Monday, August 29, 2016

TWA Flight 800 Exploded From A Spark In The Fuel Tank. Really?


TWA Flight 800: Response to Peter Goelz's Comments On CNN
Published on Jul 1, 2013
Former NTSB managing director Peter Goelz appeared on CNN to respond to the TWA Flight 800 film and petition to reopen the investigation. His statements were filled with inaccuracies. This is our response. Follow us at @TWAFlight800Doc

Conspiracy Theories ; TWA Flight 800
Published on Jul 13, 2013
TWA Flight 800 alternative theories, advocated by independent investigation groups and individuals, including 6 members of the original National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation team, allege that the crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800 (TWA 800) was due to causes other than those determined by the NTSB. The NTSB stated that the probable cause of the crash of TWA 800 was an explosion of flammable fuel/air vapors in a fuel tank, most likely from a short-circuit. Alternative theories state that the crash was due to either a U.S. Navy, terrorist missile strike or an on-board bomb. On June 19, 2013, a documentary alleging that the investigation into the crash was a cover-up made news headlines with statements from six members of the original investigation team, now retired, who also filed a petition to reopen the probe.
TWA 800, a Boeing 747-131, was a scheduled international passenger flight from New York City, New York to Rome, Italy, with a stopover in Paris, France. At about
20:31 EDT, on July 17, 1996, about 12 minutes after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), TWA 800 exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, New York. Of the 230 passengers and crew on board, no survivors were found, making TWA 800 the second deadliest aircraft accident in the United States at that time.
While investigators from the NTSB arrived on scene the following day, many witnesses to the accident had seen a "streak of light" that was usually described as ascending, moving to a point where a large fireball appeared. There was intense public interest in these witness reports and much speculation that the reported streak of light was a missile that had struck TWA 800, causing the airplane to explode. Consequently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) initiated a parallel criminal investigation alongside the NTSB's accident investigation.
One of the first widely reported criticisms of the official investigation was by Pierre Salinger, who on November 7, 1996, held a press conference in Cannes, France. He stated he had 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 six weeks ago by someone in French Intelligence with close contacts to U.S. officials", but refused to name his source. CNN quickly found Salinger's document to be "a widely accessible e-mail letter that has been circulating for at least six weeks on the Internet's World Wide Web." Salinger's evidence was actually an e-mail from Richard Russell, a retired airline pilot.
Salinger's previous position as White House Press Secretary, as well as long time correspondent for ABC News, initially gave credence to his statements, transforming them from "internet conspiracies" into the mainstream. However, under scrutiny, his allegations, and the reports issued with his collaborators, became the subject of much criticism in the media. Bob Francis, the vice chairman of the NTSB, was quoted as saying "He was an idiot, he didn't know what he was talking about, and he was totally irresponsible.
On April 9, 1998, Elaine Scarry's article in The New York Review of Books, titled "The Fall of TWA 800: The Possibility of Electromagnetic Interference", was published. Scarry, a professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard, proposed that electromagnetic interference, also referred to as "High Intensity Radiated Fields" (HIRF), could have been the cause of the TWA 800 crash, specifically energy emitted from a U.S. military craft. Later that year, The New York Review of Books published a series of letters between Scarry and NTSB Chairman James Hall discussing the possibility of HIRF being causal to the accident, and what steps the NTSB was taking in its investigation to determine if it was a factor.
After the adoption of the Final Report, Scarry published another article in the New York Review of Books titled "TWA 800 and Electromagnetic Interference: Work Already Completed and Work that Still Needs to be Done". While praising the initial research done by the NTSB into HIRFs, she also stated that much more additional research was needed. Scarry criticized what she felt was a bias in the investigation to the "meticulous" detailing of events inside the airplane, while not fully exploring the electromagnetic environment outside the airplane. Scarry focused on a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion close to TWA 800 as being a possible source of electromagnetic interference and cause of the CWT explosion on TWA 800.
Scarry has since written about Swissair 111 and Egypt Air 990 crashes in connection with electromagnetic radiation.
5 things you didn't know about the crash of TWA Flight 800
By Chuck Hadad, CNN
Tue July 15, 2014
On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 took off from JFK Airport headed for Paris. Just 12 minutes later, it exploded over the shores of Long Island, New York. There were 230 people on board, and no one survived.
Many eyewitnesses described seeing something heading toward the plane before it exploded, and the suspicion of terrorism was almost instant. The biggest investigation in aviation history, at that time, ensued.
The government spent four years and millions of dollars in that investigation and 18 years later, many still question whether they got it right.
With that in mind, here are five surprising things you probably didn't know about the investigation, including one big thing the investigators themselves still don't know:
1. The FBI interviewed at least 755 witnesses.
TWA Flight 800 crashed eight miles off the coast of Long Island at dusk on a clear summer night. Hundreds of witnesses saw the plane explode from either on shore, on a boat, in a plane or in at least one case, a helicopter.
Of the 755 witness reports that the FBI have made public, accounts vary widely but hundreds describe what they thought was either a flare or fireworks heading up toward the plane before it exploded. A few witnesses even used the words "missile" or "rocket."
2. America was in a high state of alert when TWA 800 crashed.
A series of terrorism-related events in the years, months and weeks before the flight went down, and even one incident just days afterward, led many to suspect terrorism was to blame.
-- December 21, 1988: Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 270 people on board. Eventually Libyan national Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed al Megrah is tried and found guilty of 270 counts of murder.
-- February 26, 1993: A bomb explodes at the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring more than 1000. Two years later, Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of that attack, is arrested in Pakistan by the FBI and the State Department and put on trial. "I am a terrorist and proud of it," he told the court.
-- April 19, 1995: The Alfred P. Murray building in Oklahoma City is bombed. The blast destroys large parts of the building and kills 168 people, including 19 children. Two Americans, Timothy J. McVeigh and Terry L. Nichols, are eventually convicted for the attack.
-- May 29, 1996: Yousef goes on trial in New York City. The trial continues through the crash of TWA Flight 800, leading many to question if the two were related.
-- June 25, 1996: The Khobar Towers are attacked. A powerful truck bomb explodes on the perimeter of a U.S. military complex in eastern Saudi Arabia. Nineteen U.S. Air Force personnel are killed, and several hundred are wounded, in the deadliest attack against the American military since a 1983 bombing of the Marine headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon.
-- July 17, 1996: TWA Flight 800 explodes over the shores of Long Island.
-- July 27, 1996: A bomb explodes at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, killing one person and injuring over 100. More than two years later, Eric Robert Rudolph, a suspect in bombings at abortion clinics in Alabama, is charged in the Olympic Park bombing.
Also See:
3. Moammar Gadhafi and Saddam Hussein were suspects.
Beyond terrorist groups being suspected, state-sponsored terrorism was also cause for concern inside the White House. Leon Panetta, former secretary of Defense and former CIA director, was chief of staff for President Bill Clinton at the time of the crash.
"The investigation was looking at almost every possibility, including state actors, because we'd known that Libya had been involved with regards to bringing down the airliner over Scotland (Pam Am Flight 103)", said Panetta. "We were looking at Iraq and Saddam Hussein. We were looking at, you know, the possibility of even Iran might have played a role in this," added Panetta.
4. It took close to a year, but all 230 victims were eventually recovered.
There were 230 people on board TWA Flight 800 from 13 countries. When the plane crashed into the water, much of what was left sunk 130 feet below the surface in the Atlantic Ocean.
While it took authorities more than 10 months, remains of every victim were recovered. All of their names are etched into the TWA Flight 800 International Memorial at Smith Point County Park on Long Island, New York. The memorial was dedicated on July 14, 2004, and it includes flags from the 13 countries of the victims.
5. The NTSB said a spark in a fuel tank led to the explosion
In November 1997, more than a year after the crash, the FBI announced that a criminal act did not bring down the ill-fated plane. At that point, it was up to the National Transportation Safety Board to figure out the cause of the explosion.
A full four years after the crash of TWA Flight 800, the NTSB released its official report: It found the probable cause of the accident was a spark in the center fuel tank that eventually led to the explosion that brought down the aircraft. While they offered their best theory on where the spark came from, they never found a definitive answer.
Filmmaker asserts new evidence on crash of TWA Flight 800
By Mike M. Ahlers, CNN
Thu June 20, 2013
A documentary on the 1996 explosion that brought down TWA Flight 800 offers "solid proof that there was an external detonation," its co-producer said Wednesday.
"Of course, everyone knows about the eyewitness statements, but we also have corroborating information from the radar data, and the radar data shows a(n) asymmetric explosion coming out of that plane -- something that didn't happen in the official theory," Tom Stalcup told CNN's New Day.
All 230 people aboard TWA 800 died when the plane, headed for Paris, exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Scores of witnesses observed a streak of light and a fireball, giving early rise to suspicions that terrorists had struck the plane with a rocket.
Investigators concluded the streak was likely burning fuel streaming from the plane's wing tank.
The National Transportation Safety Board ruled that the explosion was caused by an electrical short circuit, most likely originating in a fuel gauge line, which found its way into the center wing fuel tank, where it detonated fuel vapors and caused the B-747 to fall in pieces into the waters off Long Island.
But some people have come forward, "all saying the same thing: that there was an external force -- not from the center wing tank, there's no evidence of that -- but there is evidence of an external explosion that brought down that plane," Stalcup said.
He cited "corroborating information from the radar data" and complained that "not one single eyewitness was allowed to testify -- that's unheard of."
"The family members need to know what happened to their loved ones," he said.
Asked why such information might have been suppressed, Stalcup said, "That's a question that should be answered when this investigation gets reopened."
Possibility of a review of new information
The NTSB acknowledged receipt Wednesday of the filmmakers' petition -- signed by former investigators -- requesting that the investigation be reopened.
"As required by NTSB regulation, a petition for reconsideration of Board findings or a probable cause determination must be based on the discovery of new evidence or on a showing that the Board's findings are erroneous," said board spokeswoman Kelly Nantel.
"We assign petition responses to the relevant modal office for drafting. The NTSB's Office of Aviation Safety will assign staff, to the maximum extent practicable, who did not work on the original investigation to carefully prepare a response. The response will be presented to the full Board for their consideration and vote."
The board's investigation of TWA 800 lasted four years and "remains one of the NTSB's most extensive investigations," Nantel said.
Investigators "spent an enormous amount of time reviewing, documenting and analyzing facts and data and held a five-day public hearing to gather additional facts before determining the probable cause of the accident," she said.
But she left open the possibility the case will be reopened.
"While the NTSB rarely re-investigates issues that have already been examined, our investigations are never closed, and we can review any new information not previously considered by board," she said.
One TWA 800 family member reacted to the news of the documentary with skepticism.
Also See:
TWA 800 - What Did Happen?
17 October 2007