An In-Depth Look at That Turn in the Airliner Abduction Video: The math checks out more than ever

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Full course length, with plane lenth measurements at each point where you see a plane in this image.

BEFORE WE BEGIN: I STILL HAVE NOT TAKEN A SIDE ON THIS. I care about finding out what is true and what isn’t through structured analysis. That is the same attitude I had going into this. I was not looking for any specific result.

I am however motivated to debunk this, and find myself constantly in awe at how every attempt provides more legitimacy to the damn thing.

There’s been some speculation on this turn seen in the sat footage. “It’s too fast (the plane would rip apart), It’s too slow (it would fall right out of the sky), the turn is too sharp (No plane could withstand such G’s!)” I wanted to settle it all once in for all, and see for myself.

So I measured everything. Let me be clear: I MEASURED EVERYTHING.

A quick summary of my findings before we begin (I try to always put the good stuff in the beginning, so no need to dig if you don’t want to. We aren’t all this obsessive):

TL;DR

THIS IS NOT AN ACCURATE WAY TO MEASURE A 3D EVENT. This is a 2D metric being applied over a 3D Event. It’s like using a ruler to measure the Eifel tower from 100 yards away. However, it is far from pointless (methods like that are how we know so much about space, after all), and it still provides us with a lot of useable data. We don’t need exact measurements. We don’t need to know exactly what speed it’s going, we just need to know what the most conservative estimates are so that we can determine if this event is even in the ball-park of possible. That being said, I still took a lot of redundant measurements to be as accurate as possible. Without some 3D mapping software and a higher definition video, calculating true distance traveled is not likely. However, it is safe to assume that the distance was greater than what we’ve measured on screen, meaning the speed is pretty much gauranteed to be faster (more distance over the same amount of time = Higher speed). Again, these measurements are our SLOWEST estimates.

THE PLANE CHANGES IT’S SPEED THROUGHOUT THE VIDEO. Every post I’ve seen on this assumes that the plane is just going (X) speed. But it’s a plane. It’s dipping around in the sky, and banking hard at one point, so the speed wouldn’t be constant (and as I found, it isn’t). That should be obvious, right? If it had an exact speed the entire video, that would be the most damning debunk alone. So I checked for myself, measuring between several different points, and found the speed is completely dynamic. If fake, then yet again, Old Reggie did their homework, because it slows down and speeds up in all the parts you would expect it to. (p.s. you dont speed up to make a sharp turn. I don’t know why some people keep saying that). The turn is the slowest part, and that makes sense.

IT IS DESCENDING THE ENTIRE TIME. It’s not just turning from right to left. It’s diving into a turn, and once you notice that, it’s pretty apparent at first glance. Thinking it’s going so slow that it would stall out? Well, it possibly is. Or, it’s at least going slow enough to stop creating lift, and is descending as it turns (which actually seems pretty normal for an evasive-type manuever like this). Even once the plane levels out, it’s nose is still slightly lower than the tail (you can see this in the drone footage). It’s definitely going slow. But, it is also descending, and that is definitely what happens to planes when they go too slow, after all. Here’s a pic from the drone that kind of illustrates it:

Plane coming from above the drone and dropping down below. Nose of drone slightly angled toward cloud cover.

Also, while we’re here: In regards to speed, the plane is still outpacing the drone by a lot, so it cant be that slow (and even if tthese videos were fabricated in a virtual environment, the speed of the plane between videos should still match)

Now on to the data…

Layout: I will post my results right here. After that, I’ll explain why these results vary, why that matters, and why it doesn’t. And then, if you still feel like sticking around, I’m going to show all of my measurements at the end, and I encourage anyone who is still skeptical to double check them for me. I will not be showing my math here because holy hell was there a lot of it (most is basic, some is NOT), but if any of you have questions about it, I’d be happy to assist.

None of us are infallible, but I hope it will be aparent that I gave this maximum effort. Now get out while you still can, because this is a long post.

THE RESULTS:

Average Speed (using plane length):
– Speed: 137.5 mph

Average Speed (using wingspan):

Speed: 150.9 mph

Speed during the turn (using wingspan):

Speed: 160.5 mph

Speed during the straight segment (using plane length):

Speed: 191.7 mph

Speed during the straight segment (using wingspan):

Speed: 224.8 mph

From the above calculations:

Maximum Speed: 224.8 mph (calculated during the straight segment using the wingspan) Minimum Speed: 137.5 mph (calculated as the average speed using the plane length)

Bank angle:

Rate of turn: approximately 12.88 degrees per second. Turn: 76.67 degrees (a course change of of 283.33 degrees to port) Estimated G-force experienced by the plane: about 1.4 Gs. (using formulas for arc length to get the radians to find the centripital acceleration to calculate for G’s)

It’s a lot of math, so I’m not gonna flood this post with it, but all the measurements are down below for you guys to try for yourself. I’ll also be available to answer any specific questions about it. I’m just using regular formulas and back of the napkin math here. I’m no expert.

Conclusion: I’ll stay in my lane here, but I’d love to get some pilots to comment on this. From everything I’ve researched, I cant find anything wrong with these speeds, especially when you take into consideration the fact that the plane IS descending (and that the plane is most likely going faster than these calculations anyway).

The plane slows down signifigantly for that turn and this has been affecting everyone’s averages. When you look at the other segments individually, you see that the speed increases back to where it should be (and again, these are slow estimates).

As for the rate of turn, average passenger planes use a 30-degree bank angle (I think, not a pilot), and would have a rate of turn of about 3 to 5 degrees per second, however they are capable of much more than that (the turn here would be around 3x harder). But remember, it’s a DOWNWARD turn, which isn’t the same as turning horizontally (think of a bowling ball going down a curved slide, not a car making a left hand turn on flat ground. Gravity is going with it), and we are still working in 2D, so the angle isn’t perfect either. Again, not a pilot, so I’d love to recieve clarification on this.

We are also not the first people to argue about this. Found this pic on a flight simulator forum from a self proclaimed pilot.

Link to a similar discussion about speed here:

https://community.infiniteflight.com/t/the-b777-300er-landing-speed-calculations/765235 (where i got this pic from. Someone who seems to be a pilot)

https://aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/19514/whats-the-minimum-cruise-speed-of-modern-airliners

I’ve seen a lot of speculation about 130-150 being the minimum (keep in mind, that readout is most likely in knots (KTS), not MPH

INACCURACIES:

Before I show the measurements, some inherent innacuracies need to be adressed:

Inacurracies that would cause us to over-estimate speed: The plane angle.

Same 3D Model of a 777-200ER from two angles

– at any angle not perpendicular from the camera (meaning we don’t see full length), the plane length would take up less pixels, but we would still be calculating for the same 209 foot length of the actual 777-200ER.

– That means we estimate more feet per pixel than what is true.

– That means we overcalculate our overall course distance, and more distance covered in the same amount of time means? We get a higher speed.

Innacuracies that would cause an under estimate in speed: Course angles.

The biggest problem. We are measuring all of this on a two dimensional screen, but this event happened in a three dimensional space. What does this mean for our calculations?

– It means our true course distance is almost certainly greater than what we are calculating here (I’ll explain)

– If the plane drove in a straight line (which is how we’re measuring it across a 2D image), this would yield the least possible distance. A straight line between two points is the shortest distance. Any deviation from this straight path (like moving towards or away from the camera) would increase the actual distance traveled.

Couldn’t I measure how much bigger the plane gets as it moves closer, then do some math-wizardry to calculate distance traveled on the Z axis (toward and away from us)? Not really. This is footage from space (i.e. it’s far as hell away). The plane could drive straight towards us for 30 seconds, and still not grow apreciably larger. Also, the low definition makes our measurements between pixels even less accurate, so a small change like that would be hard to measure. Also, when it’s moving towards us, i only see the wingspan, and when its perpendicular to us, I only see the length. The only thing that would remain constant is the fuselage (turn a cylinder any way you want, it’s usually the same width), but it’s comparitively tiny and less accurate due to pixels.

Other things: Weather, headwinds, cargo, weight distribution, fuel weight (probably low), etc. Now…

THE MEASUREMENTS:

To keep it uniform I used 1 image for all of this. Only one.

You can download this one, or go to u/sulkasammal ‘s Satellite Footage Unwrapped post. This is one frame before the telportation happens, allowing for maximum distance.

This kept every single measurement consistent, as they were all made on the same file, with the same pixel dimensions. It also means, all of you can access the same pic I worked with to try any of this for yourself, and get similar measurements. The software I used for measurements was FIJI (which is just Image J). Link here: https://fiji.sc/

COURSE LEGS:

First, I measured the overall course, starting from the moment the plane enters view, until the frame before it is teleported away.

COURSE FROM 0:03 – 0:55. 5255 pixels covered in 52 seconds.

Then I took it again, and measured each plane length on top of it.

New course pixel count is 5248. Margin of error was only around 7 pixels. As you can see, the measurement gets bigger as the plane’s angle to the camera opens up.

These numbers were even more conservative, so i ran with them (max length of plane, minimum length on distance overall). This assusres we’re getting lowest possible speeds, but still within reasonable measurements.

Length is obscured in the beginning due to angle, but there’s a nearly perfect wingspan there to grab. I measured each wing to make sure, and it’s the same exact length on either side, meaning the angle is accurate enough to give us a measurement.

Wingspan. Possibly the most accurate measurement here.

Here’s all the other measurements:

Straight Away. Duration: 7 seconds.

Turn Length. Start: 0:09. End 0:31. Duration 22s.

Turn angle

Measurments used in all calculations:

Course length overall: 5,248 pixels Course length for turn: 1,864 pixels Course length for straight away: 830.17 pixels Plane length (maximum): 87.45 pixels Wingspan: 72 pixels Time duration overall: 52 seconds Time duration for the turn: 22 seconds Time duration for the straight away: 7 seconds 777-200/200ER Length: 209 ft 1 in 777-200/200ER Wingspan: 199 ft 11 in

Math will be made to order, available on request.

And I’m done. Let me know what you all think.

I’m gonna go take a nap. Thanks everybody.

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