ERROR: 'The South Tower Impact Involved Missiles and/or Explosives'
In contrast to the North Tower impact,
South Tower jetliner impact
was captured by many cameras.
Alleged anomalies in the crash photographs and videos,
all of which show the jet impact with poor resolution at best,
have been the source for a palette of imaginative theories.
These theories include ones that posit missiles or other devices carried
on the aircraft firing at the Tower just before impact,
explosives planted in the Tower to simulate a jetliner crash,
and even canisters of "appropriate debris" catapulted from the Tower.
The theories of anomalous crash events
harmonize with the theories of anomalous planes,
or pod plane theories:
why should a plane have a pod unless it's going to do something,
like fire a missile?
Indeed, many authors include both elements in their theory,
such as Leonard Spencer, in
What Hit WTC2? Another Look at the Second Plane
The most widely publicized anomalies in South Tower crash images
are bright spots that occur momentarily as the plane begins to
collide with the building.
The slickly produced
In Plane Site (IPS)
shows five different videos, each showing a flash at the same
apparent moment in the crash.
Von Kleist waves the DVD case of CNN's America Remembers --
the source of the South Tower crash video repeated the most times on IPS.
The flashes, according to Von Kleist,
are anomalous and very important to study --
far more important than whether controlled demolition destroyed
the Twin Towers, judging from his allocation of time
and use of dramatics.
Three videos in wide circulation
show a flash
when the jetliner's fuselage first begins to impact the South Tower.
Supposing that the flashes are real rather than video edits,
we can think of explanations that don't involve
the detonations of missiles suggested by Von Kleist.
Some have suggested that it might be a kind of static-electric
discharge involving the plane's radar dome.
However, similar but smaller flashes are seen
when the engines impact the curtain wall.
The most plausible explanation for the flashes we've seen
is that the kinetic energy of the collisions
vaporized a mix of materials, including steel and aluminum,
which were rapidly oxidized by the pressure and heat
of the 400+ mph collision.
Perhaps the flashes are entirely explainable by the oxidation
This hypothesis explains the flashes much better than missile theories,
because the flashes occur just as the densest parts of the aircraft
start to penetrate the curtain wall.
Von Kleist and other missile theorists state that the flashes occur
before the plane hits the South Tower,
ignoring that the fuselage enters the Tower's shadow just before impact.
Close examination of the footage,
noting the distance from the aircraft wings to its nose,
shows that the flashes happen just as contact begins.
e x c e r p t
In the case of the south tower, In Plane Site and others have claimed
that there is a gap between the fuselage and the flash, using the Spiegel TV
footage to support this. But keep in mind that the building casts a very
slender shadow over the front part of the plane as it enters. The shadow
can be seen over the front part of the nose when the flash occurs in the
Fairbanks and Spiegel footage, and can also be seen on the wings and engines
in the CNN footage. Notice in the CNN footage how the left engine loses it's
highlight just before entering the building. The appearance of a gap was
probably caused by the shadow of the building on the fuselage. As part of
their analysis, In Plane Site argues that the reflection of the flash can
be seen on the fuselage, but this may be the tail end of the reflection of
sunlight seen in earlier frames (it's shape slightly changed from flexing in
the skin of the airplane due to the impact.) Or it may be a combination of
both, with the reflection of the flash (which would be less intense than
sunlight) on the shaded part of the fuselage obscured by the intense ringing
effect from the highlight (the ringing is the dark blob in between the
highlight and the flash).
The rapid metal-oxidation hypothesis also explains the brevity
of the flashes.
The flash caused by the fuselage is little more than a video frame
That's much too brief to be a conventional explosive,
but it is consistent with impact-induced chemical reactions,
because the high pressures leading to the vaporization and oxidation
would tend to occur only on the leading edges of the aircraft
as it contacts the building.
A much more detailed examination of the likely cause of the flashes
page last modified: 2009-04-26