Let's remember that this aircraft was 13 miles off the coast of Long Island. That's over the horizon to those on land. What they would see is a small missile type object heading up to the plane. They would have seen a missile trail at that distance, but they wouldn't see as much as you might think. What would a telephone pole look like at 13 miles? Even the flame wouldn't be that big. The military people who saw this, recognized it for what it was. You're looking at 8:00 p.m. on a summer night. They would not see the ship. And this occured while the sky was still somewhat light. Let's face it, the private boating that might have been out that far in the daytime was likey headed for or at shore by the time this happened. 13 miles is quite a distance to sea for most people.
As for missile exercises taking place out there, I've seen the picture that everyone else has of that missile near the beach. I have also seen reports from other captains seeing a missile in their vacinity about a month after TWA-800. Some testing does seem to have been taking place out there. If I'm not remembering incorrectly, it was acknowledged that south of Long Island, not that much, but a ways beyond TWA-800's flight path was an area acknowledged to be used for certain testing including missiles.
I realize you know what you are talking about. Let's accept that this was not a normal operation. I doubt you've seen three submarines surfaced near Long Island very often. Perhaps that's not true. But something unusual was going on. The fact that lies were told to avoid having to admit those subs were there is significant to me.
I'll admit that I've never seen three submarines surfaced together. Neither have any of the people posting on this theory. They look at radar pictures on the web and claim that it indicates surfaced subs, but I have yet to see any confirmation.
I've seen that picture of the missile near the beach. I've also seen the picture of the guy on the World Trade Center observation deck with the airplane heading for him. Enough said.