Fact Check- Image shows real plane at Kabul airport, not inflatable decoy

Social media users have speculated that photos from Kabul airport in Afghanistan show an inflatable decoy aircraft rather than a real plane. However, there is no evidence to support this.

The meme compares two U.S. Air Force planes, one of which is captioned “actual aircraft” and the other “inflatable decoy plane”. The image attracted more than 1,000 likes on Instagram (here) and was shared across Twitter (here) and Facebook (here here here here here , here).

A label reading “no planes theory” is also superimposed on the image, likely referencing the conspiracy that no aircrafts were involved in the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001 (here).

There is no evidence that the meme shows an inflatable plane. The image was taken from video of an aircraft leaving Kabul Airport on Aug. 16 as the Taliban declared victory in Afghanistan.

The footage was tweeted by an Afghan journalist (here , here) and shared by media outlets like the Washington Post (here) and NBC News (here).

Reuters reported the U.S. Air Force as saying a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft had landed at Kabul’s airport on Aug. 16 and was surrounded by hundreds of Afghan civilians.

"Faced with a rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft, the C-17 crew decided to depart the airfield as quickly as possible," the statement said (here). Pictures of the C-17 on the Boeing website match the plane photographed in Kabul (here , here).

This claim is one of several conspiracies about the chaos at Kabul airport to have spread online. Another Facebook post used the same image to suggest the 2001 attacks and the U.S. departure from Afghanistan were “part of a theatrical script”, the evidence for which was a label on the C-17 U.S. plane that read ‘1109’.

This supposedly reflected the date of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, or 9/11, and amounted to “blatant mockery” because the 1109 number was a “coded date” showing that “reality itself is coded and programmed by numbers”.

However, numerous sources show that 1109 was merely the registration number of the specific Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft that flew out of Kabul on Aug. 16 (here , here , here , here , here). The C-17 plane numbered 1109 is photographed elsewhere (here).


False. There is no evidence that an inflatable decoy plane was photographed at Kabul airport. The U.S. military said the plane was a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .