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Debunking the North of Citgo Theory

An analysis of the aerodynamics required based upon witness testimony

The author
The author’s Internet pseudonym is Reheat (email He wishes to remain anonymous. He is a retired USAF Pilot with extensive experience in pilot trainings areas and in fighter operations. He has over 200 combat missions accumulated in two different conflicts. He also has airline experience both domestic and international. Credentials are included at the request of the host, however those credentials make no difference in the content of the paper or the numbers calculated. Anyone with the ability to accomplish aerodynamic math could do the same, be they a janitor, a brain surgeon or a nuclear scientist.

Version 1.00 – June 10th 2008
Version 1.01 – June 20th 2008. Added more detail on how these calculations are unaffected by airplane type; made slight changes to the description of stall conditions; added a better link explaining turn calculations.

For approximately two years a group calling themselves “The Citizen’s Investigation Team” have been supporting a theory that American Airlines 77 (or what they also frequently call a “decoy” aircraft) flew a flight path different from what the Flight Data Recorder (FDR), the damage path leading to the building, and the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) damage path analysis inside the building shows. They contend that this “decoy” aircraft flew a flight path north of the Citgo Service Station (a theory often referred to as North of Citgo, or NoC) and then pulled up to fly over the Pentagon. They have interviewed and filmed witnesses they contend support this theory. CIT’s claim and videos of witnesses’ testimony (some of which we’ll discuss later) are located at

The graphic below shows the generally accepted (“Official”) final portion flight path in blue and the proposed CIT flight paths in red.


My purpose in this paper is to address the aerodynamic issues involved with this theory by plotting the witness locations, referencing their description of the aircraft’s flight path, and then examining the various flight paths aerodynamically. It should be noted that NO WITNESS mentioned the type of bank angles required to complete the required turns. Within the large transport category of aircraft that witnesses described, the calculations are specific aircraft type independent. Since ALL fixed wing aircraft are subject to the same bank angle and G forces in turns, the specific type of aircraft does not matter for the those numbers posted in the chart. Only the stall speed would be significantly different for different categories of aircraft. Even an exotic design such as variable wing geometry or a morphed wing using futuristic memory shape alloy metals would be subject to the same bank angle and G requirements.

For the purposes of this paper I had to assume the aircraft flew a northerly flight path. This does not correlate to witness Terry Morin’s testimony as he indicated the flight path was parallel to the roofline of the Navy Annex and that he could see the tail of the aircraft to the impact point. I also had to assume a northerly path in order to address the descriptions of witnesses who were located at the Citgo Service Station.

The flight paths begin at Edward Paik’s location on Columbia Pike just behind the Navy Annex as annotated in the chart below. CIT interviewed Mr. Paik on at least two occasions. On one occasion Craig Ranke drew a flight path and had Mr. Paik sign it. The animated image below was taken from the filming of his testimony by CIT. They named this file Edwardpointsnorth.gif, but note that he is NOT pointing North at all. He points parallel to Columbia Pike visible in the background. That is approximately a 0720 heading corresponding along a path EXACTLY to where the next witness observed the aircraft.

Edward Paik’s full testimony can be view at


The next witness was Terry Morin, a Navy Department employee or a Navy Contractor who was located at the South side of the Navy Annex adjacent to the Security Check Point located along the perimeter fence (it is clearly visible in the Google Earth photo). His position is also annotated in the chart below. His position has been misrepresented by CIT with several on line graphics in order to fit with the North of Citgo (NoC) theory. He stated very clearly where he was located and that position is annotated in the chart below. Here is his testimony:

I have plotted his described position below. Also, the graphic from Google Earth shows the various positions depicted in the numbers chart below.


So now, we have seen the testimony of Edward Paik and Terry Morin who place the aircraft flying parallel to Columbia Pike. There is no problem with this portion of the testimony as it was stated, without CIT’s spin. There are some problems with CIT’s interpretation and spin of these witnesses testimony. The distances involved are very short for a fast moving, low flying aircraft. The turns required to fly north of the Citgo Station are horrendous air show type turns with steep banks and very high G forces at very low altitude which NO ONE WITNESSED. Why this is a huge problem we’ll see in just a minute.

Next, we move to the witnesses located at the Citgo Service Station.

Three witnesses were located at the Citgo Service Station (annotated above). Sgt. LaGasse, and Sgt. Brooks, two Pentagon Police Officers were filling their cars with gasoline at the station when they witnessed the aircraft fly by. Robert Turcois, an AAFES (Army/Air Force Exchange Service) employee was also at the station on 9/11 and testified that he witnessed the aircraft fly past the station. I have included three (3) locations on the north side of the Citgo Service Station (NoC) to correspond with these witnesses’ statements.

NoC 1 roughly corresponds to the testimony of Robert Turcois.

NoC 3 roughly corresponds to the position described by Sgt. LaGasse and Sgt. Brooks and the Arlington National Cemetery witnesses.

NoC 2 is an arbitrary position between the two.

The tags R1, R2, and R3 are the center points of the turn radii for the Morin to NoC turns.

The tags P1, P2, and P3 are the center points of the turn radii for the NoC locations to the impact point at the Pentagon. The full video taped testimony of these witnesses can be viewed at the Pentacon Web Site.

Issues such as roll rates, roll authority, G available, and G limits are not addressed (except in a note at the end). The numbers in the chart are raw numbers based upon a required turn radius to make the turns and then examples at various speeds. Again, the positions are dictated by the witness’s testimony. Once the positions are plotted a turn radius required to make the turns can be easily calculated. The airspeeds are speeds that cover the range of all reasonable speeds possible by any aircraft described by any witness. The witnesses stated that the aircraft was traveling “very fast”, but that has been distorted by CIT, who now advocate a slower speed in order to make the theory fit. As noted in the charts the speed makes very little difference in the aircraft’s ability to make the turns.

Here are the numbers calculated for the various flight paths and speeds.

Abbreviations used: KIAS = Knots Indicated Airspeed, Req = Required, and G Forces = Forces of gravity

Paik > Morin Direct Heading Degrees of turn Turn Radius Req. Bank Angle G Forces Stall Speed
250 KIAS 072° 0 0 0 1 160 KIAS
300 KIAS 072° 0 0 0 1 160 KIAS
350 KIAS 072° 0 0 0 1 160 KIAS
400 KIAS 072° 0 0 0 1 160 KIAS
450 KIAS 072° 0 0 0 1 160 KIAS
Morin > NoC1 Heading fm Turn Radius Degrees of turn Turn Radius Req. Bank Angle G Forces Stall Speed
250 KIAS 032° 040° ~2000' 70.3° 3.0 275 KIAS
300 KIAS 032° 040° ~2000' 76.1° 4.2 326 KIAS
350 KIAS 032° 040° ~2000' 79.7° 5.6 378 KIAS
400 KIAS 032° 040° ~2000' 82.1° 7.2 430 KIAS
450 KIAS 032° 040° ~2000' 83.8° 9.2 485 KIAS
Morin > NoC2 Heading fm Turn Radius Degrees of turn Turn Radius Req. Bank Angle G Forces Stall Speed
250 KIAS 023° 049° ~1680' 73.3° 3.5 298 KIAS
300 KIAS 023° 049° ~1680' 78.2° 4.9 353 KIAS
350 KIAS 023° 049° ~1680' 81.3° 6.6 410 KIAS
400 KIAS 023° 049° ~1680' 83.4° 8.6 470 KIAS
450 KIAS 023° 049° ~1680' 84.8° 10.9 529 KIAS
Morin > NoC3 Heading fm Turn Radius Degrees of turn Turn Radius Req. Bank Angle G Forces Stall Speed
250 KIAS 019° 053° ~1375' 76.2° 4.2 327 KIAS
300 KIAS 019° 053° ~1375' 80.3° 5.9 389 KIAS
350 KIAS 019° 053° ~1375' 82.9° 8.0 454 KIAS
400 KIAS 019° 053° ~1375' 84.6° 10.5 520 KIAS
450 KIAS 019° 053° ~1375' 85.7° 13.2 581 KIAS
NoC1 > Impact Pt Heading fm Turn Radius Degrees of turn Turn Radius Req. Bank Angle G Forces Stall Speed
250 KIAS 127° 108° ~1000' 80° 5.7 383 KIAS
300 KIAS 127° 108° ~1000' 83° 8.2 457 KIAS
350 KIAS 127° 108° ~1000' 84.8° 10.9 529 KIAS
400 KIAS 127° 108° ~1000' 86.1° 14.5 610 KIAS
450 KIAS 127° 108° ~1000' 86.9° 18.2 683 KIAS
NoC2 > Impact Pt Heading fm Turn Radius Degrees of turn Turn Radius Req. Bank Angle G Forces Stall Speed
250 KIAS 145° 122° ~1020' 79.7° 5.6 378 KIAS
300 KIAS 145° 122° ~1020' 82.8° 7.9 451 KIAS
350 KIAS 145° 122° ~1020' 84.7° 10.7 524 KIAS
400 KIAS 145° 122° ~1020' 86° 14.2 603 KIAS
450 KIAS 145° 122° ~1020' 87° 18.8 694 KIAS
NoC3 > Impact Pt Heading fm Turn Radius Degrees of turn Turn Radius Req. Bank Angle G Forces Stall Speed
250 KIAS 165° 146° ~930' 80.6° 6.1 395 KIAS
300 KIAS 165° 146° ~930' 83.5° 8.8 474 KIAS
350 KIAS 165° 146° ~930' 85.2° 11.8 551 KIAS
400 KIAS 165° 146° ~930' 86.4° 15.7 635 KIAS
450 KIAS 165° 146° ~930' 87.1° 19.5 706 KIAS

Note: All airspeeds in RED exceed the typical stall speed of a large transport category aircraft.

As is readily noted a STALL condition would have occurred AT ALL SPEEDS when attempting to accomplish any of these turns. A stall condition occurs when the angle of attack of the wing exceeds its critical angle of attack (lift capability). Unless immediately corrected by the pilot it results in an uncontrollable condition from which there may be no recovery. To recover from a stall the pilot must decrease the angle of attack which means the aircraft will not turn, but will descend if the steep bank is continued. Recovery also requires altitude, generally lots of altitude. Since the aircraft was already at very low altitude as testified by all witnesses there was likely insufficient altitude to allow a recovery. If we consider a superbly capable pilot at the controls who managed to recover the aircraft it COULD NOT have completed any of these depicted turns. In essence, any transport category aircraft that attempted these turns would have either CRASHED or failed to reach any of the points indicated to fly the depicted flight paths, more likely the former.


More information and references on stall speeds can be viewed at Wikipedia.

Additional Information: All airline type aircraft (Category G) and their military equivalent are restricted to 2.5 G’s by Federal Air Regulations. This is an operational limit. Tests of the Boeing 777 have shown the wings actually fail at ~ 7 G’s.

Basic turn calculations and an explanation of how to measure turn radius can be found here and here.

This is an easy turn calculator to use once the required turn radius is determined or alternatively a turn radius can be derived by plugging in proposed numbers. This calculator may also be used to check the numbers in the chart.

Others are encouraged to post this work on other web sites or link to the pages. In addition, anyone qualified to do so is free to examine this work. I claim no copyright to the material.

Further Reading

  • THE NORTH APPROACH: "This technical paper is a supplement to the video presentation “The North Flight Path: Aerodynamically Possible – Witness Compatible” and will serve to prove that a North Approach over the Naval Annex and north of the Citgo gas station is aerodynamically possible and consistent with witness statements."