Official Crash Investigation of TWA Flight 800
UPDATE: 6/19/13-TWA Flight 800 crash not due to gas tank explosion, former investigators say
Anomalies within the Official Crash Investigation of TWA Flight 800
Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization
Chair: Thomas F. Stalcup, 1269 E. Orange Ave., Tallahassee FL 32301
May 3, 1999
Many anomalies and inconsistencies remain within the official
investigation into the crash of TWA Flight 800 (F800). The failure of the FBI to identify
the closest vehicle (a surface vessel) to the plane at the time of the crash, the
questionable conclusions drawn from explosive residues found in the wreckage, and the
secrecy of eyewitness testimony are among the items discussed in this report. A pattern of
concealment and/or disregard of crucial pieces of evidence not supporting a
preferred theory of mechanical malfunction is identified. These anomalies are
relevant to the House Subcommittee on Aviations goal of the NTSB's re-authorization
and should prompt an independent investigation into the crash of F800
Ships in the Vicinity
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) radar analysts have identified the tracks of four surface vessels within a six mile radius of F800 at the time of the accident. These tracks, confirmed by the FBI as surface vessels, were detected by the radar site closest to the crash in Islip, NY. The surface vessel nearest to the tragedy maintained a 30 knot heading away from the falling debris and thereby has been named the 30 knot track.
The 30 knot track is a radar tracked surface vessel recorded on the Islip, Long Island radar.
In a July 27, 1998 Letter from Lewis D. Schiliro, Acting Assistant Director in Charge, FBI, responded to an April letter to the FBI from Congressman James A Traficant, (D) Ohio.
" Question 2: In its analysis of radar tapes, has the FBI been able to positively identify every single aircraft and surface vessel that was in the proximity of TWA Flight 800 at the time of the accident?
FBI Answer: No in January, 1997 the FBI first noted the presence of a surface vessel between 25 and 35 knots Despite extensive efforts, the FBI has been unable to identify this vessel."
The NTSB allowed the FBI, with little or no experience in airline safety, to independently follow leads and conduct interviews with strained inter-agency relations throughout the investigation. Claiming to have "left no stone unturned..[and]..during the 24-Hour period: 371 vessels identified," the FBI failed to identify the closest surface vessel to the crash. The identities of the remaining three vessels have not been released to the public.
Explosive Evidence in Wreckage
PETN and RDX
The explosives PETN and RDX were detected and confirmed to exist by the FBI between rows 15 and 25. Later, however, the FBI stated that these traces were consistent with explosives allegedly spilled during a canine training exercise a few weeks before the crash.
This explosives "spill" was not reported until after the detection of PETN and RDX within the wreckage of F800, and the area of the spill was inconsistent with the explosive traces detected in the wreckage. Officer Burnette of the St. Louis Police Department, carrying out the bomb sniffing exercise, failed to record the tail number of the wide body plane in question, while two such TWA planes existed in close proximity during the exercise. Burnette testified that he neither saw nor heard any individuals aboard the plane during the exercise which ended no earlier than 12:15 PM. The wide body plane which later flew as TWA Flight 800 left its St. Louis gate for Honolulu at 12:35 PM, fully catered, with all of its passengers and crew aboard.
Could officer Burnette neither see nor hear any passengers, crew, or caterers 20 minutes before the plane left its gate? Did Burnette conduct his exercise on a nearby, nearly identical TWA 747 which left its gate at 1:30 PM? Compounding this investigative error, if Burnette did conduct his explosive training exercise on the 747 which later flew as TWA Flight 800, why did the locations of the alleged spills conflict with the traces detected with the F800 wreckage? The questions raised by these lapses must be answered before any investigating agency can attribute the PETN and RDX traces found within the F800 wreckage to the above mentioned spill.
As it stands we are left with a glaringly well documented trail of explosive residue throughout the body of the 747. Worse, the NTSB inexplicably accepted the inadequate attempts by the FBI to explain away this trail.
The Red Residue
After noticing a red residue on several (rows 17-19) passenger seats within the rows in which PETN and RDX were detected, lead TWA Investigator and Head Pilot Terrel Stacey brought the residue to the attention of FBI investigators. Weeks later, the FBI refused to share its laboratory results on the residue, citing evidence in a criminal investigation, prompting Stacey to remove samples of this residue, giving them to James Sanders (author/journalist) who in turn had the residue tested at West Coast Analytical Services (WCAS) in Sante Fe Springs, CA. The results of this test showed high concentrations of elements used in missile fuel and pyrotechnics. The publication of these results in the Press Enterprise newspaper of Riverside, California received national press coverage, prompting the FBI to make a series of public statements[5, 14-16] concerning the residue and their dissatisfaction with Stacey's and Sanders' actions.
The media attention over the WCAS results influenced the NTSB to have the residue tested independently at NASAs Materials Science Division. Based on the NASA results, Dr. Merrit Birky (Lead Investigator, Fire and Explosions Group, NTSB) stated that the residue was consistent with the contact adhesive named in  (report 97-IC0154) as Scotch Grip 1357 Contact Adhesive. Upon further inquiry however, it was found that the NTSB never tested the WCAS samples. Separate samples were lifted from the wreckage, and most surprising, no attempt was made by the NTSB to determine by chemical analysis if these samples were consistent with those removed by Captain Stacey. Furthermore, FBI chemist Steve Burmeister, has stated that the red residue was not consistent with the 3M adhesive tested at NASA.
In essence, the NTSB only proved that TWA used seat adhesive on its seats, not that the WCAS residue was adhesive. This fact spurred the independent testing of the 3M adhesive named in the NTSB report at Florida State University (FSU). Results from these tests were inconsistent with the WCAS results and brought to the attention of NTSB Vice Chairman Francis, who forwarded them to Dr. Birky. The following excerpt is from a phone conversation with Dr. Birky addressing this issue.
8/27/98 phone conversation (TS designates Thomas Stalcup, Florida State University, MB designates Dr. Merrit Birky, NTSB):
TS: "And I think, ah, it would have been good if you did an elemental analysis, not to prove whether it was adhesive or not, but to prove if it's the same stuff, to make sure that you and Sanders had the same stuff, therefore you say the red residue is adhesive, you mean that it's the same residue Sanders is talking about."
MB: " to try to prove that we have the same samples as Sanders, I'm not sure it gets us very far. Supposing you come out differently, then what are going to say? Well, youre not going to put the thing to bed."
The necessary tests to determine consistency between the NTSB and WCAS residue have yet to be performed, and whether or not they "come out differently" should be of no consequence. If the NTSB carried out appropriate tests to determine that their samples were consistent with the WCAS results, the claim that adhesive was the source of the WCAS residue would have been scientifically valid. However, the NTSB put science aside in order "to put the thing to bed," and any claim that the WCAS residue is adhesive has no scientific basis. The FSU tests exclude the 3M adhesive as a possible source, which leaves the question of the residue's origin an item for debate two years after the crash.
A piece of the aircraft's center wing tank (labeled CW-504 during reconstruction) was sent to NASA for chemical analysis by the NTSB. On it was a strange residue in a "splatter" pattern. Test results concluded the presence of nitrates in this residue, alarming NASA scientist Charles W. Bassett, as nitrates may indicate the presence of explosives. Ammonium-Nitrate (the explosive used in the Oklahoma City bomb), for example, is one of the many nitrate based explosives.
To chemists, nitrates are known as anions, and when combined with cations, the resultant molecule is explosive. If Ammonia (a cation) was detected in the splatter pattern, a strong case could be made for Ammonium-nitrate as the origin of the nitrates. Therefore, when investigators determine the presence of an anion, the next step is to look for a cation within the same material.
Bassett reported the nitrate (anion) presence in CW-504 to Dr. Merrit Birky and concluded in report 97-1C0063:
"An attempt to determine the origin of the anions present in both samples was not conducted at this time but is of concern and is under further investigation."
However, instead of requesting that Bassett determine the nitrate's possible explosive identity, Birky sent other aircraft parts for testing which lacked the questionable residue. No further testing of CW-504 was requested, the source of the nitrates was not determined, and Bassett's report, quoted above, was never released to the public.
The materials sent to Bassett after the nitrate report were parts from the planes air conditioning units. Dr. Birky instructed Bassett to determine whether these parts could have possibly been the source of the splatter pattern on CW-504. Bassett concluded in report 97-1C0089 that:
"there is no indication that any of the reference materials examined in these analyses, served as the source of the surfactant coated polyester which was discussed in report 97-1C0064 nor is there evidence to indicate any of the reference materials served as the source of the nitrate presence in [CW-504]."
Less than a month prior, a seemingly redundant report comparing air conditioning materials to the CW-504 splatter pattern by the FBI appears to conflict with Bassetts conclusion, and makes no mention of any nitrate presence. Here, in a vague summary, the FBI concludes:
"Based upon the comparison examinations conducted, specimens [CWT splatter material] are consistent with having originated from the sources represented by [foam air duct material], or a similar source."
The FBIs failure to identify the nitrate presence within the CW-504 spatter pattern is disturbing given that two of the three theories for the crash included the possibility of a nitrate-related explosion. The NTSBs detection of nitrates on CW-504 should have prompted further testing of the splatter pattern. Chemical tests available for determining a possible explosive source of the material were never utilized. Instead, other parts of the aircraft were tested in apparent disregard to the possibility that the spatter pattern may have been evidence of an explosive material. Most incredible was the NTSB's choice to withhold a report which expressed concern over the nitrate presence, while publishing another, failing to even detect it.
The NTSB and CIA Animations
In November 1997, the FBI suspended their investigation into F800 in a nationally televised press conference, wherein a dramatic CIA produced animation simulating the official crash sequence was shown to explain the alleged missile sightings. A similar animation was produced by the NTSB and shown during the Baltimore hearings in December of 1998. Unprecedented in the history of NTSB public hearings, the eyewitnesses were banned less than a week before they began. Nor were they even allowed to testify as to the apparent level of accuracy of the animations depiction of the observations of the tragedy. Most remarkably, no official effort was ever made by the producers of either official accident animation to get feedback or corroboration from the hundreds of eyewitnesses, whose testimony they claimed to be portraying.
However, separate interviews were conducted with dozens of eyewitnesses concerning the accuracy official crash sequence shown in these animations. After watching the CIA produced animation, eyewitnesses responded to the claims that they did not see a separate object, but only the plane itself.
(12/3/97 phone interview): "That's total fabrication."
(12/4/97 phone interview): "Yeah right, coming off the water."
(12/6/97 phone interview): "Would fuel burn from the [ocean] surface going up, or from the plane coming down .What I saw was going up from the surface like a rising flare."
Major Fred Meyers:
(11/24/97 radio interview): "Well that's pure fabrication...What's going on in the FBI, I don't know."
(11/24/97 radio interview): "I can't see that's possible at all [the CIA animation] was a joke."
The major question in the heads of the family members, news media, and concerned citizens about the crash of F800 is what the eyewitnesses saw. Many were reported to have seen an object streak toward the aircraft before any explosions[27-51]. However, no eyewitness was interviewed during the production of either animation and of the over 100 individuals who witnessed the streaking object, an overwhelming majority disagree with the official crash sequence and both animations.
Note: Independent triangulation of eyewitness accounts has determined the origin of at least one high speed projectile to be over two miles lower in altitude and nearly seven miles north of F800. This object's trajectory, according to eyewitnesses, ended at the aircraft with a brilliant white flash.
A Preferred Theory
Within the NTSB's investigation into the loss of TWA Flight 800 a pattern of evidence interpretation, disregard, incomplete analysis, and outright concealment was established as policy. This policy heavily favored a preferred theory of mechanical malfunction--a type of malfunction that has not been corroborated by physical evidence or prior incidents. More striking is the fact that the NTSB has been unable to duplicate a similar malfunction, even with access to the world's best laboratories and research facilities. The incomplete analysis of crucial pieces of evidence and failure to re-enact the theorized malfunction left the NTSB with little evidence to support their conclusions. Ironically, they chose to further neglect their most overwhelming body of evidence by agreeing with the FBI to ban eyewitness testimony and reports from a hearing meant to explain the incident, observed by at least 244 individuals. The FBI letter, which objected to the eyewitness testimony, did however, permit the use of certain eyewitnesses and reports, providing their testimony supported the mechanical malfunction theory.
In a December 3, 1998 (five days before the Baltimore hearings) letter , then FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom wrote to NTSB Chairman Jim Hall:
"..we do not object to the use of and inclusion in the public docket of summaries prepared by NTSB of FBI interviews of other individuals to the extent their information may relate to mechanical or similar issues.."
The above quotation represents well, the policy adhered to by the NTSB which maintained, analyzed, and touted evidence in support of the mechanical malfunction theory, while banning, disregarding or concealing evidence in support of other theories. In clear violation of their charter, they submitted their investigation to undue influence and unwarranted objections from the FBI. Lacking eyewitnesses and their respective reports, what hundreds of individuals witnessed had to be re-created in their absence and without their input. The NTSB conclusions remained hollow, as public scrutiny and peer review of key segments of the investigation were avoided by their concealment from the hearings and the public.
The NTSB and FBI conducted incomplete testing of crucial pieces of evidence, and are guilty of a high level of complacency about the contradictory results determined by the different agencies. Both agencies have failed to identify the nearest surface vessel to the tragedy. Eyewitness reports have been inaccurately portrayed by NTSB and FBI officials in at least two animations depicting the official crash sequence. At least one senior NTSB official finds it more important to "put the thing to bed" than to conduct a scientifically sound investigation. The cause of the crash of F800 is still unresolved. Other independent investigators and some journalists and writers claim to have discovered many other anomalies, gaps, failings and non-rigorous aspects of the official investigation. It now appears that any objective and close scrutiny of the more accessible facts in this closely held investigation leads to only one indisputable certainty. That is, that the most expensive inquiry ever, of the greatest disaster in US aviation history has produced an inexplicably flawed and inconclusive official investigation.
1. That Congress should authorize and appoint a committee of independent experts adequately empowered across all agencies involved to thoroughly review the official F800 investigation, to:
2. That the NTSB, the FBI, the FAA, and the BATF be immediately ordered by Congress to release all the presently withheld records and evidence being sought under FOI laws concerning the F800 incident. The present denial pretext is that the evidence might be used in some eventual criminal prosecution, despite the fact that the investigation has already officially concluded "...no criminal act.."
3. A list of the investigations omissions discussed within this report, that should be remedied and overseen by some impartial and credible independent committee is:
4. That the NTSB, FBI and CIA release all data (including the complete eyewitness data) used in the production of any and all animations describing F800s final minute of flight.
5. That an NTSB public hearing is scheduled which contains the release of all eyewitness reports and allows the testimony of the eyewitnesses. This hearing should also release and discuss all explosives related test results and documents related to the tragedy.
6. That the NTSB conduct independent interviews with the eyewitnesses to gain bearing line data to all objects observed.
7. That the NTSB gain access to and release the identities of the three surface vessels closest to the crash and list the vessels reason(s) for not assisting in search and rescue.
8. That the NTSB allow independent testing of all explosives related wreckage.
1. Pereira, C., et al., Airplane Performance Study, . 1997, NTSB: Washington, D.C.
2. Schiliro, L.D., Letter in Response to Congressman James A. Traficant, (D) Ohio, . 1998, FBI.
3. NTSB, Radar Image: http://www.ntsb.gov/events/twa800/radar_45.gif. 1997.
4. Pereira, C., Private Communication. 1998.
5. FBI, FBI Press Conference - TWA Flight 800, . 1997, FBI New York Office: NY.
6. Adcock, S. and K. Royce, Chemicals Point to Explosive, but Aren't Full Proof, in Newsday. 1996: Long Island.
7. CNN, FBI: TWA Jet Used In Bomb-detection Drill Before Crash, in Cable News Network. 1996: New York.
8. NTSB, FAA Safety Recommendation. NTSB, Washington, DC, 1997.
9. FBI, Letter to Rep. James Traficant. FBI, 1997.
10. Log, G., TWA St. Louis Airport Records. 1996.
11. Shelton, M. and B.M. Hovanec, Laboratory Report, . 1997, West Coast Analytical Services: Santa Fe Springs.
12. Sutton, G.P., Rocket Propulsion Elements. 6th ed. 1992: John Wiley and Sons Inc.
13. Hendrix, D., Solid Fuel for Rockets Follows Basic Recipe, in Press Enterprise. 1997: Riverside.
14. Official, F., Communication With Newsday, . 1997, Newsday.
15. Loeb, B. and J. Hall, Testimony Before Congress, . 1997.
16. FBI, Criminal Complaint Against James and Elizabeth Sanders, . 1997: New York.
17. Bassett, C., Report 97-1C0154, . 1997, NASA: Kennedy Space Center.
18. Birky, M., Fire and Explosion Group Factual Report, . 1997, NTSB.
19. Stalcup, T., April '98 Phone Conversation with Merrit Birky (NTSB), . 1998.
20. Burmeister, S., Private Communication, . 1998.
21. Salters, V., ICP Mass Spectroscopy, . 1998, Florida State University: Tallahassee.
22. Stalcup, T., August '98 Phone Conversation with Merrit Birky (NTSB), . 1998.
23. Bassett, C., Report 97-1C0063, . 1997, NASA: Kennedy Space Center.
24. Basssett, C., Private Communication, . 1998.
25. Bassett, C., Report 97-1C0089, . 1997, NASA: Kennedy Space Center.
26. FBI, FBI File No. 265A-NY-26908, . 1997, FBI: Washington, D.C.
27. Miron, D., Private Phone Conversation with Darrel Miron, . 1997, Thomas Stalcup.
28. Stalcup, T., Private Phone Conversations with Paul Runyan, . 1997.
29. Runyan, P., Interview, in Daily News. 1996: NY.
30. Angelides, P., Public Statement. Eyewitness, Fire Island, 1998.
31. Bilodeau, V. and J. McBride, Police Report, . 1996, Suffolk County Police Department: Moriches.
32. Clanahan, Z., Phone Interview, . 1998, Thomas Stalcup.
33. Desyron, L., ABC World News Sunday, in ABC News. 1996.
34. Dorney, M., Interview, in The New York Observer. 1997: NY. p. 16.
35. Dougherty, T., Interview. Hard Copy, 1996.
36. Eick, D., Interview, in Press-Enterprise. 1997: Riverside.
37. Ellistion, B. and J. Gang, Police Report, . 1996, Suffolk County Police Dept.: Moriches.
38. Evans, E., Police Report, . 1996, Suffolk County Police Dept.: In Boat.
39. Gallagher, W., Interview, in Press-Enterprise. 1997: Riverside.
40. Goss, R., Radio Interview, . 1997, Art Bell Show.
41. Greig, M., Police Report, . 1996, Suffolk County Police Department: Mastic Beach.
42. Khalilch, R.G., Police Report, . 1996, Suffolk County Police Dept.: Smith Point Beach.
43. Lenahan, F. and L. Lenahan, Police Report, . 1996, Suffolk County Police Dept.: Hampton Bays.
44. Lisle, B., Radio Interview, in Art Bell Show. 1998.
45. McConnell, S., Radio Interview, in Art Bell Show. 1998: East Moriches.
46. Meyers, F., Radio Interview, . 1997, Art Bell Show.
47. Naples, J., et al., Interview, in The New York Observer. 1997: NY.
48. Penney, R., Taped Interview, . 1997, William Donaldson.
49. Perry, L., Interview, in Dan's Papers. 1998: The Hamptons.
50. Terney, P., Police Report, . 1996, Suffolk County Police Dept.: Mt. Sinai Harbor.
51. Verardi, C., Police Report, . 1996, Suffolk County Police Dept.: Center Moriches.
52. Donaldson, W., Interim Report to the Aviation Subcommittee, . 1998, House Aviation Subcommittee: Washington, D.C.
53. Federal_Law, NTSB Public Availability of Information. Title 49--Transportation, Part 801.
Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization oral summary before the House Aviation Subcommittee hearing on the re-authorization of the National Transportation Safety Board on May 6, 1999.
*Note: FIRO was not allowed to present this oral testimony at the hearing, but the written statement was submitted into the written record.
My name is Thomas Stalcup. I am a Research Assistant and doctoral candidate in Physics at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Today, I represent a growing number of independent researchers into the cause of the TWA Flight 800 (F800) tragedy. Over fifty researchers such as myself have organized to form the "Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization" which is dedicated to assisting official investigators determine the cause of this yet unresolved disaster. During our research, we have detected several anomalies within the official investigation of F800 by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). We feel that our testimony concerning these anomalies is relevant to this committee's goal of the NTSB's re-authorization.
On the evening of July 17, 1996, F800 exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 230 passengers and crew. Observations by over 100 eyewitnesses have described an object streaking through the sky prior to any explosions, but at the only NTSB public hearing on the tragedy in Baltimore, all eyewitnesses were banned. Instead, the public was given a filtered view of the eyewitness testimony in the form of an NTSB animation.
The animation attempted to explain the observations made by an overwhelming pool of eyewitnesses by alleging that any reported streaking object was merely the plane itself, climbing after a center wing tank explosion. However, there are 3 major problems with this theory:
1) F800 was on an easterly route to Paris, but according to most eyewitnesses we have interviewed, the streaking object was heading west, toward John F. Kennedy airport, as well as climbing upward.
2) A majority of these eyewitnesses are certain that the streaking object originated at the surface. F800 was at 2.6 miles in altitude.
3) The NTSB has been unable to re-create any such jet fuel explosion during full-scale tests in Bruntingthorpe, England and in ¼-scale tests at the California Institute of Technology.
Moments before F800 exploded, a ship was 2.9 nautical miles from, and to the east of F800. According to NTSB and FBI radar analysis, this ship sailed away from the falling plane at speeds between 25 and 35 knots. It did not return to aid in search and rescue, nor has it been identified by the NTSB or FBI. The position of this ship is consistent with the origin of the streaking object described by more than half the eyewitnesses we have interviewed.
The NTSB's failure to address the potential importance of this ship's identity at the Baltimore hearing is troubling. The NTSB animation did not contain this ship, which was reported by eyewitnesses and later verified to exist by NTSB and FBI radar analysts.
Within a highly damaged portion of the wreckage, a suspicious red residue existed on many passenger seats. Instead of requesting a complete analysis of the residue, NTSB Fire and Explosion Group Chairman Dr. Meritt Birky requested a partial analysis, which could not be compared with the elemental analyses of relevant and conflicting reports.
Another residue in a "splatter" pattern, found within the fuel tank wreckage contained nitrates, alarming the NASA scientist contracted for its analysis, as nitrates may indicate the presence of explosives. Upon notification of the nitrate presence, Dr. Birky did not request any further testing of the splatter pattern and the report identifying the nitrate presence was never released to the public.
The known explosives PETN and RDX were found within the F800 wreckage. The investigating agencies attributed the traces to an alleged "spill" during a canine training exercise. But this spill was not reported until after the explosives detection within the wreckage of F800, and the area of the spill was inconsistent with the traces detected in the wreckage.
The officer who conducted the exercise testified that he neither saw nor heard any individuals aboard the plane during the exercise, which ended no earlier than 12:15 PM. The wide body plane which later flew as TWA Flight 800 left its gate for Honolulu at 12:35 PM, fully catered, with all of its passengers and crew aboard.
The possibility for a 747 to be completely empty only 20 minutes prior to a fully catered gate departure with all passengers and crew aboard is remote. These traces were detected in heavily damaged portions of the wreckage, in sections inconsistent with the area of the training exercise. These items must be addressed before any investigating agency can attribute the PETN and RDX traces found within the F800 wreckage to the above mentioned spill.
We believe that most individuals within the NTSB work hard and diligently and deserve only admiration for the many hours they spent and continue to spend trying to resolve the mysteries of F800. However, we have outlined a pattern of disregard and perhaps concealment of crucial pieces of evidence, a selective analysis of others. Interagency conflict with the FBI has called into question NTSB authority and autonomy as can be seen in the handling of eyewitness evidence. Although these significant problems exist, we do recognize the importance of an agency devoted to the safety of the American public. We believe these matters call for increased Congressional oversight within the NTSB and a thorough, independent investigation into the loss of F800.
While hesitantly recommending NTSB's re-authorization, we stress the importance of the scientific method. Investigators should not produce data to fit a given scenario, but rather propose scenarios which may fit objectively obtained data. Any investigator without these beliefs does not belong at the NTSB. To help ensure adequate compliance to the scientific method, independent oversight in all future crash investigations is needed. As in any profession, oversight and peer review help maintain thorough, complete, and honest job performance. Upholding this standard and accounting for the anomalies within the F800 investigation will not only improve this NTSB, but will help in making America a safer place in which to travel.
Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization
Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization
Chair: Thomas F. Stalcup, 1269 E. Orange Ave., Tallahassee FL 32301
June 11, 1999
Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization (FIRO) submitted into the written record of the May 6, 1999 House Aviation Subcommittee hearing on the reauthorization of the National Transportation Safety Board, a statement which discussed several anomalies within the official investigation of TWA Flight 800. However, FIRO has only received a response from one member of the House Aviation Subcommittee, and we now re-emphasize the concerns and recommendations addressed in our statement to your Honor. Furthermore, we respectfully request a written response from your office which proposes a plan of action, if any, which will address and help explain the anomalies listed in our written statement. Here, we suggest the recommendations contained in our written statement as guidelines to any proposed plan of action.
As an attachment to our written statement, we offer the following critique of a CIA animation, depicting the official crash sequence. Our analysis has determined that this animation did not adequately address a streak of light, which, according to 94% of the eyewitnesses who gave information concerning its origin, rose from the surface.
Thomas F. Stalcup
Chair, Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization
Anomalies within the Official Crash Investigation of TWA Flight 800: Appendix 1
Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization
Chair: Thomas F. Stalcup, 1269 E. Orange Ave., Tallahassee FL 32301
June 11, 1999
The CIA Animation of TWA Flight 800
CIA analysts, focusing on a streak of light described in eyewitness summaries, determined that the streak was the plane itself. Flight 800's altitude at the time the analysts concluded became a streak of light was 13,800 feet, after a spontaneous explosion of the center wing tank. However, 96 out of the 102 eyewitness reports (94%) that gave information concerning the origin of the streak of light said that it originated from the surface. Remarkably, not one of these eyewitnesses was consulted, questioned, or even seen by any analyst during the production of the animation. Estimated by the CIA as costing $40,000.00 to produce, this high tech animation was based on the hand written notes of unqualified and inexperienced in aircraft investigations, FBI agents.
According to Congressman Traficant's July 15, 1998 report on "The TWA Flight 800 Investigation,"
"The CIA...conducted a detailed analysis which focused on determining whether the eyewitnesses saw a missile... CIA analysts did not interview any of the eyewitnesses. They analyzed the statements only."
Any analysis that attempts to determine the origin of an object seen by over 100 eyewitnesses should involve interviews or re-interviews of these eyewitnesses by the specific analysts. These analysts must gain bearing line data to the object as well as GPS (Global Positioning System) fixes on respective eyewitness locations, which together give the necessary triangulation data. Only after this exercise and subsequent data analysis, can a CIA analyst determine, with any degree of accuracy, the origin of this object. Conclusions reached by analysts not involved with triangulation data gathering or analysis will be based on speculation, not the scientific method. The fact that the CIA analysts did not engage in this scientific analysis may explain why their conclusions are contradicted by 94% of the relevant eyewitnesses.
FIRO scientists have visited the location of various eyewitness observations. By observing several jets flying on corridors and at altitudes similar to TWA Flight 800, these scientists have determined that visual confusion between an object rising from the surface and another originating at 13,800 feet (2.6 miles) would be unlikely. Furthermore, statistical analysis of the eyewitness observations with information concerning the origin of a streak of light has determined that the chance a streak of light did not originate from the surface is remote.
The CIA animation was a dramatic representation of the official crash sequence. The visual and audio presentation was professional and impressive. Its focus appeared to be on what 96 eyewitnesses described as a streak of light, which rose from the surface, exploded, and caused the destruction of TWA Flight 800. However, the data upon which the video portrayed this streak of light was minimal to nonexistent. Not one eyewitness was consulted during the production of this video, based on their reports. Instead, analysts relied on the handwritten notes or reports thereof, from investigators with little or no experience in crash investigations.
1. NTSB, Witness Group Factual Report: Exhibit 4A. NTSB Baltimore
Hearings into TWA Flight 800, 1997.
2. Tenet, G.J., CIA January 1998 Response to Questions From Congressman Traficant. Report of Congressman Traficant into the Investigation of TWA Flight 800, 1998.
3. CIA, CIA Animation of TWA Flight 800 Crash Sequence. FBI Novermber 1997 Press Conference, 1997.
TWA 800 - Missile Website Roadmap
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National Security Invoked Re Navy Activity Near Flight 800
Flight 800 Eyewitnesses
FIRO Complaint Against FBI
TWA Flight 800 The Four Missing Seconds Analysis from the
Flight Data Recorder
TWA Flight 800 Was 'Shot Down'
MISSILE DOWNED TWA FLIGHT 800?
THE MYSTERY OF TWA FLIGHT 800
How government stopped probers
Journalist, wife convicted of tampering with evidence
TWA Flight 800 passengers
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