TWA Flight 800 As Reviewed By Cheryl Gatesworth


August 19, 2013 – San Francisco, CA – - Last month marked the 17th anniversary of the loss of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island, New York. All aboard perished. TWA Flight 800 , a suspenseful and well researched documentary was presented on cable television on the anniversary of the event. The film was produced by physicist Tom Stalcup and Emmy award winning journalist, Kristina Borjesson. Dr. Stalcup was a PhD candidate in physics at the time of the event and has spent the past 16 years investigating the crash.

The film's credibility is enhanced not only by the impeccable credentials of Dr. Stalcup but also by the testimony of six whistle blowers who broke their silence, each of whom was intimately involved in the investigation. At the end of the documentary Dr. Stalcup is filmed speaking to an audience of relatives of the victims where he offered them the opportunity to petition federal authorities [presumably DOJ] for a re-opening of the case.

The film conclusively debunks the conclusions presented jointly in 2000 by the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).Their conclusion, which was intended to be the politically correct final word, was that the tragic event had been caused by a spontaneous explosion in the aircraft's center fuel tank that had somehow been ignited by something unspecified. The competing theory has always been that the airliner had been brought down by one or more surface to air missiles.

The documentary makes it clear that the role of the FBI Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office, James K. Kallstrom, was to smear the missile theory as totally mistaken and to thoroughly discredit and demonize those who held it, despite whatever credentials or contradictory facts they brought to bear on the controversy.

Consider the below testimony:

“To sum up, Mr. Chairman, we have a number of significant investigative, scientific and analytical initiatives which we hope to complete within the next 60 to 90 days and, to date, the FBI's exhaustive investigative efforts have not uncovered any evidence that the destruction of Flight 800 resulted from a criminal act. I thank you for your time and I would be happy to answer questions from the Committee.” [source, Testimony of James K. Kallstrom before the Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation July 10, 1997]

From the time of the initial investigation to the present, there has been considerable skepticism regarding the official conclusion which seems to be irreconcilable with the established facts. The findings advanced by Mr. Kallstrom have been exposed as biased and based on falsehoods, particularly by those in the aviation community. The mainstream media, rather than engage in the fierce investigative journalism one might expect on a story of this magnitude, supinely accepted the FBI/NTSB conclusions in their entirety. Those who spoke against the conclusions were generally presented as wild-eyed fanatics and their credibility was immediately maligned.

Contrary to popular belief, the FBI led by Mr. Kallstrom, and the NTSB led by Jim Hall did not prove their hypothesis that the flight was lost due to an explosion in the central fuel tank. Strangely anxious to eliminate the possibility of a missile strike, the findings were instead a default conclusion, designed to obfuscate. The report lacked the rigor that is normally a part of aircraft accident investigation.

Let’s begin by examining the hard facts:

The CIA, as part of the final report, released a computer simulation of what were purported to be the final moments of TWA Flight 800. The presentation showed the aircraft in flight losing its nose back to the leading edge of the wing, then abruptly pitching up some 3,000 feet while engulfed in flames, and then completely coming apart and falling in pieces into the Atlantic Ocean.

Thus the government created a convenient way to explain and hopefully discredit the eyewitness testimonies of more than 700 people who were watching from the Long Island shore. These eyewitnesses insisted with a remarkable consistency that they saw a streak of light moving upward from the surface into the sky and exploding at or near the airplane. The intent of the CIA “cartoon” was to explain away the upward luminous trail. Thus the streak the eyewitnesses saw must have been the airplane on fire and climbing.

There was, however, one major problem of fact - the CIA simulation was aerodynamically impossible.

An aircraft in flight which loses substantial weight ahead of its center of gravity would pitch up sharply, presenting its bottom surface to the airstream. The resulting deceleration would immediately create a load which would exceed the design parameters of the aircraft.

This event would take place so suddenly that there wouldn’t be time for altitude change before the aircraft disintegrated.

Even the most zealous organization can’t violate the laws of aerodynamics. Lying on the part of government agencies may not be a vice, but lying poorly, with the intent of discrediting the aviation community using an embarrassing cartoon is demeaning.

The CIA's retreat into Lysenkoism, however was short lived.

To hedge the government ruse that there was no missile strike, agent Kallstrom [FBI agent James Kallstrom was the chief investigator in the explosion of Flight 800] also attempted to discredit evidence of explosive residue that was found on some of the recovered wreckage.

The explanation given by Agent Kallstrom for the presence of this residue was that the aircraft had recently been used as the location for testing an explosives sniffing dog. The official narrative then became that a careless dog trainer failed to clean up the explosive residue he used for testing.

That scenario simply didn’t comport to the facts.

At the time the dog was being put through its paces, the doomed aircraft was on the ramp in St Louis ready to depart for Hawaii. The dog trainer, Herman Burnett – who was also a policeman – was in another 747 at the same airport. Officer Burnett needed an empty wide body airplane for the test. When he filled out the proper forms, he did not record the tail (identification) number. There was no need to. He only needed a wide body aircraft that was empty. He did record the time he entered the aircraft for the test and the time he departed. Protocol dictated that he and the dog would be alone on the aircraft.

TWA’s protocols require its cockpit crew to be on board the airplane ninety minutes prior to departure. During this period no non-crew people not directly connected with the flight are permitted. The tail number of this departing flight is a matter of record. It was the flight that eventually became TWA Flight 800.

Officer Burnett’s training session began slightly before 11:45am and, according to TWA’s regulations there couldn’t have been a crew on board, but the flight that became TWA 800 departed St. Louis at 12:25pm which would have meant that its crew must have boarded around 11am.

So that leaves an irreconcilable conflict, Burnett could not have been alone on the aircraft in question because its crew would have already been running through its pre-flight preparations.

The only explanation that would make sense is that the crew and Burnett would have had to been blind…

We submit that would have been unlikely.

Pursuing the technical aspects of the explosion, officer Burnett stated that a number of the explosive residues found in the wreckage by the FBI were not the chemicals he used during his test.

In response to Agent Kallstrom's obviously bogus charge of carelessness, the libeled dog trainer brought suit against the investigators.

A third insurmountable difficulty arose when ground radar readings accessed by the film's producers indicated that at the time of the explosion, fragments originating from the doomed aircraft suddenly appear on ATC radar at a velocity of four times the speed of sound.

This speed could not have resulted from the relatively slow pressure rise of an air-jet fuel vapor ignition in the center fuel tank.

[note: the speed of pressure wave propagation in military type explosives far exceeds anything which an air/fuel combustion could have produced; the signatures do not match. Thus the velocity observed could only have been produced by an ordnance detonation]

Why then was the missile not visible on radar prior to detonation? The missile body would have presented a thin circular cross section which is virtually a stealth shape, while the jagged fragments after the blast would have shown a prominent radar return.

One telling piece of information provided by the documentary was the attempt by interviewing
FBI agents to intimidate two eyewitnesses. In one case when a witness told his story – which tended to support the missile theory – he was told by the agent interviewing him that he had not seen what he reported and that he better not repeat it outside of the room they were in. In the second case a woman who spoke with an accent and told the FBI a story with similar implications, was asked by an FBI agent whether she was an American citizen. She said she was not but was in the process of applying for citizenship. She indicated she was then told that persisting with her story might interfere with a grant of citizenship.

Many eyewitnesses, at their own expense, travelled to Washington, D. C. at the same time that the FBI/NTSB final report was presented to the public. They took out a full page ad in the Washington Times and held their own press conference. The mainstream media took very little notice especially given the seriousness of their charges.

The Flight 800 documentary made the point that no eyewitnesses were asked to testify publicly in the FBI/NTSB hearings despite the fact that many had appropriate technical backgrounds. Given the number of eyewitnesses available and the similarity of their observations, their total lack of representation at what was touted as the conclusive report was unprecedented.

A number of eyewitnesses told of being asked by the FBI to confer with psychologists whose specialty was memory recovery. Those who did so believing that the psychologists would help them recover missing details of their eyewitness accounts were shocked to discover that these “experts” wanted to convince them that their memories were false.

Hank Hughes - the senior investigator for the NTSB and the person in charge of the Calverton hanger - told of altered and missing evidence perpetrated by the FBI. He mentioned specifically that pieces of wreckage that had been tagged with yellow, green or red tags (their distance from the explosion determining the color assignment) had their tags changed so that they became misleading to the investigation. He told of an incident during which he observed an FBI agent hammering on a piece of wreckage to flatten it. A video camera trained on the wreckage showed an unauthorized FBI agent entering at 3:00am. An investigation that does not follow protocol for the assembling and examination of physical evidence cannot expect to be credible.

Mr. Hughes testified at a Senate hearing regarding these matters and other Flight 800 related concerns. [source, Testimony of Henry F. Hughes, Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, Committee on the Judiiciary, May 10, 1999]

The documentary steered clear of dealing with the reason for the cover-up which, led by the FBI, which was put in place shortly after the crash. Fair enough. So, it is fair to ask qui bono? And who would have the power to direct an FBI cover-up? Only then President Bill Clinton would have the power and the motive. He was at that time in the midst of a campaign for re-election and could not afford to be charged by his opponent with failing to thwart a terrorist attack. Had a missile brought down TWA Flight 800, challenger Senator Bob Dole would have had a powerful weapon. And what if the blame shifted to Boeing Aircraft who build the 747? They would not enjoy the opprobrium but being dependent on government contracts would have gone silent given the nature of the affair.

Would President Clinton and his co President, Hilary, have stooped to rewriting an important part of American history?

Given their record it’s safe to say it would not have been stooping. It would have been right on their level…perhaps it would have even been reaching up.

With the presentation of this scientifically oriented documentary supplemented by credentialed investigators who were on site, the American public may have another chance to discover the truth. The American public owes Dr. Tom Stalcup and Christina Borjesson a debt of gratitude.

Additional web-based resources:

Testimony of James K. Kallstrom before the Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation July 10, 1997

Testimony of Henry F. Hughes, Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, Committee on the Judiiciary, May 10, 1999