Inspector Clouseau beware---the NTSB is gaining on you!
The NTSB's abysmal handling of the Flight 800 investigation continues to be brought to the fore. Recently uncovered information points again to the sad effort put forth by this once proud and efficient organization.
The NTSB, under the direction of it's then director, Jim Hall was apparently unable to identify an aircraft on an ATC, (air traffic control) tape despite the fact that the pilot radioed it's tail number to the control tower!
On the evening of July 17, 1996 a pilot of a private aircraft radioed Gabreski Tower on Long Island that he had witnessed a "boat leaving in a Westerly direction" from the TWA 800 crash scene. The report appears on the Gabreski ATC tape--the pilot gives his tail number as "N776." Although it would turn out this tail number was incomplete, the pilot nonetheless made other statements which would aid any competent investigator in determining the identity of his aircraft. Apparently the NTSB employed no such competent personnel.
The following are from official NTSB documents: This is from exhibit 3A: > > > > > > >>At 0041:27 UTC and again at 0041:37 UTC, an Emergency Locator > > Transmitter > > > signal was > > > heard on the New York Flight Service Station frequency. > > > > > > The tape from Gabreski Tower (FOK) was barely readable. However, the > ATC > > > group was able > > > to discern a report on the tape of a pilot who reported a power boat > > > proceeding west from the > > > vicinity of the impact site. The identification of the aircraft was > not > > > clear
From exhibit 3E: > > > > > > 010545 125.3 N776 > > > 776 I DON'T KNOW WHETHER YOU HAVE ANY REPORTS > > > ABOUT THIS THING OUT THERE BUT *** THERE'S > > > SOMETHING BURNING AND WHAT'S INTERESTING IS THERE > > > WAS A BOAT LEAVING IT *** TO THE WESTERLY DIRECTION.
During his several communications with Gabreski Tower the pilot of N776 indicated to the Tower--"Skyhawk 776"--another identifier. A "Skyhawk" is a Cessna 172P, fixed wing -- propeller driven, 4-seat aircraft.
In the initial investigation into this anomaly performed by ARAP, (Associated Retired Aviation Professionals, a group headed by Comdr.. William S. Donaldson, USN/Ret) which has been independently looking into Flight 800, the search for N776 was once again unproductive. This search yielded erroneous information which this author quickly refuted. The aircraft was initially traced to an individual in Texas, who did not own a Cessna, his tail number though was indeed N776. The total time spent tracking down ARAP's lead and discovering their mistake was approximately 3 hours. Subsequent investigation and searches of FAA databases have now uncovered the true identity of "N776." The total time expended was several days, at the cost of only several dollars.
Why is it that the NTSB---which expended many millions of dollars and several years---was unable to discover the identity of this aircraft? More importantly, what did the pilot of "N776" actually see? Why is it so important?
This aircraft's pilot is perhaps the only adult individual to view what has now been coined the "30-knot track." What was the 30-knot track? Simply stated, it is a radar return indicative of a surface vessel traveling at 30-knots away from the TWA 800 crash scene. It is the only vessel in the area, which the FBI says it was unable to identify. This radar return also falls within an area established by the FBI from which they postulated the launch of a portable shoulder fired missile or (Manpad) may have taken place.
The information presented here is still being investigated. Will it yield any new clues as to what may have happened to TWA Flight 800?
Copyright 2002, John E. Fiorentino
John Fiorentino, is an independent investigator, who has been looking into the tragic crash of TWA Flight 800. He is the author of a forthcoming book on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Mr. Fiorentino has also produced several independent musical releases. He is currently employed at a law firm in New Jersey.