Seventeen years later, several aviation experts and a number of investigators of the original crash are asking that the case be reopened, insisting that the evidence pointed towards a missile being the cause of the plane's explosion that claimed the lives of all 230 aboard Flight 800. A new documentary is set to air on July 17 detailing why they believe a missile caused the plane's explosion.
The half-dozen investigators whose charges will be fleshed out in a documentary set to air July 17 - the anniversary of the crash - say they were never allowed to get at the truth. But they are confident a missile brought down the plane.
"We don't know who fired the missile," said Jim Speer, an accident investigator for the Airline Pilots Association, one of a half-dozen experts seeking a new review of the probe. "But we have a lot more confidence that it was a missile."
The group is comprised of people who worked for the National Transportation Safety Board, TWA and the Airline Pilots Association, all of whom have since retired. All six say that the evidence shows the plane was brought down by a projectile traveling at a high speed.
“It all fits like a glove,” said Tom Stalcup, a physicist who is considered one of the foremost independent researchers and participated in the documentary, said during a press conference on Wednesday. “It is what it is and all the evidence is there.”
Hank Hughes, a retired senior accident investigator for NTSB, said probers were not allowed to seek answers once the FBI took over the crime scene. "We just want to see the truth come out," Hughes said. "We don't have hidden agendas. The only thing we are looking for is the truth."
Speer, who says he found explosive residue on a part from the right wing which also had three holes, agreed.
“It’s obvious that the truth was not allowed to be pursued," said Speer. “A majority of people working in that hanger did not feel as if the evidence was properly being handled.”
The NTSB said it will review the petition.
"All petitions for reconsideration are thoroughly reviewed, and a determination is usually made within about 60 days," spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said. "While the NTSB rarely re-investigates issues that have already been examined, our investigations are never closed and we can review any new information not previously considered by the board."Yeah, the government lied. What else is new? TWA Flight 800 was brought down by a missile fired by our own military during a training exercise in the area. The Press-Enterprise tackled the true cause three months after the deadly crash.
Among the early missile theorists were senior TWA officials who said they were told by people involved in the investigation that the plane was downed by friendly fire.
An ex-Navy officer, who used to supervise warning areas and spoke on the condition his name not be used, said he was told the plane was the victim of an exercise gone awry, a practice mission involving the Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Air National Guard.
Representatives of all the agencies say that story is untrue.
But documents showing the activation of vast military exercise areas, documents that contradict earlier official denials, help fuel the speculation that thrives at the intersection of fact and the unknown.
After being provided copies of Navy and FAA records showing that scheduled operations July 17 turned large chunks of air space into danger zones for civilian aircraft, Navy representatives in Washington, D.C., and Virginia ended discussions and referred all questions to the FBI and NTSB . . .
Details of the night's scheduled military events remain locked in official secrecy. But records and airline industry or military officials speaking on condition of anonymity provide outlines and clues, including support for theories that a dud or non-explosive training missile driving into TWA 800 caused a fatal internal hemorrhage.
"Keep this on background," the active Navy official said. "Submariners get freaked out when you talk about what they're doing.
"We have no subs with surface-to-air missiles," he continued. "But there's nothing to say that if you're on a lateral operation with Special Forces you couldn't put Stingers (missiles) on them. The Russians had worked with a rocket system on their subs because one of the things that scared them to death was our anti-submarine helos (helicopters). They always wanted a way of last resort to fire back."
A P-3, like the one that crossed over TWA 800, can carry missiles, but not the air-to-air variety, the Navy official said. "It can carry anti-surface (air-to-ground) missiles, like Harpoon, Bullpups, anti-surface and anti-submarine, but no air-to-air."
The P-3 working with the submarine had no missiles, he said. "Nobody talked about the submarine because it never broke the surface."
The retired senior Pentagon officer said the Navy closed such airspace only if several aircraft were involved in exercises that would not stick to flight plans, causing risk to civilian aircraft, or were involved in live-fire exercises.
"I think they (Oceana) gave you only half the answer when they said a P-3. Who else had assets in the warning area? Who were the aggressors? . . . Was Air Force there also? Marine Corps? Joint exercise with Delta (Special Forces)? Was Delta going aboard a submarine practicing something? Something with a foreign navy? Coast Guard? Coast Guard pilots do fire air-to-air (missiles). They're part of the Navy in time of war."
The Coast Guard has denied being involved in any exercise the night of the crash . . .