Plane Swap: Part 1

Flight 11 Goes Site-Seeing

Part 2

Part 3

Frank Levi (8th Sept 2004)

Thanks to Brad, Kjell, Nico, Woody, Corinne and Naserian for help and input.


This series makes several references to the following video clips (which unfortunately cannot be hosted on this site due to bandwidth restrictions)

Maps of the flight paths produced by the company Flight Explorer can be viewed on this site:

It is advisable to familiarise yourself with these videos and images prior to reading this three part series. You may also want to read Operation Pearl (A.K. Dewdney) which clearly explains the theory behind "plane swapping".



Since 9-11 there has been much speculation about the possibility that the planes used on that day were flown by remote control.  If you are not familiar with these theories it is advisable to read them first before reading this article.

These theories were sparked by a number of anomalies in the official story such as: 

  • The alleged hijacker pilots have all been reported to be less than adequate pilots.
  • The jerking movements of the planes.
  • The aerobatic manoeuvres performed by Flight 77 prior to its crash into the Pentagon
  • The failure of all pilots on four planes to change the transponder code to 7500 indicating a hijacking is taking place. (They didn’t even need to change their transponder code; transmitting “squawk seven five zero zero” on the radio is enough.)
  • The bizarre way that AA Flight 77 flew round in a circle and into the side of the Pentagon like a plane coming in to land.

You can read these various pieces and come to your own conclusions. There has been a gradual evolution in this theory over the years since 9-11 as more evidence has come to light. Original theories focused on the idea that the planes were modified (probably in the airports) to allow remote control. Looking from the viewpoint of our unknown conspirators this might appear unnecessarily complex and risky, especially when compared to more recent ideas which we will expand on in this essay.

Tricking Air Traffic Control

The key concepts have been dealt with in more detail in Operation Pearl (A.K. Dewdney) and Rendezvous Points (F. Levi) but will be shown in summary here as follows. 

  • Two planes flying on the same vertical line will appear as one spot on a radar screen.
  • The US military conceived of a plot in the ‘60s in which a remote controlled drone would be substituted for a passenger plane using this concept of “radar shadow”. The idea was to blow up the drone and blame it on a Cuban shoot-down as part of a fake terror campaign. See Operation Northwoods (Appendix B)
  • Three of the planes had the transponder disabled. The transponder transmits information about the plane's identity and altitude to Air Traffic Control. When disabled the plane becomes an unidentified blip on the radar, though ATC can manually tag the radar blip to keep track of it, as was the case with Flight 11 (ref)
  • United Airlines Flight 175 switched off its transponder for about 30 seconds then apparently changed its transponder code twice
  • If a switch took place it most likely occurred near an airport or airbase where the real plane would fly above the drone as just after it took off.
  • Why go to all this trouble? These conspirators presumably wanted to start the pre-planned war in Afghanistan. What would have happened if the suicide hijackers had changed their minds at the last minute, or crashed on the way?

"Which way is it?"

Anyone familiar with comic-books and superheroes will inevitably have come across a situation something like this:

Our hero and his beautiful girlfriend are suspended over a vat of bubbling acid. Professor Evil cackles insanely and gives the hero his get-out clause:

 "Once this candle burns through the rope you will fall into the acid and melt like butter in a frying pan!"

Why, you ask, did he not just shoot them with a gun?

When looking at the official version of events in the Sept 11th attacks, you have to ask some similar questions.

Picture Mohamed Atta, supposed ringleader of the attacks, giving the hijackers their final pep-talk before sending them on their way to die:

"Ok boys, obviously you're going to be a little stressed about this mission. So what I'll say to you is this. Chill. Don't stress about getting to your targets quickly, don't even worry too much if you miss your plane. It's your day and you want to give these folks a fighting chance. Think how much more fun it will be if you get chased by a fighter, or the people on the plane try to stop you!"

"So what I want you to do is wait a while before starting the hijack, then if you want to fly away in the opposite direction for a while, feel free. Leave yourself plenty of time to change your mind, after all, suicide and mass-murder is a pretty heavy trip."

This is closer to the truth than you might think. In this article we will once again attempt to analyse the flight paths taken by the four planes and interpret some of the anomalies found within them.

Flight 11

This was the first plane to hit the World Trade Center and was supposedly flown by the highly competent pilot and ringleader of the plot, Mohamed Atta.

This image comes from Flight Explorer which is an online software package used to track the location and path of live flights. They also keep an archive of all flights which can be used to produce a playback of the flight after the event.

Air traffic control immediately became aware of a problem when they lost both radio contact and the transponder signal for Flight 11. The transponder provides ATC with additional information about the Flight and its altitude. The hijacking must have taken place quickly enough to prevent the pilots from typing the emergency hijacking code into the transponder as they stormed the cockpit. Quick enough to take full control of the plane.

So why did they take a fourteen minute detour up through New York State before turning towards Manhattan? Sight-seeing? Can't tell North from South?

Next question, how did they manage to make such a tight turn (looks like almost 180 degrees) in a jumbo jet?

Look at the following video clip which would appear to be from another flight tracker or some sort of replayed radar data.

(Please note: we have attempted to contact the owner of this site to find out the source of this clip but have not received a response. If anyone knows the origins please let us know.)

This track reveals a few more details which would be otherwise hidden on Flight Explorer, the obvious one being the time (shown in the bottom right)

Here are some key frames:

Notice the red dotted line. This is Flight 11's  flight plan as agreed with Air Traffic Control.

Just before reaching the northern edge of the screen Flight 11 appears to change its flight plan. This is not the only plane to do this as we will see later with Flight 93.

Notice also that we see two updates for Flight 11, both at 8:27 and both with Flight 175 remaining at the same spot. So how is Flight 11 in two places at 8:27, flying in two different directions? Where is the turn and why did the radar not pick up the plane during its substantial turning circle?

This raises the possibility that we may be looking at two planes. Flight 11's transponder had been switched off or disabled early in the hijacking so the plane would have become an unidentified spot on the radar that the ATC operator would just have to assume is the real Flight 11.

This diagram shows one possibility. Perhaps the switch took place on the edge of an Air Traffic Control sector. So the controller in the adjacent sector to the North would have perhaps seen an unidentified plane (or a military plane flying with no transponder) doing what would appear to be a u-turn at the edge of the sector.

Alternatively, the drone may well have taken off from Albany Airport. Here is a copy of the Flight 11 track transposed onto the map from Flight Explorer showing just how close it was.

Flight 11's apparent u-turn did take place on the edge of an air traffic control sector, as did the hijacking

The background map is taken from Flight Explorer, the Flight 11 gif is superimposed:


If this is what really occurred, we can but speculate about what happened to the real Flight 11. Here are some important points which may help.

1. Destroyed in the wilderness?

This turn in the flight path coincidentally took place just south of the least populated area in the North East as can be seen in the following map. The yellow area is the Adirondack Mountains and has a population of 1-4 per square mile. Would this have been a good location to destroy a plane?

(From )

2. Destroyed over the Great Lakes?

In the ATC transcript for Flight 175 you can see the following reports:

8:44:05 USA583: I just picked up an ELT (emergency locator transmitter) on 121.5 it was brief but it went off.

8:45:08 DAL2433: DAL2433 at 290 we picked up that ELT, too, but its very faint.

An ELT signal occurs automatically in the event of a plane crash to help search and rescue to locate the crashed plane. They can also be activated manually.

Some assumptions appear to have been made that this signal was triggered manually by the pilot of Flight 175, though if this is the case then surely it would have lasted longer. If it came from Flight 11 it was two minutes too early to be triggered by hitting the World Trade Center. The crash occurred at 8:46.

If Flight 11 had continued in the direction it was heading and at the same speed, at 8:44 it would have been flying somewhere over the Great Lakes. Would this have been a good location to destroy a plane?

3. Landed at Albany?

This makes it more difficult to explain what happened to the passengers and the phone calls from the flight attendants.

4. Landed in Canada?

It could well have been mixed in with diverted planes. Possibly later flown out into the Atlantic and destroyed.

5. Carried on to crash into the Pentagon?

The 9-11 commission reported this (CNN)

FAA: Military, Boston Center. I just had a report that American 11 is still in the air, and it's on its way toward, heading toward Washington.

Northeast Air Defense Sector: OK. American 11 is still in the air?

FAA: Yes.

Northeast Air Defense Sector: On its way toward Washington?

FAA: That was another, it was evidently another aircraft that hit the tower. That's the latest report we have.

Northeast Air Defense Sector: OK.

FAA: I'm going to try to confirm an ID for you, but I would assume he's somewhere over, uh, either New Jersey or somewhere further south.

Northeast Air Defense Sector: OK. So American 11 isn't the hijack at all then, right?

FAA: No, he is a hijack.

Northeast Air Defense Sector: He ... American 11 is a hijack?

FAA: Yes.

Northeast Air Defense Sector: And he's heading into Washington?

FAA: Yes. This could be a third aircraft.

This is supported by that if that plane continued travelling at the same speed it would have reached Washington at about the time that Flight 77 apparently crashed into the Pentagon. We'll come back to what happened to Flight 77 later.

Woody Box recently published an article showing that the passengers of flight 11 may have boarded from an entirely different gate to the one which Flight 11 actually took off from. I would suggest that Flight 11 was a modified plane and that its passengers were put on Flight 175. We'll see what happened to Flight 175 in Part 2.

As usual please forward any comments or corrections to

I would be particularly interested to discuss this with air traffic controllers or pilots.


Appendix A


Home Run

The Enemy is Inside the Gates

Global Hawk

Pentagon Cover Up

Sound of the Bumble Planes

Ghost Riders

Operation Pearl

Rendezvous Points



Appendix B

Operation Northwoods (see rendezvous points)