TWA Flight 800: Searching For Truth

TWA Flight 899 and its 230 dead. A new documentary asks again what really brought it down.

In this 2001 photo, the wreckage of TWA Flight 800 sit in a hangar in Calverton, N.Y. The seats of the plane are pictured in the foreground. The plane crashed off the coast of Long Island, N.Y., on July 17, 1996, killing 230 people. (Ed Betz/AP)

In this 2001 photo, the wreckage of TWA Flight 800 sit in a hangar in Calverton, N.Y. The seats of the plane are pictured in the foreground. The plane crashed off the coast of Long Island, N.Y., on July 17, 1996, killing 230 people. (Ed Betz/AP)

July 17, 1996, twelve minutes after takeoff from New York’s JFK airport, TWA Flight 800 blew up and went down in a shower of flame just off the shore of Long Island. All on board, 230 lives, lost. And the nation, completely bewildered at how it could happen, in a moment, in a clear, calm evening sky.

A four-year government investigation concluded that the jet’s central fuel tank exploded, but couldn’t say why. Many, many eye witnesses said they saw something like a missile attack the plane. A new documentary says they were right.

This hour On Point: revisiting a tragedy in the air.

– Tom Ashbrook


Hank Hughes, senior accident investigator at the National Transportation Safety Board. He laid out the matrix for the reconstruction of the aircraft and was chairman of the Airplane Interior Documentation Group that reconstructed TWA 800’s interior.

Tom Stalcup, co-producer of the documentary “TWA Flight 800″ and co-founder of Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization.

John Goglia, served on the board of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) from August 1995 to June 2004 and worked closely on the investigation of the TWA 800 crash. Now a writer for Aviation International News.


From Tom’s Reading List

CNN: Filmmaker Asserts New Evidence On Crash Of TWA Flight 800 — “A documentary on the 1996 explosion that brought down TWA Flight 800 offers ‘solid proof that there was an external detonation,’ its co-producer said Wednesday.”

USA Today: NTSB Urged To Reopen Review Of TWA Flight 800 Crash — “Former investigators from the NTSB, TWA and Air Line Pilots Association suggest in a documentary that missiles caused the plane to explode near Long Island and kill 230 people aboard. The plane was flying from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Paris.”

ABC News: TWA Flight 800 Cover-Up Theorists Under Fire — “The missile theory was one of several proposed in the months following the mysterious crash — along with a bomb-on-the-plane theory and the meteor strike theory — before the National Transportation Safety Board concluded after a four-year investigation that an accidental electrical spark had likely set a fuel tank on fire inside the plane.”

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