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New 9/11 conspiracy research

2nd Plane Hit: Fade to Black or Blackout?

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At the exact moment the alleged United Flight 175 entered the World Trade Center South Tower, lights flickered across the street and certain TV broadcasts shortly blacked out. This flicker happened before the explosion was seen– the instant the plane disappeared into the building. The television issues happened at almost exactly the same time… except for WNYW FOX5 a half second later. Why did this happen, exactly?


“911 Blackouts” by Ace Baker (This is not an endorsement of Baker’s theories. Also note the WNYW Chopper5 blackout was ~0.4 seconds later. See below.)

[A] lot of people seem to think that somebody in the control room somewhere kind of pressed a button and it faded to black because they saw the nose come out the other side.

– Jeff Hill, 2008 (see quote below from a telephone conversation with the photographer that was in Chopper5)

Fade To Black Theories

Was the LIVE broadcast an example of a video composite being used to create the first of many fake Boeing videos? Was the actual plane something different? Was there a plane at all? (Yes, a fringe group of conspiracy theorists called “no planers” thinks there was too much risk for the perps in using a real plane… that the thousands of witnesses would be forced by the videos into thinking what they saw – or didn’t see – was a Boeing 767… that the airplane debris could be planted or exploded out of a locked room in the WTC.) I the writer have considered this theory, I admit. However, I must stress that this webpage is not in support of “no plane theory” — or as proponent Dr. Morgan Reynolds would say, “No Big Boeing” theory….

So was the alleged CGI airplane nose sticking further out than the debris ejecta in other videos… “Pinnochio’s nose,” as Ace Baker calls it? Compare ABC LIVE in the image below (source: RasgaSaias). See also the amateur “Gamma Press” and “PAX-TV” footage (televised on 9/11 afternoon) in the playlist above. Were those fake too, made to match WNYW? So the theory goes, the video fakers screwed up because the planned layer mask of the WTC moved when the helicopter floated to the left at the last second. Supposedly, that made the guy in the “control room” press the blackout button.

So what else could have caused the blackout? And did I really spend hours researching this? LOL 😀 Yes, I did! What follows is a study of the NON no-planer theories– and why almost none of them seem to hold up to scrutiny.

WNYW - ABC nose out comparison
“Nose-out” comparison :: ABC LIVE (WCBS-AM Chopper 880) vs. WNYW Chopper5

Was it the camera’s automatic gain control, as Steve Wright said in the Hardfire debate with Ace Baker (watch in the playlist at 911conspiracy.tv)? Seeing as the camera was already pointed at the rising sun, and the explosion had only just started, I think the answer is an easy NO. Auto brightness adjust did not apply.

How about a disturbance to broadcast equipment on WTC 1? The TV transmitter mast was the primary broadcast facility for: WCBS 02, WNBC 04, WNYW 05, WABC 07, WWOR 09, WPIX 11, WNET 13, WPXN 31, WNJU 47, WKCR 89.9, WPAT 93.1, WNYC 93.9, and WKTU 103.5.” (Mike Fitzpatrick, source) Here I point out that Chopper5 filmed the “collapse” of both buildings (watch the LIVE WTC 1 demolition on WNYW)– and both events were broadcast thanks to cable TV… which about 70 percent of the US population had at the time (source). Of course, cable TV (CATV) is essentially Community Antenna TV, with cables going from the satellite receiver base to area homes, with amplifiers at critical spots in between (for 2001 in New York there are unknown details — share new info with me, matt@911conspiracy•tv).

How about an electrical disturbance? See the Burger King lights flash in the Evan Fairbanks video. Notice also a light in 4 WTC. Was that and/or Chopper5’s fade to black caused by 1. the impact vibration or 2. something directly connected electrically?

1. Maybe vibration briefly starved the equipment used to receive or process the helicopter video feed with no electricity? Or was it a jolt? Well…. Using the Fairbanks video we can see the precise amount of time it takes for the Burger King (lit sign and fluorescent lights) blackout to occur. See the Fairbanks HD slideshow. In a 59.94 frames-per-second video, it takes 11-12 frames after the initial nose impact for the lights below to flicker. That is 0.18 to 0.20 seconds. At this time the plane’s tail had barely crossed the building perimeter. See the NIST estimation of debris dispersal at that time inside WTC 2. After 0.2 seconds the vibration would have traveled through the iron of the exterior columns toward the earth at 5,120 meters per second (speed of sound through iron), potentially reaching 1,024 meters (WTC 2 floor 80 = 292 meters + 21 m below street level), ringing into the granite below… causing a 0.7 earthquake on the Richter scale (source – Note first that the bulk of airplane mass didn’t impact the bulk of the tower’s mass in the building core until between 0.1 and 0.2 seconds, adding some time to this equation. Note also that the WTC 1 impact was a 0.9 magnitude and no reports of flickering lights or TV issues have been found from 8:46 AM to my knowledge. Note finally that no other examples of flickering lights at 9:03 AM have been found out of the 58 videos that captured the plane— and out of the 53 that only shot the explosion. Yet no lights have been noticed in other videos at all. When I say lights, that doesn’t include TVs:


Vince Sabiohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qx75FqabYss and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zuz_or2IP0U. See also http://wtc.vjs.org. The TV went out a few blocks away from the WTC (Worth St. and W. Broadway), audibly losing its signal off camera. In a personal communication, Vince has told me his electric power wasn’t affected. When I asked, he said that he did in fact have cable TV, RCN to be specific. The station on at the moment was…

WCBS Channel 2http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpgL8EsHrig#t=2m40s. In one recorded version at least, there is a flash of an interference-like bar center screen at 2:54-2:55, right after (~0.2 seconds) the spoken words “seven thirty-seven.” That’s when Sabio’s TV audio cut out… at 0.2 to 0.3 seconds into the crash (comparing videos to nearly match the Fairbanks flicker).

johnstayhome” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBpvq-2mxvA#t=50s and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zjrWa6khyY. Johnstayhome was in Queens. The antenna reveals he didn’t have cable. After the collapses, he watched WCBS channel 2, thanks to the network’s backup transmitter on the Empire State Building (source). During the plane crash, WNBC Channel 4 was on the TV he was videotaping with his camera. The last words heard from the female news anchor are “…fight it from in…,” cut off in the middle of – perhaps before – the word “inside.” This matches another interruption of the WNBC broadcast. Which leads to…

CNBC LIVE – WNBC Channel 4 video feed had issues, but only as aired LIVE on CNBC. Note Channel 4 itself aired the plane impact clearly, LIVE. Notice in the CNBC footage the video feed turned to static (lost signal), but the CNBC news ticker/banner remained in operation. The beginning of the interruption nearly matches the timing of the Fairbanks light flicker… and the following TV issue:

WABC Channel 7 – Example 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK1C9dZhsuA#t=4m1s. This TV lost its audio (static replaced it for 7 seconds) while recording New York City local ABC channel 7 to VCR. The video file came from a cable TV VCR recording. We know because other segments of the tape continue into the afternoon (after the transmitter on WTC 1 fell). Also, the screen blacked out, except for the station ID logo. This particular segment of video appears virtually identical to the WABC broadcast recorded by others…

Example 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvIdiLJ8I5g#t=2m25s. No audio disturbance was experienced. See a slideshow of this quality recording: http://www.911conspiracy.tv/WABC_slideshow.html. The station ID logo wasn’t disturbed (but in one frame). Another version looked exactly the same–

Example 3: The WABC broadcast aired simultaneously on CNN. See the slideshow for a detailed inspection: http://www.911conspiracy.tv/CNN_slideshow.html. The source for the CNN clip also has many hours of 9/11 TV collected from multiple stations (and 9/12 – 9/13). This collection was “recorded live from around September 11, 2001 by the non-profit Television Archive.” This is the source used to verify the WABC helicopter shot aired without interruption on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and on BBC World (examples 4 & 6 below). The TV Archive provides some info on their methods: “BBC World was received from Bell ExpressVu (a Canadian direct-to-home service) and encoded using a real-time MPEG-2 encoder.”

Examples 4, 5, and 6: NOTE that these broadcasts airing the same helicopter shot were not affected: LIVE ABC Good Morning America, FOX News, and BBC World. This is because the WABC helicopter feed (actually WCBS-AM traffic chopper 880) cross-faded with a stationary camera in Brooklyn– on WABC Channel 7 (and CNN). Careful inspection of the video frames shows that the Brooklyn building camera blacked out, not the helicopter’s. Study the Brooklyn camera angle here: http://www.911conspiracy.tv/2nd_hit_missed.html#2.

Gedeon Naudethttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdRP8MTlVWI. One amateur video (out of the 40-some known amateur videos showing the 2nd plane) features a blackout – missing frames – at the instant of plane impact (about 0.5 seconds after initial nose impact), right when the debris begins to explode out of the northeast corner of WTC 2. Gedeon Naudet was videotaping for what would be the most famous documentary on the subject (because of the 1st plane impact shot), a film titled “9/11” for airing on CBS– and available on DVD as “9/11: The Filmmakers’ Commemorative Edition.” We can’t be sure if the camera malfunctioned or not, because the “blackout” is the time removed from the film in the form of numerous frames. This could be artistic license to create a feeling of chaos (totally unnecessary considering the moment). No comment or explanation from the filmmakers has been offered.

Back to the possible electrical disturbance due to reason number 1, vibration. To reach that bedrock from 313 meters would take 0.06 seconds. Add 100 more meters (0.02 seconds) to get to the lights at Burger King in the Fairbanks video (lights not on the same electric system as the WTC. See Merritt & Harris, Inc., “Property Condition Assessment of World Trade Center Portfolio” (2 WTC), Dec. 6, 2000, pp. 106-107 of 278 (911blogger.com details and downloads). Add 150 more meters (to 313) to get to the electrical substation in WTC 7, which supplied power to lower Manhattan (according to FEMA “WTC Building Performance Study”, Chapter 5, p. 2). Remember Vince Sabio said his electricity wasn’t affected. So we’re talking about 0.09 to 0.1 seconds for vibration to travel after 0.1 to 0.2 seconds for major vibration to start. (Or for electrical disturbance reason number 2, a technical electricity-related connection, 0.18 to 0.2 seconds for the plane to start a chain reaction somehow directly connected.) That vibration math may rule out the WTC 7 scenario as causing the Fairbanks lights to flicker, which we still don’t know for sure is related to WNYW’s fade to black.

Maybe the vibration shook the WNYW FOX Channel 5 studio at 205 East 67th Street in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, since 1954. See the WNYW entry at Wikipedia. That’s 3.5 miles away from the WTC. And if vibration from that distance were really the issue, what about the other TV news stations? CBS 2 News at 524 West 57th Street, WNBC 4 at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (GE Building), WABC-TV at Columbus Avenue and 66th Street, mailing Address per abclocal.go.com…, or Lincoln Square NY, NY 10023 or per Google Maps at 7 West 63rd Street, and WPIX 11 at Second Avenue and East 42nd Street (News Building)? What about the lack of issues during the collapses? I think it’s safe to say vibration wasn’t the cause.

In the Chopper5 video, the blackout is delayed about 0.73 seconds (plus or minus .033, 1 frame) after the initial nose impact. That amount of time (~0.5 seconds between lights flickering in the Fairbanks video and WNYW’s blackout) indicates a phenomenon much slower than radio waves/microwaves or electricity travels (at or near the speed of light, respectively). It indicates something entirely unrelated…. More on my theory/answer soon.

Now let’s time the WABC blackout. To figure out the moment of impact, I did a drawing on a frame of the footage. The South Tower was perfectly situated behind the North, as this video shows. So I counted the number of frames from impact to blackout: 10 – first interference, 11 – begin fade, and 12 – black. At 30 frames per second, that means ~0.33 seconds passed before an effect was evident. (For Chopper5 I counted 22, 23, and 24… or 0.73 seconds.)

The time between the WABC and Fairbanks issues (~0.13 seconds) could also suggest different causes. Yet this problem won’t be resolved here. Read more about the speed of electricity to decide for yourself.

THE LAST FRAME BEFORE BLACK: WABC ~0.4 SECONDS EARLIER
last frame before black

Nevertheless, for a brief overview of the WTC electrical system, or to discuss this issue, visit the Loose Change forum thread in which I’ve participated.

What about interference with the Chopper5 signal? Was it some kind of EMP? Because only this particular helicopter video had issues at that moment. The other, more closely synched issues of Fairbanks, Sabio, johnstayhome, CNBC and WABC may apply to an EMP situation. However, that isn’t the focus of this webpage. Something different happened on WNYW from the looks of that WABC/CNN electrical effect (?)– and considering the ~0.4-second post-impact time difference. The picture faded in the Chopper5 shot. Yet the cross-fade on WABC/CNN revealed something similar: scan lines during the Chopper880 fade out. The same lines are in the WNYW footage (interlaced versions). Admittedly, there is some static-like disturbance to the WNYW picture fade… specifically frames 136-138 of the deinterlaced Ebbetts version above (which matches the other East Coast versions precisely — compare the Ebbetts slideshow with the radioskip DVD slideshow). The bar of interference in 136 is nearly identical in position and consistency to that of 228, which comes exactly a second after the picture fades back in. Importantly, however, these anomalies can not be found in the West Coast version seen in the slideshow below, or the rare afternoon replays above, or the NIST Cumulus version (top left on image above :: from 9:08 am replay, compressed avi :: LIVE not available! LOL :: see Cumulus FOIA details).

But was that stationary camera feed delivered by microwave like Chopper5? That is, assuming the “High 5” chopper wasn’t up to speed with “Air 11,” WPIX’s (WB11’s) new digital technology. See quote and link below. This unknown presents a problem, but the fact remains that scan lines (on interlaced versions) means fade, not loss of signal. [To see the smooth fade in a deinterlaced version, watch the Dr. Ebbetts 59.94fps version (mp4), or the 15 minutes of myfoxny.com WNYW coverage.]


“WPIX-TV’s digital helicopter” BY RALPH AUGENFELD, Aug 1, 2001

“Conventional news helicopters are outfitted with a standard FM analog microwave transmitter. Fading, breakup, audio and video noise, limited picture quality and multipath reception problems (ghosting) are all too common. Signals bouncing off reflective surfaces like buildings or mountains cause multipath problems that come in two flavors: static and dynamic. Static multipath interference can be observed when transmitting from a fixed location; bounced signals arrive at the receive antenna a little later than the main signal. This often causes video ghosting, chroma smear, changing hues and audio buzz that can seriously degrade live shots. Microwave transmission from a moving source can be particularly susceptible to dynamic multipath interference, characterized by signal dropouts, moving multiple ghosts, and severe chroma and audio noise fluctuations.”
http://broadcastengineering.com/mag/broadcasting_wpixtvs_digital_helicopter

What does the Chopper5 cameraman Kai Simonsen think?

Jeff: …just before it goes black. Do you know why it went, it faded to black right as soon as the plane hit…on the video?
Kai: The…I, I don’t know if it actually–it didn’t fade to black. What happened was is that I put the 2x extender on. There’s a thing called a 2x extender…
Jeff: mm hmm
Kai: …which actually doubles the strength of the lens, so as the plane got closer to the building, I was, I was made aware the plane was getting close to the building, so I zoomed in closer to get a closer shot with the 2x extender, and that’s what you’re seeing. You’re seeing the actual 2x extender…flip into the lens, and it’s, and it’s actually, you know, slides into place, so there’s a moment where it actually goes black because you’re seeing the edge of the extender pass, you know, over the focal plane.
Jeff: Oh, cause yeah, a lot of people, ah, seem to think that somebody in the control room somewhere kind of pressed a button and it faded to black because they saw the nose come out the other side.
Kai: Yeah, um, that’s, that’s not the case… (source)

Kai, that simply cannot be the case. Comparing the view before and after the “fade to black” reveals no difference in zoom. Did you press the wrong button, maybe? Was the 2x extender stuck or reversed momentarily, thereby blocking the view for a fraction of a second? In my humble opinion, that wouldn’t cause a perfect fade, especially one lasting as long as it did — just like interference or signal dropout wouldn’t have been possible.

To me it sounds like something human… perhaps even to start this red herring-type conspiracy theory. Maybe the near-instantaneous electrical disturbance happened in the WNYW-TV studio (without affecting the uninterruptible broadcast) — to which a studio tech person reacted on reflex by flipping a switch or pressing a button over which his/her hand was already hovering. When the switch/button turned off the video feed, the person responsible turned it right back on. Also consider this: a domino effect started by the electrical issue caused another machine — maybe a third in the process — to power off and back on.

It borders on crazy to think that the picture was purposefully faded to black to hide a video fakery error — a sight that wasn’t unusual in comparison with other such videos — a supposed critical moment on which the whole conspiracy rested in the hands of a person operating video editing software.

Written by Matt

April 23, 2011 at 9:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. P.S. Richard Gage and David Chandler are guest speakers in our chat room on the 1st Sunday of each month at 6est. See Richards 10th scrolling page on his site: http://www.ae911truth.org

    Andy Burdick

    August 16, 2011 at 8:12 am

  2. All those remote cameras are probably using a microwave relay to send video to the studio. It’s basically a line-of-sight radio link that transmits an analogue video signal. There are typically microwave relays and receiving stations on high points (given that it’s line of sight). Given that the North Tower was the broadcast antenna for those channels, there’s also a good chance it was the relay or receiving station for the remote live shots. If there was a power interuption, it’s highly possible it would have interfered with some of the TV equipment – especially remote contribution equipment which would be considered less critical than the actual broadcast transmitters so may not have the same level of power protection..

    Think More Betterer

    September 29, 2013 at 12:14 am


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