"A Challenge to the NTSB"
July 17, 2000

Michael N. Hull

We have arrived at the fourth anniversary of the crash of TWA flight 800 without any of the 755 eyewitnesses to this event having been invited by the NTSB to tell their stories in a public hearing. The official version, presented in a CIA video, depicts a center wing tank explosion by a spark from an unknown source that caused the front section of the aircraft forward of the wings to separate. The noseless aircraft then climbed for several thousands of feet trailing flame interpreted by eyewitnesses as a 'streak' in the sky.

Having read the recently released eyewitness transcripts from the FBI and the NTSB I trust that the NTSB in its final meeting on this incident, scheduled to be held this August, will explain the numerous discrepancies between the eyewitness accounts and its official version of these events.

Let us take a look at what some of the eyewitnesses say and how their testimony directly conflicts with the NTSB's official version of the events. 

Major Fritz Meyer piloted the first helicopter to arrive over the crash scene. In an interview with the NTSB on January 11, 1997 (NTSB Docket No.SA-516 Appendix O) Meyer stated:

"I saw in front of me and slightly to my left of dead front I saw a streak of light in the sky. I observed it for somewhere in approximately three to five seconds moving in a gradually descending arc - sort of a gentle descending trajectory. Similar to that which you would observe that night if you observed a shooting star. The difference is that it was red-orange in color and it was broad daylight. I observed a streak of light for 3 to 5 seconds. And then I saw an explosion. And about one to two seconds after that I saw a second, and possibly a third, explosion. Now, these were hard explosions. This looked like flak. It's a hard explosion. It's like an HPX explosion, as opposed to a soft explosion like gasoline, or something. .... And then from that approximate position emanated this fireball, which was a soft explosion. And it was definitely petroleum." 

The initial explosions described by Meyer as "flak" or "hard" explosions were described by other witnesses as sounding like gunshots or M-80 fireworks while the "soft" fuel explosion he saw was described by witnesses as a "pop" or a "boom". The difference in color of the explosion is also significant. The "hard" explosions were bright white (indicative of high explosives) while the "soft" explosions were yellow/orange (indicative of petroleum).

Witness 484- NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix F Witness stated she saw a streak rising into the sky at an angle curving a little to the west. She saw it rise for about two seconds. It made a slight arc then she lost sight for about one second, then saw an explosion. The streak was the color of a match flame. Witness stated the explosion sounded like a loud firework, almost as loud as an M-80 going off. Witness heard one boom sound. The explosion was a huge ball that dropped down to the horizon.

Witness 630 - NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix I Witness heard two loud noises. He described the noises as something between fireworks and gunshots. About 15 seconds later, he heard a third sound that he described as a loud pop.

Following the sharp, gunshot-like explosions the damaged aircraft began to fall and a period of about 15 seconds elapsed before the "loud pop" was heard. Witnesses 63 and 280 are clear on the point that the airplane did not climb.

Witness 63 - NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix BWitness glanced to his left a second time and, on this location, observed a bright flash of white light on the rear portion of the airplane. Witness described the white flash as small, similar to a firework, circular in shape and of a size which did not obstruct the view of the airplane. Witness indicated that the airplane appeared to be flying through the white flash. Immediately thereafter, the airplane dipped at a slight angle before stopping and bursting into orange flames.

Witness 280 - NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix D Witness saw a red dot traveling from west to east, parallel to the horizon. It was like the red object pushed what ever it hit forward, causing it to explode and dive downward.

The CIA and the NTSB would have us believe that the aircraft's Center Wing Tank exploded at an altitude of 13,000 feet at 8:31:12 p.m. and that the noseless aircraft then climbed several thousand feet before falling into the ocean.  All the while the aircraft was trailing flames which fooled the eyewitnesses into thinking they were seeing streaks, rockets, or missiles going upwards in the sky.

Well, as the elderly lady once asked in a TV commercial: "Where is the beef?", the NTSB should answer the question: "Where was the smoke from the center wing tank explosion?". 

The smoke was not at 13,000 feet, where the NTSB and CIA say it must have been. It was observed several thousands of feet lower. It was there that the aircraft's center wing tank exploded with a "loud pop" after the aircraft had fallen for many seconds as a result of the "flak", gunshot-like, explosions and the loss of its nose. The smoke cloud was overflown by several witnesses who fixed its maximum height with their altimeters.

Witness 702 - NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix I Witness was flying in a private plane cruising at 8,500 feet over Riverhead, Long Island, heading eastbound. Witness stated that the object definitely exploded below his plane because the smoke trail after the explosion was at 7,500 feet. Witness emphatically stated the explosion took place at about 7,500 feet.

Witness 441- NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix F Witness was Captain of Piedmont Flight 3112 at 11,000 feet. Witness saw a bright orange flash of light forward and to the right of his plane. The flash appeared to be below his altitude. Witness described it as an intense bright flash which then separated into two bright lights. He turned the MD-80 left to avoid the fumes. At the time of his turning, the column of smoke rose to 11,000 feet. 

Witness 475- NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix F Witness was flying as first officer on Flight 3112. The bright flash occurred at a two o'clock position below his altitude. Witness estimated it as approximately 5,000 to 6,000 feet. 

May I suggest that the NTSB invite Richard Goss to testify at its August meeting and explain how he was able to see the 'streak' climb and turn prior to any explosion on the aircraft? A tape-recorded interview of Mr. Goss was played by Cmdr. Donaldson at the Accuracy in Media conference held on October 18, 1997 in which Goss stated:

"That evening I was just finishing up a sunfish race at West Hampton Yachts club. It was a Wednesday night and that particular 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 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 traveled up. It looked 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 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 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, there was a bright flash."

Mr. Goss has seen the official CIA version of the event and commented on the Art Bell radio show where he appeared with Cmdr. Donaldson on November 24, 1997:

"I saw a flare coming up toward the barrier beach area. It was definitely going up, definitely going up! As it reached its peak, it took a sharp veer left, it moved horizontal at that point". 

Bell asked Goss about the FBI's conclusion that he was actually seeing "fuel trailing from the explosion of flight 800 and it was not going up, but coming down, and it was an optical illusion."  Goss replied: "One hell of an optical illusion. I can't see that's possible at all."  When asked about his reaction to the CIA video Goss stated:  "Best described, I looked down at the ground and shook my head. It was a joke."

The NTSB should invite Witness 73 to testify at its forthcoming hearing and explain how she too was able to see the undamaged aircraft and a separate "streak" at the same time.

Witness 73 - NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix BShe noticed an aircraft climbing in the sky traveling from her right to her left. Witness noticed that the aircraft appeared to level off. Witness thought that the aircraft was too low of an altitude to be leveling off at the time. While keeping her eyes on the aircraft, witness observed a red streak moving up from the ground toward the aircraft at an approximate 45-degree angle. The red streak was leaving a light gray colored smoke trail. The red streak went past the right side and above the aircraft before arcing back toward the aircraft's right wing. At the instant the smoke trail ended at the aircraft's right wing, witness heard a loud sharp noise which sounded like a firecracker had just exploded at her feet. Witness then observed a fire at the aircraft followed by one or two secondary explosions which had a deeper sound. Witness observed the front of the aircraft separate from the back. 

No climb of several thousands of feet were seen by this witness and yet her testimony is very strong as proved by her acute observation about the aircraft flying level "at too low of an altitude".  TWA 800 had been told to hold at 13,000 feet by the air traffic controller.

2026: 24  CTR:  TWA eight hundred amend the altitude maintain ah one three thousand thirteen thousand only for now. 2026: 29 TWA 800 CAM- 1:  Thirteen thousand. 2026: 30.3 RDO- 2:  TWA eight hundred heavy okay stop climb at one three thousand. 2026: 35  TWA 800 CAM- 1: Stop climb at one three thousand.

Physical evidence supports Witness 73's testimony.  PETN and RDX were found in the aircraft and explosive residues were found on the right wing.  The right wing also had holes punched in it indicating travel of an object transiting the right wing. The right inboard engine was fodded with debris from the forward fuselage. 

August 23, 1996   NY Times Chemists at the FBI crime laboratory have found traces of PETN between rows 17 and 27 senior investigators said. Five days after the crash, a chemical test indicated a trace of PETN on the right wing where it met the fuselage.

The Village Voice    February 24 - March 2, 1999 "You ever shot a .22 through a tin can? You know how the holes look where it punctures the metal and it rolls the metal back and tears it as it stretches?" the veteran pilot asked. "Well that's what these holes looked like, except they were oval-shaped."  He was recalling three holes- each at least six inches long by around three inches high, he said- which had been punched through the thin aluminum paneling of a structural piece from inside the right wing of the 747. The holes were punched out "from the airplane toward the wing tip," he added. The piece, called a rib, came from within the wing's leading edge about five feet out from the fuselage, he said, where the landing lights would be. The pilot said, "Look, I think that these holes were caused by a high explosion."  There is an apparent exit (sic) hole in the aircraft fuselage just forward of the right wing and a red residue, consistent with missile fuel, was found on seats in the aircraft in this same location. Further, it has been admitted that Federal officials were baffled by impact damage on the doors that close over the front landing gear. The nose gear doors were blasted inward and whatever caused this damage happened before the plane's center fuel tank exploded since these nose gear doors were among the first things on the airplane to have come off in flight.

The FBI's explanation for the finding of explosive residues inside the aircraft was that they came from a "dog sniffing" exercise. This explanation raises a very simple question for the NTSB: Was the dog walking along the right wing? 

In addition to Richard Goss, numerous eyewitnesses observed an object making a sharp turn. 

Witness 153 - NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix C The object then reached its highest point in the sky and stopped for approximately half a second, and then moved in a sharp horseshoe turn downward.

This testimony about an object that struck TWA 800 making a tight turn was discussed by a Pentagon intelligence official.

July 19, 1996    http://cnn.com/US/9607/19/twa.update/   There was some speculation that a surface-to-air missile, perhaps fired from a boat off the coast of Long Island, could have brought the plane down. A top Pentagon intelligence official told CNN such a possibility has been ruled out. The reason: a Stinger missile is heat seeking, and analysts concluded it would have had to make too sharp a turn to hit the TWA flight.

Perhaps the NTSB will explain why a Pentagon intelligence official was talking to CNN about "too sharp a turn" and what the object was that was making this "sharp turn'?  A noseless, climbing 747 streaking flames is not capable of this feat. 

Will the NTSB explain why the London Times reported on July 23, 1996:

"An American spy satellite positioned over the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island is said to have yielded important information about the crash. A law enforcement official told the New York Post that the satellite pictures show an object racing up to the TWA jet, passing it, then changing course and smashing into it."

And can the NTSB explain why radar data apparently confirmed the information from both the spy satellite and the observations of several eyewitnesses?

March 16, 1997   International News The Telegraph (U.K. Electronic Edition) Issue 660 An internal memo from the National Transportation Safety Board, dated November 15, complains that sensitive radar tapes were given to the White House before they were provided to crash investigators. According to the document, the radar data indicated that a missile was converging on the Boeing 747 seconds before the aircraft broke up off the coast of Long Island.

I would like to request that the NTSB obtain and present at its August hearing the radar data seized by the FBI from the Sikorsky facility on Long Island that has been withheld for 4 years. Shortly Fritz Meyer appeared on television he received a phone call one night from an individual who worked for Sikorsky. He told Meyer there is a tape or digital disk of the Sikorsky radar which shows two targets approaching TWA Flight 800 before the impact -- one a high speed supersonic target and the other subsonic. Sikorsky has very sophisticated radar that the Navy uses it in watching its helicopters. When Meyer went to talk to his congressman in Washington, an assistant showed him a list of all the data that the FBI said they were holding. Meyer looked for this particular tape on the list of records the FBI had taken from Sikorsky. The tape was not on that list and so in Meyer told Congressman Traficant that he didn't see this radar tape on the list that the FBI had given to Congressman Forbes. Congressman Duncan subsequently sent a letter to the FBI specifically asking for this tape.  Even though it wasn't on the inventory that the FBI presented to Congress, the FBI admitted that the radar data was in its possession. Congressman Duncan was told that it didn't show anything unusual -- but the FBI refused to release it.

I would also invite the NTSB to explain how an airplane in "various stages of crippled flight", according to the CIA explanation, can be seen to hit itself or run into itself?

Witness 145 - NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix C Witness 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. Witness stated she saw the object hit the plane and then the object headed down toward the ocean. 

Witness 88 - NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix B Witness 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. 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. Witness 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. 

The NTSB should also invite several airborne witnesses to explain why they apparently are in disagreement with the noseless zoom theory.  The following witnesses saw no climb of several thousands of feet. Indeed they state that the plane stopped in mid air and fell straight down.

Witness 139 - NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix C Witness was the pilot of Virgin Atlantic Flight 009. Witness believes that what he saw was not a plane malfunction because there was no horizontal component to the fire. He felt that it was a catastrophic occasion in the extreme to make a plane stop in mid air and fall straight down.

Witness 551- NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix G Witness was aboard USAir Flight 217. As he observed it the aircraft exploded and a large round orange fireball appeared which seemed to emanate from the front area of the plane. The plane seemed to stop in mid air "like a bus running into a stone wall - no forward motion".

I hope the NTSB is prepared to call the following witnesses and explore the differences that they perceive between, fireworks, rockets and missiles.

September 22, 1996 The New York Post Struck by the number and confidence of the witnesses, the FBI sat down many of the witnesses with U.S. military experts, who debriefed them and independently confirmed for the FBI that their descriptions matched surface-to-air missile attacks. "The military experts told us that what the witnesses were describing was consistent with a missile," a federal official acknowledged. "They told us, 'You know what they are describing is a missile' "

Witness 144 - NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix C Witness saw an object angle to the right with a bright orange glow with a white streak behind it. 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!".

Paul Runyan  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".

Witness 174 - NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix C Witness 174 is a retired naval officer. He saw a skyrocket-type object streak up into the night sky. The skyrocket had an orange contrail which had a continuous brightness. He was questioned whether he might have actually seen something going down instead of up. He insisted that his skyrocket went up.

Witness 493- NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix F Witness said he was driving south on Rogers Road and saw a firework/rocket go up from his car. Witness said the rocket was orange in color and had fire coming from its tail.  He realized it was not a firework but a rocket.

Witness 746 - NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix I Witness observed, to his right, an object similar to a rocket, which appeared to have come from the ground, moving straight up in the air.

Witness 166 - NTSB Docket No. SA-516 Appendix C He was facing the bay and noticed a large commercial plane flying east. Looking southeast he noticed something ascending which looked like white yellow fire trailed by black smoke. It ascended in a straight line at an angle of 7 to 10 degrees away from a vertical 90 degree. It arched slightly at the top. He could not observe exactly were the object originated, but believed it was from the water. The ascension lasted 10 seconds. He stated he thought he had observed faulty fireworks. After hearing the 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.

Lisa Perry, had a very good view of a missile.

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 above 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. 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. 

Clearly, the NTSB explanation that the streak observed by eyewitnesses was the aircraft in "various stages of crippled flight" is shown to be false by Perry's observation of the undamaged aircraft and the bullet-like object which was heading towards it. 

Is the NTSB prepared to question William Gallagher at its August hearing?  In an interview with The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, CA. on October 20, 1997 Gallagher stated:

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. 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. I saw something hit the right side of the plane. 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 saw something going through the airplane behind "first class" and investigators reconstructing the debris appear to back him up.

September 23, 1996 Associated Press Investigators reconstructing the debris say there is a hole going into the plane and a hole going out of the plane. "There's metal bent in, metal bent out. Metal you can't tell. I see a hole going in and a hole going out".

November 9, 1996 St. Louis Post Dispatch Post Dispatch and Pulitzer Technologies Inc.  The TWA veteran of almost 20 years said a source on the (crash investigation) committee had told him investigators had found a hole in the center of the aircraft they believed was caused by a missile.

Further, what is the NTSB explanation for the fist-sized holes that were found in the backs of several seats?  How does an exploding center wing tank pierce seats from the rear in a deck above the tank? 

August 30, 1996 NY Times An aviation expert and a law enforcement official who is an explosives specialist both said they saw several fist-size holes that had been punched through the backs of two seats on the far right side of row 23. The holes in the sheet metal on the seat back are pushed through from the rear and row 24, the seats just behind them is missing. Traces of PETN were also found in this general area.

And why was the NTSB astonished to find a beam from the rear portion of the plane embedded in the cockpit?  The beam is believed to have come from the rudder of the aircraft.  Yet the CIA story is that the rear of the aircraft was undamaged and continued to fly upwards.  Could the NTSB explain how a center wing tank explosion would drive a beam from behind the tank forward into the cockpit of the aircraft?  On the other hand if the NTSB believes that the nose struck the rear of the aircraft after it had folded upwards and broken off thus leaving a beam from the rear embedded in the cockpit, how does it explain that the aircraft could continue to fly upwards with both a damaged tail section and a missing nose?

Does the NTSB have a position on the hydraulic ram damage to the upper skin of the left wing of the aircraft that is different from the one proposed by military experts?   Commader Donaldson will give you the experts opinion on this - it can only have been caused by a high intensity explosion.

The Village Voice February 24 - March 2, 1999 Noting that the "severe shattering of the left wing upper skin" had puzzled investigators, military expert Richard Bott speculated in the report, obtained by the Voice, that a missile striking the inboard left wing fuel tank would create "a significant hydrodynamic ram event" that would account for the wing's peculiar fragmentation. Some wing pieces were recovered near JFK, suggesting that they fell from the aircraft in the first moments after the plane exploded.

Or is the NTSB's position the same as that of James Kallstrom who commented in the Village Voice article: "You know, there are some things you can't explain." 

Finally, I would urge the NTSB to invite Fritz Meyer, to testify at its August hearing where he will probably repeat what he said to the Granada Forum on March 12, 1998:

"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 p.m. 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."

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