Commander Donaldson's TWA 800 Letters
This is a chronological list of correspondence between independent investigator
Commander William S. Donaldson, USN Retired, and the TWA Flight 800 Investigation.
The Government has been fairly unresponsive. After long delay, the NTSB
responded to two letters then ignored him. The FBI has failed to respond
personally to any of Donaldson's letters. The FBI did respond to letters
Donaldson co-authored with Representative James Traficant of the House
Subcommittee on Aviation.
April 24, 1997
First Letter to the NTSB From the letter: I couldn't let [NTSB Director] Jim Hall's April 11 Letter to the Editor go without mention of salient facts ("Flight 800: It Wasn't a Missile"). I was a Navy carrier pilot for 25 years and a crash investigator. Mr. Hall made two statements that are markedly unscientific: "We know that an explosive fuel air vapor mixture existed in the center fuel tank." Wrong. We most definitely don't know that. Aviation kerosene cannot be induced to burn at temperatures below 100 degrees Fahrenheit (flash point), and will not propagate fire until 400 degrees Fahrenheit (auto ignition temperature) is reached.
Reply: September 11, 1997
Second Letter to the NTSB From the letter: Understand the tone of my letter you express concern for was the result of hundreds of uncompensated man-hours of careful study balanced against the intimate knowledge of jet aircraft piloting, maintenance, and mishap investigation assimilated during a twenty-five year military career. Also be assured somehow during that span my "delusional state of mind" as you put it, must have been in remission, that is unless the 19 personal and 5 unit awards hanging in my den are figments of my imagination!
Reply: October 29, 1997
November 14, 1997
Third Letter to the NTSB From the letter: Phrases like, "The aggressive certainty of some of your statements appears not to be justified." may mean something to a Tennessee lawyer, but it's nonsense to me. All I've done is what your advisers should have done day one, that is; quote the pre-existing professional data, THE Aviation Fuels Handbook! Because of your agency's successful permutation of facts essential to this investigation, it's pernicious effect on the media, the incredible crash scenario you have tabled apparently designed to subvert eyewitness testimony, and your stonewalling of simple congressional questions, I have sought and received funding to conduct an independent investigation.
December 3, 1997
Letter to Director of the FBI From the letter: Mr. Freeh I will be candid, the fact that the FBI is now joining in lockstep with the NTSB political script sadly was not a surprise to me, because of what I had discovered on Long Island. Mr. Kallstrom's agents who "turned over every rock ten times," failed to tape critical eyewitness testimony, failed to establish visual bearing lines from the witnesses who observed ascending objects, failed to get elevation measurements, failed to get relative motion statements and in some cases failed to even go to the observation point, that is except from some eyewitnesses who didn't see a missile! Like Mrs. Sahid. Multiple witnesses tell me agents on rare second or third visits to persons who saw ascending objects tried to get the witness to change their original stories? Many of these people are now afraid of and disgusted with their own government, the administrations mantra "No evidence of a criminal act" is turning normal American citizens into bitter cynics.
January 21, 1998
Response from the FBI to a letter from the House Aviation Subcommittee Commander Donaldson worked with Representative Traficant's Office to formulate these questions. From the letter: Dear Representative Trafficant, Enclosed, for inclusion in the record of the hearing before the Aviation Subcommittee on July 1997, please find the FBI's responses to the written questions submitted by your letter dated October 1, 1997 to then Assistant Director in Charge James K. Kallstrom.
July 27, 1998
Letter to FBI: Conflicting statements about surface vessels From the letter: The subject of this letter addresses a simple dilemma. Both Deputy Directors, Kalstrom and Schiliro are now on record in direct conflict attempting to explain to congress and the American people the identities of suspicious surface radar contacts in the immediate vicinity of Flight 800 when it exploded. [See Mystery Ships for background information.]
Reply: Not yet
September 25, 1998
Letter to FBI: Soviet SAM 6 Missile From the letter: After careful study of witness provided characteristics, speed, range, launch and staging sounds, sustainer motor burn out time, launch position, optical guidance flare, etc. coupled with warhead burst characteristics and aircraft damage in evidence, our missile experts are in agreement: The weapon used against TWA Flight 800 was most probably a modified Soviet SAM 6...
...The SA6 is normally carried on a TEL with three missiles loaded. Designed as a mobile air defense system for soviet armor and troops, the TEL with missiles loaded could easily be carried aboard any ocean going vessel and transported as covered deck cargo.
Reply: Not yet
September 26, 1998
Letter to FBI: Shinnecock Red Flare Incident From the letter: On 17 March 1997 Retired FBI Special Agent Philip E. Kulman wrote a very professional letter to Mr. Kallstrom (see the letter at Ref., Exhibit 27). Mr. Kulman describes his concerns about the Shinnecock Red Flare Incident [Possible missile fire incident 22 days before the TWA 800 crash] as being possible missile fire and describes his previous contacts about this event with the FBI.
Reply: Not yet