This week’s TWA 800 crash has dominated news coverage, 17 years after the passenger jet traveling over Long Island (as so many others do each night) exploded killing all aboard without warning and for a long time, seemingly without cause.
The re-emergence of the TWA 800 crash nearly two decades later is odd — as a Long Island resident, I was out swimming the night the jetliner crashed over the bay, and a friend’s mother came out to tell us that she’d just seen the news break.
Perhaps it’s a vestige of a now long-gone America that terrorism didn’t loom large as a fear that night, when TWA’s 800 crash littered the waters with fuselage and the detritus of a downed plane, bits that would continue to wash ashore all summer, constant in our minds as we surfed and swam as Long Islanders do.
The idea TWA Flight 800 was purposely downed was always there — the following day, a Hamptons based friend came out to visit and relayed the reports of a streak in the sky consistently cited by the many witnesses to the deadly explosion.
Now it seems that streak is at issue as several former investigators claim TWA’s 800 crash was a covered-up incident of terrorism, not too long prior to the one incident that it seems changed America forever.
Today reports that Tom Stalcup, director of a new TWA 800 documentary, along with James Kallstrom, former assistant director of the FBI and part of the Flight 800 investigation, spoke with Savannah Guthrie this morning on the conflicting theories.
Stalcup explained, directly addressed the National Transportation Safety Board in saying:
“It may not (look like a cover-up) at first glance, but if you look at the details, it really does … The radar evidence confirms their (eyewitness) accounts of a streak moving toward the aircraft. Consistent with the trajectory of that streak is a detonation that exploded out the right side of the aircraft. Not only does that confirm their accounts, it refutes the NTSB’s theory.”
“Nothing he just said he is true … That’s my reaction. We had a massive investigation. We spent a year-and-a-half with a thousand FBI agents, experts from the military on missiles. We took the missile theory extremely serious. We interviewed all the eyewitnesses, some numerous times, because we knew in the FBI that there were shoulder-fired missiles available, that they were stolen from armories, that they were left on battlefields in Afghanistan and other places.”
“We did a massive investigation of all military assets in the area. It just didn’t happen.”
Kallstrom addressed the reports we on Long Island recall so well from that night when a quiet summer evening brought such a horrible and unexpected sight. Of the witness accounts, Kallstrom explains:
“I account for it that they certainly saw something … The vast majority of the witnesses when we interviewed them heard the bang and looked up into the sky and it’s simple physics that they heard an event that happened somewhere between 30 seconds and 55 seconds before they heard the bang (because of) the speed of sound, the speed of light.”
“So they were looking at a plane in distress that was breaking apart, and probably climbing 3,000 feet so they saw things going up, they saw things coming off. Plus, I don’t mean to degrade the witnesses, they reported what they saw and they’re good Americans, and we appreciate their participation, but eyewitness testimony is traditionally not very accurate.”
Former senior NTSB investigator Hank Hughes said he personally believes the TWA 800 crash occurred “as a result of an explosion exterior to the outside of the aircraft … there’s no physical evidence to support that the center fuel tank exploded.”