TWA Flight 800 History
Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the TWA Museum or the official policies of the TWA Museum.
As a TWA Electronic Mechanic I was all over that aircraft, but not the center fuel tank the NTSB claims to be the culprit, because that was not in my domain of responsibility. The Pilots who read this email will know, and question WHY the NTSB failed to follow up on the fact that the pitot static tubes on both sides of any airplane showed 2 DIFFERENT pressures, one at normal 13,500 feet, about 14 psi, while the other pitot tube showed a pressure of 3000 psi as recorded in the DFDR, one of the BLACK BOXES that the NTSB ALWAYS seeks in a fatal crash.
Was TWA 800 Shot Down By a Military Missile?
In 1996 TWA Flight 800 was shot down south of Long Island. The government of the United States, despite the embarrassment of having been caught in court rigging lab tests and lying in its reports, still officially attributes the disaster to a spark in the center fuel tank, while government spokespeople insist that the witnesses who saw a missile hit the jumbo jet are all drunks.
Introduction: The Crash
On the evening of July 17th, 1996, shortly after the sun had set, but while the sky was still light, a Boeing 747-131 jetliner, TWA’s flight 800, was taking off from JFK airport on its way to Paris, France. On board were 230 people.
Approximately 11 minutes into the flight, the 747 was flying at an altitude of 13,700 MSL, or 13,700 feet above sea level. Normally higher at 11 minutes, flight 800 had delayed climbing to make room for another jetliner descending into Rhode Island. The plane was over the Atlantic ocean south of Long Island, New York.
Just as flight 800 received clearance to initiate a climb to cruise altitude, the plane exploded without any warning. Thousands of pounds of kerosene, dumped from the center and wing tanks, vaporized and ignited, creating a fireball seen all along the coastline of Long Island. Under the orange glow of the fireball, sections of the 747 tumbled into the ocean. So completely had the plane broken up that weather radar confused the expanding bubble of debris for a cloud.
Audio of mayday calls (requires QuickTime for playback)
The Official Notification Of The Crash
NTSB Identification: DCA96MA070
Scheduled 14 CFR 121 operation of TRANSWORLD AIRWAYS (D.B.A. TWA)
Accident occurred JUL-17-96 at EAST MORICHES, NY
Aircraft: Boeing 747, registration: N93119
Injuries: 230 Fatal.
On July 17, 1996, about 8:45pm, TWA flight 800, N93119, a Boeing 747-100, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island shortly after takeoff from Kennedy International Airport. The airplane was on a regularly scheduled flight to Paris, France. The initial reports are that witnesses saw an explosion and then debris descending to the ocean. There are no reports of the flight crew reporting a problem to air traffic control. The airplane was manufactured in November 1971. It has accumulated about 93,303 flight hours and 16,869 cycles. On board the airplane were 212 passengers and 18 crew members. The airplane was destroyed and there were no survivors.
The First Hints
Almost at once, eyewitnesses were being interviewed on radio and TV who reported that something strange had preceded the explosion of the 747. Witnesses, many on the ground, reported seeing a bright object “streaking” towards the 747. The object in question turned in midair as it closed on the jumbo jet. Witnesses reported horizontal travel, as well as vertical. The broad geographical range covered by the eyewitnesses eliminates foreground/background confusion. To be seen as being near the 747 from so many different directions, the bright object had to actually be in the immediate vicinity of the 747.
Other pilots in the air reported seeing a bright light near the jumbo jet before it exploded.
In the days following the disaster, many industry executives privately concluded that TWA 800 had been shot down.
What Was The Bright Object Detected On Radar?
There was an initial report that something had been picked up on Air Traffic Control radar, but this report was quickly withdrawn. Associated Press on (07/19/96) reported “ Radar detected a blip merging with the jet shortly before the explosion, something that could indicate a missile hit.”
It’s important to remember that in normal operation, Air Traffic Control radar does not detect aircraft, but aircraft transponders. A transponder is a special type of radio in the aircraft that listens for a radar beam. When it detects a radar beam, it immediately sends out a coded signal with an identifying number (assigned by the Air Traffic Controller on the ground) as well as the altitude of the aircraft. The Air Traffic Control radar will then use this extra data to display useful information to the Air Traffic Controller.
All air traffic operating inside the Terminal Control Area is required to have an operating radar transponder. Unless the Air Traffic Controller displays the skin paint return, any air traffic without a transponder will not be seen.
Was The Bright Object A Missile?
The descriptions given by the eyewitnesses and by pilots in the area (including an Air France crew) are not inconsistent with a missile. No alternative explanation for the bright object has been forthcoming.
ABC World News Sunday, 07/21/96, interviewed witness Lou Desyron, who reported, “We saw what appeared to be a flare going straight up. As a matter of fact, we thought it was from a boat. It was a bright reddish-orange color. …once it went into flames, I knew that wasn’t a flare.”
The Washington Times, on July 24th, 1996, reported. “Several witnesses…saw a bright, flare-like object streaking toward the jumbo jet seconds before it blew up. ABC News said yesterday that the investigators had more then 100 eyewitness accounts supporting the [ missile ] theory.”
The New York Post, in its story of September 22, 1996, reported,
Law-enforcement sources said the hardest evidence gathered so far overwhelmingly suggests a surface-to-air missile…
The FBI interviewed 154 “credible” witnesses — including scientists, schoolteachers, Army personnel and business executives — who described seeing a missile heading through the sky just before TWA 800 exploded.
“Some of these people are extremely, extremely credible,” a top federal official said.
FBI technicians mapped the various paths — points in the sky where the witnesses said they saw the rising “flare-like” object — and determined that the “triangulated” convergence point was virtually where the jumbo jet initially exploded
The New York Times, on July 19th, 1996, reported,
“ [ Witnesses reported ] a “streak of light” hitting the plane just before it blew up.”
And perhaps most tellingly, from the Associated Press, on September 23, 1996, “…a source…said on condition of anonymity… “There’s metal bent in, metal bent out. Metal you can’t tell. I see a hole going in and a hole going out…”
“Sanitizing” The Debris Field
Almost immediately, information was leaked by the FBI and the Navy which implied that there was an object of extreme biological danger aboard Flight 800, one which posed a serious risk to anyone who picked it up.
Although later retracted, the story, coupled with reports of bio-suited soldiers along the beaches of Long Island, created the impression that the FBI and NTSB did not want anyone looking too closely at any of the wreckage.
Why Did Attention Focus on a Test Missile?
Initially, it was claimed that there was virtually no explosive residue on the 747 wreckage. In normal practice, missiles being tested or used for training have dummy warheads; inert packages which are the same size and weight of real warheads but which do not explode. In many cases, such practice munitions are recovered and reused.
An Associated Press Article on March 10, 1997 reported the following:
The report said “compelling testimony” indicated a missile hit the plane on the right side, forward of the wing, passing through the fuselage without exploding.
This is consistent with a test missile with a dummy warhead.
Of course, it was not known at the time that evidence of explosive residue was even then being concealed from the public, but by that time, the claimed lack of explosive residue had suggested a test missile to most observers, and attention began to focus on the Navy’s Cooperative Engagement Capabilitysystem, which had been undergoing tests, including live missile firings, along the Atlantic seaboard all that summer.
When it was finally revealed that there was explosive residue on the remains of the Boeing 747, the mainstream media tried to explain it away as contamination from a bomb sniffing dog training exercise that ultimately turned out to have taken place on a different aircraft entirely. Had it been true, remnants from a training exercise did not explain a swath of residue ten rows long and three seats wide reaching from an obvious perforation in the forward section trailing back to where the forward section broke away from the rest of the 747.
The Very Odd Behavior Of The Navy
Unique to this crash was the intense participation of the Navy, which immediately dispatched its best deep salvage vessels to the area, and kicked out the New York Police Department divers, who had legal jurisdiction in the area.
While the beaches of Long Island were swept by soldiers in humvees, the Navy bottom-searched an area of the Atlantic half the size of Rhode Island.
Most unusually, the Navy searched out 20 miles to either side of the known debris field, even though the 747 could not have glided that distance from its altitude of 13,700 MSL even if left intact.
The Navy justified this extensive search by claiming that they could not locate the aircraft flight recorders, the “black boxes”, even though numerous private boat owners reported hearing the locator pings on their sonar and fish finders. When the black boxes finally appeared, it was reported that they had been found directly under the Navy’s deep salvage vessel.
Despite early denials, the Navy finally admitted that there had been three submarines present in the area on the night of the crash. The Trepang; a Sturgeon class attack submarine, the Albuquerque; a type 688 Los Angeles class fast attack submarine equipped with vertical launch tubes, and the Wyoming, a nuclear ballistic missile submarine just out of Groton on sea trials. It has just surfaced that something went wrong on those trials, delaying the commissioning of the Wyoming, and her captain and exec were relieved of command.
Most recently, it has been learned that the Aircraft Carrier Teddy Roosevelt also participated in the CEC exercises but was not admitted to be present at the time.
The Cover-up Begins
No sooner had the 747 hit the water than dozens of internet intelligence operatives flooded the internet with posts claiming that Flight 800 had been the victim of a terrorist shoot down using a Stinger man portable missile. It is an historical irony that it was this sudden activity by intelligence operatives, many of them known for their work in the Vincent Foster cover-up, that first alerted many citizens (including this writer) that something was very wrong indeed with the official story. Up until the time when the high pressure sell-job for terrorism hit the net, I was of the opinion TWA 800 was just another tragic crash.
Regardless, the “proof” lay in the reactions of the intelligence operatives when several knowledgeable people pointed out that TWA 800, at the point where it exploded, was too high to be reached by a Stinger, and that the lack of obvious impact damage to the engines ruled out an IR guided man portable missile. The spooks, in predictable fashion, postulated “super Stingers” that had never been de-classified but were still in the hands of terrorists. One operative went so far as to suggest that a Stinger’s operational altitude could be doubled just be re-programming its chips. All in all, the facts in the case were clearly subordinate to the pursuance of the agenda of selling the terrorist theory.
Ultimately, I posted an article entitled “The Dog Didn’t Bark.” The thesis was simply that none of the parties present that night reacted the way one would expect them to react had the missile come from an unknown source.
24 hours later, the “terrorism” theory had vanished from the playbooks of the intelligence operatives, and in its place was the claim that a sparking fuel pump in the center tank caused an explosion.
However, the cockpit switch for the fuel pump was found in the “off” position and the cockpit voice record did not record the flight crew turning it on. The NTSB Chairman’s report of November 15th, 1996 made it quite clear that no evidence existed of fault in the fuel probes and pump system of the center tank.
Never-the-less, the “frayed wire in the center tank” theory continues to be the cause for the explosion and crash promoted by the government.
Author James Sander’s wife works for TWA. She lost friends on flight 800, and as rumors of a missile kill of flight 800 began to circulate within TWA, James was asked to look into the matter.
In his book, “The Downing Of TWA Flight 800.” James Sanders related the story of how one of the TWA employees working in the Calverton hanger became so disgusted with what he saw as a deliberate cover-up that he provided to James Sanders two samples of cloth from seats from TWA 800, to be tested by an outside, NON-government linked laboratory.
On the seat fabric samples was a bright red residue which had stained three rows of seats in the aircraft, rows 17-19.
Tests on the first sample revealed elements which experts confirmed were consistent with the combustion byproducts of a military solid fuel rocket motor of the powdered aluminum and perchlorate type.
James Sanders then gave his second and last sample to CBS news for them to have tested. CBS promptly turned around and gave the sample back to the government.
Once the sample had been returned, the government declared that the red residue was seat glue, choosing to simply ignore the fact that it has been seen on only three adjacent rows of seats out of the entire aircraft.
The FBI, showing a double standard, then went after James Sanders for theft of part of the airplane, even though the FBI’s man in charge, James Kallstrom, had removed a souvenir from the aircraft himself.
Meanwhile, tests conducted on the glue used on the seats and the Atlantic seawater in the area proved once and for all that the red residue was not glue, and yet another of the government’s lies stood revealed.
The Official Story
The official explanation for the crash of TWA flight 800 is that the eyewitnesses who were there are all idiots. It’s not said in those words, but that’s been the general tone. The government is so dismissive (read “afraid of”) the eyewitnesses that James Kallstrom requested that they not be allowed to speak at the NTSB’s “public” hearings into the disaster. The assumption is that almost 200 people who were actually there don’t know what they saw, but that a bunch of bureaucrats who were not there do!
It is the government’s claim that for a reason still not clearly understood, the fuel vapors in the nearly empty center fuel tank of the Boeing 747 suddenly exploded, and blew the nose off of the 747. The 747 then continued in stable flight, pulling into a vertical climb. It is this climb which the government insists the eyewitnesses all saw and mistook for a missile approaching the airplane. At the top of this climb, the 747 then exploded into a fireball and fell into the ocean.
There are, needless to say, many problems with this story.
First of all, it requires virtually everyone who saw the event to mistake a climb initiating two miles up in the air for one initiating from the surface of the ocean.
Secondly, the two videos used to support the government’s case did not even match with each other, damning at last one of them as a work of fiction.
Finally, given the condition of the aircraft following the initiating event, the evidence in the debris field proved that it would have been structurally impossible for the wings of the 747 to support level flight, let alone a climb.
Then and Now
Compiled from official statements and records, a list of military activity around the TWA 800 crash site as admitted to at the time, and as subsequently revealed in later years.
FBI head acknowledges terrorist missile could have brought TWA jet down
Kallstrom admits three Navy ships were closer to the TWA explosion than the USS Normandy
IRVINE: Let’s open up the report, lets open up the record, lets take out the secrecy. That’s the point.
KALLSTROM: Ya, I think it would be good to do that at this point now that the criminal case is not open. But it’s in the hands of NTSB…
IRVINE: Hay, the bureau [FBI] just sent [Congressman] Trafficant a letter saying they couldn’t identify three vessels that were in the vicinity for privacy reasons – come on.
KALLSTROM: Well, ya. Well, we all know what those were. In fact, I even spoke about those publicly.
IRVINE: What were they?
KALLSTROM: They were Navy vessels that were on classified maneuvers.
IRVINE: What about the one that went racing out to sea at 30 knots?
KALLSTROM: That was a helicopter.
IRVINE: On the surface?
KALLSTROM: Well, between you and I the conventional wisdom was, although it’s probably not totally provable, was that it was a helicopter.
US Navy Master Chief on USS Trepang admits Navy shot down TWA 800
UPDATE: Latest report is that the Master Chief has retracted his story, citing concerns over his Navy pension.
The “Drone Fax”
In 1997 reporter W. Michael Pitcher of “The Southampton Press” newspaper broke the story of a Riverhead, Long Island resident who mistakenly received faxes of official documents related to the federal TWA Flight 800 investigation. The resident, Dede Muma, had a telephone line connected to her own fax machine with a number close to the number being used to direct investigation-related faxes to FBI and other personnel on Long Island. A transposition of the last two digits in the intended destination’s phone number by the sender connected the sending fax machine to Ms. Muma’s fax machine instead.
The cover sheet of the fax Ms. Muma received indicates it was from a worker at Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical in San Diego to a co-worker helping the FBI on Long Island. The fax, actually multiple faxed pages, concerns rear structures of a drone aircraft Teledyne Ryan manufactures for the US military: the “Firebee” drone. The separate pages of that fax appear at this link.
The following letter is posted here with the permission of the author, Jack Cashill.
TWA 800 Controversy Heats Up
On a warm June evening in Kansas City, the historic home of TWA and the current site of its huge overhaul base, a group of 75 or so airline pilots watched the documentary Silenced : Flight 800 and the Subversion of Justice in stunned horror.
Afterwards, not a one among them, either publicly or privately, challenged the video’s thesis that TWA Flight 800 had indeed been shot down. Offered instead were corroborating details, particularly from angry TWA pilots, about the money trail and the inexplicable Pentagon visits of then TWA CEO, Jeff Erickson. Said one TWA pilot. “90% of us believe there was a government cover-up.”
From the Boeing community in Seattle the response has been much the same. Writes one Boeing engineer, a man who had spent countless hours helping analyze TWA 800 on Boeing’s Cray Supercomputers, “I brought it (Silenced) to work today and showed it during lunch to eight of my fellow Boeing workers. The room was deathly quiet the entire time . . . . My impression then was a missile strike and it is even more so today.”
Even more troubling is the response of Mike Wire, the Philadelphia millwright on whose presumed testimony, the CIA based its notorious animation of TWA 800 rocketing upwards like a missile.
“The video “Silenced” presents a factual reenactment of what I saw that night. My part of the video also is what I told the FBI a few days after the incident at an in-depth interview at my residence. As you can see what I saw originated from behind the houses on the beach that is why I at first thought it to be a firework. It most definitely didn’t start up in the sky like the FBI/CIA story says. I don’t know how they could (come) up with that scenario because it doesn’t match what I saw and told the FBI or what other witnesses I have talk to since May of 2000 had reported.”
Writes Dwight Brumley, a 20-year Navy vet who watched the tragedy unfold from above, after watching Silenced.
“The CIA animation in no way represents what I saw that night. Based on the time line, as I understand it, the “flare” that I reported seeing off the right side of and below USAir 217 COULD NOT, I repeat, COULD NOT have been TWA 800 in crippled flight just before and after it exploded. There are two reasons why. First, TWA 800 would have been moving in my field of view from left to right, not from right to left as I clearly observed; and Second, my understanding of the basic laws of aerodynamics leads me to conclude there is no way that TWA 800, with the nose section gone, could have possibly climbed 3000-4000 feet as the CIA video portrays.”
Not all responses to the project, however. Have been supportive. In the May issue of Kansas City business magazine, Ingram’s, and comparably in a five part WorldNetDaily series, I wrote of Peter Goelz, the then managing director of the National Transportation Safety:
“Instructive in Goelz’s technique was his handling of Kelly O’Meara, a reporter for The Washington Times Insight Magazine. Some time after the crash, O’Meara interviewed Goelz about some radar data newly released by the NTSB itself.
“As soon as O’Meara left his office, Goelz called Howard Kurtz of the rival Washington Post to plant a story. Kurtz would quote Goelz as saying “She really believes that the United States Navy shot this thing down and there was a fleet of warships.” As O’Meara’s audiotape revealed, It was the mocking and evasive Goelz who raised the issue of missiles, not O’Meara.
“Wrote Insight editor Paul Rodriquez, ‘In my experience as a veteran newsman, journalists would never roll over and allow government bureaucrats to use them to slime their colleagues. Yet that precisely is what recently happened.’“
Peter Goelz was quick to respond. In a letter dated, June 5, he wrote:
“Your story, like O’Meara’s is a malange of half-truths, outright falsehoods and sheer stupidity. The sad thing about your piece and Ms. O’Meara’s is the hurt that they can cause to the 100’s of Navy personnel who worked 24 hour shifts to recover all 230 victims and for the family members of flight 800 who may read your groundless charges.
In the end there were no missiles, no bombs, no mystery fleet, no fleeing ships, no terrorists, no U.S. Navy involvement. It was just a tired old 747 with an empty, explosive center wing tank.
For all those involved it was a tragedy of incalculable pain. For “pundits” like you, a topic for sport and financial gain. Shame on you. Shame on Ingram’s.”
When Goelz saw the WorldNetDaily series he responded once more, this time by email under the subject heading, “GARBAGE.”
“Just finished you (sic) five part WND series-it’s really garbage-and to think you’re trying to make a buck off it as well-I fear it’s a new low. By the way, I just checked on Amazon.com and (James) Sander’s book (Altered Evidence) is currently rated as the 92,000th most purchased book. Don’t start the new pool just yet.”
For the record, under President Clinton, Peter Goelz ascended from the ranks of the Missouri River gambling lobbyists to become chief administrator of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in just a brief few years. Ironically, he uses the same tactics against me that he denies having used against Kelly O’Meara: ridicule, intimidation, blind charges of profiteering, and the pious exploitation of the US Navy and victim families.
In truth, neither in the article nor in the video, Silenced, do I even infer that the Navy shot down Flight 800. In fact, three of the most compelling witnesses in the video are Navy people; a fourth is a family member. For the record, Goelz’s NTSB refused to let any of the 736 official eyewitnesses-several of them experienced military observers–testify at either hearing, and it disallowed all discussion of explosive residue (found all over the plane) lest the FBI one day reopen the criminal case. And yes, as he knows and the FBI acknowledges, there was a fleeing ship.
As to the plane, it was not particularly old and certainly no more explosive than the average 747. If the NTSB had believed what Goelz has said, they would have recalled those planes quicker than you could say “Firestone.” Ask the machinist’s union. Ask any TWA pilot. Ask a Boeing engineer. After spending $40 million, the NTSB was unable to identify a scenario that would allow the plane to blow up
In the video, my partner James Sanders and I did something the NTSB refused to do – talk to the eyewitnesses, position them on site, review the drawings they made for the FBI, and much more.
The fifthteenth anniversary on July 17 presents the last great opportunity to share this story with a mainstream media that definitely does not want to hear it. If the overwhelming public response in the last two weeks is any indication, this is one story that may well from the bottom up.