TWA-800 - Washington Times ADD 08/15/00
The Eyewitness Evidence of Flight 800
"Of the 183 who observed a streak of light,
102 gave information about the origin of the streak.
Six said the streak originated from the air,
and 96 said that it originated from the surface."
-- NTSB exhibit 4A: Witness Group Factual Report
The CIA and NTSB animations (NTSB: 1.6 MB) of the official crash sequence depict the streaking light as the plane itself. The streak's origin, therefore, was portrayed as the plane's position during an alleged spontaneous combustion of the center wing tank: over 2.5 miles in altitude. This is inconsistent with 94% of the relevant eyewitnesses.
Eyewitness Reaction to CIA animation
claiming only the plane (TWA Flight 800) was seen:
(12/3/97 phone interview with Tom Stalcup): "That's total fabrication."
(12/4/97 phone interview with Tom Stalcup): "Yeah right, coming off the water."
(12/6/97 phone interview with Tom Stalcup): "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 Art Bell radio interview): "Well that's pure fabrication...What's going on in the FBI, I don't know."
(11/24/97 Art Bell radio interview): "I can't see that's possible at all [the CIA animation] was a joke."
But the CIA video concludes: "The 21 eyewitnesses whose observations began earlier describe what almost certainly was the aircraft in various stages of crippled flight after it exploded. Those who said they saw something ascend and culminate in an explosion probably saw the burning aircraft ascend and erupt into a fireball just after it reached its maximum altitude. From a distance of 9 miles or more this may have looked like a missile attacking an aircraft, but nothing in their statements leads CIA analysts to conclude that these eyewitnesses in fact saw a missile. Indeed, several eyewitnesses who suspected that they had watched a missile destroy an aircraft were puzzled that they hadn't actually seen the aircraft before the missile hit it.
The following summaries from 21 FBI eyewitness statements "whose observations began earlier" are at odds with the above CIA conclusions. For starters, a majority (13) did see an aircraft.
Witness 73: "On 7/17/96, at approximately 8:37 P.M., she was on the Mobay (phonetic) section of Long Island Beach, New York, when she observed an aircraft climbing in the sky, traveling from her right to her left. She advised that the sun was setting behind her. While keeping her eyes on the aircraft, she observed a 'red streak' moving up from the ground toward the aircraft at an approximately a 45 degree angle. The 'red streak' was leaving a light gray colored smoke trail. The 'red streak went passed the right side and above the aircraft before arcing back toward the aircraft's right wing. Described the arc's shape as resembling an upside down NIKE swoosh logo. The smoke trail, which was light gray in color was narrow initially and widened as it approached the aircraft.
She initially thought someone had set off a flare and commented same to her friends...She never took her eyes off the aircraft during this time. At the instant the smoke trail ended at the aircraft's right wing, she heard a loud sharp noise which sounded like a firecracker had just exploded at her feet. She then observed a fire at the aircraft followed by one or two secondary explosions which had a deeper sound. She then observed the front of the aircraft separate from the back. She then observed burning pieces of debris falling from the aircraft."
Witness 88: "All of a sudden he heard an explosion. He glanced over to the southeast and observed what he thought was a firework ascending into the sky. He stated he originally felt this firework emanated from the shoreline on the other side of the jetty to the east. He stated that he continued to watch the firework ascend, expecting to view the explosion in the sky. He stated this object which was ascending left a wispy white smoke trail. About midway through its flight, the smoke trail stopped and the object turned a bright red in color. He felt that this bright red flame was at the top of the device. He stated that he now thought it was some type of boating distress flare. All of a sudden, it apparently reached the top of its flight. He stated that the red fireball then arced from the east to the west. At this point he observed an airplane come into the field of view. He stated this airplane was very high up and many miles from his location. He stated that the bright red object ran into the airplane and upon doing so both the plane and the object turned a real bright red then exploded into a huge plume of flame. He noted that he felt that either the bright red object pushed the nose cone of the plane up or the plane was slightly angled upward when the strike occurred. He stated he felt the bright red object struck the plane towards the cockpit area."
Witness 150: The shiny object "had no projections on it, like wings, but [she asked herself] why would there be such a huge bullet hurling through the sky?...She followed the object for approximately 2 or 3 seconds when she then noticed a large commercial airliner which appeared to be traveling at the same altitude, 'just stop' and begin to disintegrate...As the plane [identified by the witness as a 747] came apart, its nose turned up and to the right."
Witness 166: "noticed a large commercial plane flying east...[then] noticed something ascending 30-35 miles away, which looked like white, yellow fire, trailed by black smoke...It ascended in a straight line at an angle of seven to ten degrees away from a vertical ninety degree...[He] believed it was from the water...After hearing news of the crash, he concluded that he had seen a missile. He stated he was in the Polish army in 1974 and has experience with missiles...[He] opined that this was a medium size missile which would have required three experienced people to operate."
Witness 675: At a water hole in Speonk, NY "...noticed an orange flare ascending from the south, traveling in a WNW direction trailing white or light gray smoke. He then observed the flare strike what looked like an eastbound Cessna airplane on the port side. 675 saw a small burst of flame erupt from the port side wing near the fuselage. Approximately two (2) seconds later he saw the plane go into a spiral and explode. With five (5) seconds [of losing the falling debris behind the tree line] he heard what sounded like thunder and felt the ground shake."
Witness 34: "observed what he thought was a shooting star travelling west to east coming from the south shore...[it] moved faster than an airplane and had no arch to it...he stated that it approached the aircraft (what he originally thought was a Coast Guard flare) from west to east...He was approximately 15 miles from where he observed the crash site and no more then 5 miles from the missile (originally described as a shooting star)."
Witness 107: He "described the flare as starting off in the front of a larger obect and giving off an orange glow initially...[and] advised that the initial flare seemed to hit the object then shoot off to the west at an eighty (80) degree angle giving off an orange and red glow."
Witness 145: "stated that she saw a plane and noticed an object spiraling towards the plane. The object which she saw for about one second, had a glow at the end of it and a gray/white smoke trail. She stated she saw the object hit the plane and the object headed down toward the ocean. She could not be sure where the object hit the plane, but said it could have been to the side or near the back. She heard a loud noise and saw an explosion just as the object hit the plane. The plane dropped towards the water and appeared to split in two pieces. A few seconds later, she heard another explosion. She stated that the explosions were so loud that they shook the house." A drawing of the collision is presented.
Witness 640: At Smith Point Park, "he leaned back to stretch [and] his eye caught a jet plane in the sky, off to his left, and moving eastward. At the same time, he saw, off to his right, a 'green flash' rising up, and going toward the plane. The "flash" was far out in the ocean, was rising from the west, was also traveling east, and was behind the plane."
Witness 144: "she first noticed a plane in the sky traveling right to left...She then saw an object angle to the right with a bright orange glow with a white streak behind it...She then lost site of the streak because of the clouds. She described this streak as 'taking off like a rocket.' She thought at first that she saw fireworks but then changed her mind and said 'no way it was a missile.' After the clouds parted she saw a bright orange fireball, more than doubled in size, which broke shortly after into two pieces."
Witness 550b: "[H]e saw a plane coming from west to east and then what looked like a 'smaller' plane coming from the northeast on a dead course heading toward the nose of the larger plane...and saw what looked like aerial bomb fireworks. The larger plane blew up and became a big fireball...he heard a sound like paper crackling when the 'two planes' crunched up."
Witness 649: At Westhampton Beach High School, 649 observed a "projectile ascend in the sky." It was "red or pink with a trail of whitish smoke. The projectile moved in a squiggly manner in a southwest direction. The projectile was airborne for six-seven seconds and then it met with a shiny object that produced white smoke. The white smoke disappeared and then a red ball began to form. The red ball fell in an easterly direction at a [?]much quicker[?] pace than the projectile was ascending." [? this is contradicted by a later FBI summary that says the second object fell at the same or half the speed of the first, ascending object.]
Witness 658: While piloting an Air National Guard Helicopter, "Baur first noticed what he thought was a flare and said into the helicopter's radio, "Is that a pyro?" Baur's first thought was that two things had flown into each other." He also saw the falling debris and immediately flew to the area in a search and rescue effort. From NTSB interview, Appendix N: A "white-hot..pyrotechnic... device...[which] came from the left and went to the right. And it made the object on the right explode."
Witness 221: "At approximately 8:30 pm, he heard the sound of jet plane engines and he looked up so see a large commercial jet which had apparently just taken off from John F. Kennedy International Airport. The aircraft was increasing in altitude as it flew out over the ocean in an easterly or southeasterly direction...Within seconds after the aircraft past him, his wife called his attention to two fishing draggers which were directly south or southwest of their location. ...looking at the draggers, but further east or in the same direction of where the aircraft flew, he saw a streak of light travel up from the water into the sky...[like] a rocket or like a shooting star only going upward..." then heard rumbling sound and saw flash of light.
Witness 157: "he noticed a red flare or firework trailing white smoke ascending over the tree line on the south side of the waterhole. The flare was angling east-southeast. Approximately seven (7) to ten (10) seconds later, he observed a large fireball erupt approximately 12 miles away. An object, not on fire fell away from the fireball. Before the explosion in the sky, he observed a plane in the area of the flare. After the explosion, he could no longer see the plane."
Witness 218: "observed what appeared to him as two objects flying up, coming together and exploding....then a blue and dark purple flash. Then another part dropped off. The rest of the plane seemed to coast a little further."
Witness 233: "she noticed a flare off in the distance, rising into the air [later describing the flare as rising "at a steady, remarkable pace"]...and straight up..[then after looking away at nearby boats that she thought may have launched the flare], she reacquired the flare still glowing and still steadily rising...pause..then brightly pulse in a small concentrated area...within two (2) seconds of the pulse she observed a large object seemingly stopping its forward momentum while igniting into a fireball."
Witness 261: "saw a red navigator light from an airplane in the distance. He then saw an orange firework, with a tail, in the air southwest of him. The firework traveled up, then arched down before he lost sight of it. Seconds later he saw a second and third firework in the sky simultaneously..[and they]..traveled in the same arching pattern of the first firework. Approximately 30 seconds later, he heard a rumble and saw a blue vertical line of smoke stretch down to the horizon."
Witness 243: "This flying object looked like it came up from land [later described as "ascending into the sky from an east to west direction"] in the Moriches area.. [It] was relatively slow in flying up and took about four or five seconds before hitting the plane. The smoke which trailed this object was whitish in color and the band of smoke was narrow. It looked like a Roman candle flying into the air...and neither it, nor its impact with the plane, made any noise."
Witness 508: saw "an orange thing streak toward a dark object for about 10 seconds [approaching] ...from behind and on a downward angle and continued until an explosion occurred...[And from another FBI summary, he described the trajectory of the orange object:] saw an orange object ascending in the sky...travelling horizontally from right to left." [This other summary does not mention the "dark object."]
Witness 185: "To the right of the star, a 'yellowy-orange" light, 'all glowing', was coming up, it arced, from the right of the star going left. It went in front of the star and then exploded like a big bright light...She saw the rising light originate, she thought...from the water...then one piece falling"
For the first four years after the crash, researchers had to contact eyewitnesses directly or rely upon interviews from the media. The following is a collection of these statements, which are nearly identical to their official reports.
TWA Flight 800 Eyewitness Quotes
(pasted from the Hull Thread)
"We do have information that there was something in the sky. A number
of people have seen it. A number of people have described it similarly. It
was ascending." -- James Kallstrom (Then FBI Assistant Director)
Paul Angelides (Public Statement; July 12, 1998):
After work on July 17, 1996, I went to our ocean front summer rental house to have dinner with my wife and 1 year old son. After dinner my wife was bathing our son before putting him to bed so I decided to go to the ocean side deck to enjoy the view. As I walked through the sliding doors to the deck a red phosphorescent object in the sky caught my attention. The object was quite high in the sky (about 50-60 degrees) and was slightly to the west and off shore of my position. At first it appeared to be moving slowly, almost hanging and descending, and was leaving a white smoke trail. The smoke trail was short and the top of the smoke trail has a clockwise, parabolic shaped hook towards the shore. My first reaction was that I was looking at a marine distress flare which had been fired from a boat. I said to myself, someone must be in trouble.
I quickly realized that the object was too large and then began moving too fast to be a distress flare. I followed the object as it moved out over the ocean in the direction of the horizon. I lost sight of the object, as it was about 10 degrees above the horizon. In the same area of the sky out over the ocean, I then saw a series of flashes, one in the sky and another closer to the horizon. I remember straining to see what was happening as there seemed to be a lot of chaos out there. There was a dot on the horizon near the action, which I perceived as a boat. The flashes were then followed by a huge fireball, which dropped very quickly into the sea. I yelled to my wife. Come here quickly you've got to see this.
My first reaction was that I had seen a military exercise that went awry. Then the sounds started. There was a very loud and prolonged boom, which reminded me of thunder rolling above the house. The noise continued and concluded with a series of two distinctly louder bursts and a final extremely loud burst. The sounds shook the house. My wife who was on the bathroom floor drying our son from his bath felt the floor shaking as she heard the noise and I heard her cry out "what is going on?". After some silence there were two more extremely loud explosion like bursts of sound which also shook the house. I thought to myself that I had witnessed some big weapons being used.
I noticed several smoke patterns, which remained in the sky after the action took place. In the area where I lost sight of the object there was a long, wide, white cigar shaped cloud, which extended parallel to the horizon and eastward to the point where I had seen the huge fireball erupt. At the eastern end of the white cloud was a wide black smoke trail, which followed the same path as the fireball, which had dropped to the horizon. The path of the black smoke left a trail that was slightly to the east of a vertical drop. There was also a thin white, parabolic contrail, which extended upward and westward from the white cigar shaped cloud.
I called 911 and told the operator that I had just witnessed an explosion and crash, which had occurred off shore. The operator asked me for my location, which I provided to her. The operator said she would send someone right over. I told her that the explosion was off shore and not at my location. I then called the Moriches Coast Guard Station. I stated that I had seen an explosion off shore. I was told, "oh, thats the Air National Guard they are firing flares tonight". I told the Coast Guard Operator that what I had seen was no flare and that I had witnessed a major explosion. I then returned to the beach to see if anything else was going on.
The dot on the horizon, which I thought was a ship, had disappeared. I could see flames beginning to appear above the horizon in the area where the fireball had dropped. I saw lights from aircraft and boats heading towards the scene. As I thought about what I had seen and what the Coast Guard had just told me, I felt that I had witnessed an aircraft explode during a military exercise. I began to feel morose, as the explosion was so violent certainly the Air National Guard crew could not have survived.
I began flipping TV news channels. At about 9:15 I got a CNN report that a Boeing 747 was missing...... I followed the event in the newspapers and on TV and radio news. I called the FBI hotline number and a few days later was interviewed by three FBI representatives at my home in Laurel Hollow, N.Y., which is about 50 miles from Westhampton. I told the FBI my observations. I gave the FBI a sketch with a sequence of the events, which I had recalled at the time. I told the FBI that I had drawn no conclusions from my observations and that I was confident that the investigators would find the cause of the disaster. I was asked, "what was your first impression?" and I replied "I thought it was a military exercise and someone shot themselves in the foot". I was asked if I had ever seen a missile before and I replied no. I was asked if I was ever in the military and replied no. During the FBI interview, I noticed they had a questionnaire with an item which read, "when did you first see the missile?". At the conclusion of the interview one of the FBI representatives told me not to talk to too many people about what I had seen since, "someone could say you said this and someone could say you said that".
I followed the news coverage of the event during the months that followed and I became increasingly concerned that the investigation was off the mark. In hindsight I realized that the delayed long rolling thunder sound which I heard probably corresponded to the object traversing the sky. The first two bursts corresponded to the two white flashes, the third loud burst corresponded with the fireball. After the silence, the last two sound bursts would likely correspond with the aircraft hitting the water. In early 1997 I called the FBI stating that I wanted to tell my observations again and that I felt what I had seen was very important to their investigation. I was disappointed by what seemed to be their lack of interest. My friends and family have told me that I should not be persistent with the FBI since they are afraid that the Government would reprise against me.
Months later I saw the CIA video reenactment on various TV newscasts. It does not correlate in any way with my observations, especially with regard to the descending fireball of the aircraft, which is shown in the video from the perspective of an observer on shore. Nor is there any explanation of the characteristic location and movement of "the object" I saw traversing the sky. The FBI has explained eyewitness sighting of a "flare" as the body of the aircraft as it ascended, (prior to exploding) after the nose section fell off. I strongly disagree. My observations tell me that the aircraft was not just flying along and then suddenly blew up as the center fuel tank exploded. The large fireball, which would have occurred from a fuel explosion in the sky, was a later event in the sequence of my observations. The red, phosphorescent object which first attracted my attention traveled a great distance and at great speed to the area of flight 800's demise. The object originated in a vastly different sector of the sky than the Flight 800 path. The object traveled in a generally north-south direction whereas Flight 800 traveled west-east. The official explanations do not address the flashes of light I observed prior to the fireball and long rolling sonic boom, which ended with 2 small burst and one large burst, followed by silence and then two additional loud bursts. The video does not explain the long white cigar shaped cloud, which was left in the sky.
I have been disappointed with the results of the investigation so far. The official explanations of the disaster are vastly inconsistent with my observations. Considering the resources at the disposal of the investigators and the extent of the investigation, which has been performed over the past two years, I do not believe that the cause of the disaster remains unknown. At the time of the incident I was 48 years old. I received a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1971, I received New York State licensure as a Professional Engineer in 1997. I am self employed full time as a Consulting Engineer and I have been qualified as an expert witness before courts in Nassau, Suffolk, Queens and Bronx counties. I am a small business owner / sole practitioner and the breadwinner for my family. I watched the negative official and press reaction to the reports by Mr. Salinger which more accurately describe my observations. I have reasoned that if Mr. Salinger, who is a former prestigious government official, could be treated so poorly, what is in store for me if I speak out. I am concerned for my security and fear Government reprisal against me for what I have seen. Paul J. Angelides 7/12/98.
Vasilis Bakounis: Private Pilot and Olympic Airlines engineer - "Suddenly, I saw in the fog to my left, toward the ocean, a small flame rising quickly towards the sky. Before I realized it, I saw this flame become huge. My first impression was that it was a flare shot off a boat."
Capt. Chris Baur: "Almost due south [of the helicopter], there was a hard white light, like burning pyrotechnics, in level flight," Capt. Chris Baur told investigators. "I was trying to figure out what it was. It was the wrong color for flares. It struck an object coming from the right and made it explode." Two NY Air National Guard pilots with the best view of the crash of TWA 800 ....... one believes the airliner was struck by a fast-moving object coming from the east, while the other saw a fiery trail from the west.... Meyer's attention was first called to the area ...."by a streak of light moving from my right (west) to my left (east)," the same direction as the TWA flight, he said.....Baur, on the left side of the cockpit, saw a streak moving from left to right toward the approaching TWA aircraft before the initial explosion. The streak of light that Meyer saw .....was red-orange in color .....there was what Meyer describes as a hard, very sudden, yellowish-white explosion that looked identical to the detonation of an anti-aircraft shell ....."It left a cloud of smoke just like a flak explosion does," Meyer said. "One to two seconds later, there was a second, hard explosion almost pure white in color ... almost immediately there was a third explosion and fireball"....Baur also saw three explosions ...he contends that they started from left (east) and went to the right (west).... The call sign that night for Baur and Meyer was Jolly 14. The helicopter (a HH-60G Pave Hawk) was descending through 200 feet above the airport when Baur's eye was caught by some sort of light. According to the crew, Baur called out over the intercom to his flight engineer, MSgt. Dennis Richardson, "Hey Denny, is that pyro?" Within seconds he saw a hard explosion. Richardson, shifting in his seat from behind Baur, did not see the streak but did see the explosions.
Vincent Bilodeau Joseph McBride: Bilodeau and McBride state that on 7-17-96 at 2045 they were at the Moriches Inlet, South Shore, facing south to southeast. Bilodeau and McBride observed a reddish glowing flare ascend skyward from due East but they could not tell if from land or water. Flare was tight, corkscrew shape with even but fast speed. Did not see what flare struck but it exploded in air into a large orange fireball. Two large flaming chunks of debris fell from the fireball. Both recall hearing a deep thunderous rumble during the explosion. Saw fire on water a distance of 7 miles away. Also recall a light, low flying, single engine plane with a maroon stripe, low to beach about 15 minutes before explosion. (Suffolk NY Police Reports Case # 96-435598)
Douglas Bushton: The witness was playing basketball on the street with a neighbor. The witness was facing south when he saw a pink/salmon glow just above the water tower to the south. He described the object just like a red roman candle. The object went behind the water tower and reappeared right below the tank where it exploded into an orange ball. No smoke observed. No noise was heard.
Robert Casola interviewed by Tom Stalcup on 1/28/98. He was on his boat with his engine running about 12 miles from the site of the accident. He noticed what he thought was a distress flare. He saw a smoke trail rising from the ocean, a small explosion, then a much larger explosion. He heard nothing over the noise of his motor.
Timothy Caufield: Caufield was sailing in Shinnecock Bay with two friends, heading toward the Southampton Yacht Club. While sitting in the front of the boat facing to the west, he saw a light in the sky that he thought was fireworks. In a second or two the light burst into a yellow/orange explosion that caught fire, breaking into two parts that fell into the ocean. He estimated this occurred about 10 miles to the southwest of him. (Suffolk NY Police Reports)
Zach Clanahan interviewed by Tom Stalcup 1/29/98. He was fishing in a boat while heading towards shore. While watching the lines, his friend said "hey, look at that!" He then looked to notice a plume connecting the ocean to an immediate explosion. Another friend of his who also saw the incident was present during this interview. His name is Danny Curro, and was fishing on a different boat. He saw the fiery blaze coming down from the sky and hitting the water. It left black smoke. When the black smoke went away, he saw white smoke. He also heard three loud explosions after witnessing the event. The week before the accident while surfing, Clanahan noticed a lot of Navy exercises in the area. He and the others on the boat called the FBI hotline and told them that they had witnessed the event. No FBI official visited. Then, his friend's father (also on the boat) called the FBI back and said that he thought he saw a missile hit the plane. The FBI showed up right away.
Anthony Curreri: He was sitting on the beach at the Bellport Dock at the South end of Station Road. Facing southeast towards Smith Point bridge he saw "a red streak rise from the horizon." Curreri said that he thought it "was fireworks being fired from Smith Point Beach over the ocean." He said the streak "ascended at a slight angle to the right, very high then curved downward slightly and then leveled off and appeared to explode resulting in two similar objects falling down." He thought that it might be two aircraft colliding. He estimated that the event occurred 3 miles offshore. The police noted that: "We took the witness to the Bellport dock and he visually placed the origin of the red streak in a line from the dock directly over the Pavilion at the Smith's Point Beach. But the streak was beyond the Pavilion. When the debris fell, he felt that it was to the right of the Pavilion."
Lou Desyron (ABC World News Sunday, 07/21/96): "We saw what appeared to be a flare going straight up. As a matter of fact, we thought it was from a boat. It was a bright reddish-orange color". Once it went into flames I knew that it wasn't a flare."
Tom Dougherty: "I looked up because it sounded like thunder. I kept looking trying to figure out what it was. And that's when I saw a flare come off the water." - "The flare, trailing orange flame, shot up roughly at a 45 degree angle, then rapidly increased it's angle of ascent.... Then it appeared to strike something." He saw the missile during most of its flight from Dune Road on Fire Island. He was interviewed by the FBI and the FOX TV program Hard Copy. Tom said that he first heard two booms. Then he saw the missile shoot upwards, from the ocean, which was behind a sand dune in front of him. He saw it "shoot in another direction" briefly and then it corrected itself. He said that after the missile hit the plane, the plane glowed very bright as part of it fell and then, after becoming luminescent, it burst into flames. "This was the strangest thing I ever saw. Everyone calls it a 'missile theory,' but when you see something, you know what you see, and I didn't see a theory."
Tom Dougherty: Interview by Cdr. Donaldson presented at the AIM conference October 18, 1997.
I was in Docker's restaurant in Quogue ... I was leaving there and I was with two other people and as we were headed towards... south.. we were walking south towards the water. I heard what I thought to be thunder.. very loud thunder up in the sky and I looked up in the direction of where the thunder was coming from and I didn't see any clouds to indicate that there was any kind of thunder heads there. So I said you know that's strange to the friend of mine. So we continued a few more paces and I guess.. I don't know how many seconds later there was another thundering noise that I heard and I looked up again and I said that's very strange just to hear this when there was no thunder and no clouds of that type around. So I continued to look in that direction because of the noises that I heard and within a few more seconds I saw a red-orange flare go up which I thought was like a Guicci fireworks and I watched it go up away from me in a south-westerly direction towards West Hampton beach area and it .. what I was waiting for was the flare to reach its trajectory and to come down and explode like fireworks. And it didn't. What happened was it kept diminishing in size and then seemed to veer towards the east more and then it disappeared in the clouds or the fog area ... the haze .. and it was at that few .. a second later that I saw this 'glowing' in the sky and it looked like a UFO ... I was kidding around with my friends and I turned and I said look at that fireworks turned into a UFO. And then a few seconds later I saw something just... flop out of the sky with burning .. whatever it was.. and I watched and I said it's the strangest fireworks I've ever seen and a few moments later ....seconds later it was ..I can't keep track I heard another explosion and that's when I saw this big fire come out of the sky and it looked like the sun coming down actually. It was the size where I was standing maybe about the size of two half dollars together. So it was a good size .... sparks flying off it .. but I still didn't understand what kind of fireworks it was ........(Click for Dougherty audio file)....... To get the free Real Audio Player go to http://www.real.com/products/player/index.html and click on Real Player G2 beta for the free one. Fill in the blanks and then click on "Download Free Real Player G2 beta"
Donald Eick: October 20, 1997 The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, CA. For Donald Eick and his family, the scene in the July 1996 summer sky is a permanent memory: a reddish flare-like object just off the water heading upward, zigzagging a little in an unmistakable vertical climb, a fireball erupting at the end of the ascent. The initial drama took no more than 12 to 15 seconds, Eick estimates. Then, the meteorologist, his wife and 12-year-old daughter saw three sections of aircraft "fluttering" toward the Atlantic Ocean. ...... Eick's description, previously given only to FBI investigators, is different than others because he says he and his family saw the plane separate: two parts in flame and one part seeming to arch upward before heading toward the Atlantic. All other published accounts, including reports from airline pilots in the air, tell only of seeing lights, explosions or fireballs, but not the fuselage. The Islip, N.Y., family was returning to Long Island's Great South Bay after a day of boating and swimming when Eick's daughter noticed the reddish light headed upward. Eick does his work as a meteorologist for TWA, but he says that his link with the airline has no bearing on what he saw. He also is a civilian pilot and has participated in accident investigations. "It was what we would best describe as a boat flare, a reddish object going up," Eick said. "It went up and a few seconds later we saw an explosion in the sky. I can't say if it came off shore or on shore. At first, we thought it was a boat flare. It zigzagged a little. We thought it strange. "Then, several seconds later, we saw an eruption of fire. We never heard anything. We saw a fireball, and at that point we identified what was an aircraft. We could see it fluttering down. We were the third boat on Long Island to report the incident to the Coast Guard." Eick said the family clearly could see three sections of wreckage, one of which lofted upward a bit before heading downward. That piece did not catch fire, he said. ... "When I was interviewed by the FBI the next day, they were interested in the wreckage I saw go upward," Eick said. "I think it probably was the nose." A classified NTSB report based on an examination of the wreckage said the nose separated almost simultaneously with some unknown event that produced excess pressure in the center fuel tank and began its collapse. The nose then plummeted, without catching on fire, to an Atlantic site separate from the main fuselage. The report said the main part of the fuselage began a steep dive after the nose separated and the wing tips ripped off because of the intense strain, followed by the left wing and, sometime later, the right wing. Eick said it was "completely erroneous" to believe that the red flare he and his family saw was fuel or other descending plane debris. "It was something going up to it beforehand," he said. "Yes, I saw flaming debris go down. Something attracted us to the area before it exploded. And even my wife and my oldest daughter, we all were witnesses to it. There definitely was something there first before the aircraft went down." The meteorologist estimated visibility at "about 20 miles and unrestricted." He said he and his family were about 10 miles from where TWA's wreckage rained into the ocean.
Brandi Ellison and John Gang: The ...witnesses were in a boat along with 5 other persons, on the Peconk Bay at the end of the (?) of the Harbor Cove Inn. Facing Westbound, witness #1 Ellison states she observed a flare shot upward, from the water, ascend with a bright orange-red glow skyward and at it's apex, burst into numerous red flames. Flare had a very large orange, red trail. Her boyfriend, witness #2 also watched the flare ascend and then descend into numerous red flames. Neither heard any noise. Witness #1 thought they were about 30 miles away. Witness #2 - 5 or 6 miles away.
Edwin A. Evens: Evens was on a boat off the Shinnecock Inlet with two other people. The boat was heading north toward the Inlet on a line from the one mile sea buoy. They were about 1/4/ to 1/2 mile past the buoy toward the Inlet when Evens saw what he thought was a flare straight behind or slightly to the right of the boat to the southeast. Evens said that the flare had a "white wispy trail that went straight up." He called to the other in the boat to look at the flare. He watched it for about 5 seconds when it suddenly turned into an orange burst. He then saw black smoke yet saw nothing fall into the ocean.
Svein Faret, Private Pilot - Airborne. "Pin flash of light near the shore - It looked like a rocket launch at a fireworks display."
Victor Fehner interviewed by Tom Stalcup on 1/28/98. He noticed a "small ball [in the sky that] started out as....a parachute flare." He said it was approximately 30 degrees above the horizon. He then said it quickly went from 30 degrees to about 15 degrees where it ended in an explosion which blew off into two balls of fire. He was located in front of the Coast Guard Station.
William Gallagher: October 20, 1997 The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, CA. William Gallagher, a commercial fisherman, had just finished trolling for squid when he saw a reddish light in the sky. "I picked it up three seconds before it turned into a bright white ball, which split," Gallagher said. "I thought it was fireworks. And then I didn't know what to think because from the white ball, I saw two wide orange bands of light fall down, obviously the fuel igniting." It was TWA Flight 800. When he returned to port, he called the FBI. "I'll lay my ass on the table and tell the president or the FBI, and someone can hypnotize me: There was no way that red light was descending," Gallagher said. "It was ascending. It made contact with what turned out to be that airplane and made a white bright light and then split in two." He thinks something is wrong with the investigation. "If I were in a courtroom and the prosecutor says I've got an eyewitness, then I become a trump card," he said. "We're not just one witness but 135 or more strong." Officials say more than 400 eyewitnesses were interviewed, many reporting a red flare-like or fireworks-like object ascending toward the plane. "I saw something hit the right side of the plane," said Gallagher. "My opinion was it blew the wing off on impact. I assumed something went through the airplane, like behind first class and into the wing." Gallagher, of New Jersey, has worked the ocean waters near the crash for more than 15 years. "My honest opinion, my gut feeling, is that we have the most brilliant people in the world and the best technology," Gallagher said. "If they've been on scene for a year and they've not come up with something, as a critical thinker I have to ask, could they be covering up something?" FBI and NTSB officials bristle at such comments and say they are meticulously searching for clues among more than 300,000 pounds of debris, with another 15,000 to 25,000 pounds missing and deemed unrecoverable.
Al Gipe: a former Navy gunnery officer, was on his sail boat out at sea 25 nautical miles offshore. He saw what he thought was an emergency flare go up about 15 miles to the north. He said it looked like a 40 mm. tracer bullet, streaking upward, from south to north, until it exploded high in the sky a few seconds later. He noted down his position at the time, and not long after he learned the coordinates of the crash site from the radio. The estimated launch point was about three miles from the crash site. (See links to video under Angelides above)
Richard Goss: Interview by Cdr. Donaldson presented at the AIM conference October 18, 1997.
That evening I was just finishing up a sunfish race at West Hampton Yachts club .. it was a Wednesday night .. and that particularly night every week we have an informal sunfish race and then it's followed by a 'bring your own' barbecue dinner on the back porch of the yacht club. That porch faces south and my position at the table that I was sitting at I was looking right out at Moriches Bay and you know just leaning back, resting, just enjoying the moment of that part of the evening. It was near dusk and it was then that I saw a flare-type object go up and feeling that oh someone along Dune Road has fireworks and other members of the club saw it also and said hey look at the firework. And everybody turned to look and we all watched it climb and I particularly watched it and it was bright, very bright, and you know that almost bright pink you know and orange glow around it and it travelled up and it look to go straight up from the area that I was observing it and then it reached it's peak and it seemed to go away in the distance towards the south and that's when I saw it veer left which would bring it out east. It was a sharp left (http://www.accessone.com/~rivero/CRASH/TWA/MISSILE_TRACK/missile.html) and then it did not disappear. From my vantage point there was a direct explosion that followed and then after that there was a second explosion that was off to the east a little farther that was much larger .. it was like something broke off of whatever that was and caught on fire. The smoke was black .. it was obviously some petroleum. I knew it was an airplane or aircraft of some sort and I didn't realize what size it was. And then it took some time to come down .. probably three or four seconds and there was just a stream of black and white smoke and then when it hit the horizon over the barrier beach .. Dune Road .. and when it hit the horizon there was a bright flash. (Click for Goss audio file)
Douglas Graham interviewed by Tom Stalcup on 1/27/98. Graham's first impression was that the event was a terrorist attack, but after going over the event in his head later, he did not recall seeing an object rise from the ocean. But his daughter saw an object rise from the ocean.
Richard Grauer: "It was a thin trail of smoke going up fast - then there was this huge pink ball of fire".
Margaret Greig: Margaret Greig was sitting on the Smith Point Beach slightly to the west of the bath house facing southeast when she saw a "flare" shoot upwards from the ocean. The flare went "upwards in a concave arc." The flare "had a pink flame at first which turned into an orange flame" about a quarter of the way up. A thin trail of black smoke followed behind flare. The flare shot upwards for about 5 seconds and then turned into a large ball of orange fire. The black-smoke trail lingered afterwards for about 6 minutes. She estimated that the flare was about one mile out to sea. The witness did not see anything fall into the ocean after the orange explosion. (Suffolk NY Police Reports)
John Keyser and Joyce Keyser: While driving southerly on Church, Mrs. Keyser relates observing, while looking southerly, a golden glowing, moving object above the tree top line. The unusual golden color of the elongated object drew Mrs. Keyser's attention. Mrs. Keyser noticed a red light on it and though 15 to 20 miles away she assumed it to be a plane. Mrs. Keyser states suddenly the plane took an unusual, 45 degree dive with no visible flame or smoke below the tree top line. A large, reddish flaming fireball immediately arose above the tree line where the plane had descended. The entire observation was approximately 90 seconds in duration. No observation of any object or projectile from the ground to the plane was witnessed. Mr. Keyser drew a picture of explosion. (Suffolk NY Police Reports Case # 96-435598)
Rosa Gray Khalilch Gray Smith's Point Beach: Reports being on the beach Wed. July 17, 96 between 8:30 and 8:45 when the Grays saw .. double orange flares streak upward and explode into a large orange fireball. The flares were slanted arcing and trailed by a grey smoke. Gray also reports a strong odor of diesel fuel and the sighting was southeast of Smith's Point Beach. (Suffolk NY Police Reports Case # 96-435598)
Susan Kinscherf: "I looked to the ocean and I saw a ball in the sky that looked like a red glow. It went up and there was an explosion .... then it just fell from the sky".
Heidi Krieger: "I think it's a missile of friendly fire or something like that". Krieger was out on her boat in the Great South Bay snapping pictures of her father, on his boat, with a disposable camera and caught the image of a sqiggly white line in the background of one photo.
Frank Lenahan & Mrs. Lenahan Hampton Bay: Were sitting on their outside deck, second story and Frank Lenahan saw two red streaks, very vivid in color ascend from what appeared to be Dune Rd. about two miles away. He bought this to the attention of his wife who was turned, and she saw one streak go west to east, straight across the horizon just above the dune line. They didn't follow the streak(s) all the way up as they assumed it was fireworks. Mrs. Lenahan heard what she thought was thunder followed by a second (sound) which she described as a Concorde Jet, followed by a very large thump which they felt. She knew something wasn't right and she looked at her watch and it was 8:30. (Suffolk NY Police Reports Case # 96-435598)
Naneen Levine said "The little red dot went up like this [witness draws trajectory] it sort of curved, it came to just a point where I thought little fireworks were going to come down and it would just fade and be a flare. It looked like a dot, it didn't look like a fiery streak, it looked like a little red dot that went up. It didn't leave a tail or anything behind, just a little dot. Like I thought it was something on the beach going straight up".
Interviewed on the Art Bell show with Cmdr. Donaldson http://ww2.broadcast.com/artbell/archive98.html#dec98 - choose Tuesday night/Wednesday morning 12/1/98
Bell: Bill where are you located?
Lisle: I'm located in Lindenhurst, Long Island
Bell: Lindenhurst, Long Island. All right. You apparently were a mate on a commercial fishing boat of some kind?
Lisle: Yes, I was first mate on a charter boat fishing for blue fish about six miles off the beach.
Bell: On that night?
Bell: So you had the advantage of being off shore - let's see .. six miles more or less west of the missile launch point and it says here you watched it go from the surface into the cloud and then observed two explosions? Is that correct?
Lisle: Well, everything is correct. What I saw was after it got up into the cloud cover I saw a large flash up in the clouds and then after that like another large flash and then you know I saw stuff coming down
Bell: Right, let's back up. What were you able to see at ground level? What did you see from ground level, from the ocean where you were?
Lisle: Well we were heading west and I was standing right on the stern of the boat because we were trolling what they call .. blue fish (unclear) and I was watching the two lines running out the back of the boat. And all of a sudden I saw this large orange and red thing just take off from the surface of the ocean south east of me.
Bell: Could you.. is there any way .... I know it's difficult to estimate distance but how far would you say this launch was from your?
Lisle: It had to be maybe six miles
Bell: Six miles
Lisle: Maybe a little farther - it's kinda tough to estimate how far but I'd say something in that area.
Bell: Was there any question in your mind what you saw?
Lisle: None, not at all. From day one ... nobody will ever convince me any different about what I saw.
Bell: So you saw a missile leave the sea and streak up into the clouds. You saw one explosion, then you saw a secondary explosion
Lisle: Right, I saw like an explosion up in the cloud cover. I saw a flash - looked like sometimes you see lighting up in the clouds and then I saw another one and that was it.
Bell: You heard Suzanne before you and I'm going to have to ask you some of the same questions. Number 1 - did you talk to the FBI?
Lisle: Yes I did. The second day after the accident they came down to the dock and interviewed me down at the dock
Bell: At the dock?
Lisle: Right. I was a mate on a charter boat out of (unclear) and when we were coming in from a trip they were on the dock and they wanted to talk to me then after we got tied up.
Bell: So you told them roughly what you just told me
Bell: And their reaction?
Lisle: Their reaction to me was: "You actually want us to believe that you saw a missile go up there and shoot that plane down?" And I said: "Yes"
Bell: That was their reaction? My God! So it's as though they were incredulous ...."You want us to believe that?" That kind of reaction?
Lisle: That's the impression I got - yes.
David McClaine:October 20, 1997 The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, CA. Eastwind Airlines pilot David McClaine's aerial view of the Flight 800 fireball made him the person to transmit the first known message of the tragedy to authorities. McClaine, piloting a Boeing 737 jetliner, had just leveled off at 17,000 feet on the plane's commuter run from Boston to Trenton, N.J. He had been watching a strange yellow light gradually ascend from the direction of Kennedy Airport. The light was different, he said, not the bright white light that jetliners' landing lights give off. McClaine said he had never seen a similar light in his 30 years as a military and commercial pilot. He thought it might be flames but heard no radio traffic, saw no smoke and decided it wasn't fire. The object moved up past 10,000 feet, where pilots normally turn off the lights they use as aerial warning beacons, but this one kept burning. He fixed his gaze on it for more than a minute, he said, and decided it was time to flick on his landing lights because his 737 would pass to the object's left. Before he could reach the switch, the yellowish light exploded into a ball of flames. "It blew up, just one big explosion," McClaine said. No more than a second later, two streamers came out of the bottom, flames trailing about 4,000 feet, he estimated. He did not actually see TWA 800's fuselage; smoke and flames trailing the plane blotted out the aircraft's debris as it fell 2 miles to the ocean. The yellowish light remains a puzzle. Federal Aviation Administration regulations require white landing lights and airliners have two main lights, not one. TWA's Boeing 747 landing lights are "a very bright, bright, white light," a company spokesman said. Beaver, Jane's missile expert, said a minute would be an exceptionally long burn for a surface-to-air missile but a drone's propulsion system lasts much longer. The BQM-34 "Firebee" drone, for instance, has a range of 700 miles and can stay aloft for about an hour at full speed. Others have longer ranges and flying times. McClaine immediately called Boston air traffic control with news of the in-flight explosion but got no response. He repeated the call twice more. A Boston controller told pilots to stand by for a roll call and orally ticked off the known aircraft. "They called TWA 800 twice," McClaine recalled. "I said, `Boston, I think that's them'. And they said, `That's right.'" He said he thought at the moment that some "on-board incident," possibly a bomb, blew the plane apart, an opinion he still holds. He said he had not changed his original conclusion because he could not say the yellow light was a missile or drone. The incident held a special footnote for McClaine. As a youngster, he took the TWA flight often while traveling between the United States and Saudi Arabia where his dad worked for the Arab American Oil Co. FBI investigators talked to him a few days after the disaster but he hasn't been contacted since, he said earlier this month. He was initially asked if he saw anything like the trail of a missile headed toward the plane but said he didn't.
David McClaine: Eastwind 507 Pilot
8:37:11 Boston: Well, I want to confirm that you saw the splash in the water.
8:37:20 Eastwind 507: Yes, sir. It just blew up in the air, and then we saw two fireballs go down to the water. ... There seemed to be a light.... I thought it was a landing light, ... and it was coming right at us at .. about ... I don't know .. about 15,000 feet or something like that, and I pushed my landing lights, ah, you know, so I saw him, and then it blew.
8:37:40 Boston: Roger that, sir, that was a 747 out there you had a visual on that. Anything else in the area when it happened?
8:37:47 Eastwind 507: I didn't see anything. He seemed to be (alone?). I thought he had a landing light on ... maybe it was a fire ... I don't know.
Interviewed on the Art Bell show with Cmdr. Donaldson http://ww2.broadcast.com/artbell/archive98.html#dec98 - choose Tuesday night/Wednesday morning 12/1/98
Bell: Where are you, Suzanne
McConnell: I'm in East Moriches
Bell: You're right there then
McConnell: Yes, I am.
Bell: Commander, would you like to lead her through this?
Donaldson: Well sure. Suzanne and I just really got together for the first time a few days back. We have an 800 number now for eyewitnesses and anyone else who has a material contribution to the investigation and we just did make contact. Suzanne, why don't you tell everybody where you were, what you were doing and what you saw.
McConnell:Well I live right on East Moriches Bay and my family and I were sitting on the deck eating dinner and I just happened to be looking out directly at the spot where I saw the .. what I thought was a flare go up from about ground level
Bell: From ground level?
McConnell: And tracked it as it went up and all of a sudden there was just this orange fireball in the sky which then broke into about two or three pieces and then just kind of cascaded down to the bay.
Bell: So you saw this happen?
Bell: And you saw something come without question from the ground up.
McConnell: Well it was... it had to have come at least from the ground because .. I'm not sure how far off ground level I saw it start but it definitely came from down below
Donaldson: And Suzanne the amount of time ....how fast did it take to go from ground level up to obviously where the aircraft was?
McConnell: Oh, it probably took about three or four seconds.
Donaldson: So it was really moving quickly then.
McConnell: Oh, it was going fast.
Donaldson: Is there any question that it was not going several times faster than the normal speed of an airplane that you see fly by?
McConnell: Oh, no. It was definitely moving faster than a plane.
Donaldson: OK and it was going near vertically. It wasn't going horizontally or something like that?
McConnell: Oh, no. It was going vertically.
Darou J. Miron and Mrs. Miron: Witness states that he and his wife were camping at Smith's Point Beach and while walking southerly near dump station by front office he noticed a white streak moving skyward from southeast of his location. He could not tell how far away or did not observe where the streak originated from ground or water. The streak burst into yellow sparks after a riff of smoke then orange flames descended to water in two orange ( ? ). Witness states he observed the lights of a ship or boat in the area of incident the night before but were indistinguishable with binoculars. Craft seemed to remain stationery for a long period of time. (Suffolk NY Police Reports Case # 96-435598)
Jim Naples at helm small pleasure craft - Wife, Roseann - Daughters, Kathleen and Charlene - Total - 4 witnesses "All of a sudden my wife goes, 'Look' and we look. We see this flare. The first thing out of my mouth was - 'Look at that flare! I never saw a flare like that!"
Barbara Pacholk interviewed by Tom Stalcup on 1/28/98. She saw two objects rise from the water or land. The first object exploded near the tail and the second near the nose. She also saw a black submarine and its periscope. According to Ms. Pacholk, the periscope was looking in the direction of the plane, rotated about a 3/4 turn and saw her, then left the area. She believes that it is possible that at least one missile came from this sub. She also noticed two large navy vessels in the ocean. One of which quickly left the area after the tragedy.
Bill Patrick: Posting to http://www.nystate.com/msgboard/theory.html on September 19, 1997. I was First Officer on TWA 900 and took off 2 minutes behind 800, following essentially the same flight path. We were at 19,000' and approx. 10 miles in trail of 800 when it exploded although we could not see it. Inflight visibility at our altitude was fairly poor due to haze and approaching dusk. The conditions at all altitudes were hazy but much better lower. I can not comment on surface visiblity at the crash scene but I would be surprised if the actual aircraft was visible from the surface prior to the explosion. Once the a/c exploded it would certainly be visible. I know personally of one eyewitness that was fishing off the coast and saw a "flare" go up from a surface vessel on the horizon and was followed by the explosion overhead moments later. He then guided his boat to the wreckage of 800 and never saw the surface vessel again. He could not describe any details except to say that it was about 10 miles away
Roland Penney: Interview by Cdr. Donaldson presented at the AIM conference October 18, 1997.
They said "Are you sure you didn't see something going down ...and not going up"? ...... I said "No.... Gosh sakes I ain't that stupid ....I ought to be able to tell if something is going up in the air or going down in the air .... No and I said I'm not changing my mind about it ... I'll stick to that until I die. I said I saw something going up and I said there was no question in my mind. I said I'm telling you what I saw. I'm not telling you what I think I saw. I said I saw something and..... that's the way I am stating it. I'm not trying to make up a story just to be on the news or whatever... I said I have no desire to be on the news - I don't even want to get involved in this stuff anymore. But I said there was definitely something going up and then it went behind ... I said I'm assuming it's a cloud and then we saw this white light. Donaldson: OK. And when we were off .. when the recording was off ... you mentioned that a neighbor ... we won't mention the name .. but had a similar experience apparently with an FBI interview that they were trying to get her to say that it was going the other way...Penney: That's right Donaldson: And she talked to you on the phone and got a little bit ....Penney: She was upset because she says I'm a grown woman - I don't drink and she says it wasn't because I had alcohol in me. She says I saw something definitely going up and there is no question in my mind about that and she says I'm not changing my mind either.
Lisa Perry - Dan's Papers, Long Island, May 15, 1998: I saw the missile. I was facing eastward, toward the Hamptons, the ocean on my right, the deck of the house on my left. The deck is about 22 feet about the beach. On a clear day, as you look straight down the beach along the line of the shore, you can see the parking lot at Smith's Point Beach, 12 miles away. There was a plane in the sky ... out from the left, from the North, something was moving North to South over the dunes ... from the direction of the Great South Bay. The object came over the dunes of Fire Island. It was shiny, like a new dime; it looked like a plane without wings. It had no windows... It was as if there was a flame at the back of it, like a Bunsen burner .... It was like a silver bullet ... It was moving much faster than the plane. The silver object took a left turn, and went up to the plane. The plane stopped for an instant, as something would when it had suffered an impact, not just an explosion. Then it began to fracture - as if you had slammed a frozen candy bar down onto a table. You could see the spaces in between the parts of the plane. Then a moment later there was another explosion and the plane broke jaggedly in the sky. It was sideways to the way it had been ... there is smoke, fire .. the plane starts to fall apart in the sky ... the nose is continuing to go forward: the left wing is gliding off in its own direction, drifting in an arc gracefully down; the right wing and passenger window are doing the same in their direction out to the right; and the tail with its fireball leaps up and then promptly into the water below. The sounds were hugh BOOM! - then another BOOM! There was a hugh rumbling rolling in the sky... I told the FBI the nose of the plane had come off; and I told them this before the Navy pulled it out of the water. Mrs Perry was interviewed by the FBI - The two agents were very supportive; I was very comfortable with them .. I got the impression that they themselves thought a missile had hit the plane. After the (NTSB) hearings I spoke with one of the agents, who told me the FBI had concluded I was too far from the accident to see what I had seen. (Speaking of the CIA video) It wasn't like that at all. They said most people turned to the sound and then saw something. I was already looking at the event, before any explosion. Having asked for a copy of her testimony to the FBI she was told to file a FOI request. I knew what I was seeing was a plane breaking apart with people in it. It still haunts me how it continued to be in the air not quite flying but not exploded apart. I'm heartbroken for the families of all those people who were on that plane.
Paul Runyan told the N.Y. Daily News, 11/09/96: "It looked like a big skyrocket going up". The flash looked "like a rocket launch at a fireworks display".
Col. William Stratemeier (Text and documentation by Ian Williams Goddard)
People have claimed they saw an interview right after the crash of an Air National Guard pilot as he stood on a tarmac in front of an aircraft where the pilot said the jet was hit with a missile and that Navy-missile exercises were being conducted at the time. Consistent with such an interview, the Long Island paper Suffolk Life [SUFFOLK LIFE: "Flight 800: Accident Or Terrorist Attack? - Part 4 Was There A Cover-up?" By Joey Mac Lellan. December 17, 1998] reports: "Long Island's Channel 55 cameraman James Hughes, said during an interview that he and another camera crew from one of the networks were at the airport when the C130 landed. The crew, he said, stated they saw a missile heading toward FL800 just before they witnessed the explosion. The C130 crew members were pulled away from the two camera crews by what Hughes said appeared to be their superiors and came back claiming they had seen nothing." The C-130 was piloted by Col. William Stratemeier.
The sudden change of the pilots story is consistent with a report from Aviation Week & Space Technology [AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY: Terrorist Fears Deepen With 747's Destruction. E.Phillips, P. Mann (7/22/96) p.20.] that the ANG C-130 pilot "said he had seen what appeared to be the trail of a shoulder-fired SAM ending in a flash on the 747," and then in the next issue, Aviation Week reports that the pilot had a sudden change of mind, now saying: "We did not see smoke trails [from a missile], any ignition source from the tail end of a rocket nor anything..." [AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY: ANG Eyewitnesses Reject Missile Theory. By David Fulghum, July 29, 1996, page 32.]
Note from website author: A source has told me that Stratemeier said He had not seen anything before the fireball and so the above AWST item is strictly correct. He may have said that a missile brought down the aircraft without saying that it was he who saw the missile. The key to understanding the apparent conflict is the flight engineer, who was sitting between the pilots and one pace behind their seats.
Meyer: Now I went out to give aid as I told you and found no survivors and went back to my unit and went home that night. The next day at 4:00 pm we gave a press conference and some reporters came to base and we sat in an auditorium on the base and I came down from my office to participate in this press conference in which the crew of the C130 and the rest or my crew and two para rescue men who had seen a light in the sky were all called in to tell what we saw to the news media. When I went into that press conference the public affairs officer from my unit gave me three criteria - he said "Do not speculate" - "Do not give your opinion" - and "Do not discuss the condition of the bodies. So those were the conditions under which we held that press conference. I described my streak of light and everything to the people there. I walked out of that room about an hour and fifteen minutes later and a fellow was watching a television in a room across the hall from the briefing room and he said: "Hey, I just saw you on television - Peter Jennings says you said it was a missile". Well all hell broke loose because I had apparently violated the parameters of the press conference. The AJ of the NY State Air Guard was on the phone with me and wanted to know why I did that. I told him: "General the entire press conference was videotaped - look at the videotape - I never said it was a missile". Well the media had picked it up as a missile and therefore I was given the task to then go back to the media and tell them "I didn't say it was a missile". So I went back - at that time the next day - two days later - the Friday after the accident - I went back to the coast guard station at East Moriches where I gave in excess of 40 interviews to news media crews in which I told them that I did not say it was a missile. They, of course, reported 'Pilot on the scene says it was not a missile' (Laughter). There came a period in here where we decided - and it was a mutual decision - it was not an order - that we were just going to stop talking to the media because no matter what we told them they screwed it up. We stopped talking to the media (applause). We also decided that we were witnesses to an accident - that there were pros in the NTSB who were going to come in and do a first rate job. And we waited for a year for those pros to do a first rate job and we don't believe they did .....
Phyllis Terney: Terney stated that she was in her boat proceeding southerly while entering Mt. Sinai Harbor on the north shore of Long Island. About 2030 to 2035 hours on the date of the incident she observed what she thought was an orange flare rise just above the tree tops to the south, southeast of her location. She estimated the orange explosion to be approximately 20 miles to the south of her location and thought a house exploded. (Suffolk NY Police Reports Case # 96-435598)
Carlo Verardi: Stated that he was driving his van on Route 27 through the center of Moriches and directly to his left he saw a gray smoke trail traveling at a high rate of speed and where the trail terminated an explosion occurred. He designated it was going straight up not zig zag and was visible for a time after the explosion. From the time he spotted trail to time of explosion he guessed 37 seconds. Trail of smoke 5 miles to the south.
Ken Wendall, Sven Faret's Passenger: "My first impression was that the National Guard had shot down one of their own planes."
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