William S. Donaldson, III - USN, Ret.
December 8, 1999
The Honorable John J. Duncan
It has been over six months since my testimony before your Aviation Subcommittee. This letter is intended to update our investigation into the loss of TWA Flight 800 and the subsequent actions of various government agencies.
FY 2000 - Critical Turning Point
If Chairman Hall of the NTSB follows through with his stated intent, sometime in FY 2000 the NTSB will issue a final report on TWA Flight 800. That report will either state outright that the loss was due to an undiscovered mechanical failure (an oxymoron) or strongly imply that was the cause. Once such a report is signed, several things will change. The Justice Department, the NTSB and the CIA will have proven themselves impotent under the influence of partisan politicians, so much so that aviation professionals will not trust their future work product.
Legally, staff actions and fiduciary failures in all these agencies would become ripe, actionable to both civil and criminal complaints. There is also an obvious appearance that the administration is offering up the Boeing Corporation as a deep pocket target for tort attorneys to mask its own liability.
Intimidation of Boeing
Because Boeing refuses to roll over for the NTSB and denounce the airworthiness of their 747 fuel systems, without proof of fault, they are now being attacked by their own government. Rarely a month goes by without some scripted administration leak about Boeing's wiring or construction techniques or the "discovery" of a report (the government had for almost 20 years) implying Boeing knew something the government didn't. The most recent public application of "chicken regulations" by the administration was the FAA's announcement they are going to audit Boeing's construction procedures.
Unfortunately, the media laps up these free "government watchdog" stories and publishes without technical verification or comment. The implied message being, without the steely-eyed supervision of government inspectors, Boeing would produce an unsafe product. The truth is, it's the government investigators who should be audited by Boeing. Surely only the media being fed this nonsense really believe government bureaucrats know better how to construct aircraft than the Boeing Corporation!
Mr. Chairman, when I started my investigation I quickly came to realize the NTSB didn't know what the Aviation Fuels Manual was or that a 747's CWT temperature can be taken in a 2 minute fuel sample procedure. Now I've discovered they have apparently deleted TWA's maintenance files that showed the extensive repairs to the right wing that aircraft received after it was hit twice by lightning a few months before the crash. The lightning ripped up 25 square feet of skin, blew the wingtip HF antenna off, caused all four right wing flash fire suppression bottles to fire, coursed through all four nearly empty right wing tanks and the center tank and overloaded wiring and blew circuit breakers in the cockpit. The only reason this would be deleted from the NTSB file would be because the incident proves the safety and rugged airworthiness of Boeing's 747 fuel systems and would highlight wiring safety redundancy, (i.e. fuses and circuit breakers).
Two women who managed to get extraordinarily close to the Flight 800 FBI and NTSB investigators have or will soon publish books on the subject; Pat Milton's "In the Blink of an Eye" and Ms. Christine Negroni's "Deadly Departure". They worked for AP and CNN respectively.
Neither woman has technical training nor do they deviate from the official NTSB and FBI story lines. Pat Milton dismisses ARAP's investigation in a multi-page section without interviewing any of the principals. This is not surprising considering the obvious FBI bias, but what is disconcerting is her apparent unfettered access to senior FBI officials and FBI witness forms. She quotes a private conversation Mr. Kalstrom had with an important French national verbatim without interviewing that individual and does the same with other important witnesses. The identity and information from witnesses was only available from FBI 302 forms. Without an interview, she misquotes Master Chief Brumley in precisely the same way as the CIA did in their fictional animation of the mishap drawn from those same forms.
Mr. Chairman, I would hope the committee would ascertain through sworn testimony just why the FBI could so readily provide vital witness information to a groupie author of a friendly book while still denying that same information to Official Parties undergoing civil litigation?
A Missile Hit!
On 6 May 1999, I brought before your committee FBI Manuals and precision maps clearly marked with instructions to FBI Special Agents. These materials were used to run a covert antiaircraft missile recovery operation with uniquely configured scallop dredges. They searched a 2.7 nautical mile radius around TWA 800's explosion point. The precision operation lasted from 8 November 1996 until 30 April 1997.
My investigation began with a prediction published in the Wall Street Journal 24 April 1997. In a letter responding to Mr. Hall's Mechanical Failure Hypothesis, I stated, "an antiaircraft missile fired from a boat would pass through the aircraft like a 22 caliber bullet through a tin can…. And would land up to 5 miles from the main crash debris."
Sweep by Sweep Primary radar data from Islip's ASR-8 was made available to me for the first time a few weeks ago, 40 months after the crash. It clearly depicts a plume of very high velocity metal exploding out the aircraft's right side at approximately 20:31:13. The lead ejecta almost certainly had to be a missile body!
With the aircraft on a heading of 071 degrees true, this radar contact separated laterally from the aircraft tract on a ballistic trajectory of 190 degrees true, traveling about 3,200 feet in seven seconds. Mr. Chairman, I can't over emphasize this point. This is not theory, not speculation, but hard physical evidence.
It takes almost 2 seconds for the bullet fired from a military sniper rifle to travel that distance. Only a missile body, with it's hundreds of thousands of foot pounds of kinetic energy, would have the inertia to perform this way on radar. It only takes 8,000 ft/lbs. of energy for a 50 Cal. Heavy Machine Gun bullet to punch through 3/8-inch thick steel plate. A 747 is constructed of various aluminum alloys and rarely in thickness' exceeding 1/2 inch. See radar debris field map attached.
When the radar data is superimposed over the Debris Field you find, as I predicted in 1997, none of the missile body ejecta landed in the aircraft's debris. Radar shows these pieces hit the surface much farther south and west, over 2.8 NM from the main fuselage impact point. Only the FBI had access to this missile debris and their agents were specifically instructed to hide what they found. The reason the Administration treats the Debris Field as a national secret is to preclude any Interested Parties from discovering these facts.
Both the Chairman of the NTSB and the Deputy Director of the FBI have consistently mislead the Congress in personal testimony and in written statements insisting the closest witnesses to Flight 800's explosion were more than 10 miles away. Not only do we have a written statement from Navy Master Chief Dwight Brumley, who witnessed the missile engagement from USAir Flight 217, 2.4 nautical miles away, but the radar illuminated a 2nd boat inside 3 NM to the northeast of Flight 800's explosion point.
Incredibly this stationary boat is precisely on the reciprocal bearing of the ballistic course of the explosive ejecta. In other words, a missile fired from that boat would hit the aircraft on it's left side, pass through and produce the precise plume of ejecta observed on radar exploding out of the aircraft on a crosswind heading of 190 degrees.
FBI Cover-up or Contempt
That radar contact, 2.9 nautical miles northeast, poses a serious dilemma for the FBI. Responding 120 days after receipt of a question, which I wrote for Congressman Traficant's office, Mr. Schirilo, FBI Acting Deputy Director, assured the Congress in writing the FBI had identified all of the surface boats near TWA Flight 800's explosion point except for the "30 knot track", 2.9 NM southeast.
If that statement is true: The FBI is guilty of withholding the existence and the identity of critical material witnesses from the Interested Parties, the Congress and the people. If it is a false statement, then it would appear to be Contempt of Congress.
Furthermore, radar shows there is yet another unidentified boat that was 3.9 NM northwest of Flight 800's explosion point, which the FBI has either purposely excluded from the witness list or failed to identify. In either case it is contrary to Mr. Schirilo's written statements.
In addition, I have personally interviewed 8 eyewitnesses that were within 8 NM of the crash. Where are these eyewitness statements? Mr. Chairman, I would urge you to give Mr. Schirilo an opportunity to clear this up under oath.
The Radar Exposes Fraud, buttresses Richard Bott and Captain DeBow
Islip's ASR-8 radar data exposes both the CIA and the NTSB Video animations of a climbing noseless aircraft as fraudulent. While impeachment of hundreds of witnesses who observed high velocity climbing streaks may have been the political goal of such fictional videos, the radar data shows the aircraft main body hit the water following the eighth sweep, approximately 38 seconds after the initiating event.
The horizontal velocity vectors of the main wreckage recorded on radar buttress Captain DeBow of the NOAA ship Rude's statements to this investigator. Once Captain DeBow knew the aircraft's speed, weight, altitude, course and explosion point, his onboard computer, using a standard free fall ballistic formula, predicted the exact point of main body impact. The radar verifies Captain DeBow's computer; the aircraft didn't climb nor even fly after the initiating event. See comparison of Fall Rate attached.
Richard Bott, the only military missile expert to provide a written report, recommended firing MANPADS missiles at 747 inboard fuel tanks. He found inexplicable asymmetric hydraulic RAM over pressureization on Flight 800's entire left wing and left side Center Tank. Such tests would either prove or disprove a missile hit on the left side. The radar data perfectly buttresses the left wing forensic evidence he chronicled in this important official document and underlines the urgency with which this testing should be undertaken.
Pattern of Political Cover-ups
Chairman Duncan, Flight 800 is but one in a series of Justice Department cover-ups. More than two dozen military service members died in the 1995 Ryhad and 1996 Khobar Towers bombings. Once the FBI took the investigations away from the military, those cases might well have been dropped into the black hole of Calcutta.
The 1993 World Trade Center bombing is another example, but much further along because of the efforts of victims attorneys. The New York Port Authority owns the World Trade Center. Plaintiff's attorneys have fought for six years now to crack Justice's stone wall and discover what information was known by Federal, State and Local authorities in advance of the terrorist attack. Those attorneys insist the Port Authority was explicitly warned in advance of a truck bomb attack in a parking garage. The point is, whether it is Flight 800 or the World Trade Center, when there is advance warning of terrorist attack and cognizant Public Officials fail to prevent the act, there is an ominous conflict of interest. The Administration becomes the most interested party. In both cases, TWA and the World Trade Center, they controlled the investigation and parsed out information to the media. The Justice Department is holding up to a dozen foreign nationals incommunicado, citing Terrorism and National Defense. This action is probably unconstitutional and not even their attorneys know what is going on. Mr. Chairman, its time the congress finds out.
In the next few weeks I will make every effort to talk with senior officials in the FBI and NTSB to resolve these issues, but I don't expect success. Past efforts have only produced discourse with uninformed agency attorneys or scared public relations people.
A TWA Flight 800 investigation needs to be initiated in earnest to avoid the pending train wreck it is currently destined to become. I would appreciate it if you could broker a closed meeting, at your convenience, with FBI, NTSB officials and myself to freely discuss all of these matters.
Thank you for your time.
Cmdr. William S. Donaldson, USN - Ret.