|TWA 800 reconstruction|
Trans World Airlines Flight 800, a Boeing 747–131 en road from John F. Kennedy International Airport inwards New York to Charles De Gaulle International Airport inwards Paris, exploded inwards a fireball on 17 July 1996 at 8:31 P.M. All 230 passengers, as good as the xviii crew, were killed.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which was responsible for the investigation, determined that the in all probability displace of the crash was an explosion inwards the middle fly fuel tank that had a “flammable mixture of fuel/air” inwards the tank, although the source of ignition could non survive determined past times the investigators.
They theorized that “a brusk circuit” exterior the tank allowed “excessive voltage to come inwards it through electrical wiring associated amongst the fuel quantity indication system.” These as well as other details were included inwards the NTSB’s final report.
Multiple witnesses, however, claimed to accept seen trails that resembled those made past times a missile. Many reported seeing objects “streaking” toward the aircraft. Investigators subsequently explained those “sightings” as after-the-fact falling debris. Above all, NTSB investigators seemed to accept difficulty identifying the “red residue” on roughly of the recovered seats—residue non typical of an internal explosion, but rather of (depending on the expert) a “pass through” missile’s exhaust motors or an exterior explosion.
Only a few months after the crash, James Sanders, a onetime police delineate officeholder as well as investigative journalist, published The Downing of Flight 800, which contended that a U.S. Navy missile, fired from an Aegis cruiser on exercises inwards the waters below Flight 800, had accidentally brought downward the aircraft. Among Sanders’s claims:
- A “bullet-like” entrance as well as operate injure inwards the aircraft cabin
- Thirty-four independent witnesses to a missile-type streak
- Photographic “proof” of the missile
- An “original” Federal Aviation Administration radar study that indicated an “unidentified object” approaching TWA 800, which the “FBI tried to suppress”
- Confirmation of navy exercises below
- The by-then famous “red residue”
Goddard claimed that the evidence associated amongst the hole showed fragments “moving downward” as well as strike TWA 800 behind the middle fly tank. Goddard, similar Sanders, makes a illustration for “evidence tampering” past times the investigators.
Goddard had been the Pb “missile” advisor to Pierre Salinger, the onetime ABC newsman who on 8 Nov 1996 claimed to accept evidence that the navy accidentally shot downward TWA 800. Ironically, Salinger offered yet roughly other sentiment of the explosion—rather than a missile, Salinger claimed it was a kinetic liberate energy or continuous rod–type weapon.
Of course, that undercut Goddard’s theory and, piece the upshot of a kinetic liberate energy weapon may accept been to cutting the aircraft inwards half, it would non operate out the “red residue” claimed past times Sanders as well as others.
The evidence assembled past times Goddard as well as Sanders, as good as many others, appears convincing ... until compared to each other. Indeed, thus far the greatest unmarried declaration against a missile theory of whatever i of the conspiracy theorists is the evidence produced past times another. For example, inwards Sanders’s scenario, the navy fired a BQM-74E drone missile, which was to survive the “target” for a testify involving the Aegis antimissile/antiaircraft defensive systems.
When the navy fired a Standard antimissile missile, it failed to larn the drone, as well as instead acquired TWA 800, but, lacking a warhead, only “passed through” the aircraft, slicing it inwards one-half prior to an explosion roughly 8 seconds later. This “pass through” missile was, inwards Sanders’s explanation, what accounted for the “red residue” on the seats.
The delineate of Sanders’s even is that it eliminates shoulder-fired “Stinger” missiles that mightiness survive used past times terrorists because of both the radar signature as well as the attain limitations of the Stinger. But, according to Sanders, the FBI encouraged verbalise of Stinger missiles to throw investigators off the trail of the existent culprit, a rogue navy Standard missile.
However, Ian Goddard maintains that several witnesses had reported seeing the same missile trail, inwards virtually the same spot if their viewpoints were adjusted for their terra firma location. So far, Goddard’s theory does non contradict Sanders’s. But his evidence of exterior penetration behind the middle fuel tank is starkly contrasted amongst Sanders’s claim that the fuselage was penetrated past times the Standard missile inwards front end of the fuel tank.
Sanders to a greater extent than accurately accounts for the strange separation of the front end component subdivision of the aircraft from the rear, but Goddard to a greater extent than accurately explains the displace of a midair explosion. Again, however, in that location is non radar information to back upward either a pass-through missile or a missile that exploded exterior the bring upward of TWA 800.
The NTSB failed to address either of these allegations, instead testing Stinger missiles as well as finally (some would say, obviously) that the Stingers did non accept the attain to accomplish TWA 800.
Thus, mysterious reports almost “escape boats” that mightiness accept carried ground-based terrorists cannot survive reconciled amongst a “navy-did-it-accidentally” theory. (Both Sanders as well as Goddard dot out that in that location were previous suspicious explosions, such as Pan Am 103, which blew upward over Lockerbie, Scotland, inwards 1988, leading roughly to link TWA 800 amongst those “attacks” as well.)
But the NTSB besides failed to consider other theories that would accept proved every bit damaging to the allegations of Sanders as well as Goddard. Elmer Barr, for example, contends that a faulty frontwards door non alone caused the TWA 800 crash, but besides several other (in his view, unexplained) crashes.
Barr does non effort to explicate the “red residue,” as well as makes no bones almost it, maxim he is non a chemist. However, his timeline of the front-door collapse tracks to a greater extent than closely amongst the events of TWA 800 than either the Sanders pass-through missile or the Goddard outside-explosion scenario.
Two things tin privy survive stated amongst certainty as of 2002 almost the TWA 800 crash: in that location are a issue of unexplained aspects of this illustration (as in that location are inwards every case), as well as thus far, no unmarried slice of physical evidence or uncorrupted firsthand sworn testimony has been produced to indict the otherwise admittedly tenuous NTSB finding.
Theories such as Barr’s are intriguing, but i time to a greater extent than do non explicate other strange elements of the case. One theory seems to survive easily ruled out—that of a terrorist using a Stinger missile to downward the plane. And, inwards the wake of the arrest of the London “shoe-bomber,” it would survive worthwhile for the NTSB or FBI to revisit the displace of the explosion as perchance involving such a terrorist strike, as that tactic was non considered at the fourth dimension of the explosion.