TWA Flight 800 Evidence Points to Missile: Petition

Former US investigators want NTSB to reopen the probe into crash

By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 19, 2013 8:06 PM CDT | Updated Jun 20, 2013 3:11 AM CDT

(Newser) – As reported this morning, a group of former US investigators is now saying that TWA Flight 800 was not brought down by the NTSB's officially determined cause (a gas tank explosion). Now, they're getting more specific. The AP reports they did indeed today file a petition with the NTSB to reopen the probe into the 1996 crash of a Paris-bound jet off the coast of New York City, saying new evidence points to the often-discounted theory that a missile strike may have downed the flight. Details from the petition:

  • They say they reviewed the FAA radar evidence along with new evidence that was not available to the safety board during the official investigation.
  • The petition claims "new analyses of the FAA radar evidence demonstrate that the explosion that caused the crash did not result from a low-velocity fuel-air explosion as the NTSB has determined. Rather, it was caused by a detonation or high-velocity explosion."
  • The former investigators contend that the testimony of more than 200 witnesses who reported seeing streaks of light headed toward the plane should be reconsidered. The NTSB said that what witnesses likely saw was the jetliner pitching upward in the first few moments after the explosion, but some witnesses still maintain that the streak of light they saw emanated from the waterline and zoomed upward toward the plane.
"We don't know who fired the missile," said Jim Speer, an accident investigator for the Air Line Pilots Association, one of those seeking a new review of the probe. "But we have a lot more confidence that it was a missile." Former FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom, who headed the criminal probe after the crash, addressing the claim on CNN, saying they "did an exhaustive investigation," recovering 97% of the airplane from the Atlantic Ocean.

This 1997 photo released by the National Transportation Safety Board shows reconstruction work continuing in Calverton, N.Y., on TWA Flight 800.
This 1997 photo released by the National Transportation Safety Board shows reconstruction work continuing in Calverton, N.Y., on TWA Flight 800.   (Anonymous)
In this Nov. 19, 1997 file photo, FBI agents and New York state police guard the reconstruction of TWA Flight 800 in Calverton, N.Y.
In this Nov. 19, 1997 file photo, FBI agents and New York state police guard the reconstruction of TWA Flight 800 in Calverton, N.Y.   (MARK LENNIHAN)
In this Aug. 7, 1996 file photo, the cockpit of TWA Flight 800 is lowered at the U.S. Coast Guard station at Shinnecock Inlet in Hampton Bays, NY.
In this Aug. 7, 1996 file photo, the cockpit of TWA Flight 800 is lowered at the U.S. Coast Guard station at Shinnecock Inlet in Hampton Bays, NY.   (JIM COLE)
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