brazen, so outrageous and so devastating, taking place in a world steeped in distrust of governments, the September 11th attacks were always going to spur conspiracy theories. The magnitude of the disaster was enormous: 2,996 people lost their lives, more than 6,000 people were injured, $10 billion of property and infrastructure were destroyed or damaged, and the world’s political, social and economic landscape was never the same again. It was the kind of game-changing catastrophe that leads people to analyse every detail of the official story, searching for deception by those in power.
On September 11th 2001, on a clear morning, al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four American passenger planes. They crashed two of them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon in Virginia, and one into a field in Pennsylvania (initially it was headed for Washington D.C., most likely with the intention of flying into the White House, but the passengers retook the plane from the hijackers and forced it to crash).
That’s the official story, anyway.
Conspiracy theorists contend that al-Qaeda terrorists were not the ones responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The true architects were elements inside the US government, namely the Bush administration, and al-Qaeda were nothing more than a cover. The government engineered the attacks in order to justify the subsequent US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, which were actually all about advancing Western oil interests and establishing a gas pipeline through Afghanistan. The most common claim is that the planes did not cause the Twin Towers to collapse; they actually collapsed as a result of a pre-planned controlled demolition.
A less common, more extraordinary claim is that no planes crashed into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon at all. Some argue that the impact explosions were actually the result of explosive devices installed inside the buildings, and that CGI planes were superimposed into news footage and amateur videos. Others say that missiles struck the buildings, missiles that were cloaked by holograms made to look like planes. The footage of the attacks that was broadcast live by the news networks actually wasn’t live at all; the fake clips were all pre-recorded.
The so-called ‘no-planers’ corroborate their claims with three main pieces of evidence. Firstly, it defies the laws of physics that an aluminium aeroplane would be able to penetrate the steel-framed, concrete-reinforced building in the way that it does. Secondly, several eyewitnesses who saw the impact explosions said that they did not see any plane. Thirdly, there are ‘mistakes’ in the news and amateur footage that exposes the digital fakery.
These arguments have been rebuffed many times. In relation to the physics point about the plane slicing through the building like a knife through butter, debunkers argue that no-planers just don’t understand physics. It’s all about speed and pressure. A ping pong ball can penetrate a table tennis racket if it’s going fast enough, and if the pressure is high enough, water can cut steel. Therefore a 100 tonne aluminium aeroplane slamming into a steel building at 500mph is inevitably going to carve through it like a cake.
And okay, so there are some eyewitnesses – probably due to where they were standing – who didn’t see the planes hit the buildings. So what? There are hundreds of witnesses who did see them.
And is there any truth to these digital fakery arguments?
The ‘Good Day New York’ Nose-Out Clip
One of the main clips no-planers use to support their argument is the shot of the second plane hitting the South Tower of the World Trade Center on Good Day New York, broadcast live on TV at 9.03am.
They say that in the clip, you can see the plane enter the building and, a split second later, you can see its nose come out the other side, before being engulfed by flames. Its nose at this point is completely intact, which is a literal impossibility as the plane should have been destroyed on impact. This is evidence, therefore, that the plane is CGI, digitally inserted into the footage; the accidental reappearance of the nose is due to some bad photoshopping.
But again, there is plenty of other footage of the second plane’s impact, and the plane’s nose isn’t seen – only debris and clouds of smoke and flames are visible. Most people agree that the no-planers are misunderstanding what they’re seeing in the Good Day New York footage. It’s not the nose of the plane – it’s just a debris cloud.
Optical errors in the Michael Hezarkhani footage
Here’s a much more interesting piece of evidence for the no-planes theory. Have a look at the YouTube video below of the amateur footage filmed by Michael Hezarkhani. You’ll see a building in the background, some distance behind the Twin Towers. As the second plane hits the South Tower, its left wing momentarily and inexplicably disappears behind the building in the background, whereas it should’ve been in front of it. No-planers argue that this optical glitch is evidence of the fact that the image is layered, and that the plane has been digitally inserted into it.
[Note: the video below is a replacement of the original video that was part of this article, which was subsequently deleted. This is the original Michael Hezarkhani footage, so it’s not slowed down, but you can still ‘just’ see the plane’s wing going behind the building. It’s clearer in the next video.]
Indeed, when I first saw this footage, I thought, that does look weird – and possibly suspicious. I was willing to consider that this particular footage might’ve been faked. Until I watched the video below. This YouTube user reveals – with the help of Google Images – that the wing should have been behind the building. Because the building is actually in front of the Twin Towers, not behind them. It looks like it’s in the background, but that’s because of the angle of the footage. It’s actually in the foreground.
Taking all this into account, my conclusion is this: of all the 9/11 conspiracy theories out there, the no-planes theory is frankly the most preposterous, and is easily and thoroughly discredited by eyewitnesses, the world’s media, copious video evidence, scientific fact – and common sense.
Still, the official story of what happened on 9/11 does contain oddities and mysteries. There is a whole society – the 9/11 Truth Movement – dedicated to proving what really happened on September 11th 2001. In future articles I will take a closer look at some of their claims…
Next week: the Time Travelling Hipster
Nodisinfo.com – No planes on 9/11 isn’t a theory – it’s a fact
Various YouTube videos (see above for links)
Wikipedia – September 11th attacks and 9/11 conspiracy theories