TWA Flight 800 -

TWA Flight 800 CoverUp

Area 51

On the night of July 17, 1996 TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed off the coast of Long Island, killing everyone on board. For months, investigators focused on three possible causes — a bomb, mechanical failure, or a terrorist missile. While the NTSB eventually concluded that the jet had exploded due to mechanical failure, as far as many people are concerned, what truly happened has not been publicly admitted to.


Friendly Fire, Salinger Style * More on the "Missile" / "Meteor" Theory * The Fuel Tank
Internet "Proof" of Friendly Fire * The FBI * Our Conclusion * Visitor Thoughts

Update: The TWA Flight 800 Documentary

According to most authorities, TWA Flight 800 crashed because its center fuel tank exploded.

The center tank lies at the heart of the 747, embedded among the spars that support its wings and resting atop the keel beam that runs along its belly. When the center tank exploded, it broke two of the wings' three spars and led to the fracture of the keel beam. After that, the forward fuselage failed and was ripped from the aircraft, which then disintegrated, plunging into the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island. All 230 on board were killed.

There are many theories which attempt to explain the explosion:

1. Static electricity: Sloshing or leaking fuel builds up a static charge, causing a deadly spark. This is the NTSB's pick.

2. Fuel-probe residue: Mineral deposits on a fuel-level monitor reach dangerous temperatures, igniting the fuel.

3. A shaped charge: Small explosives planted on the center fuel tank could have caused the blast.

4. Chafing wires: Abrading wires near wing tank start a fire that blows back through vapor vent system to the center tank. This is the FAA's favorite.

5. Scavenge pump: A pump that bails fuel residue from the center tank overheats, touching off hot vapors.

6. Meteor: "Space junk," possibly small meteors or missile fragments, hit the jet. A trillion-to-one shot and by far the least likely explanation.

7. Friendly fire: TWA flight 800 was supposedly flying through the airspace near to where the Navy was firing ground (ship) based missiles at drone craft. The missile hit TWA by accident, resulting in an elaborate conspiracy/cover-up by the Navy, FBI, etc. Journalist Pierre Salinger was the most prominent backer of this explanation, and did much damage to his own reputation as a result.

8. Terrorists (American or foreign): who fired a ground based missile at flight 800, blowing it up.

9. NTSB lead investigator Bernard Loeb theorized that a small crack in the center fuel tank may have caused leaking fuel to form a cloud, which then discharged a deadly electric spark.

More than thirty witnesses claim to have seen an object rising up to and colliding with Flight 800 prior to the explosion.

The FBI, the Navy, and the NTSB all vigorously deny the terrorist missile or "friendly fire" theories. But many Americans, including relatives of those who perished, remain convinced.

Selected Data Sources:

The New York Times Magazine (November 12, 1996)
Aviation Week & Space Technology (July 29, 1996)
Newsweek (November 25, 1996, July 21, 1997)
Aviation Week & Space Technology (March 10, 1997, May 12, 1997, June 2, 1997).


Hover your mouse over the pictures below for captions.

TWA flight 800 exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, New York, on July 17, 1996, just 12 minutes after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport on a scheduled flight to Rome. All 230 people on board died.
The crash is the third-deadliest aviation accident in American history. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene, arriving the next morning amid rampant speculation that a terrorist attack was the cause.
Burning wreckage from the crash on the water.

A helicopter from the New York Air National Guard saw the explosion and raced to the scene so quickly that debris was still raining down, and so had to pull away.
Search and recovery operations were handled by federal, state, and local agencies, and government contractors.
A senior investigator who saw the cockpit wreckage said that one of the plane's altimeters — instruments that show the plane's altitude — was frozen with a reading of 13,100 feet.

Altimeters are mechanically driven and so do not depend on electricity to work, so the finding suggests that they continued to function for several seconds after the initial explosion,
at about 13,700 feet.
The final engine to be salvaged was loaded by crane onto a truck at the U.S. Coast Guard Shinnecock Station
in Hampton Bays, New York.
Pieces of wreckage were taken by boat to shore and then by truck to leased hangar space at a former Grumman Aircraft facility in Calverton, New York, for storage, examination, and reconstruction. This facility became the command center and headquarters
for the investigation.
More than 95 percent of the aircraft was recovered during the investigation. It was also the NTSB’s biggest reconstruction project. Specialists reassembled 877 pieces into a ghost jet 94 feet long and 27 feet high. They formed the fuselage, the supporting wing structure and the center fuel tank.
The Flight 800 wreckage is now permanently stored in an NTSB facility in Ashburn, Virginia, which was custom-built for the purpose. The reconstructed aircraft is used to train accident investigators.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), a formally invited party to the NTSB investigation, criticized the undocumented removal by FBI agents of wreckage from the hangar where it was stored.
Investigators listened to a tape of the pilot of Flight 800
as the plane passed from New York air space. His voice
carried no hint of foreboding.

"Have a nice flight," an air traffic controller said on the tape.
Moments later, the plane vanished from the radar screen.
Many people believed that the Clinton Administration wanted to hide the actual cause of the crash because of its potentially damaging impact on his reelection campaign. Requests were made that Congress hold hearings and/or that the Justice Department appoint an Independent Counsel to investigate. Neither request was granted.
In a ceremony held a year after the tragedy, wreaths and flowers were given by family members of the victims to a Coast Guard rescue craft crew, which set the flowers afloat on the water
where debris from the 747 had fallen.
Eyewitness, debris field, metallurgical, and victim injury evidence were all cited by William S. Donaldson as proof of the missile-attack scenario. A retired Naval officer, Donaldson formed the Associated Retired Aviation Professionals (ARAP) to investigate the TWA 800 crash. He wrote the "Interim Report on the Crash of TWA Flight 800 and the Actions of the NTSB and the FBI"
(aka the "Donaldson Report").
One of the first high-profile criticisms of the official investigation was by one-time journalist Pierre Salinger, who held a press conference in Cannes, France on November 7, 1996, during which he claimed to have proof that TWA 800 was shot down by friendly fire, and the incident was being covered up by the government. Salinger said "he was basing the claims on information he saw in a document given to him in September by someone in French Intelligence with close contacts to U.S. officials", but refused to name his source. Reporters soon found Salinger's document: it was a widely accessible e-mail letter that has been circulating for at least six weeks online. Salinger's evidence was in fact an e-mail from Richard Russell, a retired airline pilot.
A month after the crash, The Washington Times carried a full page ad from the TWA 800 Eyewitness Alliance demanding that they be heard. The ad claimed that the FBI and NTSB had lied to the American public and that hundreds of people witnessed a missile shoot down of Flight 800. The ad concluded:

"We, the eyewitnesses know that missiles were involved. We don't know who launched them, but we know that for some reason our government has lied and tried to discredit all of us to keep that question from being addressed." ... "The claim that our evidence is worthless is false and we want to know who is behind it. Hundreds of us SAW what happened. The FBI, the CIA and the NTSB must not be allowed to get away with this cover-up by defamation of the eyewitnesses. We appeal to those who know why this is being done to share their information with us. Confidentiality is guaranteed."
An FBI witness statement summary (with
personal information redacted).

FBI agents conducted interviews with potential witnesses daily. No verbatim records of the interviews were produced; instead, agents wrote summaries that they then submitted. Witnesses were not asked to review the summaries for accuracy.
The Stinger missile, officially known as the FIM-92A, is designed to give ground troops a way to deal with low-flying airplanes and helicopters. It has four main advantages:

• It's lightweight and portable. The missile and launcher weigh about 35 pounds. The launcher is reusable. Each missile is a sealed unit that weighs only 22 pounds.
• It's a shoulder-launched weapon, capable
of being used by one person.
• It uses a passive infrared seeker.
• It's a fire-and-forget weapon.
Remote-operated vehicles (ROVs), side-scan sonar, and laser line-scanning equipment were used to search for and investigate underwater debris fields. Victims and wreckage were recovered by scuba divers and ROVs; later scallop trawlers were used to recover wreckage embedded in the ocean floor.

As wreckage was recovered, preliminary testing found explosive residue on three samples of material from three separate locations of the wreckage. In the end, the NTSB said it couldn't determine the exact source of explosive residues found on the wreckage.
To further back up investigators' earlier verdict that no missile or bomb was involved in the crash, the CIA, in 1997, released a report and a computer-generated animation depicting the mid-air explosion and break-up of the jet's fuselage.
The NTSB concluded that the likely cause of the crash was the explosion of flammable fuel vapors in the center fuel tank of the 747. Although this could not be determined with certainty, the likely ignition source was a short circuit. Problems with the aircraft's wiring were found, including evidence of arcing in the Fuel Quantity Indication System (FQIS) wiring that enters the tank.
On July 2, 2014, the NTSB refused to reopen its investigation into the 1996 crash of TWA flight 800, turning down a request from a group that believes the jet was shot down by a missile. The agency said it stood by its conclusion that the explosion that downed the jet was an accident, caused when fuel in a wing tank ignited.
The TWA Flight 800 Families Association was the driving force to create the TWA Flight 800 International Memorial, which opened on July 17, 2002. It's located on a small plot of land within Smith Point County Park, on Fire Island, New York.

Memorial web page
twa plane
James Hurd Jr., father of a TWA Flight 800
victim, visits the memorial at Smith Point Park in 2003.
"Pierre vs The New York Times" lays out the evidentiary trail leading to the conclusion that TWA Flight 800 was brought down by a single missile launched from, or passing over, Long Island. It also focuses on the media propaganda wars that were spurred by the opposing viewpoints, especially with regard to news organizations in the United States and in France. In particular, it examines in detail allegations about the crash that were made by journalist Pierre Salinger and the French photo-news magazine Paris Match, and the response that was engineered by the New York Times in favor of the "spark in the center fuel tank" theory.

Amazon web page
A thought-provoking documentary about the ill-fated Trans World Airline Flight 800 to Paris, France, which exploded on July 17, 1996 just 12 minutes after takeoff from JFK International Airport, killing all 230 people on board. The special features six former members of the official crash investigation breaking their silence to refute the officially proposed cause of the jetliner's demise and reveal how the investigation was systematically undermined.

IMDb web page
Christina Ortiz, with her 2-year-old son Isaac, remembers family who were lost in the crash of TWA Flight 800 twenty years ago at a memorial service in Smith Point County Park on July 17, 2016.
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