FLIGHT 77 ALTITUDE QUESTIONS
Caustic Logic / The Frustrating Fraud
April 9 2007
last edited 4/15 @ 9:32 pm
In mid-2006, new doubts about the five-year-old Pentagon attack were found, built right into a government-produced animated flight path of AA Flight 77. The group Pilots For 9/11 Truth (P49T) have been able to capitalize on the inherent contradictions in this CG cartoon - most notably in their January 2007 video Pandora’s Black Box Chapter Two - to somewhat convincingly suggest an entirely new flight path that in different (and often contradictory) ways, disproved the official flight path and, if correct, make the plane’s impact a steep improbability. [I'm working on more detailed posts about both sources and discrepancies]. The latitudinal aspect of the new 757 denial trajectory, the apparent flight well to the north of the official path, is one anomaly in this animation, but will be covered elsewhere. Here we’ll focus on the altitude questions, which are, no pun intended, a little over my head and the heads of others, a fact that at least one side in the debate seems to be using to its advantage.
The animated video file was based on the flight data recorder (FDR) of the doomed 757, rendered by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and released in mid-August 2006 via a FOIA request by a P49T-affiliated researcher. By August 20, P49T co-founder Rob Balsamo (aka John Doe X) had come into possession of the damning flight simulation and wrote about it at the group’s site. The final frame was key: it shows the animation stopping abruptly, as the original data supposedly did, with the plane on-screen still hundreds of feet away from the Pentagon and still far above it. Time at this location: 9:37:44, the second before the plane is supposed to have hit the building. While at that very second the CCTV camera north of the attack path was snapping a plane cruising in about five feet off the ground, the onscreen altimeter reads 180 feet. The plane in this animation could not have hit the Pentagon, at least not at the official time. It would have been several seconds late by the speed and descent rate up to that point. But it cuts there, at about the right time but quite the wrong place, and we were thus prevented a glimpse of the fly-over, the secret landing, and the safe removal of the FDR to be planted back at the Pentagon. (??) These are the gaps we must fill in to reach the "Truth."
Screenshot of the final frame: The time is ajusted to GMT, not EDT, so 13:37:44 should read as 9:37:44. The resolution here is easier to read than in the low-res video of the final maneuver available for free viewing online here
Balsamo explains: “You will notice in the right margin the altitude of the aircraft on the middle instrument. It shows 180 feet. This altitude has been determined to reflect Pressure altitude as set by 29.92 inHg on the Altimeter. The actual local pressure for DCA at impact time was 30.22 inHg. The error for this discrepancy is 300 feet. Meaning, the actual aircraft altitude was 300 feet higher than indicated at that moment in time. Which means aircraft altitude was 480 feet above sea level.”  This is also 440 feet above the ground. Thus “the 5 frames of video captured by the parking gate cam is in direct conflict with the Aircraft Flight Data Recorder information released by the NTSB.” 
As John Doe X, Balsamo has put together several long – and lonely - posts explaining this true altitude conclusion at the Pilots’ site, and apparently has been pretty aggressive in promoting and defending it elsewhere.  I haven’t been able to independently verify his 300-foot correction, but initially guessed it was quite possibly correct. Either way, there is a re-set protocol; from what I gather of the reason behind this, FAA regulations mandate pilots use local atmospheric pressure settings when in the lower, more crowded airspace – below 18,000 feet (FL180). Above that point they re-set to a baseline pressure setting of 29.92. On its ascent, we're told, both the animation and the other data show Flight 77’s altimeter re-set from local pressure (30.21) to 29.92 at about 8:28 am). Pandora’s Black Box shows an altitude drop at that point from 18273 to 18058, a difference of 215 feet; so a rise of perhaps 300 feet when switching back to a nearly-same presure setting on the descent seems plausible, but the corresponding, FAA-mandated re-set is not shown in the animation, and hence the cover-up.
This may not seem surprising – why would Balsamo suspect there should be such a re-set despite the change of control from FAA-certified pilot to suicide hijacker? The reason he has a problem here, and really its own problem, is the other P49T data, also obtained separately by FOIA request, indeed did show the re-set from 29.92 to 30.23. Balsamo summed up the non-animated data “show[s] the altimeter being set in the baro cor column on the descent through [18,000 feet].”  I’ve checked and it does. Taking that as truth, the Pilot(s) asked the government why “the animation altimeter does not show it being set?” The question was rhetorical; the answer they had already decided on was that the omission was to make a strike look somewhat less impossible; “this is a blatant cover-up to confuse the average layman in hopes no one would adjust for local pressure to get True Altitude. Too bad for them we caught it.” 
A member at JREF named “Anti-Sophist” who describes himself as an Air Force trained flight data expert and electrical engineer, summed up of "JDX"s 300-foot correction “if his true altitude number is correct, he is actually on to something, […but…] No one seems to agree with his "true altitude" calculation except for him.”  To see what effect the "cover-up" had, and to help clear up which impossible altitude seemed more likely, I looked into the Pilots’ comparative data, a CSV file for Excel, called AAL77_Tabular, where the pressure re-sets at 18,000 feet are recorded each way. This document forms the basis of my FL018 research (thread coming), but I have yet not been able to independently verify its authenticity. Oddly enough, the recorded altitude does not change at all with the adjustment and there is no meaningful discrepancy!
time - Hg - alt
8:27:58 30.21 17938
8:28:00 - 29.91 - 18015
8:28:02 - 30.21 - 18093
8:28:04 - 29.91 - 18170
8:28:06 - 29.94 - 18247
8:28:08 - 29.91 - 18324
8:28:10 - 29.92 - 18402
8:28:12 - 29.91 - 18483
time - Hg - alt
9:24:12 - 29.91 - 18205
9:24:14 - 29.92 - 18126
9:24:16 - 30.23 - 18049
9:24:18 - 30.01 - 17972
9:24:20 - 30.23 - 17895
The pressure was reset at 8:28, with no 300-foot drop in altitude, and re-set on descent, again with no effect. Yet it shows essentially what the "altered" animation shows at termination: 173 feet compared to its 180.  So the data here shows two pressure re-sets, 302 feet at takeoff, 173 at the end. The animation shows 300 at takeoff, ONE reset, and 180 at the end. The pilots insist the data and animation match except for "the blatant cover-up" of neglecting the second re-set, turning the data's real alt of 480-ish to 180. But in reality, the animation and this CSV file match from A to Z despite the alleged cover-up and that extra 300 feet is looking like a red herring.
But even without Pilot X’s "correction," a Pentagon attack could not have occurred by a plane that far from the building, and that high, by either the CSV file or the animation. Considering this animation also shows the northern flight path that rules out this plane reaching either the Pentagon or the light poles before it, a whole slew of glitches, or perhaps some other explanation, would be required to debunk this damning NTSB-supplied animation.
One interesting tack is to compare all available sources, check their degrees of authenticity/verifiability, and then compare which comport with which and, as Sesame Street used to urge us, find “which one of these things just doesn’t belong.” There is an investigation of this underway, going very slow so far but it should be up soon.
,  Flight Data Recorder Analysis - Last Second of Data - 09:37:44 08/20/06 http://pilotsfor911truth.org/pentagon.html
 John Doe X. Fdr Vertical Speed, Altimeter lag issues addressed as well. Pilots for 9/11 Truth forum: Flight Number: American 77. Posted October 15 2006, 08:41 AM http://z9.invisionfree.com/Pilots_For_Truth/index.php?showtopic=106&st=0&
,  Questions for the US Govt regarding AA77 Flight Data Recorder. Posting date unlisted
 “AA77 FDR Data, Explained.” Posted by: Anti-Sophist. October 13 2006at 9:10 pm. http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=66047
 AAL77_Tab - Excel document - downloaded from: http://z9.invisionfree.com/Pilots_For_Truth/index.php?showtopic=64&st=0&