This story was first published on March 24, 2014
Circulating message features an old paper advertisement for Pakistan International Airlines that includes an image of New York’s Twin Towers with the shadow of a passenger jet on the faces of the buildings.
The advertisement is genuine. It was featured in a 1979 edition of Le Point, a French magazine. Of course, those who created the ad could have had no way of knowing how history would change the perceived meaning of their graphic. While the ad does seem a little spooky today, at the time it was made, it was a perfectly acceptable and rather striking method of advertising an airline. So, no digital manipulation, no conspiracy and nothing supernatural here. Instead, the ad represents no more than a strange quirk of history.
For many years, messages have circulated online that feature a rather horrifying advertisement for Pakistan International Airlines. Freakishly in a post-911 world, the graphic in the advertisement depicts New York’s World Trade Center with the shadow of a passenger airliner superimposed over the faces of the towers.
Some commentators have suggested that the ad is the result of digital manipulation. Other, more wide-eyed, viewers claim it as evidence of conspiracy or precognition.
The advertisement is certainly real. It was featured in a 1979 issue of the French publication Le Point. Tracking down back copies of the magazine from so many years ago is difficult. However, a 2012 write-up about the ad listed on the Museum of Hoaxes website includes the following information from a reader:
Update: The advertisement is definitely real. This has been verified by a reference librarian at UCLA’s Charles E. Young Research Library (which, apparently, is the only library in America that has back copies of Le Point). The advertisement appeared on p.143 of the March 19, 1979 issue, #339. The ad also ran in other issues, such as April 2, 1979, p.163. (Thanks to J Fontane for tracking down and verifying the authenticity of the ad.)
Thus, claims that the ad is a post 9/11 fake can be dismissed. Some might be tempted to build conspiracy theories around the release of the ad. Others might suggest that supernatural forces were at play. But, in reality, the meaning the ad has for us today is due only to the convoluted paths of history. After all, without the tragedy of 9/11, the ad would now be long forgotten. Freakish and a little eerie, certainly. But, nevertheless, nothing sinister or supernatural.