Calling All Cryptanalysts: Did Lynch & Frost Hide A Secret Code In Flickering Airplane Windows?

Come on now. Don’t give us, obsessive Twin Peaks fans, that look. We waited long enough for the series to return, so if we want to spend the 167 hours between ‘episodes’ decoding a potential secret code appearing in flickering airplane windows, then that’s what we’ll do.

Stop! Rewind.

Flickering airplane windows?

Check Part 7’s establishing shot of the FBI’s private jet flying past Mt. Shasta on its way to Yankton Federal Prison in Sioux City.

Notice the randomly white-outed windows?

No? Here’s a close-up of the Gulfstream G450 in slow motion, thanks to Li C.

You may think this is just the sun reflecting in the jet’s windows. Well, take a look at this negative version of the footage uploaded by Michael Godinez, which reveals the digital masks added in post to cover different windows frame after frame. UPDATE: As pointed out by ICYHOT, an area on the tail is masked as well.

UPDATE: Still not convinced? Here’s the original footage WITHOUT any light flickering, thanks to RunDNA.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4k-2-AgEVI&t=0m30s

Ethan Harper has been intrigued by this discovery since Sunday night. “There are exactly 135 frames in the sequence in question,” he tells Welcome to Twin Peaks. Below is Ethan’s transcript in groups of 7-high blocks, which includes the first 31 frames where all windows are visible. Underneath, you’ll find alternative transcriptions by Nick Sharratt and Justin Brown.

Plane window code pattern by Ethan Harper
Plane window pattern by Ethan Harper
Plane window code pattern by Nick Sharratt
Plane window pattern by Nick Sharratt
Plane window code pattern by Justin Brown
Plane window pattern by Justin Brown

But now what? Do the numbers somehow add up to 430, the first mystery number of the new season?

Or maybe there’s always music in the air, and this is a flute fingering chart to play the tune Gordon Cole was whistling on a Native American 6-hole flute?

Maybe it’s just Diane sending out Morse code for “F*** you, Internet!”

Welcome to Twin Peaks is calling all cryptanalysts to decipher the code in the comments. And should you think this is a little far-fetched, check out the FBI’s current dot code puzzle. A source of inspiration?

FBI dot code quiz

The answer to the FBI’s cryptanalysis quiz is “This time we used dot codes for each alphabet character. A little harder perhaps. Well done if you were able to solve it.”

Pieter Dom

Written by Pieter Dom

Founder and curator of Welcome to Twin Peaks since 2011. Bobsessed since March 1991.

Comments

Share your thoughts
  1. Could indicate finger position on a flute, for example, so there could be corresponding notes that suggest a tune?

  2. Transcribe it to binary, then to guitar tab. Drop tuned it comes out similar to Engel by Rammstein, which Cole was whistling earlier in the episode. An Engel in mathematical terms can relate to a triangular matrix, presumably here that would be; White Lodge, Black Lodge, real life. So we have the FBI in real life, flying to meet doppelgänger Cooper from the Black Lodge, unaware of real Cooper having been through the Black Lodge, which is something you need to do on your way to the White Lodge. I think! That’s my theory. The mountain in the background is presumably another piece of symbolism to make you think triangle matrix. The plane is at the top of the mountain meaning the White & Black Lodges are equidistant but opposite below the surface of real life. I could be talking utter nonsense, & this could all be circumstantial evidence/coincidence but it sort of makes sense!

    • Also mind the lyrics of “Engel”.
      Translation:

      Who was good in life on earth
      Will become an angel after death.
      Gazing towards the sky you wonder:
      Why can’t they be seen?

      Behind the sunshine they reside
      Seperated from us, endlessly far.
      They must cling fiercely to the stars
      So they don’t fall from the heavens(sky).

      Chorus:
      (Angels): When the clouds go to sleep at night
      You can see us in the sky.
      We’re so afraid and so lonely
      (Singer): God knows I don’t want to be an angel.

    • Can you explain how you did this? If it’s the solution, I think everyone would love to see the evidence/proof. I’m intrigued, so I sure know I would!

    • The 7th flashing window corresponds to where the vocals on the Rammstein song are if you ascribe to the binary/tab theory.

    • nice find! This is good extra proof on top of how blatant (unsmooth) the shadows in each window are.

  3. The first thing I thought when the smaller “7th window” was brought to my attention was the smaller openings on a recorder/flute in this diagram: http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~dodds/Files231/acoustics.pdf.

    The fact that the patterns are flashed for widely different lengths of time, and they frequently repeat rhythmically, seems to heavily favor the flute theory.

    There has to be a free software flute simulator / sequencer out there…

    As for it being Rammstein that Cole was whistling, someone elsewhere suggested that it was the theme from Fellini’s Amarcord, which seems rather more appropriate (Lost Highway OST notwithstanding).

  4. I’d go with Shasta – though Rainier definitely a contender? Both Stratovolcano…therefore ‘twin’ Peaks in some ways? Both have fascinating histories too – Rainier is where Kenneth Arnold spotted a number of unidentified skipping discs: media descriptions led to the term ‘flying saucer’ been coined. Shasta is heavily linked to the esoteric through both native mythology – for the Kalmath tribes it is the dwelling place of Skell, the spirit of the Above-World – and more recent additions that include the Rosicrucians, Lemuria and an under mountain UFO base. Say what? And what’s the message? If there’s a link to Fellini/Rammstein/Shasta/Rainier…is the answer contained in the film, the music/lyric or the myths of these peaks?

    • There’s a binary transcription on Reddit somewhere that looked like guitar tab to me. So I placed a spider capo across the first fret & used a clip on tuner to see if it could distinguish the notes. It could, so I drop tuned the guitar in order to clearly play them across the bottom strings only. I noticed a lot of people mentioning the Rammstein song so, not being a fan of their’s, I found the song on YouTube & the notes the tuner had come up with fitted just fine when strummed along.

  5. If you’re thinking it’s flute or recorder – unlikely, as some of those wouldn’t make real notes and would sound awful, so I doubt it is a fingering chart for a tune? Could be wrong but that would involve Lynch doing some freaky experimental noise on the flute (wouldn’t put it past him). But especially on lines that are 2,3,4 or 3,4,5 – these aren’t valid finger positions for notes so? Source: I play the flute lol

  6. First thing that came to mind was that these signals were being played out on windows. Windows is a computer company. So could it be a computer code such as binary? Second thing that came to mind was 7 keys of a keyboard, a melody perhaps?

    I think from reading the above it’s been assumed it is a melody of some sort if not morse code for an actually phrase. Perhaps both? Doubt it though.

    Someone mentioned about Cooper in the glass box. The sequence when it shrinks him inside and then expands again before going black does seem odd, could this too be a code gone unnoticed thus far? Kudos to the person above who brought this to our attention. I think it’s a good lead.

  7. I treated the patterns as fingerings for a Native American flute, notated the resulting pitches, transposed it to C as my flute is in A, and played through it as written, in retrograde, inversion, and retrograde inversion. I didn’t come up with any familiar tunes, but it was certainly an amusing constraint for constructing a melody!

  8. I too noticed it and just figured it was reflection, which I’m assuming is what we’re supposed to think. But It’s obviously been digitally altered.

    Not to ruin the fun, but is it possible that the footage had been altered as a means to change it enough to differentiate it from the original jet ad? Copyright? Or alternatively, I’m pretty sure they would’ve gotten permission to use it, but perhaps this was a way to have the artist’s hand to the work, a bit of uniqueness. I’d guess it would be fairly unusual in Twin Peaks production lore to include borrowed footage? Maybe this simply a way to make it their own.
    I almost wonder if it’s Lynch himself who did this, it’s fairly unsophisticated work that’s been carried out and he does have an ‘Additional Editing’ credit on the series. Just some thoughts.

  9. Does anyone have the transcription with the 7th entry from the wing? 7 entries (bits) could be ASCII code with English translation…

    • Here’s what I got, doing a fresh transcription including the tail:
      (0 being light off, 1 being light on)

      0000000
      0000000
      0000000
      0000000
      0000000
      0000000
      0000000
      0000000
      0000000
      0000000
      0000000
      0000000
      0000000
      0011110
      0010100
      0000000
      0111000
      0011100
      0011110
      0011110
      0011110
      0000000
      0011110
      0011110
      0001110
      0011111
      0001110
      1011110
      0011110
      1011110
      0011110
      1001110
      0001110
      1001111
      1001110
      1001110
      1001110
      1001110
      1001110
      1001110
      1001111
      1001110
      1001110
      1000110
      0001010
      1001111
      0000010
      0001110
      0000010
      0000110
      0000110
      0000110
      0000110
      0000010
      0000010
      0000110
      0000110
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000110
      0000110
      0000110
      0000010
      0000011
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      1000010
      1000011
      1000010
      1000010
      1000010
      1000010
      0100010
      0000010
      0000010
      0010010
      0010010
      0010010
      0011010
      0001000
      0001010
      0001010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000110
      0000000
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      1000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010
      0000010

      • Assuming that’s binary, it’s the equivalent of:
        0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 30 20 0 56 28 30 30 30 0 30 30 14 31 14 94 30 94 30 78 14 79 78 78 78 78 78 78 79 78 78 70 10 79 2 14 2 6 6 6 6 2 2 6 6 2 2 2 6 6 6 2 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 66 67 66 66 66 66 34 2 2 18 18 18 26 8 10 10 2 2 6 0 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 66 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

        That doesn’t seem to translate nicely to ASCII unfortunately….

        • Seeing that the tail ‘bit’ barely ever changes, I thought it’s probably not the low bit, but the high bit. Maybe the code is reversed (right to left). Still doesn’t give good ASCII though.
          I thought about the second finger Gordon touches is the ‘spiritual’ finger, and how it’s been reversed in the fingerprints, but it’s hard to say how 10 fingers maps to 7 bits…

  10. I don’t know what the community rule on one of Davids recurring topics, transcendental meditation, is. So if the following is in violation of any rule or agreement, feel free to edit/delete.
    Personally I have no set opinion about that movement, but some of the things shown in “David wants to fly” didn’t sound great to me. On the other hand what I’ve read about the actual practices and teachings doesn’t sound like a typical sect or cult to me. I do acknoledge that the practice of meditation might be helpful to some people, so I don’t hold any negative prejudice against the practices per se.

    Seeing David talk about TM again in that video of a screening in Italy gave me this idea that not only the window code might be connected to TM somehow. Searching a bit I found two things that struck me as interesting.

    1. Apparently sound is a very important aspect of TM (but presumably in many other meditation techniques as well). Certain frequencies are believed to have a positive effect. Interestingly the range around 430 Hz is often quoted as highly effective (many times its 432 precisely, less often 430 is mentioned.)
    2.The number 7 holds a major significance in TM because the theory is that there are seven levels of consciousness. (There is a wiki page about ‘transcendental meditation technique’ where all this is explained, but I didn’t want to hotlink it here.)

    This just made me wonder if all those things in TP related to those numbers (Lucky 7, 7 symbols on the plane) and theories might be connected to Davids believe in TM somehow.

    I know this is a delicate topic, cause if an artist uses his art to promote “religious” ideas this might be frowned upon. But because up until now it never felt like David wants to force it upon his audience, I feel like I’d be ok with him expressing what he believes to be right and good through his art.

    Thoughts?

  11. Based on previous coded messages in twin peaks, I would guess it has to be a simple coding. Has someone tried to play the piano? 7 notes in one octave? Can not get more simple than that!

  12. Funny thing is probably Lynch’s answer is “we stole footage from a plane’s sale in Youtube and needed to erase some windows in some frames to avoid copyright.”

  13. Wyndham Earle played a shakuhachi, a flute that could be used as a weapon when samurai were forced to forego their swords. so the flute fingering is an interesting theory.

  14. HA! HA! Found it crazy that the mountain was the “back” of Mt. Shasta by calling it the “back” I am used to seeing it a different way. I lived in the town of Mt. Shasta for a bulk of my life, a small town alot like “Twin Peaks”, the mountain looks different from other angles. When I saw that airplane scene I wanted to blurt it out but I thought maybe it might be another Cascade range mountain, like Mount Hood. The airplane mystery is a interesting one, hope we aren’t reading too much into it.

  15. I was hoping it might be related to these lines of data that are being presented to Agent Cooper by Mj Briggs, but so far couldn’t make any meaningful connection.
    But maybe this helps others who are not as familiar with the whole Twin Peaks universe.

  16. If those two mountains are Shasta and Rainier, they are two Peaks closely related to the first UFO watching and the land of lemurian aliens according to the last book of Mark Frost. The UFO watching was on 1947, two years after the Atomic Bomb test.

  17. “Girl from Ipanema” is mentioned. Which also is a song. Dunno if or where it fits in, though.
    Plenty of versions on youtube.

  18. having checked some online fingerings for the 7 hole Shakuhachi flute I think this is playing Earle’s Theme, the notes seem to be: A#,C,C,C#,F,A#,C,A#,A,A#,A,B,A#,B,A#

    For the first part which seems to sound pretty much like earl’s theme when I played on a piano?

  19. Today, in ep.9 the plane’s numbers were backwards…They WERE heading home at the time, until they turned around… but it is unlikely a coincidence.

  20. Diane is Windom Earle – Earle’s theme played twice in the episode with her in it and particularly when she is in the plane, look in her apartment its full of Japanese art and screens, she is teaming up with Mr C now too. I also think Gordon knows as I suspect when he says “remember when we used to smoke together in the old days” he knows Diane didn’t used to smoke with him but Earle did!

  21. If the above transcription is right by M Biggs, then the 7 digit code can be converted to ASCII 7 bit and translated. According to (http://www.neurophys.wisc.edu/comp/docs/ascii/) “If you’ve read this far then you probably know that around then (1960’s), an 8-bit byte was becoming the standard way that computer hardware was built, and that you can store 128 different numbers in a 7-bit number. When you counted all possible alphanumeric characters (A to Z, lower and upper case, numeric digits 0 to 9, special characters like “% * / ?” etc.) you ended up a value of 90-something. It was therefore decided to use 7 bits to store the new ASCII code, with the eighth bit being used as a parity bit to detect transmission errors.” So the first character is always 0- which gives a good indicator that the 7 bits (with one hidden on the tail)- could be translated. This is what I got.
    0000000 –null character
    0000000
    0000000
    0000000
    0000000
    0000000
    0000000
    0000000
    0000000
    0000000
    0000000
    0000000
    0000000
    0011110- Rqst to send
    0010100- device control 4
    0000000- null
    0111000- 8
    0011100-file seperator
    0011110->
    0011110->
    0011110->
    0000000-null
    0011110->
    0011110->
    0001110->
    0011111-unit seperator
    0001110-shift out
    1011110-^
    0011110-request to send
    1011110-^
    0011110-request to send
    1001110-N
    0001110-shift out
    1001111-O
    1001110-N
    1001110-N
    1001110-N
    1001110-N
    1001110-N
    1001110-N
    1001111-O
    1001110-O
    1001110-O
    1000110-O
    0001010-Line Feed
    1001111-O
    0000010-Start of Text
    0001110-shift out
    0000010-start of text
    0000110-acknowledgement
    0000110-acknowledgement
    0000110
    0000110
    0000010-start of text
    0000010
    0000110-ack
    0000110
    0000010-start of text
    0000010
    0000010
    0000110-acknowledgement
    0000110-acknowledgement
    0000110
    0000010-start of text
    0000011-end of text
    0000010-start of text
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    1000010-B
    1000011-C
    1000010-B
    1000010-B
    1000010-B
    1000010-B
    0100010-”
    0000010-start of text
    0000010-start of text
    0010010-”
    0010010-”
    0010010-”
    0011010-substitute
    0001000-backspace
    0001010-line feed
    0001010-line feed
    0000010-start of text
    0000010- start of text
    0000110-ack
    0000000-null
    0000010-start of text
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    1000010-B
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010
    0000010

    – Havent had time to mull it over- but there is some potential in here. Especially if something has been written in error from M Biggs above. There is an obvious “NNNNNOOOOOO” in there- which turned around could be “on” if the message is supposed to be read backwards. However- this is followed by “BCB”- which could be “Bad Cooper”, “Bring Cooper Back”, or “B(c)B” for Bobby Briggs- a key figure in this episode (Not sure what his middle initial might be”. Its almost 4 and I have to work in the morning- so someone please take this one on for a few days and Ill revisit this later.

    David

  22. OMG, Apemonkey, that sounds convincing.

    Just to be clear about copyright works, the library shot of the plane would have to be bought. Using it and changing it would not save you the cost of buying it. If you adapt an existing work that’s in copyright, no matter how much you change it you still have to buy the rights.

  23. Perhaps its supposed to be reflections of a UFO?

    Even though the “Experiment” is the nearest hint of extraterrestrial intelligence mentioned in Twin Peaks 3, Mark Frost’s book about the town’s secret history does focus on aliens and Project Blue Book.

    In “The Secret History of Twin Peaks” the (actual) transcript of Edward R Murrow’s interview with Kenneth Arnold is included.

    Factually, Kenneth Arnold reported seeing a string of shiny unidentified flying objects on June 24, 1947 flying past the Cascade Mountains of Washington. He was flying a CallAir A-2 at the time.

    Arnold reported that he initially thought these bright flashes might be just reflections on his plane’s windows.

    The unidentified objects were reported to give off bright flashes as they flipped around erratically.

    Could the reflections in the FBI plane windows be a nod to the bright, flashing UFO’s seen flying in the same area?

  24. In S1 Ep1, when Cooper and Harry are examining Laura’s body for the first time, the lights are flickering in a unique pattern. Also, in S1 Ep1, at the Town Hall meeting, Log Lady starts to flicker the lights in order to quiet everyone down, but it’s also in a unique pattern.

    Not sure if this is connected, but thought it’d be worth mentioning in here.

    A great friend recently started me on my Twin Peaks journey, I feel like I’m far along and haven’t even taken a step all at the same time, haha. Also, I feel like I’m examining every breath during my rewatch, if I notice anything else that might be connected, I will post in here.

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