Skip to comments.Missile Witnesses Needed Now - TWA 800
Posted on 03/29/2007 11:25:45 AM PDT by Hal1950
What prompts this column is an e-mail I received last week from a retired USNR commander and former TWA pilot, with whom I had had no prior contact.
He recounted a conversation that he had shortly after the mid-air destruction of TWA Flight 800 on July 17, 1996, off the coast of Long Island. He had a particular interest in the plane's demise for two reasons. One is that he was a qualified accident investigator. The second is that he had flown that very same flight a week earlier.
"It had to be a bloody missile, probably an un-armed Tomahawk, going for center-of-mass," he said to a senior flight manager of his acquaintance. "They were most likely going for a target drone and testing their capability to go-through normal aircraft traffic to get at the target."
The flight manager agreed and recounted what he had been told by a maintenance foreman at the investigation hangar on Long Island.
"They had this curtained area over in the corner with Marine armed guards in front," the foreman had told him. "But, I did see one of the right mainmounts that had a crease out of it, as if something round had passed through it. And, to me, it sure looked like an 'entry' and 'exit' hole in the fuselage."
I cite this e-mail for two reasons. One is that the accepted wisdom among many TWA pilots immediately after the crash matches closely the detailed account of what transpired, at least as reported in an extraordinarily comprehensive anonymous review that I and investigator Ray Lahr received a few months ago.
The second reason is that all of the best eyewitness accounts that I have received that might verify this scenario are second-hand. In fact, no one that I know has talked to anyone who witnessed the firing of the fatal missiles.
My partner in this investigation, James Sanders, had developed any number of discreet first-hand sources in 1996-1997, but all of these sources "went away after we were indicted." The "we" refers to James and his wife, Elizabeth, at the time a TWA trainer, both of whom eventually were convicted of the bogus charge of conspiracy to steal airplane parts.
If an eyewitness were to come forward, now would be a good time, a safer time as well. The true story might derail the ambitions of a candidate or two Al Gore for sure, Hillary probably but the major media would be more willing to listen before either became the party's nominee. If either is elected president, the story dies.
I can be contacted through my website, cashill.com, and Ray Lahr through his, raylahr.com.
I have sent "The Review" to perhaps 100 people with more technical expertise than I, and it has impressed everyone that I have heard from. Unlike the subjunctive dithering of the NTSB report, The Review is declarative and confident and tells its tale with the dense technical poetry of a Patrick O'Brian novel.
According to The Review's author, the first missile, the one that destroyed the plane, was large and, if not un-armed, at least failed to explode. The missile shot above TWA Flight 800, found its mark and descended on it from the rear.
"The missile's momentum was high enough to pitch the nose of the aircraft sharply upward when it landed on the top of the stabilizer," claims the author, "and alter its heading to the right when it hit the body. The missile's supersonic speed caused these changes to occur nearly simultaneously."
The stabilizer is the horizontal part of the tail. The elevator is the movable control on the stabilizer. A hydraulically driven device called the "jackscrew," located in front of the tail, changes the stabilizer's pitch angle, which causes the plane to pitch up or down.
So much information is loaded into the recovered jackscrew that author and Air Force vet Tom Kovach calls it the "Rosetta Stone" of the disaster, "the one piece of the aircraft that proves the high-speed action events that brought down Flight 800."
Apparently, the missile smashed into the stabilizer with more force than the jackscrew could handle, so much force in fact that it ripped the forearm-thick steel of the jackscrew in half. This same force pushed the tail violently down and the nose up and wrenched the plane into an aerodynamic stall. Unable to take the extra stress from the aircraft's sudden up-pitch, the wing tips fractured simultaneously.
The violent upward pitch of the plane whipsawed the fuselage and snapped the rigid keel beam, which runs under the length of the fuselage. The missile meanwhile skipped off the stabilizer and into the right side of the fuselage, which had flipped up nearly vertically and to the right.
The savage force of this combined action ripped the cockpit off of the plane, which, along with the front of the keel beam and the air conditioning units, plunged into the sea before the rest of the plane did the same.
The Review author deduced this in large part from the debris field and physical evidence, like the fractured jackscrew, but there is more evidence, of course, namely the testimony of the eyewitnesses.
From her Fire Island deck, FBI witness No. 150 watched a shiny, cylindrical wingless object move at high speed from north to south. She then noticed the object head toward "a large commercial airliner" traveling east at the same altitude. The airliner "simply 'stopped' at that moment," she told the FBI.
"As the plane came apart, its nose turned up and to the right," her FBI 302 continues. "She could see windows on the top right side of front of the plane, even though she had previously been able to see only along its spine."
"The front was carried forward and arced down with its momentum," the 302 adds. "The right wing seemed to stay with the plane."
Six days after the crash, weeks before any of this information became public, witness No. 150 described the break-up sequence of TWA Flight 800 almost perfectly. She was one of more than 750 eyewitnesses that the FBI interviewed.
Another such witness, No. 551, tracked TWA Flight from his window seat on US Air 217 overhead. He watched the 747 for 30-40 seconds as it flew eastward, its cabin lights still on. Then he saw the front of the plane explode. "The plane seemed to stop in mid air like a bus running into a stone wall no forward motion," he told the FBI.
The Review author believes that No. 551 was describing the same dramatic stall, a result of the missile impact that No. 150 described, likely the first blow of three. The author does not try to guess the missile's provenance, but he rules out a Stinger or similar shoulder-fired missile. One can infer from what he writes that the lethal missile was likely a product of the U.S. Navy or a NATO ally.
Dwight Brumley, a retired 25-year United States Navy master chief, also watched the incident from US Air 217. He is among those Navy people who believes that if this missile had come off of a sub or a cruiser, "Somebody would talk to somebody about what they knew (or at least suspected)."
Brumley thinks it possible that there was a test of a defensive missile system by a black ops team that went awry. More likely, he speculates, "We were completely caught with our pants down and TWA 800 was just flat out shot down by an unknown missile."
"I just know," Brumley tells me, "that I saw something streaking up toward TWA 800 and that after the initial explosion she never climbed anymore. No 'zoom climb.'"
If someone knows more or different, we would certainly like to hear from him.
"Another such witness, No. 551, tracked TWA Flight from his window seat on US Air 217 overhead. He watched the 747 for 30-40 seconds as it flew eastward, its cabin lights still on. Then he saw the front of the plane explode."
Off-duty pilots tracking other planes while on board?
Interesting link. It appears this story has legs, after all.
I'm sure Bush knows what happened...
Or civilian pilots with a vested interest. I know when I'm flying commercial and I spot another plane I look until it's out of sight.
is that Mike 'I gotta mean streak in me' Malloy?
Watching from his window seat would be a more apt explanation.
This really distracts from other possibilities. Such as an attack by Iraqi spec ops.
Does this gentleman know what a Tomahawk is?
of course he does!!
It was Bush's fault, don't cha know.
The investigation into TWA 800 seems typical to me of the sort of heavy-handed corruption the Clinton mafia was noted for during his time as Godfather of the US. What distressed me more than that, though, was the apparent complicity, in my opinion, of the FBI, and particularly the New York SAC, James Kjallstrom. I would like to see him provide some honest answers about that debacle, and explain why apparently credible and honest witnesses were not only ignored but intimidated and harassed. There was so much information put out that contradicted the ongoing "official findings" that they could not be ignored, but only suppressed through force, which they apparently were. That only happens in a Mob atmosphere.
Sandy Burglar might have taken the answer out of The National Archives in a sock.
A cruise missile...trying to hit a drone....
SUUURREEEE it was
Thanks, I wondered about that. I have a cousin who's a pilot. He was flying for US Air when they almost were hit by a Delta 727.
The other pilot said there was no need to mention it, but my cousin told him, "yes there is. My passengers can see what your passengers are wearing!"
It was a missile. It wasn't one of ours. It was fired by a terror organization, as witnessed by the White House war room activity at the time.
Once Navy, always Navy; I guess.
They will also launch from B52's.
John Kerry does. In the '04 campaign, he was on TV talking about various terror attacks and in his list he went through the embassies, the USS Cole, flight 800... the interviewer didn't make mention of it and nothing was ever said in other media about it(at least that I heard).
I listen to a lot of talk radio and someone put forth the notion that Kerry kept Gore out of '04 by threatening to tell what he knew about flight 800, but I don't remember who.
I suspect that much of the classified documentation that Sandy Berger stole from the National Archives and destroyed was related to this tragedy.
If there was a coverup, I am more likely to believe your explanation than that our Navy did it.
You can stop reading right there, this idiot does not have a clue what he is babbling about............
I don't think a spark from a frayed wire in the center tank brought down Flt. 800, but this is ridiculous. The first missile shot from above? Yeah, right. I have a friend who believes Cashill's only intent is to sell books. I am reluctantly starting to agree.
Yeah, without all that cockpit stuff, how does one 'track' - and no hound dog or huntin' rifle?
See my Post # 6.
I'm no expert, but when did we start using Tomahawks to shoot down airborne targets?
I'm very skeptical of the TWA 800 missile theory. Too many people, from the ship that fired the missile, to the FBI, to the accident investigators, and on up the chain of authority to the President would have had to keep quiet about it. By now, someone, somewhere would have come forward and showed who fired what and how it hit the airplane.
Also, even assuming that the government did institute a cover-up, why would they bother covering up in the first place? If a missile fired by a USN ship brought down the plane, then it would be easier and safer for the careers of all involved if they just came out and said that there had been a terrible accident. Why would Bill Clinton, of all people, risk his presidency and jail time for some screw-up, nobody, Navy captain? And that's not even mentioning the careers and possibly even future livelihoods of the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Transportation, easily a score of military brass, and hundreds of FBI and Dpt. of Transportation investigators.
The whole theory just doesn't track.
Thank you for posting.
It is simply amazing to me that Berger got away with doing that. How on earth do we not punish someone for destroying official federal documents?
Nevermind, I was mistaken: the missile shot above TWA 800 and then descended on it...well, okay...like that changes anything.
The TWA-800 conspiracy theorists never look @ any facts. They just take a few eyewitnesses, ignore all the evidence that debunks their theories, and claim its a cover up.
Why would admitting it was a terrible accident of a training exercise gone awry be such a bad thing?
Fired from where? Their secret submarine of terror? Their smuggled SAM missile site? A MANPAD that can hit a target 10 miles off Long Island and 13,000 feet in the air?
a few? wasn't it like a 100-200 eyewitnesses?
Here we go again.
If the missile was fired from inside the main fuel tank and left no evidence a missile was used, I would be happy to believe this story.
I also believe the WTC was blown down because explosives can survive in a ragging fire.
No plane hit the Pentagon even though they found Amelia Erhart's body inside the Pentagon.
I haven't got time to research any of this because I am busy waiting for the Easter Bunny to hop by.
Easily the stupidest/most ignorant comment I've ever heard. Tomahawks don't have air-to-air capability, nor do they ever fly at that altitude. Nor would the US military EVER test a missile through commercial airspace. This idea is especially spacious given that the test suggested would provide meaningless data.
If this quote is real, I very much doubt the authenticity of the "Navy Commander" given that I've never met one that stupid.
There are facilities in the White House, not the normal situation room, which everyone has seen in the past, has seen pictures of. There is a second situation room, behind the primary situation room, which has video conferencing capabilities. The director of the Pentagon, the defense chief, can speak from a national military command center at the Pentagon. The Secretary of State can speak from the State Department, the President from wherever he is, and they'll have this capability for video conferencing throughout this crisis.
In my time at the White House it was used in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, in the aftermath of the TWA Flight 800 bombing, and that would be the way they would stay in contact through the afternoon.
Thank you. Good points.
But their normal flight profile takes then down close to the surface (couple of hundred feet) so the terrain following radar (imagine how much success it had following the ocean) can image the terrain below. And for you sharpshooters out there, it uses inertal guidance till it gets over land, then establishes where it is relative to it's terrain database, then make corrections to close on it's target.
I'm not an aviation safety expert, and I have no idea if the experts are correct that a center fuel tank explosion brought down flight 800, but I do know what a government cover-up looks like, and this ain't no cover-up.
These guys make sure the secret is safe.
I'm reading the follow-up to that book now!
Has a Tomahawk EVER been fired at a moving target, let alone one 15,000 in the air, traveling at 400 mph?
Suspect it dit. Here's some more Cashill background on that:
Yea the Tomahawk reference blows this all to he!!. There are many reasons why that would never happen, but for one thing, a Tomahawk is the size of a telephone pole and almost impossible to miss by many witnesses (not to forget the entire crew of a ship).